Wednesday, July 15, 2015


I thought I'd motivate myself to post by trying to stick to a pattern, but dinners (and evenings) have been less consistent, and I end up working until bedtime on actual work, or I just forget to post, so screw it. I'm still trying the Whole30 dinner things, though. That's happening.

Other important happenings this week:

  • Pluto is GORGEOUS
  • I finally found a Coke bottle with my name on it
  • Amazon's Prime Day was a giant disappointment
  • I went kindergarten back to school shopping for Calvin
(That last one is terrifying.)

I'm also working on determining a thesis topic for my 15,000 word paper for spring. I think I'm going to write about how the language of racism has changed since the Civil Rights Movement. I feel a little anxious tackling this topic as a white lady, but I also feel like it's an important topic and one I'd be interested in. My advisor actually cautioned me about the potential psychological effects of reading so much unpleasantness, which I appreciate.

This past year has been a good foray back into academic writing, and apparently I'm pretty good at it. I'm just hoping I pass the thesis on my first attempt so I don't have to do any remediation stuff over the summer and can go ahead and find a job at a community college or (fingers crossed) nearby college. We shall see.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Whole30 Day 2: Italian Baked Eggs with Honey-Lime Fruit Salad


Today's dinner comes from Against All Grain, which is for people who don't eat grain or gluten or something (I'm not that clear on the theme of the blog, but this recipe. is. amazing.)

It's super easy to make. I used these little ramekins that I've had for long enough that I don't remember what I originally bought them for, and they bake up nice enough to just pop out over some of last night's leftover sweet potato hash that I reheated in a pan. I could have eaten all four of them. The combination of the coconut milk/tomato sauce, the spinach, the tomato, the sausage, and the egg...I CANNOT SAY ENOUGH ABOUT THIS.

I didn't take a picture of the fruit salad, but here's the recipe link:

It was also divine. I used mango, Pink Lady apples, peaches, strawberries, and green grapes. There's leftover. It's going to be breakfast. Technically, since it contains honey, I don't think it's OK for Whole30, but I don't even care.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Whole30 Day 1: Southwestern Chicken Burgers & Herb Roasted Sweet Potato Bites

Because we need to get our eating habits back under control (seriously, back when we actually cared we were SO SKINNY--now we just eat junk and are not so skinny) I've decided to try cooking with Whole30, at least for the next three and a half weeks before Brandon goes to Germany for work. It's not quite 30 days, and I'm not going to be super strict about breakfast and lunch, but I'm going to post ALL my dinner stuff as a way to stay personally accountable. I hope.

Anyway, I went grocery shopping today. I do most of my grocery shopping at Walmart because it's WAY cheaper; I got this week's groceries for $135, but that includes a couple of pantry staples like almond meal and coconut oil that added significant bumps to the bill. I'm using a couple of different blogs for recipes, some I found myself and some from my friend Caitlin who did Whole30 a few months ago and is awesome. This week's menu came from Kelly at The Nourishing Home.

One thing I really like about Kelly's menu plans is that she includes a shopping list and menu with links to recipes. Also, her foodtography game is 9000x better than mine, so I'm going to use her pictures.

These chicken burgers are really easy if you have a food chopper. I threw the mushrooms, pepper, onion, and cilantro into my little Ninja chopper and about ten pulses got them done. I also didn't make my own mayonnaise, but rather added some Tabasco to some store-bought mayonnaise, because I am lazy. I put these on Romaine lettuce leaves, which kind of fell apart near the end, but I didn't miss the bun, weirdly. Walmart had these weird Peruvian avocados that were kind of a reddish-green color, which I don't feel like should be possible, but there you go; they were perfectly ripe and really tasty. Yes to Peruvian avocados.

I could eat the entire pan of these sweet potato bites. They are delicious. I have the knife skills of a six year old, so cutting up the sweet potatoes took a lot of time, but was more tedious than difficult. I also used fresh rosemary instead of dried (since I have a rosemary plant on my back porch that is STILL ALIVE) and I feel like that was a good choice. I doubled this recipe because the weekly menu calls for these to be a side for tomorrow's dinner as well. I have no problem with this. I would eat these with everything. I think they might serve as a kind of sweet potato hash base for tomorrow's Italian sausage and eggs, which could be amazing.

Starting this is a little daunting because since I had Calvin, every weight loss/fitness thing I've tried has been abandoned or I've rebounded. I have a very specific time limit on this, so I'm hoping I can keep it up until the end of the month, and if I do, maybe I'll retain the good habits it's meant to instill. I'm intentionally not weighing myself if I can help it, but I know where I'm starting (not sharing that information) and I'll see where I am at the end.

Also, I'm hoping that this will get me back into writing regularly, which will be good for me since I have a 15,000 word thesis to do next spring. Practice makes better.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

KonMari Clean Sweep

I did something over the last two days that absolutely terrified me: I went KonMari on my entire wardrobe.

If you're not familiar with the KonMari method, it's a system for organizing your life and purging possessions you don't need. There's a book about it: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. I have not read the whole book. I read a bunch of online stuff about it. It's pretty simple, really: if something doesn't "spark joy," don't keep it.

So starting yesterday I grabbed a Diet Cheerwine and settled in to see what clothes I owned that sparked joy and which ones I was holding on to for bad reasons.

1. T-Shirts

I am a t-shirt fanatic. I've ordered shirts from shirt.woot several times, I get a bunch of free ones, and if there's an event I do that gives away a shirt, I probably still had it. Here's a short list of what I got rid of:

  • shirts from three high school musicals (yes, from when I was in high school)
  • two shirts from Governor's School (in 2003)
  • four college shirts from various events
  • three Woot! shirts that I used to wear a lot, but stopped because of the fit or because, at 28, I don't need a whole lot of novelty shirts
  • the shirts we got for free on our honeymoon
That's not an exhaustive list; I also got rid of several shirts that are unflattering, in bad shape, or that I just don't like for whatever reason. I kept a few: the Cobra Kai shirt, the Troy and Abed shirt, the Mario/Princess Bride mashup shirt, the "Hot Light is on in Gastonia, NC" shirt. That last one is a little weird. I don't wear it often--mostly when I'm cleaning, or as a sleep shirt, or to work out--but I picked it up and, sure enough, it sparked joy.

That phrase, "spark joy," is at the heart of the KonMari method, and it sounds really stupid when you first think about it. But you really can tell a difference between something that sparks joy and something that doesn't. The feelings I had--about clothes!--ranged from hatred (the stretch maxi dress I bought at Target because I needed something in the moment, which shows every lump on my body) to indifference (a pair of khaki trousers) to love ("Of course I'm keeping you," I told the orange Mad Men-style dress I bought two years ago, as if to reassure it). By the end of the process, I was afraid I was going a little crazy.

2. Work Clothes

This has always been a tricky area for me. Because I'm not working outside the home, I rarely need to dress professionally, but I have to consider what I'll need in the future. I kept a few pairs of trousers that make me feel good about how I look. I kept the suit I wear for interviews. I kept several professional-looking dresses. But I got rid of a lot: shirts I've had since I started teaching, a skirt that I wore maybe one time, a dress that I couldn't wear because it showed my tattoos--which kind of soured me on the dress, along with the fact that the lining stuck to my skin in an uncomfortable way. It came down to determining what I needed based solely on how it made me feel. The black pants I bought and wore on Jeopardy! were my barometer for this section, because they're my favorites. The clothes I kept didn't need to feel as good as those, but if they didn't incite a little of that feeling, away they went.

3. Swimwear and Pajamas

I owned two bikinis that I would never wear. I've worn them in the past--usually when I had dropped some weight--but my belly hasn't been the same since containing a baby, and I knew I wouldn't ever wear them again. I had pajama shirts that were shirts Brandon had gotten for free that he knew wouldn't fit him, but that I kept to sleep in. I had pajama pants that were uncomfortable and had shrunk in the wash. I ended up keeping three sets of pajamas and two nightgowns.

4. Formals, Shoes, Accessories

I had a couple of formal dresses from chaperoning prom. I kept the bridesmaid dress from Monica's wedding because I like the dress--even though I haven't worn it again, I think I might in a couple of weeks, and it has pockets--but I put all the other formal dresses into a bag to potentially consign. This was hard because I knew what I had spent on some of them, and it felt like a shame to get rid of something I'd worn one time, but by the time I got to the formals I had gone into "GET RID OF ALL THE THINGS" mode and I just didn't care.

Getting rid of some of those dresses also meant I could get rid of some shoes. I kept pairs of shoes specifically to go with one dress, so I ended up bagging three pairs of shoes that I had no reason to keep without the accompanying dress. I also went through my jewelry. This was an area where I allowed sentimental value to rule: I got rid of a lot of earrings, but not the pearls Brandon got me in China. Even though I don't wear earrings, those have meaning, so they stayed.

I filled three bags of just clothes and a fourth with other stuff--a purse I was mad at, the shoes, belts, jewelry, etc. I folded my clothes and put them away according to the method (vertical, so you can see what you're after) and I have an entire empty drawer now. I feel no pressure to fill it.

I don't know if I'll be able to repeat this process with other areas (like my bookshelf--that's a sacred space, and letting go will be really hard) but it felt good to do this, and I want to keep moving through the house and figuring out what I do and don't need. We'll probably have enough to do a yard sale, if anyone's interested in rifling through my cast-offs.

Friday, May 22, 2015

An Update?

Oh, wow. Almost two years have passed since I paid any attention to this blog. In that time: I have quit my job to start teaching online and doing grad school in linguistics; I have taken my child to Sesame Place AND Disney World, I was on Jeopardy!, I got a new tattoo, I went to Sweden (I don't think I wrote about that, but it was two years ago), things move fast.

Brandon and I started learning to speak Swedish three years ago, and for his 30th birthday and our 5th anniversary I wanted to do something cool, so we planned a trip to Stockholm. We couldn't really afford it, but we did, and it was magical. We also purchased the house we were living in, so summer 2013 was one of seriously not having any money left. Summer 2014 was way more fun: I wanted to take a real family vacation, so we went to Philadelphia to visit Sesame Place, then up to New Jersey to see Matt and Lisa in Princeton and the Warner family in Weehawken. That also included a trip to New York City (of course), and Calvin was wonderful on the trip. He was the perfect age for Sesame, and the fact that it's mostly a water park was much appreciated.

In October I got a phone call notifying me that I should come to LA in less than a month to film Jeopardy! and I freaked out because I've been dreaming of that since I was old enough to answer in the form of a question. I went, I played, I got second place, and my friends all came over to watch it the day after Christmas. It was surreal, and still is whenever anyone mentions it. I decided that with the money we should go to Disney World (or, as Calvin calls it, "Dismey") so...we did. My brother helped us out with military discount tickets, we stayed offsite at a nice hotel, the weather was gorgeous and the lines were not insane, and somehow we managed to get the whole thing done for less than $2000, which is the amount that I won. So far, we are winning at family vacations.

My child is turning five next month and graduating from preschool. He starts kindergarten in August. I don't know where my baby went. He's four feet tall.