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Erin and Nate are getting married!

12 Jul

Nate and I went to Paris in June, 2016 and came back engaged.  Woo!

Want to know the wedding details? Here you go!

We got hitched at the top of the Eiffel Tour!

We got engaged at the top of the Eiffel Tour!

But what else did we do? Well, it turns out, a lot: Continue reading

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Erin’s European Vacation

4 Jun
Erin in Lake Orta, Italy

Erin in Lake Orta, Italy

I made it!  I made it there and back!  Will wonders never cease?

Most of you know I was on a 10-day visit to Europe last week with Queens University (where we had a few days of  company site visits, like to Siemens, VF Corporation [who own Timberland/Vans/Reef/The North Face/etc.], and various Italian companies), and just got back on Saturday.  I have pictures!  I have never been to Europe before, and it was pretty fantastic.  I’d go back in a heartbeat.  There were almost 20 of us on the trip, although only 8 of us took it for credit.

Here’s where I went: Munich (100 photos) for 3 days, Lugano, Switzerland (40 photos) for 2 days, then Milan (200 photos) for 4 days (which included day trips to Como/Bellagio, and Lake Orta.

Here are a few photos of company Site visits with our class (10 photos)

I think most of the photos are captioned and turned the right way…I’m sure others took better photos than I (including my roommate), but these will do for now!

On the roof of the Duomo

On the roof of the Duomo

I loved every country—they each had their own charm.  I’m sorry I couldn’t have stayed there longer!  The food, fashion, culture, beer/wine, scenery, people—all were just a treat to take in.  The weather was kinda cold and misty in Munich, but beautiful in Lugano (where they speak Italian!) and Milan.  And the Milano people are so put together and well dressed…ciao bello!  I purchased many a scarf to embrace the style of my European brethren…as you can see!

Not sure where I’ll go next…maybe Paris, or Spain…or back to Italy!  But I definitely want to start planning!

Auf wiedersehen!  Ciao!

Neuschwanstein Castle, 2 hours from Munich

Neuschwanstein Castle, 2 hours from Munich

Zen Habit 2: Declutter a cabinet, surface or drawer

4 Mar

I have too much stuff.  That’s partially why I started the “Do It Now!” zen habit because my stuff gets messy and I just…push it around my house.  Or let it pile up.  And really, that’s silly, because I don’t really NEED all the stuff I have, or I just haven’t accepted the inevitable reality about my stuff: that I will NEVER read all the books I own, I will hardly ever listen to my CDs again, and do I really have to hold on to that long expired

zh2antihistamine?  My stuff was starting to annoy me.  So I thought if I could just declutter a cabinet, a surface, or a drawer almost every day, I might make a dent in it.  Who doesn’t have time for a drawer?  I thought about tackling my email, because that’s a constant source of irritation, but then I thought it deserved its own zen habit.  So I’m just sticking with a surface.  Or a drawer.  Maybe a cabinet.

I started with my bathroom, and over 3 days, took on a  few drawers/cabinets at a time.  Expired mascara?  No thanks!  Expired vicodin from…I don’t even know where?  Potentially fatal!  The pile of half-used shampoo bottles that I hated because it dried my hair out, to the near-empty hair spray, to the hot rollers I haven’t used in 2 years?  Bye, jerks!  I moved on to my large roll-top desk*, a complete black hole of office-related mess.  In the past, piles of unopened mail have sat there for weeks (months) on end (which is no longer the case, after I’ve been instituting zen habit 1 the past week) and I’ve even gotten a ticket because my license plate tag renewal was sitting on my desk and I never bothered to open it and get it taken care of.  NO MORE! (I think that was the dumbest ticket I’ve gotten for anything, ever.)  The nice thing about the 5-minute declutter is that I actually feel like I’ve done something useful.  Not anything huge, but that’s not the point.  It’s something useful.  Clean.  Stripped down.  De-gunked.  I was feeling so good about it that I took my decluttering road show to work,  and cleaned out all the old library journals that have been mocking me for the past few years, daring me to read them, and put the stuff sitting on my desk in my file cabinet.  Hey, I may not have gotten rid of it completely, but I’ve moved it to another location to process at another time.  That time will come.  Slow and steady!

* One of the fun things I found when desk decluttering was my pile of mix tapes from high school and college.  I don’t have a tape player anymore, so I ended up tossing them all (oh,

tapesthe memories!) I took a picture of my favorites, mostly from my high school boyfriend, then made Spotify playlists for them.  The titles alone crack me up.  My mom thought I should’ve kept them, but this picture alone is worth 1,000 tapes that I can’t listen to.  One of my other (ongoing…in fact I’m doing it now!) decluttering projects is converting my CDs to a tiny portable storage drive (so red and sassy) and that alone is bringing back memories. Music is such a trip down memory lane, isn’t it?  Regardless of my new ability to mix all my crappy music onto my iPhone, there’s something about the liner art of CD cases that is obviously lost with digital copies.  That, and I have an entire series of Sexy Bitch Mix CDs from the mid-2000’s that my BF Jen made me, complete with charming cover art.  And what digital mix can compete with that?!?

Zen Habit 1: Stop Procrastinating (AKA Do It Now!)

13 Feb

I’m messy.  Not hoarder messy, but I have a horrible habit of not putting things back where I got them (I’m not disorganized…I have a place for everything [almost!] but getting it back TO the place is the trick).  I leave shoes everywhere.  I leave my kitchen

My Zen Habits list that's taped to my fridge. So far...so good.

My Zen Habits list that’s taped to my fridge. So far…so good.

cabinets open when I’m cooking (it makes grabbing something much faster!) I struggle to make my bed every day.  I know that I’m messy, and I have been since I was a kid.  And when I clean my house, which I love to do, the messiness irritates me.  It takes me SO LONG to put things away!  Or I wake up in the morning to dirty dishes because I was too lazy to clean them the night before.  So when I was contemplating my first habit that I wanted to start/stop, this one shot to the top of the list.

“Procrastinating” is actually too broad–what I really meant was doing things immediately when I think about them (in a reasonable time frame) versus waiting and doing something else more pleasurable because I’m a lazy @ss.  Babauta calls it “Washing your bowl.”  I wanted to focus on surfaces and my kitchen, but it extends to other things too.  So when I make breakfast in the morning (usually scrambled eggs or an omelette), I put my dishes in the dishwasher and clean my frying pan.  When I drink a glass of wine, I wash it when I’m finished and put it away (it’s weird to be using the same glass because it’s always clean when I reach for it).  When I take my shoes off, I immediately put them in my closet.  My bed in the morning?  I make it.  Makeup?  Goes back in the makeup case.  My desk at home is clean, my counters clutter-free.  It’s kind of wild.  And when I’m tempted not to do it (or I just forget), the habit is now in my head: “Put those away.”  And I do.  And when I walk in to my house after work, the laundry has been put away because I did it when it came out of the dryer.  The kitchen is neat and beautiful.  This habit has leaked over to work as well–when I get to work I immediately put my lunch in the fridge instead of sometimes forgetting about it because I was going to “do it later.”  I get up from the computer and go to someone’s office when I have something to ask them.  I make a note on my whiteboard so I don’t forget. It’s made me much less jumbled, my head is less chaotic.  And man–you wouldn’t believe my house.  It’s so neat (98% of the time!)

Updated to add: This is when I know the universe is talking to me. I just got this Nerd Fitness (if you don’t know Nerd Fitness…go read it.  Do it now!) post in my email, which linked to yet another Leo Babauta blog post.  Why do I bother wasting more time than I need to because I’m a lazy bum?  Madness!

http://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/2013/02/14/three-words-that-you-need-to-tell-yourself-daily/

http://zenhabits.net/once/

Zen Habits in 2013: The NEW version of the New Year’s resolution

12 Feb

It’ll be no surprise to anyone that I’m big on self-improvement.  I like resolutions.  I like identifying things that aren’t quite working and tweaking them so that they work better (I’m seeing more and more why this whole OD career thing might be a good fit for me.)  I guess I’m a process improvement manager…of 1.  But with last year being so busy and exciting (going back to school being the biggest change out of many), the list of things I had in my arsenal to resolve in 2012 just…didn’t get done. And instead of kicking myself all over the place like most people do when their resolutions fail, I decided to try something new.

I follow Leo Babauta, author of the world’s most minimal blog, Zen Habits.  I’ve been following him for years, but like most things, sometimes it takes a while before it really sinks in.  He posted something recently and a light went off in my head: 52 changes for 2013.  It’s an ebook that I purchased and the whole gist is instead of having resolutions that are either too general (lose weight!) or without guidelines (run a 5k!), why not instead build habits?  Try taking on new ones, or let go of bad ones, slowly but surely, over one year.  For most of us over-achievers, this seems near impossible: “A year?  But I want to do it ALL RIGHT NOW.” And yet it spoke to me.  I’m working a full-time job, I’ve got two part-time jobs, and I’m taking two graduate classes.  My schedule is a little nutty.  But since I don’t see it getting any LESS nutty in the near future, I needed to simplify my life somewhat, or at least make it flow better.  I needed to align all the things I’m doing with all the things I WANT to be doing, and often they’re not the same.  So I’ve decided to try this little experiment, and I have to tell you…thus far (I’m only on habit 5, but that’s something!) it’s been kind of revolutionary.  My list is slightly different from Leo’s–I’m not adding a new habit on each week until I feel like I’m on my way to mastering the previous habit.  And while I think his 52 habits are awesome and they’re a great inspiration, I’m choosing mine based on what I feel really called to do…or to STOP doing.

Huh…there’s something to this slow and steady thing.  Who would’ve guessed?

So habit #1…show yourself!

Life Coach lessons: The Dreaded Drama Triangle

5 Jun

Last year for my birthday my brother gave me a 4-session life coach package.  The life coach was a friend of his who he had worked with at the bank, and said she had stayed successful even in this down economy—he believed she was one of the best.  After my initial reaction of “…my brother thinks I need a life coach??” and wondering what I’d done to give him THAT impression, I took it in the very generous and giving spirit that it was intended and…proceeded to stick it in a corner of my desk for the next 8 months.

Here’s the simple truth: When he gave it to me I was in a relationship that was far from healthy, and I knew this would be a really honest process and I wasn’t ready to be honest.  Not with myself, and not with T.  I didn’t want to verbalize those big questions because I knew what the answers would be.  But when T and I broke up last February, it sort of freed me to ask the tough questions—where am I heading, what’s my purpose, why have I made certain decisions in the past, etc.  I really didn’t know what kind of “stuff” she was going to dig up, but I tried to approach the process with an open mind.  

I had 4 sessions: 1 15-minute exploratory session about my expectations, 1 2-hour session about values, and 2 1-hour follow-up meetings.  So for my first session I went to her house where her office is (with a live chicken in the yard! and a bunch of dogs and a cat—she’s farm adjacent) and we had a little sit-down chat.  Laura is exactly what you think a life coach should be—perceptive, high energy, cheerful, observant.  She made me tea, asked me some questions, and generally just probed around in my life to see what I was happy with, what I was unsatisfied about, etc.  One of the things that really stuck out to me was something she said about choices.  We all make choices—every single day, practically every waking minute, we make choices.  Choices to get up to make breakfast, or to hit the snooze button.  Choices to sit in front of the TV (even good tv!), or read a book, or do a nerd fitness routine.  Choices to grab a burger from McD’s or go home and make dinner.  Don’t be mad at yourself for making one choice versus another—just accept that you made them.  If you want to do something differently, make different choices.  That seems so simple, and yet we’re a nation of complainers about how we feel, how we look, how tired we are, how broke we are—and I’m not different.  Just accept YOU made the choices you made, and be good with them.  If you’re not good with them, make different choices.  Simple, no?

This conversation preceded what turned out to be my biggest takeaway from her, the concept of The Dreaded Drama Triangle.

I’ve been involved in a series of unsatisfying romantic (but not friend or family, thankfully) relationships most of my dating life.  Odd, since my father and brother are two of the most well-adjusted and generous men you’ll ever meet, but there you have it.  My men all LOOK different, but they are often very similar—smart and interesting but vaguely (or incredibly) unhappy and hyper critical of themselves and others.  Difficult yet sensitive over-thinkers.  Most men I’ve dated have fit this mold.  I knew this was a pattern in my life, but I wasn’t sure how to change it, and T was no exception—in fact he was the most extreme version of this model and I was with him longer than the others!  While these guys make for great dating stories, they make for terrible long-term partners and I knew something had to change.

So at the end of this short session and mentioning my unhappiness with my relationships, Laura said “You should read The Power of TED, a short parable about the The Empowerment Dynamic.”  And what is that, you may ask?  It’s based on reversing the Dreaded Drama Triangle (DDT) created in the 60s by Stephen Karpman.  Then Laura proceeded to map out the DDT (and its partner TED) on a piece of butcher paper.

The DDT is a model where the primary role is the Victim, and our society basically runs this way: things happen TO you, awful, frustrating things, and you are helpless to stop them.  On one corner is the Rescuer who wants to save you from yourself, take care of you, help you, FIX YOU.  (That’s me.)  In the other corner is the Persecutor, and that could be your parents, your wife, your boss, cancer, the cigarettes you can’t quit, etc.  The Rescuer can BECOME the persecutor if the victim doesn’t listen to them (“Why won’t you listen to meeeee?  I’m just trying to help you!  You never pay attention to me!”) and the Victim can become the Persecutor when they bully the Rescuer (“You never let me make decisions for myself!  You’re always in my business! I can handle this on my own, MOM.”  Etc.)  Basically all roles can shift in any situation.  But the DDT is all about problems, and you’re always reacting to those problems.  It’s based in fear.

So turn the DDT on its head, and you have TED.  The Victim becomes the Creator—you are creating your own reality, and you don’t have to react to anything in a fear-based, negative way.  You are moving towards something, and not away from something else because of fear. The Rescuer becomes Coach—they will help you and give you advice, but ONLY if you ask for it, and they aren’t attached to the outcome.  I give you advice about your boyfriend, and if you don’t take it?  Ok, then!  It’s not my life. It’s yours, and it’s not making me miserable.  I’m here to be supportive.  And finally the Persecutor becomes the Challenger—ok, let’s say your boss sucks and you can’t get your work done efficiently.  You can complain about it constantly, or you can work around him.  Or get a new job.  For example in my own life I have ongoing health issues.  I can let them suck me down and whine about them (because they do in fact suck, although Bob has been feeling better), or I can be proactive about either fixing them or managing them (find a naturopath, try different diets, go to yoga, take my meds, whatever).  It’s all about your attitude, and are you working towards something positive or simply trying (and failing) to prevent bad things from happening to you?

Think about how you’ve seen the DDT in your own life—at work, at home, in relationships.  It’s everywhere.  It’s constant.  It’s what makes drama (TV, movies, life) INTERESTING. It’s what all fairy tales are about! (The Witch, Prince Charming, and Snow White all need each other to work, right?)

I’m not saying I’ve become a creator overnight.  But I’m now looking critically at my past choices and my future potential decisions in a much different way than I used to.  I look at family interactions with each other, and with me, more critically.  I look at how sometimes my first reaction is “Oh great, why is this happening to ME?” instead of something more proactive or more productive.  I’m working on taking responsibility for my choices (hey, we’ve come full circle!) and realize I’m the one in charge.  Again, this doesn’t seem like a novel idea, but I don’t think I realized how fully attached I was to my own Rescuer role, and how much condescending ego it takes for me to think I can live your life better than you can.  I mean, you might be effing it up, but until you figure out how to NOT eff it up, there’s not much I can do about it, right?  And if you’re really attached to continuing the drama, you’re probably not the right person for me, correct?

CORRECT. (I felt like that needed an answer.)

Sometimes it’s hard to resist jumping into the drama pool, but at least I’m aware of it when I do it.  I can honestly say that conversation and reading that book has changed my life—and how often can you say that?!?

I’ve got my last session with Laura tomorrow morning (sob!), but I’ve got a few more great lessons from her that I’ll share with you all.  Honestly, it’s been one of the best gifts I’ve ever received.  Thank you, bro!

15 days

7 May

It was the free wine that did it.

I made it 15 days out of 30 before completely falling down on the job with the Whole30 challenge adventure because of free wine (and food).  Oh, that is sad!  I went to a College Senate mixer on Thursday after work, and lo and behold, I was handed 2 free drink tickets and on the tables sat a passel of serving trays offering onion rings, sliders, and chips and salsa (there were chicken and shrimp skewers as well, but let’s not beat around the bush here.)  The devil on my shoulder said “DRINK THOSE NOW, THEY ARE FREE YOU IDIOT.  EAT THAT TOO.  DON’T FORGET TO DIP THOSE CHIPS IN SOME QUESO.”  (My inner devil is kind of a yeller).  And so I did.  *sigh*  Part of it was that I didn’t eat beforehand and was heading to another social event after the mixer (life has been busy lately).  But let’s get real—I didn’t adequately inoculate myself against the smell of fresh fried food and the possibility of free booze.  Not good booze, per se.  Just free.  So I was ready for a big crash.

I could say I’m disappointed in myself, and of course I am a little, but frankly I’m impressed that I was able to stick with something so radical as long as I did, and I know I’ll try it again since I liked the (temporary) results.  Seriously, in the end, it’s just a damn diet.  It’s not Sophie’s Choice.

But it’s not just that the diet is restrictive—no grains, alcohol, dairy, sugar, or legumes—it’s the socializing part that’s the biggest challenge.  And that little devil.  

30 days doesn’t seem like much, but having the discipline to go out to dinner when there’s bread at the table, or when friends are having a beer or glass of wine, or everyone wants to grab dessert, or visiting a new friend’s house and the table is covered in brownies, pita chips and hummus (my favorite, and illegal in both instances) and free wine—that’s a head trip.  It’s amazing how your own brain can completely undermine you.  Shut UP, you.  

I can't help it--this picture makes me laugh heartily.

Of course it would be easier to stay home for a month, but that’s not really the point, is it?  There are ALWAYS going to be temptations, and even if I didn’t stick to this paleo thing 100%, people eat like crap regularly with the chips/fried cheese/french fries/etc. (and that was just me on the Derby Day bar crawl last weekend with a couple of martinis…when I fail, baby, I go BIG TIME!)  I’m always going to have to make a choice of easy (and sometimes tasty) versus healthy.  And really—I’m making the choices.  I’m a big girl.  Those pita chips didn’t jump into my belly—I put them there.  

But that devil—that devil is the WORST.  I can’t say that I was feeling 100% awesome during those two weeks, but I wasn’t feeling any worse, and I wanted to see if I could do it.  But the voice in the back of my brain whispered “It’s not that bad.  You know you want to.  You’ve been so good!  How bad can it be?”  And then it gets louder: “You are really hungry.  Look at all that delicious salty food.  Mmm…wine.  Smacky smackity smack—I’d bet that would be so tasty.  And you’re not paying for it!  Just drink it!  Ooh, french fries…”  I resisted that little bastard for two weeks, but then I lost focus.  Who knew something so silly (in the grand scheme of things) could be such a bizarre negative mental trip??

So, Mr. Temptation: I have been beaten by you, sir.  I have failed.  TODAY.  But that’s ok!  I will try again soon.  I will look you in the face and say to your lackeys, NOT TODAY, CHIPS AND QUESO!  NOT TODAY.  And maybe next time I will not schedule my next Whole30 challenge adventure when leaving town on a beach retreat SURROUNDED BY BAGELS AND SNACKS AND WINE, or working 12 hours at the election without being able to leave nor with access to refrigeration, or flying home to see my parents.  Maybe my next Whole30 can during a time of relative social quiet.  And hey, I’ve already tested some recipes and strategies, so that’s half the battle right there.  You gotta just keep trying, right?

Crankiness and commitment: Whole30 Day 10

27 Apr

Yesterday was not my best day, crank-wise.  I’m still barreling through this diet (week 2, baby!), but I’ll be honest, I was expecting to see some major benefits from the Bob end, and while I’m not any worse, I’m not much better.  I’ve been throwing a lot of money at Bob this month, and I feel like I’ve been hemorrhaging cash—supplements, Nordic Naturals fish oil (the good stuff—lemon-flavored that I drink straight from the bottle in liquid form—oh yes I do!), VSL3 probiotics, and the FOOD.  Buying all this really good food is not cheap, especially since i started this near the end of the month and bought all kind of OTHER stuff (milk, yogurt, beans, more beans, oatmeal, etc.) that I can’t eat.  So like an @ss who buys his date an expensive dinner expecting her to put out (do those guys still exist??), I expect MY colon to show me some damn respect and to behave himself.  Which he is reluctant to do.  DUDE, what do you WANT from me?  Why aren’t you happier?  Bob is like the flamboyant lead actor  who’s part of an entire cast of characters acting in a play based on my life, and he wears too much eye liner and lots of sequins and freaks out constantly when the other actors go off-script—and God forbid you serve him yellow peanut M&Ms when he only wants blue.  He’s a fussy, temperamental B, that Bob.

But anyway…I got off track.  Am I feeling terrible?  No, not at all—and I am grateful.  But by Day 9, I was expecting some fantastic, mythical, magical healing to reveal itself.  And maybe it is happening, way down at the cellular level, but I’m not seeing it.  Yet.  So yes, yesterday I was uber-cranky.  But even at my feistiest, I didn’t think of abandoning this challenge (adventure!) because—hey, I’m 10 days into it, and I don’t think it’s doing me any harm.  I’m still feeling generally good, I know what I’m putting into my body is good, and I’m 2 pounds down in a week, so—success.

This weekend I’m leaving town to go on a beach retreat to Oak Island with my church ladies.  I’m looking forward to it, because getting some sun and going to the beach is always healing for me, and I love my church ladies (this year I think the participants’ average age is 55…and then there’s me).  I cooked up a bunch of vegetables yesterday just in case I need emergency food, since I’m not sure what the situation will be of available or purchased food (but I’m guessing I can’t eat most of it): I’m bringing cucumber salad, chopped up ingredients for an omelette, curried vegetables (sauteed veggies made with a can of coconut milk, some green curry paste, a splash of fish sauce and lime juice—it’s surprisingly good), ants on a log, carrots, sauteed squash and zucchini, and some coconut fig nut balls (they need a better name than that)—the link is not exactly the recipe, but it’s close.  I ground up a bunch of nuts I had on hand, added them to a bowl, then ground up coconut and some figs I bought for something else, then added them to the nut mix with some coconut oil.  Added some cocoa and salt (I skipped the coffee, but that might be interesting), and mixed it all together.  However, it didn’t really “ball up”, so I made a different batch where i soaked the figs for a few hours and then mixed the whole mixture with the soaking water (just enough to cover the figs) and THAT made balls that I rolled in shredded coconut, but were also much sweeter.  Honestly, I think i like the drier nut meal (what a word!), and I’ve just been eating it with a spoon.  Yes, my eating has become weird(er).  Either way, lots of good fat and protein, and I’m bringing my nut balls AND nut meal to the beach!

So…lots of small packaged food items that I’ll have to squeeze in the car (and I just got this nestable lock & lock set from woot Wednesday with purple lids, and I LOVE THEM SO HARD) but you don’t want a hungry Erin on your hands.  Is this diet a pain in the rear?  Let’s be honest—yeah, especially when socializing (or traveling) with other people.  But do I think a modified version of it has a real place in my life?  The jury is deliberating, but I’m going with…yes.

And on Sunday’s return…more food planning for the week.  Whee!

Comfort food: Whole30 Day 5

24 Apr

One of my blogs (holy cow, I’ve read so many in the last week) talks about making cooking easier (because you’re doing so much of it) by doing a ton of prep on Sunday.  My own shepherd's pie!I know I need to do this, because I’m doing a lot of repetitive actions daily (like chopping up onions or other veggies) and yet you need a good plan of what you’re going to eat for the week so you know what to prep.  That part I’m not so good at!  I need to work on that.  

Regardless, I decided to cook up a storm Sunday because I had the time and I had the ingredients![[MORE]]

Breakfast: 1 fried egg and a chile turkey burger

Lunch: Asian fried rice (sans bacon, because I didn’t have any)

Cauliflower is the secret ingredient in a lot of paleo menus—it makes “rice” and it makes “mashed potatoes”, and is pretty convincing as both.  I had half a head of cauliflower all chopped up with nowhere to go from Mexican chicken and “rice” dish, so I thought this might work (ooh, look at me—all creative with my leftovers!)  I AM getting better at trying to cook by the seat of my pants—I’m usually such a strict recipe girl.  But with this kind of diet and veggies for days, you have to add a few things here and there.  The extra thing I added was some coconut milk for liquid, but I’m sure you could do without.  I did purchase some coconut aminos from Healthy Home Market (there are so many weird and expensive ingredients with this diet!), but if you weren’t off soy you could use soy sauce or Tamari.  I am noticing that the flavors with this paleo cooking are layered and rich—lots of interesting things went on with my palate as I ate this.  Quite liked it.

Dinner: Shepherd’s pie (or technically cottage pie if you’re using beef)

I spent much of Sunday poring through blogs and writing down potential recipes.  I’m hoping this part of the diet will get easier as I form a stable of recipes that I can whip up when needed and not have to constantly search of when I’m thinking of cooking.  I found this and it looked so good to me…and I wasn’t even that hungry!  Again we’re using our trusty old cauliflower to do the work of the usual potato topping, and I took her advice and bought it frozen, which was super simple to microwave.

I LOVED this—the meat was so flavorful.  I sauteed the veggies first, then put them aside, THEN did the beef…I’m not sure if that was necessary or not.  Regardless, the flavors of the tomato paste, vegetables, beef, parsley (instead of rosemary, since that’s what I had on hand) and thyme, then topped with the pureed cauliflower (thickened with coconut milk, which really didn’t leave a coconut flavor) and sprinkled with parsley—it was so pretty!  And so warm and comforting. Loved the whole thing.  I used aminos in this as well, but again, use what you have on hand if you’re just doing low carb and not Whole30.  

And I have some more for lunch today…yay!

Coconut dreams: Whole30 Day 4

23 Apr

Saturday turned out to be a pretty busy day—I woke up around 7-ish (for Deliciously tasty coconut butterwhatever reason I can no longer sleep in like a normal person, no matter what time I go to bed, which is super annoying), cleaned up the house, headed to the farmer’s markets to pick up my veggie haul, then headed home to get ready for a neighbor BBQ with the other 11 units in my condo complex.  We do this about twice a year and use some funds to get some beer and food for the gang.  Not all the unit residents show up, but those who do have a good time.  And lucky for us, it didn’t rain like it did last Fall![[MORE]]

Day 4: Saturday, 4/21

Breakfast: 3 ants on a log (w/ almond butter), 1 small sweet potato with ghee and salt, ¼ cantaloupe

Ants on a log (celery sticks with nut butter and raisins) brings me back to school lunches, and I love it.  Just writing about it makes me want one now.  It’s also a great snack that travels well because it doesn’t have to be refrigerated.  I was planning on having a big breakfast but simply ran out of time.  I’d nuked a sweet potato earlier in the week (I need to do more of that soon to have them on hand) and polished off a super sweet cantaloupe before heading to the first of 2 farmers markets.

One of these days I’m going to get to the biggest farmers market in Charlotte, the one on Yorkmont Drive near the airport, but I guess I’ve always had plenty of luck at the Mecklenburg County Market (#7 on the About.com list) open all year round and the Kings Drive market (#2) so I’ve been lazy.  Sometimes I get to Atherton Mill which is 3 blocks from my house, but they don’t have the same veggie amount or selection as the other two do.  However their meats are impressive and I like the mix of things they sell there.  And also—3 blocks.  But still…3 farmers markets within two miles of me?  Impressive.  

that's a whole lot of veggies right there.

Since I just started this paleo cooking thing, I’m not really sure how much to get of things.  But you know when you don’t have a list for Harris Teeter or Target and you just buy whatever you feel like buying, willy-nilly?  That’s kind of what happened on Saturday.  And $50 later, my kitchen looks like this photo.  Gracious.  I know some stuff will go to waste (and how in the hell did I end up with 3 bags of brussels sprouts??) but there are worse things than patronizing local farmers.

Lunch: salad with olive oil dressing and topped with cold chicken

I had one poached chicken breast to use up, so I just made up a quick salad with stuff laying around the fridge (I didn’t even get into my market veggie haul!) I love olive oil, but in dressing (where it’s the main ingredient) it tastes pretty strong.  But canola and vegetable oil aren’t allowed on Whole30, so it’ll have to do.   I added some mustard and herbs to the mix, but it might need more vinegar.  I can never get the ratio right…1 parts vinegar to 3 parts oil (the traditional French method) just seems too oily.  How do restaurants make dressings look so easy?!?

Dinner: Tremont Place BBQ – 1.5 hot dogs, 1/2 chicken sausage, tiny bit of red potato salad, small bit of rare flank steak, coconut butter for dessert

I knew this would be tricky what with the keg of beer and the chips and salsa floating around, but I did ok.  I gave away 3 Mexican beers in my fridge, and oddly enough, those are what I wanted to most (I love Mexican beer).  But I just drank water and we grilled out—and Lisa brought hot dogs!  Bless her.  I did miss that crispy toasted bun though, I won’t lie.  And I had a tiny bit of red potato salad—heathen!

But the coconut butter…the coconut butter I bought from Healthy Home Market is freaking fantastic (and freaking expensive…good Lord).  I was curious about it after finding this recipe, but frankly—it was a little overkill (I didn’t use all the coconut cream because it seemed wasteful, so that was part of my problem—too much of everything else).  But coconut cream by itself?  Decadent!  So I’ve been having a (very) small spoonful as dessert.  Coconut is really good for you, in a variety of forms, so I’ve been using the oil, milk, and flakes on all kinds of stuff.  I’m a lover of the coconut family!

Snack: cucumber salad (from the “Well Fed” cookbook) and homemade mayo

I did it—I actually made homemade mayo.  I’m like a damn farm girl.  I even borrowed my neighbor Ethan’s mini kitchenaid food processor to do it!  The recipe calls for basic boring olive oil so the flavor isn’t strong, and I’ll say that mine came out nice and thick after lots and lots of running the motor—but the flavor was definitely unusual.  It needs vinegar and spices and such, and putting it on the cucumber salad helped.  But I don’t think I would slather it on meat or veggies or anything.  But still…I made it!  Check that off the “challenging old-school food recipes you never thought you’d ever make ” list.

With all my vegetable purchasing, I forgot to include a sweet onion, so I made the mistake of using a basic white onion—way too strong for the raw salad.  And the parsley was a little overkill as well.  I’m making another one tonight with vidalias and dill and we’ll see how that goes.  But you know what would be good?  Pickled onions!  My friend Riddhi at Freaky Curry would be so proud!