Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Anniversary Quickies!

Today is my third anniversary!  So first and foremost, I am thrilled to pieces to celebrate this milestone, and so grateful for the amazing last three years!!!  And the many many more to come!  Poor Baby S has had a virus since last Thursday, so weren't able to celebrate over the weeknd as planned, but that's ok- we'll have fun on our trip to Door County for July 4th!  Yeah!!!

Couple other quick thoughts- last night I went to the Corinth Library to get some books for our trip.  I found four fabulous books, and the helpful staff even found one of the books that had mysteriously gone missing from the stacks for me.  I think we take for granted how wonderful our public libraries are, and I am so thankful to have well-stocked libraries all within a short drive of my home.  Free books!  What could be better?! 

Also- can't believe I failed to mention this sooner- I tried a new salon as the ridiculous Bijin in PV Shops finally pissed me off enough that I could no longer keep going- and guess what it was?  The Paul Mitchell Academy in OP!  HAHA.  Yup- a school!  My haircut was $10!  And it was fabulous!  So hooray for Paul Mitchell, I'll definitely be visiting again soon!  Loved my haircut!

Must give my treadmill a HUGE shout out, I just love that thing to bits.  It is such a lifesaver.  And I really enjoy my 45 minutes on there in the mornings, watching Cooking Channel crap like Ask Aida, or Ellie Krieger, or whatever other garbage is on there.  Just LOVE it!  Today was a nice change though, Baby S could not be left alone without sobbing hysterically so we went for a walk, and it was the perfect temp and sunny- so that was nice.  But boy oh boy am I grateful for the treadmill.

Finally- tried to create my own protein bars yesterday, and although the recipe still needs major tweaking, they are actually quite good!  Here is the recipe:

2 cups kashi go lean
1/3 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup slivered almonds
1/4 cup flaxseed meal
1 ounce dehydrated strawberries
2 tablespoons nut butter
2 egg whites

Combine all ingredients in bowl, spread out evenly in 8x8 baking dish and bake at 325 for 15 min.  The mixture ended up quite dry, but still very tasty- next time I'll experiment with more nut butter and/or more egg white.  It is not sweet at all, so if you are expecting it to taste like your average power/granola bar, you'll be quite surprised by its lack of sweetness, but I'll keep tinkering with it and I'll be posting again shortly!  Stay tuned for tonight's Anniversary Menu for MKG- whole-wheat Pasta Carbonara with Turkey Bacon, and wilted spinach and cannellini  beans (which is what I'll be eating!).


****Updated 8:49PM.  Sooooooooo Pasta Un-carb-onara went ok.  Not great.  I was all set for a one-pot-meal kind of situation, I don't know why that's what I envisioned, but let me tell you- it turned out to be a three-burner meal, which happens never.  Um yeah.  One pot to boil the pasta (you're supposed to use spaghetti of course, which I didn't have, so I used penne- that part was no biggie) one pan to cook the turkey bacon/green onions (which I put in everything when I have them, I think they are positively divine!) and then another pan to cook the spinach/cannellini beans.  Oh wait!  I also used another pot to defrost the spinach (yes it was frozen spinach, whole leaf, and honestly it was delicious regardless) but of course if you got steam-in-a-bag spinach you could have saved yourself that one.  

Everything was actually quite good, the spinach especially.  I combined 10oz of spinach (thawed and drained) with one can (rinsed thoroughly) of cannellini beans in a large saute pan with two teaspoons of olive oil, the juice AND zest of one lemon, and salt and pepper to taste, and you just warm it through.  It was delicious.  And as I explained to husband, you can eat 10oz of spinach for only 150 calories, is that incredible or what!  Plus all those minerals, vitamins, protein, and tons of fiber.  Plus the cannellinis and you are golden!  Honestly that was my meal in itself and it was really very satisfying and covered all your bases. 

Pasta UNcarbonara-
8oz whole grain pasta or half box
2 eggs
4 slices turkey bacon, chopped
3 green onions, chopped
1/4 cup parmesan/reggiano

Saute green onion and turkey bacon in a pan.  I used a dry pan, but of course for more flavor and depth use two teaspoons olive oil.  When crispy, remove from heat.  Boil pasta until just al dente, and transfer to pan with turkey bacon and onions, adding 1/4 cup pasta water and stirring.  Crack two eggs into a bowl and whisk.  Away from heat, after pasta has cooled slightly, stir in egg and stir continuously to avoid the inevitable (if you're me) scrambled-egg-pasta fiasco.  Yes, that is precisely what happened, no the dish was not ruined, and husband never having had Pasta Carbonara, it really made no difference!  Anyways, pour in parm or whatever you're using and stir, then serve! 

So the dish did not come out as planned, which is par for the course when I'm cooking, but it was certainly edible and even quite good, considering!  There was none left even though I made enough for two big servings.  The turkey bacon did its job, though of course I am sure pancetta would have been a revelation, along with the proper pasta noodle, the right cheese, and minus the scrambled eggs haha.  But it was a happy accident and in the end, the spinach and cannellini was really stellar.  So try it!

So tonight I say, once again, how grateful I am for my anniversary, now almost over, as well as something Bethenny Frankel says- "use what you have" which I am now able to do with much better results due to my careful and meticulous pantry stocking over the last few months!  It really is true- use what you got!  I love the many different applications of that phrase- applicable to clothing, makeup, food, whatever!  So thank you Bethenny (I love you!) and thank you pantry! 

Friday, June 24, 2011

Lovin my knock-off Le Creuset!

When I was planning my wedding and registering, I honestly did not think that much about the importance of what I was registering for.  At the time I was not the cook that I am today, and hopefully today I am not the cook that I will someday become.  So I had little knowledge of how important and instrumental those appliances and cookware would ultimately be.  That is why I am so incredibly glad I had the foresight to register for a quality dutch oven.  Yes, it's a knock off.  It is not Le Creuset or Staub.  It's a Mario Batali knock off from CB!  Yes, that's right, Mario Batali!  At about $100, it's still $150 cheaper than Le Creuset, which coincidentally is opening at One Nineteen shortly!  That will be interesting to see how it meshes with Crate and Barrel.  It's surprising actually the CB's lease allowed for another cookware store to move into the center.  Very odd.  But high end cookware stores are popping up more and more around the metro- Sur La Table having just opened on the Plaza.

Back to my point!  I love the darn thing!  All nine-hundred fifty-two pounds of it!  It is fabulous, big, bright, I could probably feed a family of six from that one pot.  About four months or so ago, I ordered a cookbook from Amazon, Glorious One Pot Meals I believe it's called.  Totally dorkfied name but what a wonderful cookbook.  Great recipes, all with nutritional info listed to boot, which is rare, and tons of quick and easy recipes you can try.  Every single recipe takes 45 min. in the oven at 425, and really minimal prep time.  I barely even look at it much anymore, it was really more like a textbook for me, a primer if you will, in dutch oven cooking.  But I love it, and I'll have to really delve into once winter comes.  For the time being I use it a lot for chicken, who doesn't have tons of chicken around, and mine is usually frozen, so a long braise in the dutch oven is great for getting rid of that gross freezer taste.  I am going to use it tonight, even though yes it's 90 degrees out, for a mexican chicken with beans and rice dish for husband.  I won't actually be eating it, can't really handle the rice, (yes it's brown, nope still can't) but I just love how you can grab a few things from the freezer, (you don't even have to defrost the frozen veggies, just throw 'em in!) a few things from the pantry, and you're done!  If you have chicken stock and onions on hand, even better.

So annoying, but I've learned some great tips!
So dutch ovens rock!  The other thing I'm stoked about is that I'm trying a new trick, brining.  I know, I am wayyyyyyyyyyyyy behind here.  There is absolutely nothing, and I mean nothing, new about brining.  (Um, spellcheck, really?  On brining?  What about brine?  Nope, I guess blogger knows brine.)  It's just that I have never done it before!  I read about it on Healthy Indulgences today.  I wish I had known about it sooner!  Supposedly it is great for boneless skinless chicken breast, which I also usually have.  Which, as we all know, tastes like nothing usually.  That familiar nothing chicken taste, it tastes like nothing in that it tastes like chicken, boring dry chickeny nothing.  So yeah, I'll give it a shot with chicken breast too.  I wonder if it would give poached chicken a little extra flavor.  I wouldn't really recommend poaching chicken- Ellie Krieger does it a lot for salads that call for chicken because it takes two seconds and adds zero fat/calories, but it's kinda gross.  Even Baby S was like- um no thanks to this nothing dry chicken. 

I am really getting into the low-carb, high protein lifestyle.  Not in an Atkins or South Beach way.  I am trying to eliminate process foods, slowly, and really start eating only clean, whole, unprocessed foods.  I have come to the realization that to maintain my current weight, I need to either eat like a rabbit, or really ramp up my exercise routine.  Since I am time starved as it is, and barely can find the time for 30 min on the treadmill and our daily walk around the neighb, I'm not sure more exercise is going to happen, unless I start getting up at 5am everyday...  So diet it is.  But I don't want to "diet."  I want my diet to be a byproduct of my healthy, whole, clean living.  I really do want to cut out ALL processed sugars, all refined carbs, alcohol (I know that is a biggie, but it makes me feel so gosh darn horrible) and basically all empty, nutritionally void foods.  I think I'm getting there.  I get closer all the time.  And all this research and all the blogs I'm starting to read are really helping me.  I have the sneaking suspicion too, that if I really do cut out all the junk and garbage, the small bites and tastes of this and that, that I really will feel a whole lot better, and I'll be able to eat more too.  I want to experiment with eating more protein and see if I really can get away with eating more calories, but protein calories, and stay at my current weight.  If what I'm reading is true, I think I'll be able to.

Did you know you are supposed to eat one gram of protein for every kilogram of your weight?  That means I should be eating 40-43 grams of protein per day.  Some days I probably get close, some days I may exceed it, like if I have a turkey burger or a big piece of chicken or steak, but honestly, I don't think I meet this goal most days.  My protein go-to's are string cheese, a boiled egg, Kashi Go-Lean Cereal (the rabbit turd looking kind) and low fat yogurt and cottage cheese.  I know I know, that's a lot of dairy.  But I will NOT be joining the ranks of the DF anytime soon.  Sorry.  So I have started looking into Whey Protein.  But like everything else, there are various kinds, levels, protein chains, etc, and they all have different structural make-up and therefore different physical and nutritional implications.  Percentage protein vs. fat vs. carbs.  So I'm not quite ready for that yet, although supposedly whey protein when combined with other foods actually lowers the Glycemic Index of what you're eating and minimizes blood sugar spikes.  Inneresting eh?

But in order to kick some of my not so healthy food habits (snacking on Cheerios because they're around, they're for the baby! Eating like a whole lb of carrots, or half a bag of nuts at a time because I am soooooooo desperate for a snack food that is crunchy/salty) I need a much better stocked pantry.  I need healthy, low-carb high protein snacks that I can depend on.  And I need tools for healthy meals that are readily available to me in a pinch.  Here are some things I'd love to have on hand:

-blanched almond flour
-coconut flour
-unsweetened shredded coconut
-coconut butter
-NSA peanut butter
-flaxseed meal
-Sunflower and Pumpkin seeds
-Kale and kale chips
-NoOodles (have you heard of these?)
-Pumpkin and Squash puree
-100% dark chocolate
-unsweetened chocolate chips
-unsweetened cherries and cranberries
-Whey protein
-Hemp bread

I'll have to try to incorporate these things into my stock little by little, no doubt it would cost a fortune all at once.  But I'll get there.  Can't wait!  And I really can't wait too too long because I want my daughter to grow up eating healthy and feeling good, and understanding the HUGE role that eating right plays in how we feel, look, grow, age, and live.  Food is not just fuel.  Food is medicine, food is energy, food is life, and if you eat shit, you are shit.  Growing up I never thought like that about food.  Even with my crazy father who obsessed about calories in calories out and measured his food maniacally.  We know now it is not calories in calories out.  There are good calories, ok calories, bad calories, and horrible calories.  Yes you can be fat eating health food, or skinny from junk food.  Although I read yesterday that even though you may look skinny, your organs are actually fat, obese even, and this is called metabolic obesity.  So skinny fat people, it's not all about what you look like.  I think I was probably skinny fat for quite awhile.  But the bottom line is that for me, eating crap makes me feel like crap, and look like crap, so I'm done.  I really am.  And I am not going to think along the lines of how much I'm denying myself, how it's so horrible I can't eat cupcakes and treats and drink booze.  There is no poor me in this scenario and I now, once and for all, banish that form of thinking from my brain as it pertains to food.  I have a metabolic syndrome that has necessitated my restricted diet but that doesn't mean my life is restricted, on the contrary.  I am smarter and healthier than ever and I vow to stay on this path and never, ever, poor me my diet again.  I am lucky to know what I know and I will not think about how sad it is that I can't have dessert or a handful of crackers or chips.  The issue is, why do we CRAVE and DESIRE those awful things so much to begin with?  What is wrong with us?  With society?  How did we get here?  Humans aren't supposed to eat all these grains and sugar!  We are supposed to eat things that grow in the dirt and animals that we kill to survive and natural fats that give us long-lasting energy.

Ok, now I'm getting all paleo and that is NOT the direction I wanted to go.  Now that is a bit creepy to be honest and I'm getting way ahead of myself.  The point is- this post has really helped me to see how much my poor me crap was limiting me and hurting me.  Poor me nothing.  I am done yearning for sweets that literally poison me and I am done complaining that I can't snack on shit.  Who wants that garbage anyways?  What I need to do is create a new healthy living plan that encompasses diet, excercise, regular creativity and above all, positive thinking.  A healthy and whole diet will organically materialize from this line of thinking.  I don't want to eat things to check them off a list, I don't want to think so consciously about getting a certain amount of protein or vitamins or minerals.  I just want to be surrounded by healthy food and healthy habits that enable healthy eating and a healthy diet.  I know I can do it.  This post has really been a breakthrough for me!

So my list of things I'm grateful for today has grown.  Yes, I'm grateful for my time-saving and freezer burn eradicating dutch oven, I'm grateful for learning about brining (get a clue spellcheck!) and I'm grateful for irritating Cooking Channel hosts like Ellie Krieger.  But what I'm really grateful for is how this blog is ALREADY helping me live and think healthier and happier.  Will post some pics of the food a little later!  Happy eating, happy weekend, and keep on giving thanks!

Edited: 8:41PM.  Yet another successful dutch oven meal!  yeah!  Something strange I've noticed though, when husband comes home and sees the dutch oven on the island, ready to be filled with ingredients, he always frowns and says, "why are you going to cook in that thing, it's so hot out!"  To which I calmly explained that in order for food to become edible, it has to be cooked, and cooking requires heat.  So what other cooking method should I employ?  I think he thinks that when the dutch oven comes out, there's going to be some big meaty hearty hot filling stew, which I can't blame him if he doesn't want to eat that on a hot summer night.  But no folks, the dutch oven is not just for winter and it's not just for stews!  Seriously!  Here is what I made: 

Mexican Spiced Chicken with Brown Rice and White Beans
-Two bone in skin on chicken thighs, or breasts, whatever you prefer (I brined them for two hours, totally optional but it was amazing!  You could definitely tell.  But for sure use reduced sodium broth!)
-1/2 cup white beans (I used dried, which I boiled for 2 min. first and then let sit in water for one hour)
-1/2 cup brown rice
-2 1/2 cups of chicken stock
-4 green onions, sliced
-4 or 5 tablespoons your favorite salsa
-1 teaspoon oregano
-1/2 teaspoon cumin
-1/2 teaspoon cayenne
-Optional: green veggie- green peppers would be great, corn, though not if you're low GI, broccoli, green beans, whatever.  I didn't have any of that so did not throw in, but made a veg on the side.

Preheat oven to 450.  Spray inside of DO with canola spray.  Layer in beans and rice, then pour in stock.  Can use reduced fat and reduced sodium stock, or half stock half water if preferable.  Stir, then sprinkle in green onions, or regular onions, whatever!  Then place chicken skin side up over rice/bean mixture.  The cooking liquid will steam the chicken and keep everything moist and yummy while it's in the oven.  And all the flavors from the chicken will create a really good sauce for the rice/beans.  Season chicken, then cover with salsa and sprinkle in more green onions.  Cover with lid and that's it!

And the results were.....
Um yeah, that is obviously NOT what I meant to do.  I had planned on taking a before picture of my Glorious One Pot Meal haha- not an after.  But I forgot, and husband ate pretty much all of it quite quickly.  And Mr. J quite enjoyed the sauce and chicken skin as well.  Here he is lounging in the grass after his meal.

So yes, another successful meal from my nine hundred fifty two pound beast love baby.  Yesterday I had another cooking experiment that did not go as well.  I was perusing one of the new blogs I'm reading, pretty sure it was Spoonful of Sugar Free and there was a recipe for chocolate cookies that I happened to have the ingredients for.  It was super simple- cocoa powder, sweet potato, egg, vanilla, baking powder, and it made such a small quantity I figured I'd try it.  Ech.  Not so good.  I definitely wasn't a fan of the bitter chocolate and mealy texture of the sweet potato.  I'm sure it's an acquired taste but I just did not enjoy it.  Which disappoints me because I always have those ingredients on hand and it is so easy and healthy!  But no, not good.  The texture was just gross.  I'm sure I did it wrong or something.  I hope that is the case and not that I don't like things that taste healthy.  It's a matter of expectations I'm sure.  You expect a chocolate cookie to taste like a chocolate cookie, and when it doesn't, you're bummed.  Probably it should be called, cocoa powder sweet potato cakes or something like that.  Cuz that's what they are.  Spoonfuls of baked sweet potato flavored with cocoa powder.  But I'll try a few more recipes before I permanently disown my tastebuds.

So try my recipe for Mexican Spiced Chicken, and definitely try brining next time around too.  Would be fabulous on turkey breast.  Just dissolve kosher salt in a bowl of cold water and soak for an hour or two in the fridge et voila!  Ok, going to go watch Treme with husband. 

Thursday, June 23, 2011

6/23/11 and I'm grateful for...

79 degrees and sunny...diet cherry 7up...my treadmill...Door County in one week...and the topic of today's post, my first bff I made here in KC, RMJF.

Me and Baby S at 5 days old, and RMJF
I met RM in June of 2006, although we weren't formally introduced until that October, and I think we all went on our first date in February of 2007.  RM was the first MOT girlfriend I made here and also very significant because her husband and MKG became friends as well and really they became our first couple friends.  This is huge in the development of any relationship and marriage.  Your ability to make couple friends and eventually, develop groups of couple friends.  I honestly had no idea how integral to your marriage your group of couple friends would become.  But it is HUGE.  If you do not have a large group of couple friends that both you and husband like and agree on, man you are doomed!  So anyways, RM really was the first, numero uno, and will always be a bestie to me and occupies a very special place in my heart.  We have been through all our adult milestones and have shared tons of life lessons.  She has been with me every step of the way as I navigated learning to love this city, became a fiancee, then a wife, and finally, a mom! And vice versa, I have watched her as she matured into the perfect wife, now mother, and now expecting again!  I am exactly one day older than RM, and we have many similarities.  We are both into health and fitness, proper diet and nutrition, and making sure our families eat properly.  We love travel and Bravo, and shopping, though we rarely ever do it anymore, we love restaurants and seeing movies, although we never do that anymore either!  But it's really our differences and how they mesh so well together that I cherish the most.  RM is a goody goody and probably the nicest human on earth.  Some of my favorite memories with her and when I've managed to drag some gossip and shit talk out of her.  She doesn't give in easily and will often preface shit talk with "well I don't like to talk negatively about so and so, but..." and then I know it's going to be a good convo!  Over the years as we've become more comfortable with each other I find it's easier to get her in the gossiping mood, which is great because I'm one of those people who should buy the bumper sticker that says "If you don't have anything nice to say, sit next to me."  Now gossiping is not the same as bitching, moaning, complaining, or whining.  If you want to shoot the shit and talk about people that's one thing, but complaining and generally being an immature brat is a completely different subject.  Complaining, whining, and poor me type talk I have absolutely no patience for whatsoever and may even have adverse physical reactions to.  I just cannot stand it.  And as luck would have it, husband is probably the king of poor me type talk.  Ahhhhhhhhh but that's another story!

Back to my point- I love gossip, not mean spirited or venomous gossip, just talking about people and things and analyzing and critiquing and picking apart different subjects and friends and occurrences.  People Places and Things baby.  Love talking about 'em.  I think the reason for this is twofold.  One, I come from a big family, of many women.  And two, I come from a big Jewish family.  And of course, as all the stereotypes dictate, small talk, gossip, and kibbitzing is our natural birthright and sport of choice.  No, as ethnicities go we are not generally the best athletes, but our mouths certainly get a better work out than any other culture, that's for sure.  And for that too, I am grateful.  Jews running their mouths, goes hand in hand like peanut butter and jelly.  Now that is something husband is extremely skilled at.  The guy can run his mouth unlike anyone you have ever met.  Exhaustively.  It's incredible, and quite a feat.  Very impressive.  And I am not employing the use of sarcasm here, I really mean it.  His knack for mouth-running is really something to marvel at. 

So- I love to gossip.  Got it.  RM, while much nicer than me and just a more superior human being all-around, also likes to gossip, and we have enjoyed many many hours of gossiping over the years and as we get older, the gossip just keeps getting better and better!  She has also been a fantastic teacher and shoulder to lean on.  She has been one step ahead of me for years now- first with getting married, then with buying a house, getting pregnant, having a baby- I can always depend on her to tell me everything I need to know about any given situation, which is great because she is always prepared, always educated, and always organized, while I can be quite a dope.  I never bothered reading any baby books because I knew I could rely on her wealth of knowledge on any baby-related subject.  I suppose she somewhat enables my laziness, which I'm too lazy to care about, which is another thing I'm grateful for!  While she is a doer, a planner, a constant stream of energy, I tend to be a bit more lax, and live in the "ignorance is bliss" camp.  And honestly, it works for us!  We are great friends, better than ever, and I am endlessly, hopelessly, thoroughly, and happily grateful to her for our friendship, for her help, undying support, care, kindness, and generosity.

Ignorance- now that is another interesting topic, and something I am grateful for as well.  Of course I am not speaking of racial ignorance, sexual ignorance, religious ignorance and or intolerance of any kind.  I just mean plain old, duh stupid ignorance.  Sometimes what you don't know can't hurt you.  I like being informed and in the know and wordly.  I like knowing what's going on in the world and the country and our city and having something of value to add to our universal dialogue.  I want to make a worthwhile contribution to society, don't get me wrong.  But gosh aren't there times you just wish you didn't know something?  Or times you honest to god truly don't know the answer to something and could not give a shit?  I remember when I was in junior high, I was obsessed with the stars, galaxies, far away planets, the universe.  It still intrigues me to no end.  But jesus if that stuff isn't one giant boondoggle clusterfuck of a headache.  How in god's name can you ever even begin to wrap your mind around the perplexity and complexity of our universe?  Known knowns, known uknowns, unknown knowns, unknown uknowns etc etc.  Ugh.  It hurts my brain, it did then and it does now.  And I remember thinking about it so much and so hard that it upset me, I became somewhat hopeless and listless.  If the universe was so big, so wide, so old, and so impossible to understand, what did that mean for you as an individual? And how could you persuade yourself to think that your one life had any significance whatsoever?  If you are just one nano-particle in a vast universe, what the hell difference does your life make?  It can be a tough subject, and one I often wished I didn't think about.  Lots of people don't.  That is the type of ignorance I mean.  Sometimes its ok to be stupid.  Sometimes its ok to watch Real Housewives of Orange County and lose a few brain cells on junk tv.  I don't recommend you do it all day everyday, but once in awhile, a little stupidity can be replenishing I think.  That should be my blog's title, In Defense of Stupidity. 

So today, I'm grateful for beautiful weather, my favorite diet soda, my bestie RM, and good ol' ignorance.  A little bit won't kill ya. 

A bientot friends, keep on giving thanks!

Monday, June 20, 2011

First Father's Day

What an absolute joy it was to share our first Father's Day as a family.  We had such a fun fun day, enjoying time with GG and Papa (sort of) at the pool and having an absolutely fabulous time grilling out, just me, MKG, SMG, and jer jer.  Afterwards it was a yummy treat from Peachwave and the interesting and compelling finale of The Killing.  Lots to be grateful for yesterday. 
I looooooooooove Peachwave.  Because of my stupid restricted diet that I am on that makes no sense and no one can explain or understand, I basically can not eat sugar, carbs, or treats of any kind.  That doesn't mean I don't indulge, I think it will probably many years before I have a good grip on it, but really, I am not supposed to have carbs/sugar/alcohol, ever.  It's funny how the process has altered the way I think about food, the way I eat, and the way I taste.  Drinking wine I would have liked a year ago, well two I guess since I was pg with SMG last summer, I now can hardly stomach because of how sweet it is.  I need dry dry dry wine, and it has to be good!  I am only allowed one glass really so it better be AMAZING right?  Regardless, I get a terrible sugar hangover the following day, whether I drank one glass or two or whatever.  And add in a couple bites of dessert to the mix and I'm screwed!  The next day I am uncomfortable, woozy, and hungover.  So interesting the effects that sugar has on oneself- don't even get me started on the subject.  Sugar seriously is killing us.  And that is too bad because who doesn't looooooooooove sugar!?  Which brings me back to Peachwave.  I can actually have it!  Well, the plain tart anyways.  With some blackberries??! Yum!  So that is lucky for me- not too many carbs and it actually has some calcium and protein to boot.  So that is lucky for me!  I really love it.  Hopefully one day I'll just be over sugar and can feel normal passing over it.  It's a little frustrating trying to explain my situation to people- it's kind of strange and certainly very very uncommon, especially for someone my size. But my entire health portfolio makes absolutely no sense whatsoever and I am basically a walking anomaly so I suppose I should not be surprised in the least.  Unfortunately two of the people I have to share meals the most with, my in-laws, totally do not comprehend my needs and are always pestering me, asking me the same questions repeatedly, and giving me shit for whatever I'm eating or not eating.  My MIL asks me constantly what desserts she can make that "are ok with my diet."  It is so nice she cares for me and wants to make me something that I specifically can eat- but honest to god, how many times do I have to say I cannot eat sugar or carbs before she gets it? 

Ok this is totally not meant to be a rant about my in-laws.  Yesterday was just a little tense is all.  They are wonderful, superb, great people and in the interest of this blog- here is what I am so so so grateful for in my adopted KC family.

MIL- always looking out for me, defending me, helping me with baby S in every way humanly possible.  Loves her fiercely and loyally in a way that really is unmatched by anyone else in our extended family.  Great caretaker and incredibly, incredibly generous.

FIL- the decision maker!  a decisive, strategic, motivated, and introspective man who is above all else, the number one provider for his family.  Would never let one of his children suffer and loves his three grandkids immeasurably.

BIL- such a sweet, sensitive, though mis-understood guy.  He means well and is always ready with a helping hand.  Good for a laugh and loves poking fun.  Big help with Baby S and so so good with kids.  We love you big D!

We had a fun day and while I was a pretty big brat it ended up being a wonderful day and I am so so so happy that I have a beautiful family and a wonderful home to create all these memories. 

On to the next- I need some new appliances.  Stove, dishwasher, and unfortunately- coffee maker is totally dunzo.  It is a nice one too!  Three year old stainless Cuisinart.  Should not have died already!  Hoping it can be salvaged somehow.  If I had readers I would ask- what is a good stainless steel gas range that is affordable and self-cleaning?  I need someone to come hook up a gas line too.  Suggestions for a dishwasher? 

Much love and thanks- RG

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Summertime, and the livin's easy

Bugs in a Jar!

....well, perhaps not easy, but honestly, when the sun is shining and the sky is blue and the weather warm and not humid (for the moment), how can you complain?  I am most definitely a summer girl.  Love it.  Love not caring about what I'm wearing because you just get sweaty and hot no matter what, love not putting on much makeup because again, sweaty and hot, love wearing flip flops day and day out, love the smell of the air, talking walks in our neighborhood, love sitting outside when I have a free moment, the carefree attitude people have all around you, the sweet smell of sunblock on sweaty skin, green grass and flowers blooming, longer days and brighter nights, the sound of kids playing outside, the first lightning bugs of the season, and most of all, the absolute joy and thrill of experiencing the summer for the first time with my daughter, who seems to be as much a summer girl as I am!

The Good You
But you know what I'm really grateful for?  The Food Truck trend's full-on arrival here in cow-town.  Though not really an ideal city for food trucks, we don't have the most vibrant downtown city-center or much pedestrian action,  the concept has really taken off, to much fanfare!  I had the pleasure of inviting some food trucks out to my sidewalk sale this past weekend, which went really well (gratefully!), and though the more popular trucks were already booked (including my first choice, The Good You, which originally was scheduled to come but had to cancel because they ended up going to Bonnaroo, where they were featured on FOX and in this month's issue of Food & Wine!) I was able to finally snag Indios Carbonsitos, a delicious KCK food truck serving up gourmet Mexican BBQ.  Only in KC folks, only in KC.  Only in the 'dotte I should say.  While I kinda question the "gourmet" part of the description, it was indeed Mexican and it was most definitely BBQ.  My interns sampled the BBQ nachos and boy, did it deliver.  It was kind of your average pool/country club/theme park nachos, semi-stale-ish corn tortillas and orange cheez whiz, but the meat was delicious, tender, and piled high!  Pulled pork, bbq chicken, and brisket, all mixed together and slathered on the pool nachos.  The couple bites I had were fantastic.  It would have been even better with some kind of pickled veggies, or some acid/vinegar combo, but it was really good, and a welcome change from the usual BBQ you get here, which to be honest I have never been a fan of (I know, I will never be a true Kansas Citian). 

BBQ Nachos!
 I am so excited for the upcoming Westport Food Truck Festival, where many of our city's finest and newest will be showcased, it will definitely be a neat event.  Check it out with us!  July 8th and 9th peeps!

Also, I'm grateful for pumpkin seeds.  They quench my craving for salty and crunchy, but aren't carby and aren't as fattening as nuts.  Yum!

That is all!  Until next time, keep on giving thanks. 

Friday, June 10, 2011

Rain Rain WENT Away!

I didn't post yesterday because I was super busy getting organized for my first kids concert of the season, and I was also veryyyyyyyyy nervous about impending severe weather/tornados which we are no stranger to here in good ol' Kansas- and I am so thrilled and happy to say that not only did the weather hold out, but we had our absolute best attendance ever!  There were probably 500+ people in attendance, thanks mostly to the great talent we had in Mr. Stinky Feet and Dino O'Dell!  I couldn't believe all the teeny tiny newborns that were out on display- it was plenty warm out so I guess the moms weren't worrying about the babies being cold- but honest to god I have never seen so many itty bitty teeny tiny little infants in my life.  Unreal.

I am so grateful to my jew crew who has really taken to these concerts here and comes out every week to enjoy them.  We had a blast last night and the weather was perfect and  I am so proud and excited to say that I really feel good about providing families with fun, free, convenient, and unique activities that everyone can enjoy.  It's a great feeling.  So thank you weather gods and thank you to the great bands and my awesome partners and vendors who made it all possible.  What a great night!  Until next time!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Lysol wipes instead of baby wipes?

So my new babysitter, god love her, is a bit green.  She's only 17 for crying out loud.  But oy what a spectacle to come home to this afternoon!  Baby S is quite the magician you see, managing to turn one poop into three ruined outfits, one ruined sheet, one ruined crib sheet saver, one entire roll of paper towels in the trash, and a large quantity of dirty Lysol wipes in the diaper genie that I can only imagine were used in lieu of baby wipes, which I see ran out!  So, I'm grateful for, improvising and creative problem-solving in teenaged babysitters!  Honestly, I would absolutely never have even offered to babysit a 9 month old for even one-hour when I was 17, so I really can't diss.  It's pretty funny actually.  The image of the canister of Lysol on the changing table is one I'll not soon forget.  Well, I probably will, which is why I'm so glad to be blogging.  Shit like that is worth a couple chuckles and isn't that something to be grateful for too?  Hey, if you can get a chuckle or two out of your hectic, insane, 95 degree day with 95% humidity while working outdoors, then that is a day well spent right?

But coming home to a happy, healthy, and safe baby is worth a roll of paper towels and three shittified onesies I think.  And that, I am grateful for!

I'm also grateful she is finally napping for gods sake.  It only took an hour and 18 minutes for her to fall asleep and now, I guess she'll be sleeping until dinner.  Great?  Hmmm.  We are starting "table foods" now that she is 9 mos.  I have no idea what that actually means.  Table foods means food from your table.  Well, what if you don't have a table, what if you don't eat at a table, or eat meals really.  What if you cook, like, once a week, what does table food mean then?  I have to say, I am dreading when S really starts to eat real food.  So I'm going to have to cook, in some way or another, every single day, three times a day?  How do moms do that?   I mean I guess many moms just don't.  Mine certainly didn't.  But that is another story for another day, or another blog entirely, one that I'm not going to write!  Promise!  And then, there's the whole debate of, Baby so and so eats what we all eat, just in smaller pieces.  Again, does this mean I am going to have to cook every day?  And if I do, am I going to have to eat dinner at like, 5:15 because that's when so and so goes to bed?  If we don't eat as a family, am I dooming my child(ren) to a lifetime of food issues, unhealthy eating habits, and the like?  Having had my own food issues, that is not a mistake I want to see manifesting in my own child.  But I understand how important it is that you kids see you eating healthy food, in a healthful manner.  I suppose like everything else, things fall into place and you end up doing what works for you.  But I really would like some suggestions on healthy proteins that can be made easily.  I mean easily I don't mean 30 minutes of preparation and another 30 of cooking.  Full-time working moms out there holler atcha girl!

Ok S is up, and screaming in her crib.  It is 4:25.  That was 8 full minutes of quiet.  That's something right?  Maybe she'll fall back asleep (!??!?!).  Yes I am a terrible mother, lazy, blah blah.  I definitely won't win any parenting awards, lets just say that.  All I can do is love her as much as I can, which I do so much my heart breaks when I think about her, and try to do the best I know how.  I am not an expert, and I don't portend to have any great knack or talent for this, or anything else really.  I am no saint, god knows, I am not particularly skilled or blessed with anything in particular.  I am a very good vacuumer, I read faster than anyone I know, I am an exceptional listener and very good at empathizing.  I am not a good athlete nor do I care, not interested in sports and even less so now than I used to be, before husband ruined all sports for me due to constant ESPN and sportstalk.  I am a pretty terrible driver, not very good at keeping in touch, an awful baker due to a)lack of direction-following and b)always trying to make things healthier even when I know it will ruin the outcome- why do I do that?  Baked goods are inherently un-healthy, get over it!  I am not very affectionate, never have been, to husband's dissatisfaction (kind of?) and can have a very weak hug.  But hugging, don't get me started.  Why do we always have to hug?  Why do I have to hug (and kiss even!) friends and acquaintances I see regularly?  What is the point?  It's often a weak hug from both ends, not like Chaim Schmeilik is giving me this big bear hug and I'm a dead fish barely returning the effort.  Men most of the time initiate, why?  I don't want a hug.  I doubt they really want one either.  What is the deal with hugging?  So yeah, I am a crappy hugger.  I am not particularly crafty, or creative, or inventive.  Honestly, I can be quite lazy.  Sitting in bed watching HGTV reruns and the same episode of Barefoot Contessa for the fifth time does not sound all that unappealing.  Baby S has been crying in her crib for 9 minutes now and here I sit.  See?  Terrible mother.  Just kidding- kind of.

It feels good to say admit all that.  It feels good to get it out.  I guess perhaps it also makes me a bad person to say, that I don't really give a shit!  I'm not perfect, not even close, I have a zillion flaws, and I kind of really don't give a shit, at all.  Is that laziness, or is that acceptance?  Let's call it acceptance, sounds fancier and more enlightened, which of course I am.

So I'd like to add that to the list.  I am grateful for laziness/acceptance.  I am grateful that I am NOT perfect and that I DON'T care.  Otherwise, what an annoying person I would be.  I do try to make small improvements and grow a little bit everyday.  Whether or not I actually am improving and growing is another subject.

Ok, Baby S is choking from crying, better go!  Aren't I the best mom ever?

First Post!

Today is June 8th, 2011.  There really is nothing special about this date, no reason I'm choosing to begin The Grateful Life today as opposed to any other day.  I just decided it was time to start living a more Grateful Life, and putting my gratitude "down on paper" as it were, putting it in written form.  I feel like expressing it this way will somehow make it more meaningful, and lasting, and give me the creative outlet that I've been craving.  So Grateful Life, here goes!  I'm excited to see where this experiment takes me!

So for my first post- while I am going to stick to the purpose of this blog and talk about what I'm grateful for, today, I want to first explain why I'm doing this.  And that really comes down to one quote, that I've always carried with me, spoken by my beloved Grandma Sally, back in 2001 or 02, at one of our many family gatherings.  She was thanking everyone for coming, I think it must have been an anniversary or birthday party for her or my Papa, and she was talking a little bit about what makes her tick, what keeps her going, and she said something I've never forgotten.  She said- "Everyday you wake up, and you open the blinds, and the sun comes in, and you smile.  And that's life- letting the sun in and smiling." 

Life really is that simple.  You let the sunshine in, and if you're lucky, you get some happiness out of that- a smile.  Finding happiness in the everyday, the mundane, the little things, cliche as it sounds.  That is how I've tried to live my life.  Finding joy in the hundreds of little blessings that are happening all around you every single day.  A kiss from your puppy, a heartfelt "thank you" from a stranger, someone letting you go in front of them in the drive-thru lane at Starbucks, making dinner for my husband and watching him enjoy it, or seeing my baby daughter experiencing something for the first time, and the indescribable joy she gets out of something seemingly meaningless, like a remote control for the TV, or a leaf on a tree in the backyard, or a chewed-up dog toy, a lukewarm bath with mommy...

I think we all know that life can be hard.  Life can be a struggle.  It can break you, make you cry, render you speechless, alone, desperate.  Those moments of desperation, of hopelessness, they can become your whole life, your everyday, if you let them.  They can swallow you up whole, and steal your life away from you without you even realizing.  They can make you do terrible things to yourself, and your loved ones.  They can be a time-machine, transporting you to the future so that you've lost days, weeks, months, god forbid even years. 

But what is the point, of living like that?  Of losing whole chunks of time, of wasting yourself and your energy on nothingness?  What is the point?  Why even bother?  Hopefully if this happens to you, you learn from it, learn some valuable lesson(s) and can move on, stronger, happier, with a wealth of knowledge you didn't have before.  And I hope you take that knowledge and become someone stronger, wiser, and more adaptable and flexible, and elastic, if that makes any sense.  I hope you are able to snap back, more efficiently and more easily next time the unthinkable happens.   Because if you can't, then it's nothing more than wasted time, wasted tears, wasted breath, and that is a shame.  There is just no point.  Of course there are always exceptions, I honestly don't know how many people could still find the strength to be happy in certain dire circumstances, like if you were in a concentration camp, chronically ill in the hospital, or imprisoned, but god knows people have managed even in those cases!  I think many if not most of us, could probably benefit from being more grateful, from taking a moment to savor the small bits of joy in every day and every experience, from stopping to realize just good you have it, even if it seems like you don't.

There is nothing worse than losing time, wasting time.  Once it's gone it's gone.  You can't get it back.  No amount of money can buy it, no amount of work or effort will earn it.  It's just gone.  And I refuse to lose any of it willingly.  Life is too short and too precious, and quite frankly, too much fun!  Life really is a blast if you take a second to realize it!

But I have gone off on a tangent and gotten all preachy and I'm going to barf if I keep this up so I'm done!  I just want to get the most out of this short vacation here on planet Earth and enjoy every little nanosecond that I can.  And this is a tool I've devised for at least attempting to do that.

So today- here is what I'm grateful for.  I'm grateful for cheap High School babysitters that are sweet and trustworthy and happy to watch baby S, I'm grateful for warm summer weather and sunshine, I'm grateful for how great S's 9-month check up went, how much she smiles and laughs, how she is starting to try to dance and bop her tush to the music when we listen to J.Lo's Get on the Floor.  I'm grateful for fresh fruit and cold vino and good friends to enjoy them with.  I'm grateful for my sweet husband who god help him could use a little more gratitude in life, but no amount of nagging or gentle reminding from me is going to help him get there!  I'm grateful for Door County WI on the horizon and playdates and bbq's and texts from friends I don't see much asking to hang out.  I'm grateful it's Wednesday and I'm grateful I'm coming up on our first Father's Day and our third wedding anniversary.  I'm grateful I get to be a bridesmaid in my cousin's wedding in September and that I have fun events to celebrate.  And I'm grateful that this idea popped into my head, I can't believe it never did before!  What a dumb-ass I am!  I read a zillion blogs, how was I so blind as to write my own?

So happy reading and writing and here's to a more Grateful Life.  XoXoRG