Thursday, November 29, 2012

I'm really a very happy person, promise

Well, hard to say what's wrong with me, but I didn't even like Thanksgiving this year. It's usually my favorite holiday. But this year, I felt entirely put out by having to figure out what to cook and grocery shopping and the whole lot of it. I was glad when it was over and I didn't even cook my customary at-home turkey feast the day after. I had, like, two turkey sandwiches and NO PIE, not even for breakfast.

Did I mention I'm working again? I guess more accurately I'm getting paid to work, and falling dangerously behind, but yeah, working. Very much part time. Very much in a way that is dangerous for someone with my lack of self-discipline - that is, totally unsupervised and unchecked. If my boss were anybody other than my father, I'd probably have gotten fired already. But, bonus, I totally get to play both sides in the mommy wars now. And, also bonus, when I had to pay the vet $600 to amputate one of the cats' toes, there was enough money in the bank to do that.

I found a blog today with a recipe for diet coke brownies. Basically what it sounds like. Box of brownie mix, can of diet coke. Mix, bake and enjoy. I thought that was depressing enough on its own merits, but then I read the "about me" sidebar and discovered the woman who posted this recipe is - get ready for it - head of school lunch in her kids' school district. Sometimes I don't feel like we stand a chance in this world. And then I realize I am thinking that thought while inhaling my red dye #40 soaked Christmas M&Ms, and it all feels even more hopeless. Holiday Cheer!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Bring a nickel; tap your feet

Has there ever been a song that had you convinced it was destined to be the soundtrack to your insanity? That's how I feel about "What I Like About You" by the Romantics. Like, someday, I'm going to snap when it's on the radio and spend the rest of my days rocking in the corner. Why don't I just turn it off? Well, if only it were that easy, right? It comes on and I get sucked into some sort of maniacal anxiety cave, and there's nothing to be done but try my best to hang on to my sanity. 

Speaking of songs with weird connotations, I am deeply disturbed by the new Walgreens ads with John Corbett as the narrator and "Down on the Corner" by CCR as the jingle. Here is the reason why. That song has always conjured weird visuals of the Keebler elf factory, but in more of a sort of acid-trippy, gnome-y way (assuming that makes any sense to anyone). Couple that with the old-timey photography and the creepy John Corbett "I'm not a sex predator, I'm just a friendly dad-type who wants to make sure you are warm so why don't you just get in the shower I'll watch just to make sure you don't slip" thing and I'm beyond skeeved out. 

Welcome to the disaster that is my brain. 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The best blogger in the history of blogging

Hi. You may have noticed that I took a bit of a hiatus. Or not. I just looked at my own blog for the very first time since July. I wish I had some dramatic account of where I have been and what has kept me away from the blog. Almost. I almost wish that. But the truth is that I was bored of myself and felt like I had nothing to say, so I decided to shut up and walk away. I figured when the time was right I would come back.

Around the beginning of September when I was all "back to school" and trying to practice self-discipline, part of my plan was to get into the daily writing habit. That might have happened, but instead I got myself on a full-time MOM schedule of asinine toddler activities and spent any free time I could get trying to clear my head of nursery rhymes. Then I got a nasty little cold and spent my free time napping. Then all of a sudden it was October.

So, what's new. We're in a pretty good little groove.  I can tell that we've found our groove because now it's time for us to make a serious effort at another baby. That's the way it always works, right? You find some sort of equilibrium and then you shake it all up again.

I will try to be here. I will try to think of interesting things to say. Hopefully I get myself knocked up again soon; there's a wealth of material to be had there. Best reason to have a baby, right? Blog material?

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

There was some summer, but I missed it

I've officially ignored my blog so long that it disappeared off of the "top sites" page in Safari. I haven't been doing anything that interesting, really. We spent last week in New Hampshire with Mo's parents. I gave myself permission to have as many sodas and ice cream cones as I wanted. I had three cokes (one cherry!) and one soft serve twist as big as my face.  I haven't quite decided if I am proud of my restraint or disappointed that I didn't take full advantage.

I really like summer in New England, so it's a shame our time there has to be spent in my in-laws' house. "Our" bedroom is in the upstairs southeast corner and is approximately as hot as the innermost circle of hell. Did I mention the freight train that rolls past at five minutes to four every morning? Or the futon? The only way to sleep is to pass out drunk, which is not really that viable of a plan for the duration of a week's visit.

I didn't have a lobster. Not even a lobster roll. I didn't buy any cheap(er) maple syrup. I didn't pack home any New England style hot dog buns. I deserve to be fired.

Meanwhile, it's still not summer here back at the ranch. I'm staring out at overcast skies and thinking we might as well pack it in and just get on with the inevitable winter. But then I remember that Anchorage is yet to get any higher than 63 this summer and that the rest of the country is burning alive, and I think, we're good, thanks.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Vancouver the Last

I'm going to sum up the rest of our Vancouver trip very briefly, because it's been over a week now and nobody cares.

If you ever find yourself in Vancouver with 300 bucks to drop on a meal, I think you should drop it at Cioppino's. It's in Yaletown, which is the trendy yuppified-old-warehouses-turned-into-lofts district. But the food is amazing and they have a picture of Bill Clinton there to prove it. I'm not even sure what I mean by that. 

We split two appetizers, a pasta, a main and a dessert along with a very pleasant bottle of wine the waiter recommended when he saw me wrestling with the three-inch thick wine list. The courses were fantastic, each one better than the last.  

My half of the main course, perfectly medium rare lamb with curry foam

Before we drove home on Sunday, we went for brunch. Fraiche is a restaurant in West Vancouver, with an absolutely amazing view back over the city. Sitting there was definitely one of those moments where I felt ridiculously lucky to be me. I had the eggs benedict, all the while thinking "hey, screw you Bourdain for trying to ruin this for me."  

Doesn't even do it justice.
I'm not sure what the problem is with the formatting, but I'm too lazy to try and fix it. Good thing I am not a blogging professional. 

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Vancouver the second

We took our leave of Salt Tasting Room without a solid follow-on plan. The sun was out for probably the first time in a week (Juneuary! says the media) and we entertained the idea of a patio. But the first one we came across was way crowded, then the next one was not very well reviewed on Yelp. After walking the length of Gastown, we decided to double back and try to get in to one of the Chowhound recommended spots, The Pourhouse. Open Table claimed they had no seatings available, but we figured we could at least try to get in the bar.

Best decision ever. We walked in and the hostess showed us to a couch in the bar and said she would have a table for us shortly. This place is famous for drinks, and if the table of four women horizontal in their booth was any indication, the booze pours freely (did I mention it was all of 7:30 at this point? They asked me to join them, but I declined). The bartender came over to make friends and learn more about us so that he could make us the perfect drinks, and after a brief interview he said he knew just the thing and went off to mix. He made something bourbon based for Mo that I believe was called a Red Hook, and for me, a Clover Club cocktail. Do you know how delicious a Clover Club is? Too delicious. Gin, lemon juice, raspberry liqueur and an egg white. I decided it was in my best interest to stop at one.

Once seated, we had a seared tuna and artichoke salad that didn't work as well as I had hoped it might. Mo's entree was steelhead trout with sage and brown butter gnocchi, which was great. But it was completely overshadowed by my meal. I had braised beef, served on pureed celery root with some mushrooms, spinach and roasted tomatoes. But the kicker was the dollop of horseradish creme fraiche on top. That I have never thought of such a thing before is a travesty. It sounds like too much, right? Rich on richer? But it was amazing. I damn near licked that plate clean.

There were so many intriguing options on that menu that we had a hard time choosing, but we were both very satisfied with our choices. It's only too bad we weren't there in a larger group so that we might have been able to taste more. Of course, it would have only been sad to be there in a larger group that didn't believe in sharing. I am sure we'll go back next time we're in town, but it will be a challenge not to order that beef again.

Next time: Our Saturday night meal.

Me enjoying the view of my husband enjoying the view

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Vancouver, part one

Is a post about travel still interesting if there aren't any pictures? Let's find out. The hubs and I got sprung from lockup for the weekend and went on a romantic little getaway to Vancouver, BC. It was Mo's first time there, and the first time I had been since I turned 21 and no longer needed to go to Canada to drink in bars.

Since I had no idea where to go for grown-up activities, we based all of our dining decisions on the recommendations of the Chowhound boards. I find the postings there obnoxiously self-aggrandizing and repulsive 99% of the time, but I'm glad that I held my nose and went in, because we ate at four great restaurants over our three days there.

First up was Salt Tasting Room. It's a tiny little hole in the wall on Blood Alley in the Gastown section of town, which is not altogether as rough and tumble as it sounds (although we did see a real live meth head smoking her pipe on our way out - but then a Bentley drove by, so you see what I mean).

The concept at Salt is that you order three meats and cheeses off of a big chalkboard, and pair it with a wine flight if you want. Boy, did we want. So we ordered two flights and one plate. We were overwhelmed by choice (neither of us is a great decision maker) so we let them choose.

We ended up with a Pt. Reyes blue, a Leicester I think Lancashire and some locally made corned beef. Oh, the corned beef. It was so delicious - sliced so thin you could see through it - I wanted to have them load up my purse so I could snack on it the rest of the night. It came with a condiment called mostarda which I had never heard of before, but which apparently is quite trendy. It was overkill for the beef but was very good for covering up the socks taste of the Lancashire cheese. The wine flights were unremarkable, but well paired.

If I went back, I would be piggish about it and order two plates so I could sample more meats and cheeses. We were being conservative because we did not have a solid dinner plan and wanted to keep our options open. We were just underwhelmed enough with our first plate that we wanted to move on rather than order another plate, although this is not to say we didn't enjoy it. We just weren't in love enough to stay, having not played the field at all.

I'm going to drag this out, so that I have stuff to post about! Next up, our meal at The Pourhouse!

Oh look, I do have a picture!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Firstworld problems

I think that twitter is breaking my brain. No, I know that twitter is breaking my brain because the first time I wrote that, I wrote "brian." I'm totally obsessed and I get all pissed off and frustrated if the people I follow don't tweet enough. I'm all like HOW CAN IT BE POSSIBLE THAT NOT ONE OF THE 133 PEOPLE I FOLLOW HAS HAD SOMETHING TO SAY IN THE LAST TWO MINUTES?!?!?! I NEED TO FOLLOW MORE PEOPLE TO MAKE THE FLOW OF USELESS INFORMATION MORE CONSISTENT. It's really pretty sad and proves that the end is nigh, at least for intelligent thought.

I'm blaming twitter for my lack of blog posts. Twitter and a two-year old child. One for ruining my attention span and the other for driving me to drink away my free time. It's so much nicer to find a comfortable spot to pin blame rather than to confront myself over my total lack of self-discipline.

So welcome to my blog, where the only consistent theme seems to be the inconsistency of my posts. Now appearing biannually!

I just googled "biannually" to make sure that's what I meant.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Bought meat like I said I would

The last ten days or so have been a total blur of parties and contractors and disputes in parking lots. I took the day off yesterday, with Marlo at her grandparents' house, and watched movies in bed. It was delightful. Today I feel like I've come home after an extended absence, and nothing is the way I left if or want it to be, so I'm overwhelmed all over again. Add to that the long weekend for which to prepare, and I feel stuck square behind the eight ball.

Let's see. Hearken way back to the day I was going to barbecue the pizza. I did, in fact, barbecue the pizza, and I remembered why it was I had a faint memory of there being some difficulty about barbecuing the pizza. It's because it tends to set the barbecue on fire. At least, it does if you use the pizza stone, which I do, because it is just silly difficult to put raw pizza dough directly on the grill. The pizza stone gets it all extra wicked-hot in there, and then any crud you have let accumulate catches on fire and you peer out the window to discover your grill has become a fireball and you are about to become That Idiot Who Burned The House Down With The Barbecue.

Bonus: After you get the fire under control and it burns itself out, you have a shiny clean grill!

Then we went to an auction and because apparently I think I am Mrs. Johnny Big-Shot, we bought a trip to Africa. It is a decision that seems slightly less wise without the complimentary white wine in me, but they auctioned off as many trips as there were buyers in the room for 1/2 off the list price. It seemed like too good a deal to pass up. It was Groupon psychology that a whole bunch of people fell for, including my sister and her husband, so at least we can all go together maybe. Wrench in plan: the trip has to be used within two years, and I was planning on getting knocked up in the Fall. Whoopsie! Looks like my second child will not be appearing on the cover of Time Magazine attached to my breast in May 2018.

Then it was Mother's Day and I got two cases of wine, one from my husband and one from my parents. I took a couple long looks in the mirror but mostly I'm fine with that. Giddy about that, in fact.

See, now this post is way long and I have only caught up to a week ago. Suffice to say I spent all last week running around getting ready for Marlo's second birthday party, which I was real smart about and only invited, oh, 12 of her little friends and their parents. I bought meat for that, in the form of a six month-old baby sized pork shoulder and some chicken. I really did think about trying to cobble together some party food out of the remainder of stuff in our freezers, but then my party hosting vanity won out and I bought the food to go with the theme. We have plenty of meat left. We are not going to finish it all before the month is out. I think that might say something awful about me. Time for more long looks in the mirror, I guess.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Eight, nine, ten, I'm losing count

This was much simpler when I updated on a daily basis.

I can't for the life of me remember what we ate on Tuesday. Does that ever happen to you? It was three dinners ago, and I have no idea. Oh wait, that was the night that I went to spin class and came home around eight and then we got sucked into a baseball game and ate chips and salsa in lieu of spending time cooking anything. So I guess I can remember, it just took a while.

Wednesday night was the frozen salmon's big debut. I made my favorite salmon recipe, which is a Martha Stewart recipe. I don't think I have any other Martha recipes amongst my favorites, so this is not blind Martha devotion. The recipe is for salmon with lentils and mustard vinaigrette, because I need my salmon mixed with lentils and coated in zingy mustard sauce before I consider it palatable. I may be a Pacific-Northwesterner and of almost purely Scottish and Norwegian descent, but I don't jump out of bed in the morning looking to get my mouth on some salmon. Also: Took me five attempts to spell "Norwegian" right.

Last night was another spin class and another failure to plan any sort of dinner in advance. So I finished off the leftover taco meat-ish and the leftover quinoa in a sort of burrito and Husband ate a couple of tamales from the freezer that some nice church lady friend of one of his coworkers made at least a year ago.

Tonight is pizza night! The most exciting night of the week. I'm thinking about attempting it on the grill this time, but pizza on the grill is always a high-adrenaline proposition. It seems seconds from total disaster every step of the way. We shall see how confident I feel about it when the time comes slash how emboldened by liquor.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Days four, five, six and seven

Day four, Friday night, was pizza night. I've been wanting to do Friday Family Pizza Night for years, ever since I read some blog post about happy Friday nights in the kitchen drinking wine and listening to jazz while the children happily top their own pizzas. Well, I like the wine part, anyway. I made the pizza dough and sauce recipes from Make the Bread, Buy the Butter, and both were perfect. The mystery freezer sausage turned out to be of the Italian variety, which was fortuitous, and quite tasty despite extensive freezer burn. In addition to the sausage we used olives, mushrooms, and fresh mozzarella, and the whole thing was so delicious I burned the ever-lovin' crap out of my mouth because there was no waiting for it to cool down.

Saturday we ate out - first I had a little fried chicken at a Kentucky Derby party, and then a hot dog at a baseball game.

Sunday we had burgers, because the sun was out. It's like a knee-jerk reaction. In the Spring and Summer we probably do burgers on the grill once a week. Now I am going to be sad with no burgers left for the rest of the month, unless I get wild and grind up one of those ribeyes, which is a distinct possibility. I also made a little roasted corn and tomato quinoa salad with a simple lemon juice and olive oil dressing, which used up some frozen corn and three Roma tomatoes I had slowly rotting on the counter.

Which leads us to Monday, day seven of this little experiment. We had taco leftovers. And here I am at the beginning of another week with no meal plan in place, no grocery shopping done. I even missed the cut-off for modifying my CSA box, and now I have to figure out what to do with radishes. What in the world am I going to do with radishes? Does anybody actually like radishes? I thought they just made easy seeds for kindergarteners to grow.

As far as the freezer clean out goes, you may have noticed none of those salmon fillets have been used yet. That may have to change this week. The dill in my little herb garden could stand to be taken down a notch. I'm also planning on collecting all the little half bags of nuts from the freezer and making granola. The one thing in the freezer I can't decide if I should try to eat or not? The cake from my baby shower. That baby shower having happened almost exactly two years ago.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Day three

Looks like meat, right?
If I were going to pick one genre of food to eat the rest of my life, it would be Mexican. And it would be nothing to do with Rick Bayless, either. It would be plain-cheese-on-flour-tortilla quesadillas and crunchy tacos. Sorry. But it's the truth. American style crunchy tacos are are my favorite food, ever.

Why am I telling you this? Because we had tacos last night. I had about a half a pound of ground turkey left over from Monday night, when I still thought I needed to ration our meat. But half a pound of turkey was not going to get us very far - did I mention I love tacos? I thought about mixing in beans, and then I thought of mixing in quinoa. I got so far as actually cooking the quinoa when I remembered the cooked pearl barley in the freezer. 

Maybe there are already a million blog posts out there about making pearl barley into taco meat, but I  haven't read them. It worked perfectly. I had about 2 and a half cups, and I gave it a quick couple of pulses in the food processor to give it more of a ground meat-y texture. I threw it in the pot once the turkey was cooked through, and then added the spice mixture and tomato sauce.  The barley soaked up all the flavor of the spice mixture, and in the end you couldn't *really* tell what was turkey and what was barley. It was all delicious. The texture may have been slightly softer than all-meat, but it was more pleasant than the texture of tofu tacos, which are really sort of gross. 

I use ground turkey in most recipes that call for ground beef, because I feel like using ground beef is usually a waste of beef. Especially in tacos, where what you really want to taste is the spicy taco flavor. I would much rather use barley, or maybe a barley-wheat berry-even quinoa combination, if all things are equal. It just seems like a good place to eliminate meat, if you're into that sort of thing.

Tonight: Mystery Freezer Sausage Pizza. 

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Day two

Tonight we had chili from November. I forgot to take a picture of it, but hey, it was leftover chili. It was served over a bag of Trader Joe's frozen brown rice, which I am probably going to regret later on when I reeeeaally don't feel like dragging out the rice cooker, as opposed to tonight when I only sort of didn't feel like it.

I went to the store and spent an insane amount of money, considering it was two bags of non-meat groceries. I blame it on the twenty dollar jug of maple syrup and the vanilla extract, which I had to buy because I have yet to order my vanilla beans and make my own damn vanilla extract, already. Maybe also the three dollar-twenty-nine apiece lemons I bought because I forgot that I ordered lemons in my CSA box. I told you guys I suck at this stuff.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

"Meatless" May, day one

Turns out that I'm a total a-hole! Remember how I was all like, "it's not like we have a chest freezer full of beef" or whatever? Yeah, I inventoried one freezer and came up with 16 meat items. And one of those items was a bag of eight salmon fillets. There is enough meat in this house for us to eat meat three meals a day, all month. Which begs the question, what the hell have I been doing spending a hundred dollars at the grocery store every week? I guess the only explanation is that I am actually a food hoarder. Well, and maybe a little bit that I suck at meal planning and often go running out to the store for the chicken I didn't defrost the night before.

Since I'm so meat rich, the plan has morphed again slightly. Now it is more of a "clean out the freezer and the pantry" sort of event. I'm aiming for bare cupboards and desolate arctic tundra in the freezers. It's the same spirit as the meatless thing, though - I am trying to be more aware of what we're eating and where it comes from, and I am reducing our carbon footprint by not requiring as much new food be generated. It just seems silly to call it "meatless" when we're probably going to end up eating more meat than we would usually.

I did go ahead and make a meatless dinner for night one of my so-called Meatless May. Nothing exotic, nothing that will convert the masses to vegetarianism, but it did use up things that needed using.

Food photography is not my forte
There you have it. Broccoli cheddar soup, adapted from this recipe from Eating Well magazine. I thickened it with a can of navy beans that had been in my cupboard for probably three years instead of a potato, which I would have had to buy.  It wasn't exactly sexy, but it got the job done. The bread was a Boudin bakery sourdough boule that Husband brought home from one of his trips to San Francisco, but not the last one or the one before that I don't think. Regardless of how long it had been in the freezer, it made an excellent butter delivery system.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Last call for that triple cheeseburger

Because I like springing things on myself, I decided, oh, yesterday to participate in the Meatless May challenge. And then I spent four or five hours today trying to meal plan and being frozen by the enormity of the prospect. I started hedging. I decided first that maybe we would have meat on weekends, or that it would be meatless dinners only, or that maybe I would just skip the whole thing altogether. But I didn't want to skip it, especially since I only just decided to try it! Such conflict in my heart.

I finally came up with the perfect solution: The only meat we will eat this month will be meat that is already in the house. I won't be buying any until June. This makes me happy because a) I don't have to reinvent the wheel completely where it comes to dinner; and b) I need to clean out the freezers anyway.

Yes, I said freezerS. In the interest of full disclosure, we have two. But they are not chest freezers stocked with entire sides of beef, just regular old freezer compartments. Off the top of my head, the only meat I know to be in there is a ribeye, a package of two chicken breasts, and a bag of salmon fillets. Maybe a couple of hamburger patties? Oh, those will be hoarded and treasured like gold.

More disclosure - I have not decided exactly what we're doing for food for Marlo's birthday party, but I will not be subjecting my friends to my experiment. If I buy meat for that, it will be the exception. Also, I will obviously eat any meat served to me when I am a guest in someone's home. And I will eat the steak that has been pre-ordered for me at an event next weekend con mucho gusto.

Does it sound like my May is not going to be all that meatless? Perhaps. But I like my plan and I will tell you why. I have said a bazillion times here that I don't have any intention of giving up meat. But this will force me to eat it quite mindfully, and use it sparingly, and increase my meatless-entree repertoire. It will also force me to use food I might have otherwise wasted. In fact, this version of the plan was hatched because we have a half package of bacon sitting in the fridge. I feel like eating that bacon is more in line with the ideals of Meatless May, as opposed to throwing it out just because the calendar changed.

I'm planning on sharing my meals here. Even the super meaty cheater ones.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Finally, a sane person on the internet

Stop what you're doing and read this.

I found it at just the right time, when my frustration with the Food Wars had reached critical mass and I was thinking about swearing off reading/watching/listening to anything diet and nutrition related ever, ever again. The author is local (for me anyway) and now in danger of being stalked.

By the way, it was this piece (and the subsequent comments) that drove me to the edge.

UPDATE: Turns out that the my hero the author just relocated to Las Vegas. It's just as well.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Only she didn't say fudge

I've basically got the Mother of the Year award for 2012 locked down already, sorry to disappoint those of you in contention yourselves. Not only did Marlo fall off her kitchen step stool and lose the ability to walk for 24 hours, she also said the F word. It's been a banner week of motherhood. She's walking again, although with a bit of a limp, and so far no more obscenities have been uttered.

If you're thinking, "oh Tori, you're being silly, surely she was saying truck or luck or duck," well, you are sweet but wrong. She was filling in the blank for me. I was attempting to fill out a long and involved online form when the page crashed. I said the first part, the "argh, what the" part, and she filled in the rest. Then repeated it. Then turned around and looked at her father and said it again, just so he could be sure that I had, in fact, successfully taught his daughter the correct usage of the word. I don't know why she had to sell me out like that. I think we did a pretty good job of not reacting, which is What They Say to do in that situation, but it definitely proves she is 100% paying attention. All the time.  Frankly, I'm surprised this didn't happen sooner.

It might be time for a swear jar.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Thank goodness for low expectations

It is finally, almost, sort of nice here, which is good, because I was losing my mind. I took Marlo to visit my parents in Arizona for ten days. It was originally supposed to be a week. I saw the forecast for the day I was supposed to go home and extended my stay. I think that perhaps my husband was a little concerned that I was never coming home. Maybe it's because I said a few things to him along the lines of, "I'm not coming back there, you join us when you can." 

But now it has become more civilized around here. It hasn't rained in nearly four straight days, and it has been warm enough that I am able, if not required, to open the doors to the deck to let in the fresh cool air. I was even inspired enough to head to the nursery for some herbs and strawberry plants, which apparently are delicious  - we can't keep the stupid dog and cats from eating the leaves. I'm hoping they're also highly toxic. 

Friday, March 16, 2012

What am I gonna do, said I been needin' you

Poor blog, mama's been gone for so long. Just you, me, and the tumbleweeds now.

I would have been updating like a good little writer, but I have been busy having crazy life adventures. In sum, I have:

  • Finished the cleanse (and by "finished" I mean "made it 26 and-a-half days and then went out to a dinner resplendent with wine, meat, cheese, and dessert");
  • Lost 10 pounds in total over the course of said 26.5 days;
  • Found out I got to go to Los Angeles and attend the world premiere of The Hunger Games; 
  • Went on a red carpet-readiness shopping spree;
  • Flew to Los Angeles and attended said movie premiere as a guest of Lionsgate, complete with Wolfgang Puck catered after party attended by such luminaries as Stephen Baldwin; and
  • Flew home the next day having gained back two pounds already.

So you see, I've been terribly busy. And unfortunately for you and for the growth of readership of this blog, I am the type who prefers to be present in the moment rather than behind a camera or writing stuff down. I wish I was more the type to live blog from my smartphone or whatever, but I'm not. Hopefully Marlo turns out the same way so she understands why her early years are so poorly documented.

Now my mother in law is here for the week, which at least means that I get to work out every day. A grandmother who only sees her grandchild twice a year makes for a fantastic babysitter. 

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Day 17 and I'm suddenly 4% closer

I'm going to come out and admit to something now so that I can't be accused of trying to hide it later: I'm ditching this cleanse 36 hours early.

It turns out my mother in law is coming into town the Wednesday immediately following the end of the cleanse. The hubs and I decided that before she gets here for her week long stay, we deserve a nice night out to strengthen the bonds of our marriage. Ten glorious days from now, we'll be hiring a sitter and hitting the town for whatever sort of food and beverage strikes our fancy.

And. The. Best. Part. Sunday morning we shall awaken and drink french press coffee. With cream and sugar. That's really all I care about. I could probably stick to the cleanse for dinner, so long as I have the promise of that tarted up coffee the next morning. But I doubt I will.

It's funny, you'd think that I would know exactly what sort of indulgence (beyond said coffee) I want to partake of once this is over. But it's really not like that at all. To me, going hog wild on some sort of anti-cleanse smorgasbord defeats the whole purpose. Why torture myself all this time if I'm just going to re-toxify myself as quickly as possible?

There's a lot of this lifestyle I plan to take forward.  I want to continue eating salads for lunch as often as I can stand it. I think that I will keep making smoothies for breakfast, unless I find that I cut out fruit and my skin turns to pure porcelain and my body fat dips to 3%. As far as dinners go, the vegan meals we've had are really delicious and will probably remain in the rotation. I don't plan on cutting meat or dairy completely out of my diet any time soon, but these last few weeks have really proven that we don't need them to make a meal delicious. And I love that we've felt that way while eating real food - as opposed to chick'n or cheez or what have you.

Look at me, talking a big game like it's over already! But I am over the hump, at least. Really, once that first week was over it all got a lot easier, and now it hardly feels like work at all.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Cleanse day 16

It is now day 16 of the cleanse (I kind of want to slap myself every time I say or write "the cleanse," is the feeling mutual?) and things are much different than the last time I checked in. I now can eat eggs, non-gluten grains, legumes and seafood. Basically everything! But still nothing. No sugar, no coffee, no meat, no beloved cheeses. But it feels good. I have lost about five pounds and I think that by the time this is over I will have actually lost less weight, because I'm working pretty hard on building muscle. If I were the kind of person who planned well and demonstrated good foresight, I would have take measurements and pictures on day one. Oh well!
I'm thinking of doing something kind of revolutionary for week four. Maybe instead of adding back lean meats and gluten like I'm supposed to, I will instead eliminate all the fruit and carb-y vegetables I've been eating all this time and see what sort of difference that makes. Basically add on a week of hardcore zero-carb eating just for fun. Why would I do that to myself when I'm almost done, you ask? Because I don't feel appreciably different right now than I ever do. I am sleeping better for sure, without all the usual uppers and downers in my system. But other than that, not much different. My skin is no clearer than usual. My digestion seems to be functioning in about the same manner as usual (and it's usually pretty good). My mood is tethered to the degree of hunger I am feeling at any given moment, which is the way I've been all my life. To my highly scientific mind, this means one of two things. Either:

A) I am a very lucky person who can eat almost all of God's creation with minimal side effects; or
B) Sugar is my mortal enemy and the root of all problems in my life.

I think I owe it to myself to find out.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Cleanse: Days two through five

I will spare you the blow by blow recount and just tell you that by 4pm on day four of this cleanse, I felt much, way, totally, way better. To give you the broad strokes version: On day two I made a more concerted effort to eat more protein, and started adding vegan protein powder to my smoothies. Day three was a little bit better, although I was still weak in the knees and pretty dull in the head. Day four started a little rough in the morning, but I took a 20 minute power nap in the afternoon and woke up feeling like a new person. By the time I retired to my bed with a cup of tea to read at 9:30 (I know, right?), I was feeling downright fabulous.

Today is day five. It has felt almost normal. It's strange, I don't really crave the things I can't have. Sure, I saw Dr. Oz talking about some peanut butter banana quesadilla thing and thought about how I could pull his jugular out of his neck with my bare hand and take it from him, but it didn't make me mope for an hour about not getting to eat it.

Even when I have been starving, I haven't felt deprived. I know that probably makes no sense, but the food I'm eating is really delicious, if slightly spartan. Apple slices with almond butter is about the best snack going - the only way to suffer through almond butter, in my opinion. I made a whole sheet tray of vegetables last night for dinner. Cauliflower, broccoli, brussels sprouts, mushrooms and delicata squash tossed with olive oil and salt and roasted. It was like heaven. Artichokes have been another staple. I have discovered that olive oil with a healthy pinch of salt and pepper makes a serviceable substitute for melted butter for dipping.

I have some deep thoughts on hunger and food tumbling around in my head, but I don't think I have quite enough protein in my system to articulate them properly. That may have to wait until next week and beans. Can you even fathom what a luxury beans sound like to me right now? It's insane. I never thought I'd be happy to be a gluten-free vegan, but I can barely wait the three wake-ups until I am one.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Cleanse: day 1

I guess I was a little cocky 24 hours ago. The rest of day one kind of went down hill fast. Look at my food intake and see if you can guess why:

  9AM: hot water with lemon
10AM: berry smoothie
12PM: detox tea
  1PM: green salad with carrots, cukes, cauliflower, sunflower seeds, and avocado dressing
  3PM: rest of the berry smoothie
  5PM: dried figs and plums
  6PM: detox tea
  8PM: curried butternut squash soup
  9PM: more prunes and figs, some cashews

I'm trying to trust the process and follow the plan, but it's hard to believe I am supposed to be able to function on SO little protein. I guess I probably should have had some nuts earlier in the day, but I was feeling so good it didn't cross my mind. I knew that I was in trouble, however, when I went to the grocery store with a list that should have taken me 20 minutes and was in there for an hour. I tracked back to the produce department three times for forgotten items. By the time we got Marlo bathed and in bed and our soup eaten, I was so tired that I practically fell in bed, and I was asleep in all of 10 minutes.

I have spin class tonight and I'm more than a little concerned that I'm going to fall off the bike. My legs feel weak going up and down the stairs. I'm making more of an effort to get protein however I can, and I've made the executive decision that if I'm going to do such vigorous exercise, I am entitled an extra smoothie with protein powder. I don't want to be one of these A-holes who declares themselves on a cleanse and then proceeds to eat whatever they can rationalize into the plan, but I think in this case some vegan protein powder is in order.

I have never spent so much money on food and been so hungry.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Cleanse commenced

28 days with no sugar, alcohol, dairy, gluten or caffeine. Why don't I just shoot myself in the face and be done with it.

Today is day one, and so far it is not horrible. I threw a bratty temper tantrum to myself about not getting my coffee this morning, but I got over it. I think tomorrow might actually be more difficult, since I will know what I have in store for me. Today I can kind of pretend that later on I'm going to eat a giant plate of nachos to get myself by.

We (yes, we, I talked the hubs into doing it with me) are doing the Whole Living cleanse, which means that for the first seven days it's nothing but smoothies and vegetables and detox tea. Next week, we're supposed to add back in beans and seafood and organic soy. I feel like that is a pretty arbitrary cut off for "high quality protein," so I may go ahead and add back beef and chicken. The important part to me is keeping the booze, sugar, and dairy out. I don't think I have an issue with caffeine addiction or gluten intolerance, which is not a rationalization for cheating and bringing those things back in, because who wants black coffee and dry toast anyway? Not this kid.

Once it's on the world wide web, it's official! Either I will be extra accountable or my creative writing skills will be vastly improved.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The reproductivity report

So. I'm officially at that point in the baby-wanting continuum where the, er, beginning of a new cycle is slightly depressing. Well, at least it is once it happens. Mine came five days later than expected this time around, and I would say the prevailing thought in my head over those days was  


Still, wistful or not, I don't see the "oh crap" reaction changing any time soon. I don't think I'm going to get to the point where I feel confident the time is right to commit to changing my family's structure FOREVER. I will probably have to get drunkenly knocked up if Marlo's not going to be an only child. Ah, I can't wait for my children to grow up and read that.

Isn't it weird how when you're trying with all your might to get pregnant, it seems like the most fragile thing ever? When I was first pregnant with Marlo I remember feeling some sort of cramping and instantly laying down with my legs elevated. I remember going on a boat ride and being terrified because the lake was super choppy. I went to a corporate dinner event and was served a salad with green papaya, only to read the next day that the last thing a pregnant lady should be eating is green papaya! You might spontaneously abort!

The opposite of this, of course, is when you are scared you might be pregnant and don't want to be. Then it seems like your cervix is a vault door from Fort Knox and whatever zygote you might be carrying is impervious to all manner of hostile environmental factors. You have Donna's boyfriend Ray from 90210 come over and throw you down the stairs, and still, your period won't start.*

But this month it did, so there will be no vanity baby for me this October. I would have been due three days after my birthday! That would have been sort of cool.

*was that totally wrong and offensive of me to say? I'm sorry. I couldn't resist.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Are you as surprised as I am they're still a band?

"If you want to succeed and not hit a glitch, what you must do is --"

Is it wrong that my automatic completion of that couplet is "smack a bitch?" Does it change your answer if I tell you that it comes from Abby's Flying Fairy School on Sesame Street? Maybe The Prodigy warped my brain. I think the real completion is "change your pitch." It was a lesson about music. Really I like to think it was meant to be subversive and drag that song up from mommy's subconscious and everybody had the same thought as me. Just let me believe it.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Stirrin' up the troubs

I'm wondering if some of the people who think they have a gluten sensitivity actually have a sensitivity to all the crap that goes into processed foods like pasta and factory bread. Maybe once those sources are removed from the diet, the "gluten" reactions from other, more natural sources are actually psychosomatic?

This "theory" is really just wishful thinking. But I wonder if it has been examined? I was too lazy to look it up before I started typing this blog post. Besides, I think it's best to put all inflammatory ideas straight on to the internet without thinking about it first.

Speaking of inflammatory, you know who's crazy? Paleo diet people. No legumes but go ahead and eat a rasher of bacon at every meal. Because you know, Paleolithic man was awesome at charcuterie. And don't get me started on the unsustainability of the entire human race eating eight ounces of grass fed beef three times a day.

Actually, you know what, I bet not ALL Paleo diet people are crazy. I bet there are those of them who quietly refrain from eating grains and dairy and are just as put off as I am by the idea of having steak and six eggs for breakfast every morning. It's unfortunate when a few bloggers ruin it for everybody else. At any rate, those crazy bloggers introduced me to the wonders of pastured butter. And for that I am eternally grateful.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

At least the inflight movies were good

Well, here I am. One full day back at home under my belt. It's a weird feeling to be in my house and feel unsure about how it all goes. But I'm sure we'll be back into a soul-crushing routine in no time.

I would have blogged more about my trip, but it wasn't really too interesting. OR maybe it's that I am not so interesting. Or maybe travel writers are full of shit, as a group. Maybe I was just depressed that I never got to see that eel. Or perhaps it is just that it is hard to have a scintillating eco-venture vacation full of bungee jumps and jet boat rides like everybody expects when you go to New Zealand when you are enslaved by a 19 month old and her sleep needs.

Instead I did lots of co-napping (awesome, but not worth a $3500 plane ticket) and drinking of wine outside of motel rooms containing my sleeping child. Yes, on more than one occasion we sat outside all night drinking cheap wine like a bunch of hobos, because we couldn't force ourselves to go to bed at eight. I was only *slightly* worried I was going to need medically supervised detox when I got home.

Speaking of detox, it's time to do something rash when it comes to my eating habits. I'm thinking 30 day cleanse in which I give up everything I hold dear and try to subsist on vegetables and meats alone. Or I could go less hardcore maniac and just do a two week South Beach style induction. I'm leaning toward hardcore maniac.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

One week in

Good news! There hasn't been an earthquake big enough for me to feel in, like, a whole day. Progress!

Remember how I said I was all jittery about taking this trip, and I couldn't really explain why? I wonder if maybe all this earthquakeyness is why. It really kind of makes you think about what you want out of life, and what you don't. For instance, when there was an earthquake while I was sitting in the food court at the mall eating mango curry, I thought to myself how much I didn't want to die eating mall food court Indian food. You can see how that sort of thing can be extrapolated out.

There is a zoo across the street, which is cool. I have never lived across the street from the zoo before. We bought a season pass because it was basically the same price as two visits would be, and I have to take Marlo back there every day until I convince her to ride the donkey. She has to ride the donkey because, alas, Mama is over the maximum allowed height for donkey rides. Apparently this zoo is sort of the ghetto zoo, because everyone keeps asking us why we didn't go to the other one. Does the other zoo have a pool full of disgusting eels to which you can feed cat food off a spoon? I didn't think so.

They are obsessed with eels in New Zealand. It is probably the strangest thing about this place. There is an aquarium that advertises nothing else but that they have a 150 year old eel that is fed at 10, 12:30, and 3 daily. You can bet that I am going to plan my whole day around that schedule. First and foremost, I intend to find out exactly how they know this eel is 150 years old. Next, I want to see if it is REALLY huge and disgusting or just slightly more disgusting and large than the rest of the eels. Does it lift its giant disgusting eel mouth out of the water when it sees the spoon coming, like the ones at the zoo? Does it eat cat food, or does it have to eat something more substantial - or even a special geriatric diet? See. Many questions that must be answered.

Ooh! Almost forgot! Are there giant 150 year old eel souvenirs to be purchased? If there are t-shirts, I have friends in Tampa who are exactly the type of people who would be delighted to find one in their mailbox.  Which is why I love them.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

AC/DC jokes will get you fired for life

At about 10 pm on January 1st, I felt my first earthquake of the trip.  And then I felt about a billion more.  Between midnight and 8am we had 21 of them, including two over 5.0 on the Richter scale. By noon on the 2nd the Christchurch area had experienced 36 earthquakes over the first 36 hours of 2012. There were 44 of them between 7pm on the 1st and 7pm on the 2nd.

welcome to my nightmare  

The first quake that woke me up around 1:30 in the morning was a big one, loud and violent. By the time the adrenaline wore off and I was able to fall back asleep, there was another one. And another. And another. Now, I'm a 4th generation California girl and a west coast lifer, so I'm not afraid of earthquakes. I am used to them as a constant threat. But let me tell you, that night was absolutely terrible. By the time we had the 5.48 magnitude quake at 5:45 in the morning, I was in tears. My first night in a new place after 24 hours of travel with the baby, and my husband in Antarctica? I didn't have a whole lot of coping power left in my nervous system.

I've already waited too long to write about this. I have lost the visceral recall, the way you do with childbirth and other traumatic events. It was so stressful for so long. The trouble with earthquakes is that you can't tell how bad they're going to get when they start. Every time you get a new one, there is the possibility it's going to be a bad one. You can hear these quakes before you can feel them, and I have become highly attuned to the sound. It makes me sick to my stomach.

It's been a relatively quiet couple of days on the seismic front, and we've been lulled into a false sense of security again. We had a 4.8 this morning, the first one over 4.0 in over 36 hours. DO YOU HEAR HOW CRAZY THIS SOUNDS? It's been 36 hours since we last had a significant earthquake and I'm telling you it's calm. But this is reality in Christchurch, and it has been since September 2010. They have had almost 10,000 earthquakes over the last 15 months. People are packing up and leaving town. I can't say I blame them - I have reserved the right to leave early if things get bad again.

If you're interested, you can follow the Christchurch earthquakes here and here. Or search for the hashtag #eqnz on Twitter.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Adjust your jokes, it's a leap year

Greetings from the upside down part of the world. Marlo and I survived a 24 hour travel day, both in one piece and mostly still friends. Actually it turns out that, a lot like sleep, mommy begets mommy. Mo wasn't allowed to do much in the way of touching/carrying/helping her today, which is all well and good since he went flitting off to Antarctica a few hours ago and I'm back on solo duty. It was a glorious four hours of shared custody, though.

My preliminary findings on New Zealand are that the people are indeed quite friendly and the scenery is nice. Nothing I've seen so far has made me fall down to my knees and weep, but I've pretty much only seen two airports. There's time. I did see some sheep on the approach into Christchurch, so check that box.

I'm praying that Marlo falls right back into her usual 12 hour sleep habit, but I'm not counting on it. We have a little apartment (I will post pictures if the rudimentary internet access will allow it), but there is only the one bedroom and the stupid bathroom is only accessible from inside the bedroom. So not only do we have to try and sneak in to go to bed ourselves, we have to try not to pee after she goes to bed.

There is a window into the bathroom on either side, one from the bedroom and one from the living room. I kind of want to set her pack n' play up in the bathtub and watch her sleep like some sort of zoo animal.

Also, the bitey bugs here seem to be quite enthusiastic about my fresh-from-the-Northern-Hemisphere blood. I'm hoping to become old news to them soon.

I'm looking forward to getting a car and going to a grocery store tomorrow. Marlo has eaten nothing but puree pouches and milk all day. And guess what's for breakfast! At least she won't get scurvy.

Happy New Year! Let me know if you need any help with 2012 at all, cuz I have a whole full day's experience with it now.