Monthly Archives: January 2016

Currently

I saw this series on a food blog I love, Iowa Girl Eats, and thought this would be a fun prompt for a Friday when my brain is mostly mush.

Time and place. 6:16AM, curled up with a blanket and coffee on our new living room chair, waiting for the sun to rise.

[EDIT: as I was typing this, my husband (who usually does not wake up until 7AM or later), stumbled out of the bedroom and demanded that I cuddle him on the couch. So now I’m sitting on the couch in our living room, scratching his back with one hand while I try to type the rest of this post with my other. Is this what it’s like to have children?!]

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Barcelona (photo source)

Reading. Spain guidebooks. Although we originally planned to visit Spain and Portugal this fall, I finally looked at a map and realized that Spain is a freaking big country. In order to spend more time in each destination, we’re focusing just on Spain and will save Portugal for another trip (although I am trying to sneak in a few days in Paris at the beginning of the trip).

Cooking. At the moment, nothing. Usually, I cook eggs and some sort of leafy green for breakfast, but recently I’ve been turning to smoothies instead. We are having homemade pizza for dinner, though, which reminds me – I need to take the dough out of the freezer to defrost.

Awaiting. News of the winter storm that’s supposed to hit the East Coast this weekend. I originally planned to fly to Washington, DC for work on Sunday, but at the “strong recommendation” of the airline, I moved my flight to Monday. Here’s hoping they have everything sorted out by then and I can make it across the country without being stranded in any airports.

Experiencing. Warmth! After learning (the hard way – i.e. sky-high electric bills) that our house (built in the 60s) had minimal (as in, 1 – 3 inches, we’re supposed to have 18) insulation in the attic, we bit the bullet and paid over $2,000 to have the proper amount installed. That’s a lot of money, but I can already see a huge difference in the way our house holds temperature, and I know it’ll pay off in the long run. Owning a house is expensive, y’all.

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Isn’t he the cutest? (photo source)

Listening. To a “Hive Management” seminar from our local garden and agricultural club. That’s right, folks, we’re getting bees in our backyard this spring! Even though we’re in a neighborhood, our county has very relaxed rules on which animals you can raise in your backyard. We eventually plan to add ducks and maybe even a goat, but bees are the first step. In addition to feeling good about helping offset the declining bee population, we are thrilled to have fresh honey at our fingertips.

Craving. May. My work schedule is extremely hectic from February – April, and normal to slow the rest of the year. I’ll be traveling for work every week from now until the end of April, flying out on Sunday and back on Friday, with only 1 full day at home. Since I’m an independent contractor paid hourly, I make the bulk of my salary during the next few months, but that doesn’t make it much easier come March when I’ve seen too many airports to count and just want to sleep in my own bed.

Hating. The state of American politics. I’m just going to leave that there.

Loving. Agriturismo Cretaiole. As soon as we returned from our honeymoon, I informed Adam that, for our 5th anniversary, we would be renewing our vows in Italy. Since we’re about to celebrate our 2nd anniversary, obviously the time has come to make concrete plans (kidding). I recently stumbled upon this magnificent agriturismo in the middle of two of the most famous Tuscan wine regions, and it looks like a dream come true.

Anticipating. My next cup of coffee! (And maybe some leftover fried rice for breakfast, because there’s nothing better than cold leftovers in the morning, am I right?)

Hello, it’s me

Since I deleted the Facebook app from my phone as part of my goals for 2016, I’ve become so out of touch with popular culture. We don’t have cable (nor do we miss it), so I’m pretty oblivious as far as celebrities are concerned. But every once in a while, my husband, who is much cooler than I am, shows me an internet video that makes me smile.

I’m no Adele superfan, but I do enjoy her music and think she has an amazing voice. On top of that, she seems to actually be a nice person. (How rare.) If you haven’t seen her Carpool Karaoke with The Late Late Show host James Corden, I seriously recommend you take 15 minutes out of your day to watch. It. is. HILARIOUS. If you do nothing else, skip to minute 10:15. You won’t regret it.

Yesterday, (Saturday) I received 7 work emails from my boss. After working long hours every day last week, I needed one day to recharge, so I ignored his emails, and Adam and I, rather than being responsible adults and doing things like laundry or dishes, went downtown and accidentally got drunk at 5pm. I can take down a bottle of wine with the best of them, but give me a whiskey cocktail (ok, two), and I’m done for. The advantage of afternoon drinking is that I was in bed by 9 and awake by 6, without any traces of a hangover. That’s a victory in my book.

Saturday was my “play day” and today will be strictly business. I have a mountain of laundry to tackle, a suitcase to unpack, and a house to clean. I’d also like to get a jump-start on food prep for the upcoming week.

Lately, I’ve been really trying to convert some of our favorite dishes to vegan. I’m not a strict vegetarian, but I do feel better when I eat a mostly plant-based diet, and truly don’t miss the meat all that often. When I feel like having a steak or some chicken wings, I go for it, but I also actually like vegetarian protein staples like tofu, beans, lentils, etc.. Although Adam protests whenever I use the term, if I don’t tell him something is vegan, he dives right in. Basically, what he doesn’t know won’t hurt him.

A few weeks ago, I made a huge pot of Red Lentil Soup with Lemon and froze it in batches for easy reheat meals when there’s nothing in the fridge or I don’t feel like cooking. I tweaked it slightly (adding smoked paprika and cayenne for some spice, decreasing the amount of lemon, and throwing in kale that needed to be used up), and Adam hasn’t stopped raving about it since.

Other vegan successes have included cashew cream sauce (which freezes well) served over regular (vegan) pasta noodles for Adam and sweet potato noodles (à la this recipe) for me, and vegan parmesan cheese (which I told Adam was a “cashew topping” and he devoured).

Up on the vegan menu this week is more soup (can’t stop, won’t stop) and Coconut Curried Kale and Sweet Potato. This will be my last week at home before I start traveling for work again, and I want to take advantage of being able to cook my own meals as much as possible. If you have any favorite soup recipes, please send them my way! I can’t seem to get enough.

 

Insanity or perseverance?

Last January, within weeks of moving into our new Denver apartment, my husband signed me up for skiing lessons. I’d been once or twice on the East Coast, but Colorado skiing is not East Coast skiing, and I was grateful for the instruction. My husband has been skiing out West all his life and is comfortable on any mountain, but we both agreed that me getting lessons from someone else would be the best way to preserve our marriage.

On my first lesson, I progressed quickly and the instructor recommended that I was ready for intermediate lessons. A month later, I took intermediate lessons and “graduated” with flying colors. I was ready to move from the easiest green runs to more difficult, steeper blue routes.

And while I am not a fan of moguls (nor do I have any interest), I am now completely comfortable on all blue runs, and even some of the difficult blacks. All this progression in just one season, about 15 total days of skiing. This is not to say that I’m headed to the Olympics any time soon (ever), but to illustrate that learning to ski, that getting better at skiing, was neither particularly difficult or time consuming for me.

Skiing is a progression of cause and effect – do this, and you will turn; do this and you will stop; do this and you will speed up. While skiing, I’ve taken a few tumbles, but nothing serious. If it weren’t for the actual ski equipment, skiing would be downright enjoyable. Ski boots are tight and uncomfortable and cause my feet to go numb. Skis are heavy and cumbersome and difficult to transport. Ski poles are just annoying to have to carry.

So when my husband suggested that we learn to snowboard, I thought it would be perfect. Compared to ski boots, snowboarding boots are a dream. Comfortable, easy to walk in, cushioned; like a slightly-tighter pair of your favorite Uggs. Snowboards are light as a feather and a joy to carry around. In theory, it’s a wonderful sport.

But I’ll be damned if I can figure it out.

My husband and I signed up for three snowboard lessons in early December. The first two days were terrible. Awful. No good and very bad. I cried after each lesson because it just. wasn’t. clicking. Each time I fell (which was about every five seconds) I swore I had just given myself a concussion. Despite hearing from everyone (instructors, friends, the internet, chair lift operators) that the first two days are hell, I convinced myself that I was never going to learn, that I was an utter failure, etc. (I tend to be melodramatic like that.)

It doesn’t help that I have very little patience for learning new things and I arrogantly and stubbornly dislike doing this at which I am not inherently and immediately successful.

The third lesson was better. I made it down the beginner “mountain” (really, more of a hill) without falling and ended the lesson without crying. I was no expert, but I thought maybe – MAYBE – I could unlock the secrets of this mysterious sport.

We just got back from a week-long trip to Steamboat Springs, a small ski town about 3 hours northwest of Denver. Since one of my goals for 2016 is to stick with snowboarding, I diligently put aside my skis for several days and resolved to work on my snowboarding.

Day one of snowboarding, I fell so hard that I thought I shattered my tailbone. I checked with my mother (who’s a nurse), and since I exhibited none of the scary symptoms (lower-leg numbness, inability to put weight on either of my legs, pain shooting down to my feet), we concluded that it was just bruised. Yay! No emergency room trip required.

After a few days of skiing, I determined that I was sufficiently recovered to snowboard again. The morning went well. I worked on my toe-turns, fell but didn’t die, and generally managed to swallow my terror and made it down the mountain without falling off a cliff.

That afternoon, I sprained my ankle, leaving me sidelined for the rest of the trip.

WHAT IS THIS DEVIL SPORT AND WHY DO PEOPLE ENJOY IT?!

Is it too early for me to break a resolution? At what point do I throw in the towel? Should I keep trying and risk breaking a limb, or do I call myself a quitter and preserve my general well-being?

Is continuing to snowboard insanity or perseverance?