it's what i do

Knitting patterns and blog ramblings about knitting and sewing. ... and gardening, and cooking. Basically all the makes. There's a lot of strange knowledge in my brain that I'm hoping can do some good out in the world.

 

Unpatterns are available on Patternfish!

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• Big Grey Thing

• Lots of Turkish Bed Socks in BMFA Socks that Rock

in my ears
  • The Cruelest Month: A Chief Inspector Gamache Novel
    The Cruelest Month: A Chief Inspector Gamache Novel
    by Louise Penny
  • A Rule Against Murder: A Chief Inspector Gamache Novel
    A Rule Against Murder: A Chief Inspector Gamache Novel
    by Louise Penny
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  • The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload
    The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload
    by Daniel J. Levitin
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Thursday
Aug282014

#Whole30, Day 3

Day Three is in the can!

I'm still coasting on the grace of relatively little internal struggle with this. Fingers crossed that I stay that lucky for a little while longer!

Less of a scrambled mess for breakfast yesterday, and more of a layering exercise:

Bottom layer: fork-mashed sweet potatoes with a bit of coconut milk to make a bit of a slurry; then slices of turkey breast on top. 

Cap it off with some scrambled egg (note to self: cut down to two! this is a lot of food!) ... and then add some tomatoes for extra veggie goodness. Oh, and steamed greens, too.

Kept me going until after noon!

 

 

Lunch: yup, salad.

This one was pretty mainstream: plain sauteed chicken, tomatoes, avocado over romaine and cabbage. But I thought I'd share what I'm doing to make my salad dressing:

If, like me, you're embarrassingly new to the process of homemade dressings (despite the fact that you've been told over and over again that they're easy), here's one to try.

1 part apple cider vinegar
1 part balsamic vinegar, or to taste (if you're using a strong one, cut back maybe)
2-3 parts olive oil (depending on how oily vs. tangy you like your dressing)
1/4 part Annie's Horseradish Mustard (a revelation! Horseradish delivery system with no sugar added!)
1/2-1 part diced fresh herbs (I've been using basil, since it's fresh now) 

(If you're making some to cover several salads, try 1 part = 4 Tbsp.)

I just shake mine up in a little airtight container - the little Duralex one pictured above is nice for dosing out a single portion to pop into my glass salad container to take to work. (Why do the French make all the best glass storage? Someone tell me why!)

Quickie to finish out, since I need to get to work early this morning: Dinner was leftover Chicken Curry from Monday night. (Work night, so had to plan for something grab & go).

Kept me going until 10:30pm, and only got a growly tummy in the last half-hour. Went to bed without extra snacking, either. On a roll.

Day 3 I realized I'm not eating the sweet potatoes in the quantity I expected to - not craving that form of carbohydrate. Think I'll cut back on those for my shopping next week.

 

Wednesday
Aug272014

#Whole30, Day 2

Day Two is done!

I got distracted at breakfast and forgot to take a photo, for the best of reasons - Boyhood was here! But for the record, what I made for both of us was an eggy scramble with shrimp, green onions, avocado, and a peach. Super-yummy!

The Lunch Salad reigns supreme:

I let some of my sauteed ground turkey marinate in my new-favorite, house-made dressing, and topped mixed greens with that, red pepper, and the ubiquitous avocado.

For some reason, I couldn't eat may way all the way through my salad (co-worker G, my salad guru, says "It takes work to chew!"), so I left it for an afternoon snack. Never got to it, but did take advantage of the other snack I brought along: an apple and some slices of turkey (which are quickly replacing my string cheese afternoon former snack position).

At about 2pm (bang on schedule), the first real pangs arrived: there's that afternoon 'grab some sugar' monster. After kvetching in the office and receiving rousing "NO!" support from my co-workers, it was off to the aforementioned apple and protein snack - stragely well-suited to the "apple pie and an iced latte" pang I was having.

(Friend T later told me that cinnamon is a great blood-sugar regulator - this, from her naturopath!, so perhaps a little jar of cinnamon in the desk drawer for that afternoon apple is in order.)

Second (and predictable) pouty-face occurred at the end of the work day: what's going to console me this evening if I don't have a glass of wine to look forward to? (This, the most dastardly of habits!)

Again, miraculously or strangely, the things I thought would be pretty insurmountable are non-issues (at least right now). I got in, popped my prepped items out of the fridge, and prepared a fantastic-tasting stir fry with shrimp, cashews, bok choi, and cabbage in less time than it used to take me to walk to the store for frozen pizza and Cabernet! 

Began with ghee and some grated fresh ginger in the pan, then added the hard vegetables (cabbage and the bulb of the bok choi), then the broccolini and shrimp. Tender greens and cashews at the end, and then (inspired thought!), a squeeze of Annie's Horseradish Mustard on the top and stirred in.

Tasted so good, I had to eat the WHOLE PAN. (Making up for lunch... at least that's what I'm telling myself!)

Sparkling water all through the night, a good Skype chat with friend T (she of the cinnamon tip), and to bed at a reasonable hour. An excellent result for Day Two! Phew. 

Monday
Aug252014

#whole30, Day 1

Day One is done!

I'd like to record every day here, (dearlordI'mgoingtobecomeoneofthosepeoplewhopostpicturesoftheirfood), for the record, and in hopes it helps someone craft menus or cope with working a Whole30 into their busy work week!

I've decided to keep one thing simple that's become problematic for weekdays: Lunches. I'm lucky to work with a bunch of creative, fabulous people, and G and C, two officemates at work, have been my inspiration for healthy eating for a while now - they bring Salad. Every. Day.

Day One's salad was lovely: fresh local tomatoes, spinach and kale and chard for greens, red bell pepper, some leftover bacon from the weekend's breakfast, and 1/4 of an avocado. My first attempt at making salad dressing was a success, too (why did I wait so long to try that?).


Breakfasts are often egg-based in Whole30, because it's the cultural norm and it's an easy platform for morning protein and veg. Day One I used some of the lean ground turkey breast I'd saut´eed up the night before, plus pico de gallo, wilted spinach, and the other half of the bell pepper that went into lunch. 

 On Day One, I went to the gym in the morning before remembering that I had a Kettlebell class that night (!), so I accidentally doubled-up on my workouts. (Boy, I love to overachieve early on!) Good thing I prepared for a pre-workout snack from work: the last 1/4 of that avocado, plus a few extra pieces of turkey.

 Dinner was some Thai curry I'd prepared the night before, because I knew I'd come home from Kettlebell class late, and because Boyhood was coming down for a date night! I added some cooked sweet potatoes to the curry, and made some more sauce. It was yummy - another first: Thai Curry paste! Hot, but not forcibly so. I surprised myself by eating less than I thought I would... Left quite a bit in the bowl. Surprising, after the busy day at work and the two workouts.

Two more things I learned just in this first day: a lot of my sweets-after-lunch craving has to do with wanting to refresh he taste in my mouth! I packed along a toothbrush and toothpaste and just hit 'reset' on the tastebuds. That, and a little walk to run an errand out in the sunshine, and I was more ready to go back to my desk without a cookie in hand. Also, mid-afternoon, rather than the black tea with milk & sugar that I'm used to, we cracked a box of Steve Smith's "Fez" tea: green tea with spearmint. Refreshing, tea-like, and a little boost from the green tea. A good workaround!

Day One can be deemed a success (though I dreamed of 'accidentally' eating pastries)! More on that next post.

Sunday
Aug242014

on becoming whole

Updates must be in the air... I'm full of a sense of renewed energy (perhaps typical for this time of year?)

The wardrobe re-vamp has been joined by an interest in clean eating, and clearing out the junky habits that have limited me over the past few years (I'm looking at you, Pinot Grigio!). I'm a big fan of Allison's blog, Wardrobe Oxygen - if she recommends something, I'm rather prone to trying it. Her post a few weeks ago, and then its follow-up, prompted me to look into Whole30, and I very much liked what I saw!

The premise is pretty simple: cut out processed foods, sugar, alcohol, and grains and dairy for 30 days. Eat vegetables with lean protein most of the time, fruit sometimes, and get good rest. This is intended to re-set your taste buds, combat the cravings for sugar that plague some of us every afternoon (ahem), and reduce inflammatory responses you might not know you have to things like wheat and dairy.

Fridge Makeover, 'after' edition

Now, I don't think I'm particularly sensitive to wheat - I likes me my toast! And dairy doesn't feel like it's ever been an issue. But a renewed commitment to healthy eating, to feeding myself like I matter, is the crux of it.

I had a rare Sunday when I'm down in my work town, at the condo, with a bit of extra time to plan and prep. My planning went like this: study the sections in the book where they outline basic meal prep; figure out what combinations of protein and veg I wanted to eat this next week, and then plot it all out in a cute day planner I started using and then abandoned. Cute toys = guaranteed success in my book!

For future reference (or in case anyone is interested in diving in and wants some ideas about how to organize grocery shopping and meal plans): I started with the protein/veg mixes that I thought sounded good... and for simplicity's sake, kept workaday lunches to salads + a protein. Figured out which evenings needed easy meals (working late, etc.), and then moved stuff around until I had a menu for the week: breakfast, lunch and dinner, every day til Friday night (on weekends I go home up to PT, and Boyhood and I can shop for the weekend's meals together up there).

Then I wrote out a grocery list, writing down each ingredient as it came up in the plan, and tallying how many servings per item: 5 halves of avocado = 3 avocados, ground turkey used 4x... and that made my list.

Armed with my list (and packing my planner, for reference when my brain fell out in the store, as it always does), went grocery shopping! Veg veg veg and more veg, plus hunting for exotic new-to-me ingredients like Thai Curry Paste and ghee. Total damage, for the record: $135. A minor ouch, but considering it's sparing me the $40 margarita-and-quesadilla post-work meltdown, it's worth it. Plus, no alcohol in that ticket - that's been pushing up the grocery bills for the past few years, alas...

Sunday night meal prep: Thai Chicken Curry!

So here we go! My intention is to check in here every day, post my progress and revelations, kvetches and successes. Plus, daily menus in case that helps someone out there start their Whole30 with success!

 

 

Tuesday
Jul152014

minimal is a verb

The rampage of minimalization continues!

Because I work away from home, my wardrobe is naturally divided by geography: off-day, weekend clothes in PT, workaday clothes in BI. And while I had gone through a major wardrobe re-vamp just prior to taking my full-time job (hello, day dresses! hello, button-downs!), that was 15 pounds ago. And increasingly, over the last few months, I've been frustrated getting dressed for work.

And it wasn't until I went through this wardrobe purge and re-set last night that I realized how fatiguing and saddening it is to flip through your hangers in your closet and reject stuff - it's basically an exercise in saying "No. ... No. No. No. Maybe, but doesn't fit. ... Nope. Nope." How many times should you say 'no' before 8 in the morning?

I've been inspired by a few blogs lately: Into Mind and Un-Fancy to name just two. And the "Project 333" exercise in living with 33 items in your wardrobe for 3 months has excited the innner minimalist in me.

So last night, I took EVERYTHING out of the closet (not hand-knits - that will have to wait for another time), and sorted it into piles:
• LOVE!
• LOVE, but it's too small.
• LOVE, but it's more suited to the closet at home for weekend wear.
• LOVE, but it's not right for this season.
• NO.

They warn you when you go through an exercise like this not to get nauseated by the sheer volume of stuff you've managed to collect in a wardrobe, and not to be daunted by the size of the NO pile, but ugh. Do I ever feel like a First-World Diva. I'm looking forward to taking the NO pile over to the Childrens' Hospital thrift store here on the island, where they can do some good. (Ya don't just dump Kate Spade handbags at the Goodwill, especially if a childrens' charity can benefit!)

The weekend clothes are boxed up, ready to take to the car; the 'too small' clothes are in one underbed bag (hope springs eternal, and they are fantastic pieces, built to last, so when I lose this extra weight thanks to "Younger This Year," I'll bring them back out with joy); and the off-season clothes are in two other underbed bags. The space beneath the bed has been vacuumed (yay! side benefit), and it's amazing how this feels. I had no idea how much taking off-season clothes out of a closet could help me feel more relaxed about getting dressed! A total eye-opener.

I kind of want to just stand in front of the closet and stare. (Boyhood and I call this "watching the baby sleep" - you just love to soak in the impact of what you've accomplished with a big project like this.

Three hours later, and I have a functioning wardrobe with room to breathe, and any number of great outfits to plan with pieces that fit, are easy to wear, and don't make me feel like I'm fat or too hot all the time.

Phew! As Boyhood said this morning when I told him what I did after he went to sleep last night: "Honey, you're on a roll!"

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