Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year!

I love getting work schedules early. The Boss from job # 2 called and gave my my schedule for next week. I'm really grateful. I can at least plan meals, and workouts and stuff. It also helps start the resolutions.

  1. Eat Healthier: I need to eat smaller portions, more balanced meals and healthier snacks.
  2. Move more: On days in which I don't work two jobs, I need to do some sort of exercise
  3. Live a balanced life: I need to work every day to keep the house in order, and to make sure that all parts of my life are seen to.
And now, to wrestle the tree into the box.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Live and Let Diet!

Since part of the three things I want to do this year is eat better, maybe I should follow some of this. Below are Alton Brown's list of foods to eat and avoid, and SparkPeople's tips for lightening up recipes.

The Plan of Four Lists

daily 3x/week 1x/week 0x/week
whole grains
leafy greens
green tea
oily fish
sweet potato
red meat
fast food
processed meals
canned soups
“diet” anything

Now, there's things in there I just plain don't like, like avocado, but I think this is a good place to start. I also think that the Spousal Equivalent(tm) and I need to sit down and plan meals (dinners, lunches and all) for a week, to make sure that we're not eating too much red meat, or whatever.

And from

10 Easy Ways to Lighten Up Any Recipe

  1. Sauté—the skinny way! A couple of tablespoons of low-sodium vegetable broth can be used instead of oil or butter in your stir fry or as the basis for a sauce. This method will add a nice flavor to your dish as well as a little moisture—and you'll save calories to use elsewhere. To get a dose of unsaturated fats, serve your broth-sautéed veggies with a side salad, and pour an olive oil-based dressing over the top.
  2. Say no to skin. Three ounces of chicken breast meat with skin has almost 150 calories; three ounces of chicken without the skin has 50 fewer calories. Tasty as it might be, the skin contains mostly heart-unhealthy saturated fat. You can cook with the skin on to retain moisture (add fresh herbs or citrus zest underneath it to really bake in some flavor), but be sure to remove the skin before you enjoy your meal to save on calories and saturated fat.

  3. Squeeze on the citrus. To add a powerful flavor punch with minimal added calories, use citrus on steamed veggies instead of butter or over a salad instead of a dressing. It’s even great on fruit salad in place of sugar and adds some zip when squeezed onto a pasta salad. Don’t forget to use the flavorful zest of citrus fruits as well! Wash a lemon, orange or lime, then use a zester or grater to add the zest to dishes such as baked seafood.

  4. Be choosy about cheese. When using a mildly flavored cheese, such as Monterey Jack, you need more cheese to taste it. But when you choose a cheese with intense flavor, you can use less and still get the desired effect. Try a reduced-sodium feta, sharp Cheddar or aged Parmesan next time. Light cheese wedges such as The Laughing Cow brand are useful when you're watching fat and calories, too. Try mixing one of these soft cheeses into your scrambled eggs or noodle dishes instead of loading on the shredded mozzarella.

  5. Go Greek. Tangy, fat-free Greek yogurt is a healthful replacement for sour cream. Try this switch in herbed and spiced dips, tacos, nachos, enchiladas, or throw it in a cooked dish as a thickening agent. You’ll save 45 calories for each 2-tablespoon serving.

  6. Puree your produce. Add body to soups and sauces with pureed vegetables instead of heavy cream, evaporated milk, butter or cheese. This move will also add fiber and nutrients to your dish for very few calories. A puree of carrots will add texture to meatless spaghetti sauce, and mixing a blend of beans into a chili or soup will add flavor and thicken it—all with very few added calories. In this recipe, Chef Meg thickens a taco soup with chickpeas!

  7. Get cozy with cottage cheese. When a recipe calls for a significant amount of a crumbled cheese, such as feta or ricotta, substitute half the amount with reduced-fat cottage cheese. This will retain taste, texture, protein, and calcium while ditching some of the fat and calories. This works well for stuffed peppers and most baked pasta dishes.

  8. Pump up the veggies! You can easily reach the recommended five servings of fruits and veggies when you’re cooking at home. Veggies can compliment any dish on your menu, adding nutrient-packed bulk to the meal for few calories. Add chopped asparagus and mushrooms to your next omelet, red peppers (or a frozen stir fry mix) to baked casseroles, or any kind of beans to a pasta salad. Include fresh or frozen spinach in pasta sauces and soups, and broccoli in your casseroles. The opportunities for adding veggies are endless for almost any dish!

  9. Cut the cream. When making cream-based soups, sub fat-free half-and-half for any heavy cream. The switch gives the soups a creamy taste and velvety texture without all the saturated fat of heavy cream. This works great in pasta sauces as well.

  10. Make your own marinade. Marinate lean meats in vinegar and citrus combos (with a bit of oil added) rather than a pre-made oil-based dressing. You can also try a fruit juice or wine. These agents will still tenderize and flavor the meat, and a mix of herbs and spices will bring out the flavor! (You'll also save sodium by not using the store-bought varieties!) Try cutting the meat in strips before dousing it to really let the marinade take effect.

Monday, December 27, 2010

I've been a slack ass lately!!

The time of snowmageddon induced napping is over! Tomorrow I need to get something done!

We were finally able to move the car without the feeling of sledding today, so we went to the store and got some provisions. So tomorrow we get to work: Vacuuming, laundry (putting away the clean stuff) , putting the closet stuff away, making sure to work out (I counted shoveling out the car as a work out yesterday).

I only have a week off and so much I need to get done!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Snow! (It's Comin' Down!)

The snow started last night around sunset or so. We woke up this morning to at least half a foot. It has to be over a foot now. Some places are over the dog's head.

I both love and hate it. It reminds me of home. I love the look of snow. I can go out to play in it in short intervals (cold-induced asthma). But I hate driving in it, and the cold makes it rather hard to breathe.

Well, I started shoveling off the cars (using a dust pan) and the Spousal Equivilliant finished. He took the dog out to explore the snow. She's cold, happy to be inside, and will not potty in the snow.

I think that it's time to find some lunch, and some hot tea.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Deep Thoughts Part 4 (the end!)

*Fourth, how do you love?

I tend to love with all of my heart, without reservation, or thought. It gets me in trouble often. Though letting myself fall in love with the Spousal Equivalent turned out to be an exception to the rule! Love you honey!

*Does it touch you, hold you, fill you, fling you into the world?

I believe that there is more types of love than just romantic boyfriend/girlfriend love. My love of my partner, my family of choice, my family of birth and my friends sustains me. When we are out of touch for too long, it's like a light goes dim in my life. Without love, my life doesn't have much meaning.

*Whom do you love?

As I said above, my partner, my pets, my family of choice, my family of birth and my friends.

*Are there parents, grandparents, siblings, children, grandchildren, close to you or far away, living or departed, their faces in your heart?

I have a cousin in Richmond, and that s my closest family. The rest of the family is in New York. I really miss it this time of year. Yes, it's true. I miss the snow. I miss having a white christmas.

*Does your love reach out, to heal, to soothe, to comfort, to feed the hungry and warm the cold?

I try to be there for my friends, supporting them, cooking for them, giving them sanctuary when they need it. I believe that my apartment should be a sanctuary from the problems that they face. That's why we're taking people in for Christmas.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Deep Thoughts, Part Three

*Third, what brings you joy?

The little things n life bring my joy. Charlie Brown said that happiness is a warm puppy. Well, it is. When I get home after a long day, my dog meets me at the door, wagging her entire body, barking happily. Nothing makes you feel better. Lately the Spousal Equivalent brings my joy (well, he always does, but now for a new reason.) I work long hours, and he starts dinner. Monday, I came home feeling really awful, and he made it all. Made me cry.

*What is it that lights up your eyes, that quickens your step?

Now, this is corny, but the Christmas season does. There's something about that time of year that makes me happy. I remember my childhood, the family traditions.

Also, there's something about swings. Seriously, can you be sad while swinging?

*Who are the people that delight you, that put a smile on your face when you see them?

Well, the Spousal Equivalent. Obviously. And the pets. Most of my friends too (I don't want to name names. You know.. protect the innocent). My friends are what keep me going.

*How do you find joy in what you do?

That is a hard question. I do data entry now. Seriously, how can you find joy in it. I put cartoons on Hulu in the background while I work. It gets me through.

I'm actually going back to try to find the joy in things that have stopped bringing me joy. Dance. I'm too fat and out of shape now. It frustrates me. But somehow I will find that joy again.

*How do you bring joy to those around you, near or far, friends or strangers?

I try to be polite and smile when meeting strangers. With friends far, emailed greetings and posts to facebook pages can brighten a day.

I think that is something I need to work on, bringing joy to people.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Deep Thoughts Part 2 (of four)

*Second, in what do you have faith in life?

We have a friend, who was sent to the hospital, and got the horrible news of a strep infection (a NASTY one), type II diabetes and leukemia. He's fighting through it (I might have just curled up and died). But the way our community has come together to support him renews my faith in humanity.

*What is it that gives you a sense of being truly at home?

There are times, when it's warm inside my house, I'm covered with a blanket, with a puppy on my lap. The Spousal Equivalent is on the other end of the sofa, petting his cat... It's times like that where I feel truly at home.

*Where can you find a quiet moment, to calm your mind, to rest your body, and to renew your spirit?

There are two places actually. I do a lot of deep thinking during my early morning commute. The traffic is light and I have time to think. But I do a lot of my wishing, hoping and daydreaming in bed. I go to bed a little early, snuggle in under the covers.

*How can you offer that to others, smoothing out the wrinkles in our complicated lives, stepping back and taking stock in how we are in the world?

I don't recommend my meditation methods to people that fall asleep or zone out easily. I think that helping out your neighbors, friends and family needs to be a priority these days. The simple act of a neighborhood teen helping to bring an elderly lady's groceries in goes a little bit to helping someone restore their faith in humanity. We are all interconnected. It's time to act like it.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Deep Thoughts

But these aren't by Jack Handy (You get a cookie if you remember the reference.)

Sunday's church service included reflections on the seasons (Solstice and Christmas). The Christmas part included many, many questions to reflect on. So many questions that I couldn't remember them all! So I emailed the minister to get the list.

And now, part 1 of four.

* First, for what do you hope this season?

I hope for some stability in my life. I’ve got stable relationships, so I’m good there. It’s the constant worry about money. Can we pay the rent? Will they start to garnish our wages? Will they reposses my car? I hope that I can get to a more stable place, where this worrying won’t give me a ulcer.

* What is it that really matters to you?

Home. Home isn’t a house, or apartment, or anything like that. It’s the place where you make your meals and sleep safe at night. It’s holds those people (and animals) that are so precious to you that you can’t bear to have them live anywhere else.

* What do you wish to see in the world?

I really would like to see some hope. Things have been so bleak lately that many people have given up hope of ever getting back on their feet again. (I must admit, that from time to time I am among these numbers) With some hope, and a little positivity, maybe we can make positive change, instead of complaining about it. I know that I'm going to work on this myself.

* What do you wish to do in the world?

I thought that my place in this universe was to teach. But after being let go from three districts in four years... that's not going to happen. At this point, I'm not so sure where my place in this world is. I know that may take time to figure out, so in the mean time I'm trying to find a job that will sustain me.

My greatest fear is to be invisible and forgotten. I really wish to help... to be remembered fondly... and not to be a burden.

* What do you need from the world that will truly nourish your soul, sustain you into an uncertain future, and give you the strength to embrace your better self?

I think that my biggest problem is worrying. And you can tell me all day to stop worrying about things. It won't help. Like I said before, if I could get ahead money wise, so I'll stop worrying that things will be pulled out from under me, I'll be ok.

Nourishing my soul is a different matter. I think the act of making a better "me" is an active one. I know I need to work on establishing a routine, eating healthier and exercising more. But doesn't everyone? The biggest thing I need to do is balance the separate parts of my life. I tend to fulfill one set of needs to the exclusion of others, which starts a nasty cycle. What will sustain me is balance. Balancing out the commitments, jobs, friends and needs so nothing is screaming for attention.

Friday, December 17, 2010

The real meaning of Christmas

This Christmas, I don't have money for presents. I'm inviting some people over. I will provide food, company, Christmas themed movies (I have many!), and love.

It's all I have to give. But it's enough.

But this... this sound wasn't sad. Why... this sound sounded glad. Every Who down in Whoville, the tall and the small, was singing, without any presents at all! He hadn't stopped Christmas from coming, it came! Somehow or other, it came just the same. And the Grinch, with his grinch-feet ice-cold in the snow, Stood puzzling and puzzling "How could it be so? It came with out ribbons! It came without tags! It came without packages, boxes or bags!" He puzzled and puzzled till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before! Maybe Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store. Maybe Christmas... perhaps... means a little bit more!

Welcome, Christmas, bring your cheer. Cheer to all Whos far and near. Christmas Day is in our grasp so long as we have hands to clasp. Christmas Day will always be just as long as we have we. Welcome Christmas while we stand, heart to heart and hand in hand.


Yesterday Mother Nature dumped a few inches of snow and ice onto the Hampton Roads Metro area. Work was canceled across the board, along with ChorUUS practice.

The world seems to be getting back to normal now. I'm at work, tomorrow I spend a few hours at Sylvan. There's game tonight, and we have gas in the car. I think we should just go.

I know New Year's resolutions rarely work, but I think that I have identified three things that I need to work on in 2011
  1. Establish a routine to help keep my house clean. I'm busy, so a routine will help!
  2. Keep my life more in balance. There are many parts of my life, and I've been focusing on too few. I'm starting to feel it now.
  3. Move more. It's really hard with the new schedule. But I have a week off to jump start the move more initiative. At least 3 days a week, I think.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

I may not survive the next few days

Today I need to:
  • Work job #1 until 2:20ish then drive to job #2
  • Work Job #2 until 6:30
  • Find time and money to eat
  • Ballet from 7:30-8:30
  • make some food for lunches tomorrow
  • buy a pair of gloves
  • do a load of laundry (socks and undies)
  • get the clothes ready for the interview tomorrow
  • wash dishes
  • sleep?
Tomorrow I need to:
  • Work Job #1 until 2:30 or so
  • Walk to my interview, then have said interview
  • speed to job #2
  • speed to Choir practice after work lets out
  • find SOME time to eat
  • do the laundry that wasn't done yesterday
  • make sure I have something for lunch on Friday
I'm wondering if I have time today for ballet. The laundry is a rather high priority. I'm out of socks to wear to work, and the little thin fancy things aren't cutting it.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

This could be long: Brunch ideas (So I don't lose them)

Maple-Bacon Breakfast Rolls
10 slices precooked bacon
1 can (8 oz) Pillsbury® Crescent Recipe Creations® refrigerated seamless dough sheet
3 tablespoons LAND O LAKES® Butter, softened
5 tablespoons maple syrup
1/3 cup powdered sugar

  • 1Heat oven to 375°F. Microwave bacon as directed on package until very crisp. Drain on paper towels. Set aside to cool.
  • 2Generously spray large cookie sheet (dark cookie sheet not recommended) with Crisco® Orig inal No-Stick Cooking Spray, or line with cooking parchment paper. Unroll dough sheet on work surface; press into 12x8-inch rectangle.
  • 3In small bowl, mix 2 tablespoons of the butter and 2 tablespoons of the syrup with fork or wire whisk until smooth and creamy. Spread mixture evenly over dough, covering to edges. Finely chop bacon; reserve 1 tablespoon for garnish. Spread remaining bacon evenly over butter mixture. Starting at short end, roll up dough; pinch edge to seal. Wrap roll in plastic wrap; refrigerate 5 minutes to chill so dough will be easier to cut.
  • 4Unwrap roll; place seam side down on cutting board. Using serrated knife, cut roll into 12 (about 3/4-inch) slices. Pl ace slices, cut sides up, on cookie sheet.
  • 5Bake 8 to 13 minutes or until light golden brown. Place waxed paper under cooling rack. Remove rolls from cookie sheet to cooling rack; cool 5 minutes.
  • 6Meanwhile, in small bowl, mix powdered sugar, remaining 1 tablespoon butter and remaining 3 tablespoons syrup with wire whisk until smooth. Drizzle icing over rolls. Garnish with reserved bacon.

Biscuit, Ham and Potato Bake

2 Pillsbury® Grands!® frozen buttermilk biscuits (from 25-oz bag)
2 eggs
1/3 cup mi lk
1/4 teaspoon ground mustard
1 cup frozen potatoes O'Brien with onions and peppers (from 28-oz bag)
1/2 cup diced ham
1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese (2 oz)

  • 1Place frozen biscuits on microwavable plate. Microwave uncovered on Medium (50%) 30 to 40 seconds or until soft.
  • 2Heat oven to 350°F. In medium bowl, beat eggs, milk and mustard with wire whisk until blended. Stir in potatoes, ham and cheese.
  • 3Spray 1-quart casserole with cooking spray. Cut each biscuit into 8 pieces; arrange evenly in dish. Pour egg mixture over biscuit pieces in dish. Press down with back of spoon, making sure all bisc uits are covered with egg mixture.
  • 4Bake 40 to 45 minutes or until edges are golden brown and center is set. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Oatmeal Cookie Oatmeal
1 cup TJ’s Quick Cook Steel Cut Oatmeal
2 cups Water
½ cup TJ’s Unsweetened Applesauce
1 pinch TJ’s Cinnamon
½ cup of TJ’s Golden Raisins
¼ cup TJ’s Toasted Almond Slivers
2 tsp TJ’s Brown Sugar

Combine oatmeal and water and bring to a boil. As soon as the water begins to boil, turn the heat to low and let simmer for 5 minutes. Then mix in the applesauce, cinnamon, raisins and almond slivers, and continue cooking for another 5 minutes. Place the oatmeal mixture into a bowl, sprinkle a little bit of brown sugar on top – Enjoy.
Serves: 2-3
Cooking T ime: 10 minutes

‘Easy Like S unday Morning’ Breakfast Casserole
1 loaf TJ’s Crusty French Bread, torn into pieces
6 TJ’s Eggs
¼ cup TJ’s Milk
1 cup TJ’s Spicy Italian Chicken Sausage (pre-cooked), sliced (or TJ’s Veg. Sausage-less Sausage)
1 cup TJ’s Monterey Jack Cheese, grated
TJ’s Spices (opt ional)

Preheat oven to 350º and grease baking pan with your choice of oil or butter. Place bread pieces
in pan and distribute evenly. Beat the eggs, milk and any spices you desire (salt, pepper, garlic
powder…) and pour over the bread. Add the remaining ingredients and bake for 25 minutes or
until top is golden brown and a knife put in the center comes out clean. Let sit for 5 minutes before serving (oh, you can wait). Enjoy.
Serves: 8-10
Cooking Time: 30 minutes

Cheesy Hash Browns

6 slices OSCAR MAYER Center Cut Bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 cup chopped onions
1 pkg. (16 oz.) frozen shredded hash browns, partially thawed
1/2 cup chopped green peppers
1/2 cup KRAFT Shredded Cheddar Cheese

COOK bacon and onions in large skillet on medium-high heat until bacon is crisp, stirring occasionally.

ADD potatoes and peppers. Cook on medium heat 10 min. or until heated through, stirring occasionally.

TOP with cheese; cook 30 sec. or until melted.

Monday, December 13, 2010

The joys of time management

Saturday I started my second job as a tutor at Sylvan Learning Center. This means a lot of hours away from home and a lot of time on the road. I left my house before 7am, and I don't think I'll be back before 7pm.

It means a lot of changes around the house. The Spousal Equivalent needs to walk the Misty Monster when he gets home. This is a challenge, since she likes to pee all over the floor when he hooks her up. He also needs to start dinner, so I can eat when I get home!

We spent Sunday shopping (with VERY little money), and decided on a few dishes to make this week. He'll start, I'll finish then we'll eat!

let's see if I can fit the two jobs, household chores, ballet and chorUUs into this week!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

"Tis the Season to be Jolly

Christmas is my favorite time of the year, and yet... I've been rather blue. I think a lot of it has to do with money. I have a very short list of gifts to buy, and extremely limited funds.

At the very least I want to provide food: Perogies Christmas eve, things to nibble on all day on Christmas day, Christmas Morning brunch, cookies, egg nog, all the works. I hope I can at least do that.

Christmas is such a special time. It's a time where you can let your inner child out to play. It's a time where everything is about to start over fresh, with endless possibilities. A time to contemplate peace on earth, and good will toward all men.

If you will excuse me. I need to buy some gingerbread.

Happy Birthday to Me!

It's been a Western kind of week.

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

The Good: It's my birthday! I have Indian food planned for dinner. I also cleaned out the sock drawer.

The Bad: the lack of money to do fun birthday things with. (I wanted to go skating.. or out to dinner. No go) I need socks for work. And gloves. I have no gloves! How did that happen??

The Ugly: I owe money on the cell bill, and they want it NOW. Well.... they can have it.. Friday. I hope it's soon enough. I can't seem to get ahead.

I think that'll be my New Year's Resolution. To get ahead on the bills.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


I had a bit of a breakdown yesterday. (Don't worry, I'm back on the St. John's Wort again) I realized some things. I'm way too trusting, and I need to self advocate more.

I keep getting hurt by the actions of friends, and it's my fault. I go into situations with this extremely open heart and get hurt. I don't know how to fix it.

What I do know how to fix is my lack of self advocating. I need to speak up more about my needs and feelings.

I refuse to be a doormat again!!