Food Friday

I know I haven’t been posting much lately. Honestly, I don’t feel like I’m doing anything noteworthy enough to post about.

I run 4 times a week and do a workout video 2 times a week. Sometimes the weather is cold and unpleasant – the wind slowed me by over 1 minute per mile when running into it the other day; sometimes the weather is better – a 60 degree day is in the 5 day forecast! At least my new March goals have been going reasonably well. I’m not doing perfectly, especially at the 80/20 rule (Good “Fastnacht Day”), but I have been more mindful, especially about getting my workouts in and not eating without purpose at work. I’ve also been getting “back into shape” (not that I was really ever out of shape) and have been blasting out 5Ks in under 30 minutes (now let’s just get that back down to under 25 minutes…).

Short post for this Friday – I didn’t really cook too much this week. Mostly we chowed down on homemade veggie burgers and pizza (from various sources). I did want to do a Food Friday post to share my first experience making Thai style curry, though! I made this recipe, sans pineapple, and it was really simple and turned out great! Next time I might add some red pepper flakes and/or sriracha, though – I love spicy food but wasn’t sure how spicy the curry paste would be, so I wanted to try it plain, first. Of course it wasn’t spicy enough for me (I used to eat homemade horseradish for fun as a child…).

I’ve been making an Indian style lentil curry like, every week because it’s super easy and cheap (it’s onions, carrots, potatoes, and lentils….I’m not sure you could make something cheaper). Kris has always had this weird dislike of Indian food, though. I swear he is the only person who finds it “bland.” Maybe he has the equivalent of being tone-deaf to curry powder or something? He is very picky about which Indian restaurants we go to and so it comes as no surprise to me that my  Indian cooking talents (read: dump in copious amounts of curry powder) do not match those of the nicest India restaurants in town. I asked him for an honest opinion of the Indian lentil curry and he responded with “why can’t you try peanut curry like we get at the Thai place?” I’d be interested in trying that out anyway – any excuse to eat more peanut butter – so I gave it a shot.

The downside: it resembles Hamburger Helper while cooking. To be fair, I kind of love the cheeseburger macaroni kind…

In addition to being easy to make and quite yummy, I would like to add that the coconut-peanut curry was an incredibly healthy and filling vegetarian dish. I split mine into four servings which came to about 400 calories each, following the recipe exactly (with the exception of excluding pineapple, which just sounded weird with it). That means that with a whole serving of rice, this was a 650 calorie dinner, which is pretty reasonable. It also had several servings of veggies in it (a whole cup of broccoli in each serving!), which is good for me because although I LOVE veggies I basically just forget to eat enough of them. There are only 13g of protein in this version, but if you wanted to I am sure you could add in some tofu in place of some mushrooms or just use chicken if you aren’t vegetarian, and if you added that protein you could probably stretch this out to 6 servings to reduce calories. There is also a reduced-calorie recipe available on the website that I linked.

Sorry I haven’t been making more exciting food choices lately. There might be some changes in my life soon (hopefully good ones) so maybe they will change up my food routine a bit 🙂 I do plan on trying out a local grocery outlet tomorrow, so maybe I can at least write a bit about my cheap grocery finds…or my horror at everything being out of date.

Happy Friday! My parting gift to you is a picture of Belle trying to sleep in Misty’s bed and a picture of Misty sleeping on anything but her bed. Note: she has never used her bed.

There is a dog-sized bed in this room.

The pillow in the upper-right hand corner says “not tonight” on the other side. That was an embarrassing bridal shower gift to receive from one of Kris’s aunts!

 

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Bit of a short post today. I’ve been very busy this week! I was only supposed to work today and Tuesday, but I was called in to work for 2 hours on Wednesday and 7 on Thursday. Our weeks at work start on Tuesday, so my only day off this week is tomorrow, which should be quite busy as well – grocery shopping, 3 mile run, dropping Kris off to play Warhammer at some point, and then going to a reunion party with the awesome people that I interned with 4 years ago when I moved here. I have lots of good news, though:

  • Our Roku arrived! It cost more than an Xbox live subscription (we opted for the Roku 3 so that we could wire it in to the internet), but in the long run should keep us from having to pay that subscription again and again. We successfully watched 2 episodes of House of Cards on it. That show is just TOO intense.
  • Our cell phones arrived, too! Wow, now it sounds like we are big spenders. It just happened that both our cell phone contracts and our Xbox live expired in the same month. We have been planning these purchases for a long time and we will actually save quite a bit of money in the long run. Plus, these are used Nexus 4’s off Ebay, not like, brand new whatever phone is fancy now.
  • I got a hair cut! I always neglect this but I want to make sure I am looking nice and neat in case I ever get any more job interviews. Plus it always makes me feel nice 🙂
  • Belle and the cat, who shall be dubbed “Misty” unless the vet reveals that her fur was in fact thick enough to conceal her manliness, are doing much better together than we anticipated they would.  Kris let her in during the middle of the night last night and Belle did not fuss about her sleeping on the bed. I went out and bought all of the necessary cat stuffs today, so I guess she is ours now. Fun story: it took me 10 minutes to check out at Walmart because the lady did not want to use my coupon that applied to 20lbs or more of Tidy Cat cat litter for a 35 lb container of it. I apologized to the other people in my line.

Look how well we are all doing 🙂


Now, on to the food!

I didn’t make anything new this week, so I thought this might be a good time to do my Clif vs. Luna vs. Luna Protein vs. Larabar comparison. I touched on some of this in a previous post, but I’ll provide a fuller version here.

I have always been a pretty religious adherent to Clif bars, but mostly because I heard of them first, did not think they were gross when I tried them, and then only tried gross things like Quest bars.

I happened to try the Larabar Alt bars once when I had a coupon for them, and found that I enjoyed these quite a lot as well. I then basically bought combinations of my favorite flavors of those and Clif bars based on price.

I had been completely avoiding Luna bars because I felt that it was silly to have a protein/granola bar “for” women. When I was picking out bars at my local grocery store, though, I decided to give their “Luna Protein” line a try because they were much lower in calories than Clif bars with a similar amount of protein. I then noticed, though, that the regular Luna bars had a decent amount of protein, so I grabbed one as well, just to compare. My comparisons are based off of eating these different bars in the middle of long shifts (we don’t get breaks).

The verdict: I have now tried all of these kinds of bars, with the exception of the regular version of Larabars, and the only one I am not a fan of is the Luna Protein bar. First of all, it looks like this:

It bothers me that it is trying to look like a chocolate bar instead of something that is pretending to be healthier than a chocolate bar. Also, the appearance is misleading, it is nothing like a candy bar.

I also did not like the taste of the Luna Protein bars. I had chocolate peanut butter and cookie dough flavors and did not think either one resembled its namesake. Furthermore, the texture was off – I feel like these had a similar texture to Quest bars, which are extremely grainy. Perhaps I am the only person with these texture issues, but it was a huge turn off for me. Finally, I did not see much nutritional benefit to eating these fairly gross bars over the others – I think they only had 1-2 extra grams of protein. I know other things matter, but I primarily eat these bars as large snack/small meal substitutes when I lack access to normal meals for hours at a time, so I am looking for something that is filling rather than something that provides empty calories, which typically means something quite high in protein and/or fat. Despite the high protein, I actually did not feel very full from these at all, perhaps because I did not find them satisfying to eat.

The verdict: I will probably keep Clif and Larabar Alt in my rotation (especially the peanut butter cookie Larabars…I swear they are just mushed up coookies), but I will be giving Luna more of a chance. I found that some of the Luna flavors, like white chocolate macadamia nut, are actually tastier and more aesthetically pleasing than the Clif version, plus they seem to have more nutritional bang for the buck (less calories, core 4 vitamins, and about the same amount of protein). There are also some unique flavors! I’ve had lemon and peanut honey pretzel now, and there is a box of “nuts over chocolate” downstairs that I picked up on sale at Target to work my way through. My personal opinion is that it is silly for them to market them as a women’s bar, though – why not just make all Clif bars more like this? I will never understand!

Long Weekend, Long Run

Kris and I had quite the interesting and eventful long weekend!


Saturday

On Saturday, we woke up to….more snow! Apparently 10 inches on Thursday wasn’t enough.

I was supposed to work noon – 8ish but I ended up working more of a 3-7 shift because we were so slow that they had me come in late. This gave me time to join Kris and Belle for a walk, which was fun because Belle LOVES fresh snow, apparently. On a typical cold day, Belle barely wants to go outside; with the fresh snow lately, she has been SUPER excited to go for walks and jump around in the snow, even if it is too deep for her properly walk through.

I also ordered a Roku 3 on Saturday morning! For the last several years, we have been using our Xbox live subscription to watch Netflix on our TV. Kris hardly does any console gaming anymore, though, (he has converted to mostly PC) so the subscription seemed like a waste of money. Technically, a Roku 3 costs more than one year of Xbox live, but the goal is for the thing to last more than one year. Our only hang up: it is supposed to arrive on Friday, and our last day of Xbox live is tomorrow! I am hoping the box arrives early so we don’t have to huddle around the laptop to watch House of Cards.


Sunday

Sunday was the day of my long run. I was DREADING going for this run… 5 miles on the potentially icy sidewalks?! I knew I had to do it, though – I haven’t run that far in nearly 2 months, and in a few weeks I need to run twice that distance! The run went better than I had anticipated, with only a few random blocks that had not been shoveled. I will say that after my 5 mile run yesterday and 3 mile run today on those uneven surfaces with varying degrees of traction I am quite sore.

This was the worst – completely snow covered for an entire block. Fun fact: my GPS thinks this is a 300 foot elevation change, for some reason.

When I got home from work, which was fortunately not cut in half (remember, I am a server, so a short shift on a Saturday + slow business from the bad weather meant a HUGE cut in wages for the week), Kris and I tried letting the “stray” kitty that has been coming around. We noticed she was friendly and started regularly leaving food out for her about 3 weeks ago. Our landlord recently told us that she was abandoned by some neighbors that moved out which helped us to understand why a “stray” was so friendly and dependent on people for food. She is so friendly that we were worried she had been de-clawed because she has never tried to scratch us! She is very scared of Belle (I don’t blame her – Belle is not directly aggressive towards her, but is confused and distressed by her presence) but we are slowly working towards acclimating the two of them.


Monday

Today was incredibly eventful!

Since Kris is a government employee, the hardworking taxpayers of our commonwealth paid him to stay home and celebrate the most important of all holidays, President’s Day (that was sarcasm). We started out the day with some cinnamon rolls and attempts at cat-dog diplomacy. It went ok. The cat was too nervous to eat, but she successfully swatted at Belle’s tail and stepped on Belle once without anything terrible happening.

What a scaredy cat! She doesn’t have a name yet. We are considering both “Turtle” and “Gandalf the Grey” to suit her coloring.

We then finished watching Battlestar Galactica. I know we are about 10 years behind, but Kris and I are terrible at watching TV. And by terrible, I don’t mean that we watch so much TV that it is a bad habit or something. I mean that we actually struggle to watch TV. It is difficult for us to watch more than 2 episodes of a show in a row so we are incredibly slow at these things. It has been several years, so I shouldn’t worry about spoilers, but I am talking about the end of a series, so all I will say is that while I liked the “big picture” ending in terms of where they ended up, there were several elements of the last season, especially in the last few episodes, that I found pointless or that tarnished previous events in the show.

Because we finished this show we were able to move on to our two episodes of House of Cards for the day! As a political scientist, I obviously love this show. I will also say that as a political scientist I find none of the characters on the show surprising. What can I say – my discipline fosters political cynicism. Obviously no spoilers here, but my only concern with the show right now is that I am afraid they are too conveniently disposing of certain plot points from the previous season. I am willing to watch the whole season before finalizing that judgement, though. Also, no matter what Claire does, I will always admire her fashion choices. If I had a bazillion dollars I would probably dress exactly like her.

I think these looks would work just fine with curly brown hair and freckles. I already own big plastic glasses and a blue button down. Mine might have been $4 at Goodwill, though. I don’t really have an image source, I found it on Pinterest.

I also committed to a major decision today…”new” smartphones. Kris and I have had smartphones with Verizon for about 4 years, and our contract expires this week. When we originally got them, it was the best deal because he gets an employee discount and we had truly unlimited data. Obviously the cell phone service provider market has changed over the last 4 years, though, and now we are paying nearly $200 a month for two phones and if we renew our contract we will lose unlimited data. One of Kris’s coworkers recently switched his family to T-Mobile, where he is paying less than half of what we currently pay. The data won’t be as “truly” unlimited (our speeds will be slowed at a certain point), but there won’t be a sharp limit like we would have with Verizon, and we will save A LOT of money. His service in our area is perfectly fine and a friend with T-Mobile was able to use her phone at my parents, so I feel fine about switching away from the coverage that Verizon provides (always a concern because they live in the middle of nowhere; so do Kris’s parents but not a single provider gets service at their home so that is irrelevant). I had been putting off committing to the T-Mobile decision because of the upfront cost, though – while we would still save money with the financing plans they offer for phones, we knew we would save even more if we brought our own purchased phones on in the long run. At the suggestion of many things I have read on the internet and Kris’s coworker, we broke down and purchased 2 used Nexus 4’s today. We got the phones for less than $200 each so after 4 months the phones will essentially be paid for in savings – less time if we can sell our own phones – but because we have always relied on Verizon phone subsidization and always purchased brand new phones it is a little bit scary to be doing this. I hope that it works out!


Unfortunately, this weekend was not all fun and excitement, at least in terms of health. I am very proud of myself for sticking to my commitment to run, despite the snow and ice – trust me, it was tempting to give up while slogging through 12 inches of snow only .6 miles into a 5 mile run on Sunday – but my diet has been terrible lately. I will have one or two “good” days a week where I stick to my calorie limit, but the rest of the days have been relatively bad.

I will start out strong in the morning, and most of my meals with be healthy, but a big problem has been my work schedule. I have to eat before my shifts or I will be STARVING and eat a bunch of unhealthy pizza place food, and sometimes I end up eating a bunch of it anyway (especially if I work during the times when we have our pizza buffet and I am encouraged to take food home that is being thrown away); sometimes my shifts are long so I have to eat during them anyway; and I am invariably hungry when I get home from work. I feel less “bad” if I come home and have something like nuts, hummus and crackers, or fat-free popcorn, but “good” calories still count. I just hope I am burning some extra calories with my more active job.

My general attitude has been a problem as well. I am still on the hunt for a full-time job, obviously, and despite the fact that I should be elated that I have had numerous interviews after only being on the job market for about 6 weeks, I can only feel fear that I will never get a job offer and I will spend the rest of my life waiting tables with a master’s degree. I have expressed this fear on here several times, so I apologize for being repetitive and whiny, but it has been a major issue with my diet. This was especially true this weekend – I had a really bad night at work on Saturday (pissed off a table) and spent most of the night crying after I got home. Yesterday and today were a lot better, but a lot of today’s “fun” came from eating unhealthy food – we started with cinnamon rolls, went out for Mexican and ice cream, and I have eaten about 2 lbs of chocolates I bought when I was feeling miserable still on Sunday morning. I just want to eat out of nervousness, boredom, and sadness all of the sudden, which is surprising to me because this has not been a real obstacle before. I know I am just making excuses and that it might actually help me to feel better if I were to increase the healthiness of my diet but it has just been a bigger obstacle lately. Hopefully I can stick to my goals a little better in the coming week. Who knows – maybe I’ll even get some good news on the job front?

“New” (to us) Car and More Workout Videos

I did a second Jillian Michaels’ workout today to stay warm during our freezing cold temps (we are up to feels like 2 degrees!). I mean, in comparison to others, we are lucky, but I really don’t like to go out unless it feels like more than 15 degrees. Today I did “No More Trouble Zones.” This was a very similar workout – 6 circuits, each targeting different parts of your body. This one does require light weights, but that is still pretty minimal equipment. It also had a lot more ab work which was exactly what I needed – my core is so weak that the residual soreness makes it painful to sneeze!

Of course, Ms. Michaels had numerous silly things to say again in this video. Notable examples: “You don’t burn any calories if you are only working out your arms” and “I don’t like machines at the gym for inner thigh workouts because you don’t want to use weights and build muscles there, you want to use your own bodyweight in order to make the muscles long and lean.” Um, I hate to break it to you, person who is actually a professional in this field, but you do burn calories moving only your arms – just fewer calories than moving both your arms and legs, which is what I am presuming you meant in this context, as you were explaining why we work both at once. Furthermore, bodyweight counts as weight, especially for beginners, who are probably carrying extra weight in those areas and would not be able to handle additional weight. No matter how much weight you use, if you are pushing yourself on your workouts and eating properly, you will gain muscle, meaning that your workouts are building muscle just like the ones at the gym. No matter how much fat you lose, if you do not gain muscle, your inner thighs will still not look “lean.” This isn’t even getting into the idea of whether women “should” be muscly or not and how certain areas of our bodies “should” look. I’ll have you know that I’ve run 2 half marathons and my inner thighs are still terrifying according to your standards, Jillian. I think it is pretty cleat that nothing will “fix” them, not even your leg lifts.


Now, on to my other exciting news. A few days ago, I was complaining about the situation that Kris and I are in for car buying. We had hoped this year after I moved back to go down to one car so that we could upgrade a bit, but the timing was a bit off (the story of our lives this year!). I was annoyed that I would not be getting the exact car I wanted, but now that it is over and we have our “new” (6-year-old) car I am feeling much better.

I am going to miss my old car dearly. My old car was a 2008 Chevy HHR that my dad helped me pick out RIGHT before cash for clunkers would have occurred. I had purchased a 15ish year old Grand Am that was a POS less than a year earlier and was really itching to upgrade. My dad saw an HHR at the mall and decided it was the perfect car for a young woman who wants a cheaper, smaller car, but still needs to haul a few things once in a while. A few months later when I was actually ready to get a different vehicle, we went down the dealer who’d had it at the mall, and the exact same car my dad had seen – in bright orange – was there. Keep in mind that this was pretty much the height of the car recession, so it was pretty much impossible for them to sell cars. I obviously got an incredibly good deal on it – the dealer where we got our “new” car has an HHR of the same year (but with less miles and in better shape than mine) listed for only about $1,000 less than I paid all those years ago. That car and I have been through a lot – multiple moves, hundreds of trips between Indiana and PA, and several phases of my life. I actually told the car that I loved it was going to miss it. Here are some pictures of my favorite orange car all decorated up for our wedding:

Our financial situation made it less feasible to keep two cars around, especially if one of us can’t drive! Hence, the HHR had to go, even if I loved it. Plus, it was time to move from a car that is “me” to a car that will be good to share with Kris for a family. Even if this car is not the EXACT one I was itching for (a brand new Subaru Forester that we cannot afford at the moment), it really does have all the features we wanted: AWD so that it isn’t as terrible in the snow; a roof rack to put the bicycles (and other cargo) on; plenty of cargo space for all of Belle’s crap (and ours, I suppose); heated leather seats because I’m always freezing and like to spoil myself with luxury items; and good safety ratings for all of those wrecks that I get into. It does have slightly worse MPG than the HHR (17ish vs. 20ish) and it isn’t orange, so it will be hard to spot in parking lots, but I think the pros outweigh the cons. Here are some pictures:

Yeah, it doesn’t get much more generic looking. And someone else on our block has the same one. I bet I actually break down in a parking lot crying because I can’t find it someday.

Luxurious interior!

Space for ALL THE THINGS!

 

 

My First DNS

Yesterday, I had signed up to run a virtual 5K. I mentioned in my Food Friday post that I might not be able to run or even walk it due to the weather. Kris has been sick since Thursday, and I would have been bored on a 3 mile walk by myself, but I might have pushed myself to do it had I not woke up feeling somewhat under the weather as well.

I tend to not get as sick as other people (amusing, considering that I was a child that feared getting dirty, so I have no idea where my strong immune system came from), but I wanted to make sure I didn’t push myself too hard and end up as sick as Kris. Right now I just have a runny nose and a slight sore throat and a bit less energy, and I’d prefer it if I didn’t end up worse – Kris was so tired that he spent most of yesterday sleeping and was snoring so loudly due to his stuffy nose that I couldn’t even sleep in the bed with him!

I’m not sure if I could have walked the whole distance even if I tried – we walked over to the library (about 1 block) to put my incredibly weird vegetarian cookbooks in the book drop and even that was a chore for the three of us: Kris came along in case there was no outdoor book drop to hold Belle, and was incredibly out of it and fatigued; Belle’s paws kept getting salt on them and hurting; and the cold was affecting me very badly and making my nose run even more. I was very glad that Belle and I weren’t out trying to trudge around in the snow, ice, and wind for a whole hour.

I’ve never not started a “race” before (fyi: DNS stands for “did not start”). I keep trying to make myself feel better by reminding myself that it was a virtual race that was just for fun anyway, and that I would not have been able to run it fast due to the weather and my inability to get any running in lately.It’s hard to do that though when all things fitness have been going poorly for me lately. My part-time job really messes up my eating schedule and tempts me to eat unhealthy food (mostly breadsticks), and I can’t afford to join a gym so it’s nearly impossible for me to run right now. I’m tired of doing the same 20 minute workout at home and I really feel demotivated and like I’m rolling back all of the hard work that I did last year. I don’t feel too badly about specifically not starting the race, but about how it fits into the “big picture” – this virtual 5K was supposed to be a bit of a bright spot for me during my winter workout rut. 

It doesn’t help that my life in general is pretty stressful, which is making the fitness problems seem even worse.On top of my ability to finish my PhD being completely uncertain right now, I’m afraid I’m blowing all my job interviews for full-time positions. I should be happy that I am getting so many interviews so quickly but because of my worrisome nature, I keep overthinking the interviews and assuming I they went terribly.

Kris’s car also basically exploded this week and we are trying to procure a different one. Normally, this would be happy – we had been looking forward to trading in our two cars and going down to a single car once I moved back this summer anyway – but the desperate situation and poor timing are messing it up. Kris’s car has almost no value due to basically needing the entire engine rebuilt (and it was a low-value economy car anyway); my car has a much lower value than I anticipated because it has been in three collisions; and my income has been cut by taking a part-time job. The car we are getting will be NICER than mine (I’ll post about it after we have it) but I am sad to lose out on the whole “car shopping experience” where we get to carefully go over all of our options and pick the perfect car for us. Instead we are in a situation of begging the salesperson at the garage where we were getting it repaired to please sell us something, anything in our price range.

That all sounds very #firstworldproblems, though. I should focus on what I do have going for me: Kris still has a good job where he won’t be punished for his medical issues (we ❤ you union); we have good health insurance and while we have not gone to the doctor for our colds, it would be no hardship for us to do so; I was able to find some sort of job, even if it is “just” as a waitress at a pizza place, within the first week of my job search; we will have a vehicle that is much nicer than any other vehicle we have owned, even if it is not new and shiny the exact perfect car for us; and we have a heating system that works well and is keeping us toasty during this bitterly cold winter 🙂

Here is to hoping this coming week is more positive – I am getting a “new to me” car, after all!

Food Friday

I am so sick of winter. Today is one of those deceptively sunny winter days – it is only 15 degrees!

I haven’t run in well over a week because of snow and ice. I’m supposed to run the Runs for Cookies virtual 5K tomorrow, but it is supposed to snow another 2 inches. Even if the weather was half decent tomorrow, I’m not sure I could run it – the entire park is still covered in snow. If it was just ice, I could wear my ice spikes (which I now have), but with the added inches of snow I’m not really sure what to do. I’ve considered walking it with Belle, but I’m afraid it will be too cold and too hard on her little paws. I might just have to sit it out and pretend it doesn’t count because it’s a virtual race. I feel very disappointed and frustrated and I’m becoming more genuinely worried that I will lose a lot of my running fitness and have to essentially start from scratch this spring. I am now remembering why I started going to the gym on campus last year around this time! Unfortunately, unless I get a full-time job (I’ve had a couple interviews, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed) I can’t really afford a gym membership here (the gym on campus was free).

On top of all this, Kris has a cold. So we are just sitting around being totally lazy while he recuperates and I worry about him because that is what I do. I have been trying to keep up with workouts at home but with everything going on I’m afraid I’m having far too many days like yesterday, where I did well with my “rest day” until dinner where Kris and I shared a large stromboli and I ate 3 brownies while watching Battlestar Galactica. Oops.


The good news is that I was able to accumulate enough content for a Food Friday post this week! This should be unsurprising, considering yesterday’s post where I bemoaned the amount of groceries that I decided to purchase.

I purchased one new thing to try this week: fancy pierogies. I briefly mentioned the pierogies (side note: WordPress wants to correct that word to “groupies”) in last night’s post, and I will note that while I have eaten many pierogies in my life, I have not purchased them in a long, long time and I had no idea how many varieties there are now, which is why they are something “new.” When I was growing up I did not know they made pierogies beyond the “cheddar and potato” variety, and after learning about other terrifying options like “potato and onion” I mostly ignored pierogie offerings. That was until the other day when I went shopping for them and couldn’t even find plain old cheddar and potato. Instead, I “had” to buy broccoli cheddar, spinach and feta, and five cheese (all with whole grain noodles). I was pleased to find these slightly fancier and healthier sounding options and plan to eat them for quick meals sauteed with some peppers! Fun fact: Mrs. T’s pierogies and Yuengling beer are made in the same county in PA (Schuylkill), further proving that PA produces all of the best things.

I also attempted two recipes for the first time: Lentil Quinoa Chili and homemade guacamole.

I liked the lentil quinoa chili, but it was not my all-time favorite vegetarian chili recipe. The only changes I made to the original recipe were that I used frozen bell pepper strips instead of buying and cutting up a pepper and I ran out of cumin so I just put in taco seasoning. I also made it in a crock pot instead of standing around cooking it for an hour. I think it just wasn’t spicy enough for me (most things aren’t). I still like it, though, and would recommend it to those who are more into flavor than heat.

A not very aesthetically pleasing picture of the chili.

I will note that the guacamole recipe I linked is a very generic one, and I followed it mostly because I have never made guac before and needed to know avocado:tomato ratios. I am fairly certain that I had never heard of guac until I was about 16 years old so obviously my parents do not make or buy it (though they love it at Mexican restaurants!) and I therefore had no idea how to make it. I also spent the last 3 years living with someone who makes incredible guac so there was no reason for me to even attempt it. The first thing I saw when I entered the grocery store was avocados and tomatoes on sale, though, so I was inspired. I think it went ok – I’ve certainly eaten worse. To my friend the amazing guacamole maker: you will be pleased to know that Kris has deemed it “good, but nowhere near as good” as yours. I blame the fact that I forgot fresh cilantro and had to use dried.

Close-up of the guac.

Traveling Light

Sorry to disappear for a few days. I had to head back out to Indiana in order to move some of my things back home. The trip was bittersweet – I was able to see a large number of my friends and have a nice time with them, but moving my things home was so final, even if I’ll have to go back out there a few more times. I know I was moving home in a couple of months anyway, so these mixed feelings would have occurred anyway, but that doesn’t make it any easier. This was my home away from home for 4 years and some of my best friends in the world are there.

Then, the day after I returned home, there was a shooting on campus (I was a student at Purdue). While it appears to be a murder that happened to take place on a college campus rather than a traditional “campus shooting” (side note: isn’t it messed up that school shootings are so normal that I need to point out this one is weird?) it was still terrifying to think that something like this could have happened to one of my friends, colleagues, or former students.

In order to move things home, I had to make sure that there was a lot of room in my car. Now, my car is surprisingly roomy due to the ability to lay the seats down completely flat and the wide hatch opening (I have a Chevy HHR), but I had Kris and Belle along for the ride, and they usually are not in the vehicle for these trips. Kris and I packed nothing but 1.5 backpacks (one had only a computer in it so I could stuff it with stuff from my office) and a tote bag for Belle for a 5 day trip. We were able to fit all of my remaining clothing (about 2 suitcases); a ton of my office supplies; all of my toiletries; all of my sewing equipment; several stuffed animals; a printer; and my Keurig into that car with us. I was quite impressed with my abilities, and the opportunity to bring Kris and Belle along to show off while simultaneously bringing all this stuff home was worth the hassle of traveling lightly.

I had no idea that traveling lightly would hinder my health so much, though. I wasn’t expecting this to be the healthiest trip in the first place. I typically slack off when traveling as it is truly one of those rare things that don’t occur every day, and I have been doing somewhat poorly lately due to the stressful changes in my life and the discouragement I feel from being unable to run very often. I will say that not all of my food choices were terrible – I had a lovely lunch of stuffed grape leaves, grilled mushroom kebabs, rice, and hummus with pita bread one day. This trip was probably one of my least healthy, though, because I didn’t even try to work out! I didn’t pack any workout clothes because I would “have some there.” Technically, I did, and I could have ran on the treadmill, but “not packing anything” ranked high on my list of excuses for not working out. I guess in the end it was me, rather than my packing skills that led to me not working out – I really had the ability to work out, but I’d already told myself I didn’t really need to because I was “on a trip.”

The other problem was the snow. I had at least thought that even if I didn’t get real workouts in that I would be able to get some walking in. I had even promised Kris that we could go to the Tippecanoe Battlefield and walk on the Wabash Trail a little so that he could see where I fell down the cliff. It was snowing terribly, though, and we had not brought any snowboots with us, so it was difficult to even walk the dogs in the parking lot of my apartment. You see, we left on Thursday in order to avoid the snow that was predicted Friday, but the storm moved south and ended up hitting us around Columbus. It didn’t seem bad at first but then people started wrecking all around us (I mean this literally). I am a relatively talented snow driver, but this was one of my scariest moments on the road and I actually had to pull of and collect myself before starting up again, and I very seriously considered getting a hotel in Columbus instead of moving along. It was 2 pm. It took us nearly 13 hours to make the 9-10 hour trip because of the snow and several other wrecks along the highway, and when we got to Lafayette, the roads were not plowed at all and the town had received like 5 inches of snow, making our last few miles very frustrating. It then snowed like 5 more inches on Saturday, making it nearly impossible to walk around. I will blame the weather and my inability to pack snowboots for my lack of exercise rather than blaming myself here.

We sent this picture to my mom from I-70 in Ohio to assure here that the roads were “perfectly fine” after my freakout.

We also managed to bring one other thing home, though this doesn’t really count in my “light” traveling because it didn’t have to fit in my car – my bicycle! Now Kris and I can actually start working towards the huge rides we have planned this summer if the snow ever melts. While we had no real snow on the way home (we left 2 hours later and managed to arrive earlier than we had on the way out), bringing the bike home made the return trip stressful. I have a super cheap bike rack and I am always terrified the whole contraption is going to go crashing down while I am on the highway ruining my bike, or, worse, causing a wreck. I tend to become very distracted by watching it in the rearview mirror and sometimes just put the bike in the car even though it takes up a ton of room so that I don’t have to deal with the stress. Note: this is mostly my worrisome nature coming out. The bike rack works perfectly fine and I would even recommend it to others given that it has survived through multiple 600+ mile trips. It is available on Amazon, though I will say I paid $10 less for it. I even gave it a 5 star review on there because I was so impressed but I just cannot be calm when I am using it. I think on my next vehicle I will get a roof rack – I don’t care if they are safer or not, I think I would feel better if I couldn’t see the bike back there threatening to fall at any moment.