What We've Been Up To

Annual Theme

Every year I come up with a word or phrase of the year. Last year was "complete", and it really helped me to focus on finishing those things I start. This year I found a new theme "invest" I mean to invest in every way. Sure there is monetary (which will be a huge focus in the second half of the year), but what I'm really looking for is an intentionality toward the future. I don't mean to look to the future for solutions, but rather to do the work today, in this moment that will lead to a future that I like. 

There is an earnestness to what I am working on, a real focus on completing things so my comfort and joy is easier to find. All the necessary evils of every day life (dishes I'm looking at you) are going to remain, but my goal is to either find a way to make them joyful, or look at the future, how do I want this to look a year from now?

So, I'm investing. I'm investing in me, my marriage and my comfort level and joy.

How?

  1. Documenting the things that are preventing my happiness
  2. Establishing routines
  3. Sharing my skills - I found a new place to volunteer, I attend my first volunteer meeting tonight
  4. Upping the speed at which I complete my formal education - I will never stop learning, but I need to check a box and the faster I check the box the sooner I get to spend that time on more intentional and skill based learning. 
  5. Fitness - I learned last year that lifting heavy things makes me happy. I don't expect that to change in the future so I'm just going to keep doing what I've been doing.
  6.  Making a home. Brainstorming what a home means to me helped a lot to define what projects are needed in and around my house. Dedicated spaces are being created
  7. Find a mutual interest - more later
  8. Experience something great

Move March

I moved across the country (again) and have almost completely settled into my new home. I've got a handful of projects I still want to accomplish, but in general I'm settled.

Last year the best thing I did was find an amazing gym that was full of amazing coaches and I made huge strides in my confidence. This move has necessitated a new gym and while I could not find a crossfit gym to fall in love with, I did find a gym that has a strength component and core values that fit with my fitness needs and wants. A great thing about a great gym is that there is a component of sharing. This new gym runs a contest and for March it basically requires a social media check in every day about how you are moving more and moving better. I am not going to post on the blog daily, but I will likely post on FB/Instagram every day. 

How do you move better? How do you move more? 

Some ideas for me:

To Move More:

  1. play music, random dancing is so much easier when there is music to dance to
  2. take a walk. I am going to try and incorporate a short walk at lunch at least 2x/week this month
  3. daily stretching/yoga I rolled out my yoga mat in my spare room and I hope to use it often
  4. gym presence. I know myself and I do not push myself to improve without the tools and environment to do so. This means I need to be at the gym at least 3x/week. Especially after 1.5 months with no gym at all
  5. stand. I bought a sit/stand desk for my new office and I need to more regularly use it in the stand position
  6. finish projects. I need to paint 2 rooms and that is going to require a solid amount of movement including

To Move better

  1. see 3 and 4 above
  2. massages - I've looked into a monthly massage subscription, 
  3. Baths - For me baths are centering, relaxing and restorative. Now that I live with giant BATHTUB I will take advantage at least 1x/week of the benefits it can provide
  4. Sleep - it is time for a new mattress, I'm waking up daily with a headache and poor sleep experience the time to invest is now

I'll be back tomorrow with my yearly theme and then an update from February's participation in that theme (PICTURES!)

Things To Enjoy about this Season

Fall is my season. It's sweaters but not parkas, it's hot drinks and cozy blankets. It's outdoors without misery. So the topic from Carole this month is almost too easy for me. 10 Things to Enjoy About this Season 

1) The light - with or without daylight savings there is something amazing about the light from the sun this time of year. The height of the sun, the gently clear sky, it all adds up to something gorgeous

2) Food - I LOVE FOOD, all kinds, but the sheer volume of comfort food is amazing in the fall. Turkey, pumpkin everything, pumpkin spice everything, cinnamon and other warm spices. 

3) Birthday - My birthday is in the fall and it really kicks off "the holiday season" for me. I love celebrating another year on this earth, another year of grown and another beginning. This year will be at my parents and hopefully it will be full of projects and distractions. 

4) Leaves - The view from my couch back in MA is a perfect place to watch the leaves change colors. When you live in a place like New England it is easy to miss the abundance of riches all around you in the fall, but I love New England the second week of october. There is no where so beautiful

5) Crisp - both the air and the dessert.

6) Fires - Fall is the start of fire season. Our current MA residence has an awesome gas fireplace so I could use it all year, but I really associate it with Fall and winter. I melt in front of the fire, it is my comfortable place

7) Thanksgiving - in my house turkey day is out of a magazine or tv show. Pies of awesomeness and the nice china

 Let's broaden this a bit to my season of life

8) I am finally at a point in my life where my inside age matches my outside age. I'm a real grown up and I love being a grown up. I like being in charge of life decisions and fighting to get what I need. 

9) This season has also meant being #singlenotsingle. I'm married, but I live apart from my spouse which has led to some life building of and for myself. It's been very hard and I can't say I've made 100% perfect or even good choices, but they are exclusively mine and that is something I love. 

10) Physicality - I am not one to love the look of my body. I don't hate it like I did in my past, but I don't really love it. This season though is a season of pride in what my body can accomplish.  

On this day

I don't write here enough, I don't think that will change. This is my space though and my space needs to be filled today. 

This is an outcome I never dreamed of, an outcome I do not have to be ok with. What I hope is that people chose their cause. Choose that one cause and dedicate to fighting for it. There are millions of injustices and you could choose a million ways to fight, but the most effective, most differentiating move is going to be through singular focus. 

Stop giving a shit that people will think you are weird. Be nice to them. Open your mouth in the grocery store, get to know the guy in line next to you on the subway because he too is human. Do you know your neighbors? No really, do you know them? What are their names? What do they do for a living, what makes them happy? Would you be comfortable supporting them in a time of need? Get to know them, learn what makes them happy, build a community of support instead of a divisive community of petty hate. 

Build it because we need it. Build it because your children need it. Build it because it will make a difference in the long run. Please build it so this nation doesn't destroy itself. 

Let's call it Rededication

I read a million* blogs. All of these blogs are talking about resolutions. I've probably talked about it before, but resolutions annoy me and yet I find myself very into it this year. Maybe it's because I'm on a break from classes and have finally had time to think. It could be because I started another decade of life a couple of months ago, or it could be because I know that there are some big changes coming up sometime after July (no, I'm not growing my family). Whatever the reason I'm apparently all about resolutions for 2016. 

To make sure I can stand myself, though, I'm not going to call most of them resolutions. I have a couple traditions, a couple skills and a couple of new things I want to try. 

Are you in a similar place with resolutions? Try rules instead, or if you prefer themes/focus words try the weeklong practice to find the right one for you

So what did I decide for me this year? 

1) My theme/word/focus is still a moving target but I think I'm getting close to using Complete as my theme. It evolved from a few other ideas and I'm close to solidifying it, but this theme will show up throughout the year. 

2) Something new that I want to try: Pull-ups. I have never in my life been able to do a pull-up, even as a kid in PE. So it's on the list. My goal by the end of Jan is to figure out a plan to work up to a pull-up. I don't even know where to start. 

3) Tradition to continue: Arts appreciation. Since I moved to CA I have tried to fit in some fine art in my life on a quarterly basis. I have hit a museum, seen a play, a ballet and a couple of other concerts and I want to keep that going.

4) Rule: Plan for Success. I know myself and I know that I get more done when I plan my weeks, I am better nourished when I plan my meals and I feel better when I plan my evenings to include the workouts I need. My budget works when I use it and I feel better about everything when I know what is coming. My OCD can be debilitating, but it can also be the small nudge I need to keep my life in order. This year I'm using it to my advantage. 

5) Knitting:

           a) Finish the unfinished before school starts. I'm typically a monogamous knitter and recently that has not been the case which has a tendency to make my knitting slow and super annoying. I'd like to get myself back to monogamy before I'm back to classes in Feb.

Beginning of a Stocking for my Bro-in-law

Beginning of a Stocking for my Bro-in-law

           b) Pick projects for stash. Even if I don't start/finish them, just finding things that will work with my stash is the best start I can think of for eventually using up some of the stash

            c) Design or find  a swing jacket/a-line sweater for my stitches yarn from last year. I had a picture in my head of how I want to use the yarn and if the pattern exists I'd rather use it than make my own, but I could also figure something out if need be

*ok maybe just 386

Lobster Apron Meal #3

I guess success doesn't last forever, the third blue apron recipe was such a failure that it ended up in the compost bin. I also didn't get any pictures, but I can say that everything I loved about the other two recipes didn't even exist in this one. The flavor profile was completely unbalanced and the serving of protein was tiny.

Recipe 3 was fish with some buckwheat pasta (soba) coated in a miso sauce/dressing and some sauteed tomatoes and other flavors. The instructions for the pasta ended with very mushy, flavorless pasta. Then, the miso sauce/dressing completely overpowered the flavor of everything else. Also, the sauce needed to be thinner. Needless to say I ended up with 2 very small pieces of fish and a bowl of flavorless mush. 

To make up for this disaster of a meal, I made one of my own favorite dishes (made up from my head) a couple days later.

  • 1/2 onion
  • a clove or two of garlic
  • 1 can of beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes 
  • 3-4 eggs (however many can fit in the pan) 

Sautee the onion and garlic with plenty of salt and pepper. Add the tomatoes and beans. Stir. Gently crack (or crack into a bowl and gently pour) eggs onto the top of the tomato/bean mixture. Turn heat to medium and cover. Simmer until eggs are cooked. Serve alone or over rice or on toast or over some salad greens, top with a touch of cheese. 

beantomatoegg

A couple of things I love about this dish are its cost (even cheaper if I do my own beans) and and its changeability. Nothing is overwhelming in flavor so if I want to make it with a mexican flair I add some salsa and server it with tortillas, if I want and indian flair I add curry powder, try chickpeas instead of beans. Last night I added some ginger, soy sauce and a dollop of hoisin for an asian bent. Super easy to change and honestly delicious. I love this dish and make it all the time. 

Lobster Apron Meal #2

Meal 2 was also a success! This one was super fun, but again made me wish I had a dishwasher because there were so many dishes.

Also we should establish that my kitchen (my house as a whole) is very small so while I CLEAN all the time there is only so much tidying that can be done so my counters are a always covered in boxes and containers that have no other home. 

This time it was breaded chicken with an arugula corn salad with mustard vinaigrette. 

Pros: 

  • I loved the breading technique for the chicken 
  1.  Flour
  2. Mustard/water mixture
  3. bread crumbs
  • I enjoyed the portion size again, it was not too small, plenty filling and while not low calorie (700 or so) it's not outrageous for a full dinner meal. 
breading ingredients
breading

Cons:

  • The salad could use some non-arugula greens to balance the peppery-ness of the arugula
  • All  of the recipes call for too much oil
  • So many packages/package waste (again I think that is kind of the nature of this business/product)
  • corn is a pain to cut off the cob without getting it all over the kitchen. 
  • I don't love instructions that say things like "take half of the"  I'd prefer to just measure it out correctly. I'll admit that I could based on the full recipe, but it might make more sense to say measure out 2 Tbsp of the mustard (in the first instruction) and then use the rest of the mustard 
  • these blue apron dishes do not seem to work well for leftovers (but again, the product is not designed for leftovers, I'm just 1 person and the smallest order is for 2 people so I always have 2 meals)

Changes I would make next time

Use a regular (not non-stick) pan for everything. I am not a fan of non-stick pans for most food, but currently I only have a HUGE sautee pan so I used non-stick and it just doesn't color as well.

Use frozen corn instead of fresh off the cob

Eat it off of a pretty plate instead of an ugly one

Overall it was again a complete success!

finished meal

When knitting wins

The last time I wrote about knitting I had finished my epic shawl. Now, the history of me and epic shawls is less than perfect. I have knit three of them and until now they have been less than used. My first epic shawl still remains in a bag in a closet. The second shawl was given to my mom, to be used as a blanket at church, but I'm 100% sure that she doesn't use it and I wouldn't be surprised if she's not even sure where it is at this point. So after years of knitting epic shawls I finally had a success. I made that giant stole and assumed it would have the same fate. 

Then, my friend decided to get married. She wanted a small ceremony, at San Francisco city hall and did not want the hulabaloo of wedding planning. So her mom sent her a dress and she told me to come in whatever I wanted. I brought 2 dress options one of which was a lacy dinner mint colored dress and the other which was more plain, but would have looked good with the shawl. She decided she liked the mint one so the shawl was not going to be of any use to me. She wanted me to show her how I wear such giant pieces, so I put it on her and it looked absolutely amazing.

brideshawl1

 

Therefore it became part of the wedding attire

brideshawl2

 

It was also in some, but not all wedding pictures. I obviously then gifted the shawl to the bride because if it's going to sit in a closet it might as well be the bride's. I'm so glad I could be part of her wedding and it went way smoother than I had expected. Nothing like a knitting win and a wedding win


Lobster Apron Meal 1

The Blue apron box came with 3 meals and I decided the first meal I would cook would be Vadouvan Spiced Lamb burgers with mint lemon yogurt sauce and crispy zucchini rounds

The recipe card is very easy and definitely written for people that don't cook well. I wish there was a consolidated, simplified recipe card so I didn't feel like I was being patronized from the beginning. That said, if I were designing this, I too would have given the very specific steps as I have seen that there are plenty of people that do not know how to do anything in the kitchen.

Onto the good and the bad. Let's start with the bad. In the future if/when I make this again I would definitely sautee the onions that are used in the burger patty and I will add a bit more salt to every step. Even at a small dice the onions did not soften when the patties were cooked. I might also toss the Vadouvan spices in at the end of the sautee to bloom them a bit. Second, I felt that the mint/yogurt sauce really could have used a bit longer to meld the flavors, but that would complicate the recipe and the timing. 

The good is next. I love the yogurt used in the breading procedure, it worked as well or better than the traditional egg-based breading procedure.

breading procedure

 

One thing that thoroughly surprised me were the portions. I assumed they would be healthy sized (or tiny plates), but 1 burger and half of the zucchini rounds were more than satisfying, I probably could have had 3 meals out of the whole lot without feeling like i was moving into unsatisfyingly small portions. 
 

finished meal

Final observation: I believe that a good meal feels even better if served on nice plates, so I pulled out 1 of my 2 pretty dinner plates and used it for presentation. Use the fine china, that's what it's for in my opinion. 

halfwayeaten

I am definitely looking forward to eating the second portion as my lunch today. Deliciouso

Lobster Apron - Prepost

Blue Apron is all the rage around the interwebs and since I love cooking I thought I would give it  shot. I do not own a blue apron, though, so I will call this series Lobster apron (b/c my apron is covered in lobsters) If you want to try I recommend finding a coupon code for a few bux off your first box. If listen to any podcasts with sponsors it is likely that blue apron has been a sponsor, you can also look at groupon. 

I'm going to try and do a post about each meal in the box (there are three), but this post is only about the process and the arrival and packaging of the box.

First, the process was easy and simple to sign up, I used a coupon code from one of my favorite podcasts (Slates Double X Gabfest). I do wish (though I understand why it is not the case) that they didn't just sign me up for what appears to be the never ending future when I just wanted to try a week or two. 

Second, they definitely over communicate the fact that you are signed up and about to receive your first box. I think this is great because I am relatively forgetful until the last second. The emails contain information about the process, the smartphone app and a tracking number. 

So far so good, but then there was the delivery. It showed up at 5 am this morning, which is fine, but 2 things were less than ideal, but before I explain that let me explain the box. It's a relatively big box and when you open it up there is some silver bubble wrap. Once you pry that open I assume you should see most of the ingredients at the top and then under cardboard separator is a giant slap of ice. Under that first slab of ice is (again i assume) a small plastic box with your frozen items in it and under that is another slab of ice.

This is where I ran into problems and I think most of the problems could probably be blamed on the delivery company, not on blue apron, but to be thorough here were my problems

1) that box is heavy and not taped especially well so when I picked it up the bottom popped open. Thankfully I had a decent hold and nothing came crashing out. 

2) Once I got inside and opened it up there was no rhyme or reason to the organization and to be honest half the ingredients were smooshed (looking at you hamburger buns). Again, I don't think this is blue apron's fault and nothing was so smooshed that I couldn't use it, but things had slipped down below the cardboard separator and it was kind of a confusing mess. 

3) The yogurt, while not a frozen item did not seem like it was being kept cold. I wonder if that shouldn't have been down in the iced section? 

I took out all the ingredients and tossed them in the fridge except my three meats. I put the chicken and the fish in the freezer and left the lamb in the fridge to thaw so I can try out the Vadouvan spiced lamb burgers for dinner tonight

Overall I'd give the boxing/arrival/opening a B- it was't horrible, but I think a couple of things could be tweaked to make it an A. 

Finally Finished

Since last August I've been slowly working my way through yet another epic lace project. This time I finally broke out Victorian Lace Today which I've owned since it came out. I had 2 skeins of Baruffa Cashwool which is 100% merino. That was more than enough for the project, but since each of my other epic shawls required more than 10% the called for yarn I decided to mod from the beginning.

Biggest modifications I made:

1) Do not do the linking chart between charts  - The chart is 2 rows of stockinette on either side of a 2 row lace netting repeat for a total of 6 rows between every chart which would have meant an extra three hundred some odd rows. 

2) Edge only the beginning and the end - I don't love the edge all the way around

3)  Use provisional cast on for the edging, then go back and bind off - tension was much better 

Modifications I should have made, but didn't

1) go down a couple needle sizes for the edging - it wants to flare

2) keep 2 rows of stockinette between charts - they don't all flow perfectly from one to the next

3) 3 stitch instead of 6 stitch garter on either side - it is kind of a hard edge on a delicate project

Finishing:

Due to my living situation my favorite blocking style (pin out on a queen-size bed) doesn't work anymore so the top/bottom edging really needs re-blocked 

IMG_3216.jpg

 

Both pictures are only showing 1 half of the project. I can't fit the whole 10 ft anywhere in my apartment so half over the back of a door is as good as it's going to get.

10 on Tues: Every day edition

The prompt this week is relatively basic, just 10 things you did last week. Seems simple enough and then I realize that, per usual, my weeks are very mundane and since my weekend was also mostly mundane my life seems extra boring

1) Started reading The Martian

2) Completely failed at making candied pecans

3) Started a new Bullet Journal

4) Finished my Shawl (more next week on that)

5) Swatched for and started my customfit featherweight cardigan because everyone needs to start a laceweight sweater after 9 months of laceweight shawl knitting

6) Re-upped my membership on YogaDownload

7) Picked up some me-painted pottery

SushiBowl

8) Painted a Willkommen sign for my friend who is getting married soon

PaintPottery

9) Colored some Johanna Basford cards (I recommend the sharpie extra fine point markers)

grownupcoloring

10) Napped, napped again and continued napping. I am having some serious sleep problems which means I survive on naps

10 on Tues - Cheese!

I LOVE cheese, but I grew up in a pretty boring house cheese-wise. The biggest adventure was probably fresh mozzarella, but mild cheddar and colby jack were the staples. Then I went to college and worked in the office of the culinary school and was exposed to all sorts of things. My favorite was when someone from Formaggio came to teach cheese classes and I told them I don't like fancy cheeses and to that challenge he stepped up and offered a taste of a weeping goat cheese which I immediate fell in love with. I'm still not a huge cheese person, but here are some of my favorites. Then there is the story of cheese in my pocket, might get that up for friday

1) Colby Jack - very lightly flavored, but has a creamy texture

2) Chevre - the more expensive the more I probably like it, this is where my champagne taste really shines

3) Tillamook or Cabot Cheddar - my husband likes the sharpest sharp cheddar. I like sharp in a cheese plate, but in most dishes I prefer the mild. Tillamook was local to where I grew up and Cabot was up in New England and I did my visit to both dairies and I highly recommend them.

4) Fresh mozzarella - the soft, wet, best in a caprese salad cheese is constantly found in my fridge

5) Mozzarella - I love the fresh stuff, but if I want mozzarella on a (non-flatbread) the drier, block of mozzarella is what I grab

6) Gruyere - Deliciously flavored, sharp, but not bitter or tart. Gruyere in fondue and mac and cheese really elevates the simple cheese-based awesomeness

7) Brie - preferably baked inside crescent roll dough

8) Parmesan - The very best way to buy this is a small wedge, keep in fridge, grate on everything. I have been known to keep  (this is where my natty light taste really shines) in my fridge as well 

9) Squeaky cheese - cheddar cheese curds the best are the kind that squeak against your teeth

10) Camembert, Marscapone, ricotta, muenster, burrata, pecorino, neufchatel - ok all the cheese 

Wanna see more cheese? Check out the links at Carole's Blog

 

 

Blog Review - Running

I hate running. Really hate it. I do it, but it's not my favorite. I do like to follow others and encourage their accomplishments so I read many running and fitness related blogs. One I'm especially fond of is Run Eat Repeat

What I love: She's casual and sprinkles in running, food, fashion and her cat throughout the blog. 

What I wish it did: I don't want to read a bitch fest every day, but some negative comments about anything (life, food, fitness, product) makes the blog seem more personal. That said, I don't think that's what she is into blogging for so I don't really hold it against her

For you: What fitness do you not enjoy, but do because it is effective/helps you reach a different goal?

Meals that work - fish tacos

My family loves street food, my dad is famous for finding some hole in the wall place that serves the BEST random food. When he visits me we go to an amazing thai place in a random building/strip mall place on a very major road, but it's super easy to miss and no one I've met in the area has ever been. 

Another food that everyone associates with my dad is seafood tacos. Fish or shrimp are the most common. He loves him some fish tacos and I follow right in those footsteps so the other day when I was searching for supper and noticed I still had some fish in the freezer and corn tortillas in the fridge fish tacos were the obvious choice. 

I didn't have any amazing condiments, fancy salsas or cole slaw so I lightly breaded the fish (really just dipped it in flour) and pan fried it. I sauteed some spinach and onions, piled all of the above on the tortilla and made it work. Then I thought of condiment options.... fun mayonnaise! 

Whipped together a handful of cilantro- chopped, green onion - chopped, mayonnaise and sriracha, piled it on top and it was a great finishing touch!

Not a great photo, I'll never be a food blogger, but damn it was delicious

Not a great photo, I'll never be a food blogger, but damn it was delicious



Meals that work

What: Vegetable Bacon Roast

From: My head

Recipe commentary:

Have you ever been stuck with a use it or lose it meal situation? Awhile back I was stuck with a plethora of vegetables. Keep in mind I live alone and therefore it does not take many vegetables to be overwhelmed. So a couple Thursdays ago I was stuck with 2 bags of brussel sprouts and a small butternut squash that I desperately needed to use before they were past usable. that meant I was sent scrambling through the pantry, fridge and freezer for something to enhance the situation; lo and behold I found a package of bacon! 

I am not a super bacon fan. I like bacon and think it goes well with many things, but it doesn't need to be in everything. I think it works quite well with both vegetables I needed to use up. The other wrinkle here is that I was running dangerously low on clean dishes (story for another day). I took the only pan I had left a jelly roll pan, or cookie sheet with sides. The result was quite simple but honestly delicious


Recipe: 

2 bags of brussel sprouts (about 2 lbs)

1 small butternut squash

1/4 lb bacon

Preheat oven to 450F. Trim the brussel sprouts removing outer leaves, cut large ones in half. Peel the butternut squash, remove seeds and cut into chunks about the size of your brussel sprouts. Cut the bacon into 1/2" pieces. Toss the brussel sprouts and squash together and spread out into one layer on a pan. Lay the pieces of bacon randomly atop the vegetables

Bake until vegetables are done, stir around every 15 minutes, mine took about 45 minutes


10 on Tuesday

Carole want us to write about things we are looking forward to if I was still in New England it would be spring, but our in CA it's a little different

1) Stitches West - still debating on whether I'm going to budget for a more than just a market walk-through, but I do think I'm going to show up

2) Portland Yarn Crawl! - My friend Jill is going to be in PDX and so I decided to go up, hang out with my family and go yarn shopping!

3) Hiking - I keep pictures of an Oregon hike up in my cube and I look at them every day, it just makes me dream about my next hike 

4) Finishing my current epic lace project - I made it to the half-way point and now I just want it to be done! It's going to be gorgeous

5) Starting a Sweater - Last year at stitches west I bulk-bought a bunch of custom fit patterns so I could make sweaters and then I didn't make any so now is the time

6) Warmth - yes Cali has very mild winters, more spring than winter, but I wake up every morning to a very cold house and I'm ready to wake up to something warmer than a refridgerator

7) Trying out a couple new recipes - My sisters and I share a pinterest board that is only for SUCCESSFUL recipes. I want to add a successful recipe every month which means I need to try out more new recipes every month

8) Another class  - I'm finishing up a class in the next couple of weeks so March means something new. I'm ready for something new because this class has been neither interesting nor challenging

9) This - if it's real, I can't figure out how it is more efficient than the traditional methods, but I can't wait to find out

10) Getting back up to a 10k - training for the same race as last year

Carole's Page to see more 10 on Tuesday posts

Traditional Fridays

Monday through Thursday are for general traditions and now Fridays will be for stories based on specific traditions

Let's start with the obvious: holidays, specifically birthdays

Growing up our family's birthday traditions evolved throughout my life but each one really meant making you feel like the day was special and about you. 

When I was little I got to choose what my family would have for dinner, when I was a bit older I got to choose a restaurant to go to. This small bit of control over a whole the whole family's evening felt like quite a change from everyday life. 

We also had cake. My mom did something that is typical for parents, and she made very elaborate cakes for her first child. My older sister got a 3D care bear cake for her first birthday and a castle cake at some point. I was the second child with a smallish gap between us so I got relatively simple, plain cakes. 

Now let's be clear: I don't care, it's not a big deal and looking back I don't know why I ever cared, cake is lame, but as a kid it ticked me off. This came to a head when I was a teenager, so for my sixteenth birthday my mother made me a computer cake where chiclets and gel frosting made a keyboard. 

As an adult I tend to make really fun desserts and bring them to work and I never make cake. As I come up to a "big" birthday in 2015 I'm trying to plan my desserts. I'm thinking creme brulee, chocolate bread pudding, eggnog cheesecake, flavored caramels (maybe apple cider) and who knows what else. 

Another thing that eventually became part of teh birthday tradition was a trip to goodwill and possibly a shoe store. We could get some serious clothes shopping done and it would be relatively cheap. I remember looking for leather jackets and some other pieces that I wore quite a lot. I still go to goodwill and I still find great deals. This is one of those things I have learned to love more as an adult (and I really enjoyed it as a kid). I even ventured to the local thrift store on my last birthday. It was a ton of fun!

What are your birthday traditions? Are there different traditions for each of your siblings and/or kids? 

Cool Things Thursday

Thursdays are for cool things around the internet and to get deep about something I love and use all the time

This week is all about motivation

From the internet: Why pointing out the emperor's new clothes should be part of work culture

Let's get deep: I love yoga! Back in college I took hatha yoga 3 or 4 times and I loved it more each time. As a grown up I have made a couple attempts to make it a regular event, but finding the money to spend on a yoga studio has not been a priority. Thankfully, a fitness blogger I read tweeted or posted about yogadownload.com back in March. I jumped on a groupon for unlimited streaming. 

I'm going to be honest here, the interface was a pain in the butt, and I gave them that feedback. They responded that a change was already in the works and now the interface is just as I expect. I can login and choose my favorite video or try something new. 

If you want to try it out try any video related to hips, you will feel so much better even after just one session. I also like a couple that are for relaxation or closing out the day. 

How do you keep up with your fitness traditions? Are there other yoga websites I should try? 

 

Meals the Work

I am a dabbler in many things. One thing that I do all the time is cook. Wednesdays are going to focus on a recipe that I have tried and how much of success or failure it turned out to be

What: Dragon Spaghetti Squash

From: Budget Bytes: http://www.budgetbytes.com/2012/08/spicy-noodles/

Commentary:

I'm a dabbler so I tend to try recipes exactly the first time, but after that any change is free game. I have made this recipe 12 different ways and every time it's been a success. Finally I realized that I should just try the sauce on something other than pasta. I used everyone's favorite pasta substitute: Spaghetti Squash.

That said, I actually HATE when people replace pasta with that squash. I prefer to treat it as a vegetable, since that is what it is. I think the reason it worked so well was because it is so bland and the sauce in this recipe is so versatile. I did find that it was a bit spicier on squash than on pasta so I added a touch of creaminess at the end. 

Recipe Adjustments: Used a small spaghetti squash instead of pasta, added a tablespoon of sour cream at the end