Random Music Survey!

Remember I said that I’d talk about music sometimes? Well, today is that day! I found a music survey that I liked so I decided to complete (most of) it with my own answers. I don’t use quotation marks because this is not an English term paper. Fun stuff…

1. What are you listening to right now?

Love Don’t Live Here Anymore by Rose Royce — I have my old iPod Touch on shuffle and that came on. This is one of the songs in my vocal range, so I enjoy singing along and being dramatic (this song is dramatic as hell). You know how that is (I think?). Madonna is a fan of the song also, she covered it for two of her albums (Like a Virgin and Something to Remember). I the instrumentation, back when whole orchestras backed a group. It sounds like percussion done by Hit Stix though…

2. What song(s) make(s) you sad?

That changes from day to day. Seriously. When I broke up with a musician I was upset because he ruined all of my favorite songs (he used to sing to me – blech). The whole U2 catalog would upset me. I’m over that. Okay – Wind Beneath My Wings by Bette Midler. That song was written to make you sad though. I’m trying to think of something odd that makes me sad…hmm…okay…Like a Stone by Audioslave. I shouldn’t have to explain why. Oh, and Bruises by Chairlift. There used to be this viral video of a mother squirrel and a baby squirrel trying to climb up rocks and this song was the background. Every time the song comes on I get a little teary. It’s not sadness though (the squirrels were fine), it’s just emotional.

3. What is the most annoying song in the world?

Okay…I love this song, but, especially being the month that it is, September by Earth, Wind and Fire. Haha! Only because my family and I say “Bah-Dee-Ya” to each other, text it to each other, send made up memes to each other and I end up singing it for the rest of the day. It’s a total earworm.

4. Your all time favorite band?

It’s actually a toss-up between U2 and The Cure. U2 used to edge them out (no pun intended – ha!), but Lovesong was always my favorite song. Number one favorite song, no ties for first place there for 30 years now. Now I find myself listening to The Cure more than U2.

5. Best female voice?

Donna Summer. Hands down. She sings with such an ease – there is no straining or caterwauling. She sounds like she’s just effortlessly having a sing-songy conversation. That’s what I like in a female voice. That’s why Adele and Mariah Carey’s voices bother me so (Mariah, a little less, but I can’t stand Adele’s voice). I love Diana Ross also. I mean, she can talk through a song with her voice and it’s incredible. Tori Amos, love her voice. She’s another good-range-sing-along for me. I say that as Pretty Good Year plays on my iPod. Karen Carpenter. She’s can freaking play the drums while singing with that smooth voice. Tracey Thorn from Everything But the Girl has a crazy smoothness that I love. Bjork has a unique voice that I really love.

6. Best male voice?

Steve Perry from Journey. Seriously. I was a fan before the whole “Don’t Stop Believin'” craze. What’s funny is – I like my male singers with some straining and scratch.  Eddie Vedder’s voice I like. Chris Cornell – of course! Okay, here’s a smooth male singer – Freddie Mercury. I like Marvin Gaye’s smoothness too, especially in that song (one of my all time favorites).

7. Music type you find yourself listening to most?

Anything rock and the rock sub-genres. Although, I find myself listening to older R&B a lot more now. I think it’s because I have that old lady nostalgia kicking in. I mean, I listen to Vanessa Williams Dreamin’, Lisa Fischer How Can I Ease the Pain and Ralph Tresvant Sensitivity like “They don’t make songs like this no more! That is CLASSIC! They didn’t have to take off their clothes (sorry, Vanessa)! You could understand what they were saying!” The whole old lady schpeal. By the way, Selena did a pretty good Sensitivity.

8. What do you listen to, to hype you up?

Dance music! Like old house music, 90s dance stuff. Corona Rhythm of the Night, anything by Expose, Show Me Love by Robin S. I’m like one of the Night at the Roxbury guys that way. Oh yeah! Plus What’s My Name by DMX. I feel crazy after that. Or even, Party Up and One More Road to Cross. The entire …And Then There Was X album, I guess. When I was feeling stifled at work a while ago (yeah, that’s a good way to put it), I actually had to tell myself not to listen to Party Up during my commute. Haha!

9. What do you listen to when you want to calm down?

70’s Soft Rock – Steely Dan, Linda Ronstadt, Carly Simon, Elton John (“…Mars ain’t the kinda place to raise you kids, in fact it’s cold as hell…” Love that entire verse!), Fleetwood Mac, etc. BUT – my main “Calm Down, Erika” song is Hey Jude. Whenever something is stressing me out I either listen to it, if I have a device around, but most of the time I sing it to myself. The entire thing, “na-na na na” and all. I even call it my “Hey Jude Meditation”! the lyrics even have an inspiring and calming effect “…it’s just you, hey Jude you’ll do, the movement you need is your shoulder…”

10. Last gig/concert you went to?

Rachel Barton Pine at the Bardavon Opera house last year. More recently, the Susan Tobocman Jazz Quartet at The Flatiron Room in June (I was on a swanky date).

11. Band you find yourself listening to the most right now?

My car still has a CD player – a six disc changer at that – so I pretty much keep the same cds in my car. U2 Greatest Hits, The Police – Every Breath You Take: The Singles, The Cure – Mixed Up and The Cure – Galore. The other two cds I rotate with old r&b compilation cds or dance music compilations. I listen to old stuff from high school a lot more now.

12. Most hated band?

I don’t really hate a band. I usually just hate some song by a band, and even then I’ll end up knowing all of the lyrics.

13. Song that makes you think?

For the Love of Money by the O’Jays. It’s pretty clear what the song is about, I’m just always puzzled that it has been used positively in so many commercials over the years, just because of the catchy “Money Money Money…” part. Didn’t they ever see New Jack City? I even heard someone play the bass line in a church as the collection plate was being passed. He was being funny, but…

OH! And all of the street harassment songs. Yeah, there are so many songs that make street harassment seems like a cute, funny thing. It’s not. Examples: I Got a Man by Positive K, Nu-Nu by Liddel Townsell and, I hate to say it, but That Lady by The Isley Brothers. That Lady is my jam though. I will car dance embarrassingly to that whenever it comes on.

14. Band that you think the world should love as much as you do?

The Spinners. Okay. I know that they are well loved in the black community, but they had to have an Unsung episode. Come on now.

15. Coolest music video?

Sledgehammer by Peter Gabriel was so cool to me back in the late 80s. It used to scare my cousin too, so that made it even better (heh heh – evil laugh).

Now, I talk about how much I dislike this person, but 7/11 by Beyonce. My cousin (same cousin) and I have the moves down and she calls it “The Beyonce Workout”! I like it, because it shows her playful side (eww, that sounded fan-like, but I’m not at all). I like Solange a lot though, and I love the video for Losing You. It makes me want to be my awkward self in South Africa. I want that brick suit.

Janet Jackson’s Pleasure Principle! She’s just so cool in this video. I wanted to be in a warehouse, all alone, dancing aggressively. I remember when I was about 7 or 8 and my mom was straightening my hair with the hot comb. We were sitting by the hot stove and I said to her “I want my hair as straight as Janet Jackson’s in the Pleasure Principle video!” She said, “As straight as her WIG!” I was taken aback. It was then that I knew my mom was a hater. Ha!

16. Music video with the most babe watch?

Another Janet one. Even though this guy is a Republican (that matters), Antonio Sabato Jr. was so cute in this video! I don’t know. Give It To You by Jordan “Leather Wearin’ in the Summertime” Knight! Ha! I haven’t watched videos in a while. Plus, this is a silly question.

17. What do you play/would you play in the bedroom to spice things up?

I really don’t know. I get hyped up in a different way from music – I just want to listen to more of it and sing along and dance not, you know. I remember when I was about 14, before I was acquainted with “bedroom spice”, my best friend and I thought that Enigma’s MCMXC a.D. was the perfect album to lose your virginity to. I guess we’d seen Sliver too many times. Yeah. No. I still laugh a little to myself when Sadeness Part 1 comes on my iPod!

18. Can you play a musical instrument?

My voice, I guess. My brother and I actually have “perfect pitch”. It’s funny. I was the only one who could sing around him, without him getting mad, when he was younger.

19. Ever been in a mosh pit?

Nope, never.

20. Are you in a band?

Nope.

21. Last song that you heard on the radio/CD…etc…?

Well, I am listening to Enigma now for a laugh! Callas Went Away

22. What do you think of Classical music?

I love it! I have actually attended more classical music concerts than I have of any other genre.

23. What do you think of Country music?

It’s okay. I like Patsy Cline a lot. That smooth voice of course. Crazy is an amazing karaoke song, and I like Dolly Parton, of course. Fancy by Reba McEntire is a great song. At one point Georgia by Hanson was the number one most played song on my famous iPod (so proud). I went to the Grand Ole Opry last year, and I saw Exile, Charles Esten and Carrie Underwood. It was a great experience, but I wasn’t like “F–k yeah! Country! Woo!” Maybe I am an undercover country fan, I don’t know. I don’t hate it.

OH! Elvira was my favorite song when I was 3 or 4 years old! I think I liked the guy with the deep voice. Okay, I LOVE THIS! I remember when music wasn’t as segregated as it is now. Dolly Parton was on regular radio and Hee Haw was awesome…Those were the days!

24. Do you listen to music in foreign languages?

Yes! I love world music. I love this medley from Brazil. It is in heavy rotation on the epic iPod. I like flamenco as well (I once dated a guy who played the flamenco guitar – that’s how I was exposed). I love this – three generations of flamenco singers! Their voices are so similar, love it.

25. Funny concert moment?

Ben Folds at Bohagers in Baltimore, 2001. The entire show was just hilarious! It was like half stand-up, half music and it was awesome. He pulled out his keytar and starting making up songs. Great show!

26. What do/did your parents listen to?

My dad used to buy every top 40 album there was back in the 80s. He wasn’t a real music fan. My mom though, she listened to Aerosmith, Hall and Oates, America, Rick James, Charlie Rich – a real mix. I know all of the words on Hall and Oates Rock ‘n Soul Part 1. I still love Private Eyes. My little brother used to sing the lyrics to Kiss on My List as “Because your HIPPOPOTAMUS, is the best thing in life…” I still sing those lyrics sometimes. America is one of my favorite bands too. I have been influenced!

27. Songs that give you the chills

I have an actual eargasm when I hear Someday We’ll Be Together by The Supremes. Lots of songs do it to me sometimes, but that ALWAYS makes the hair on my arms stand up. It’s such a well done masterpiece, from beginning to end. I Heard it Through the Grapevine by Marvin Gaye, does it a lot, too. OH! And I Want You Back by The Jackson 5! Go Motown! When Linda Ronstadt did Ooh Baby Baby, that’s another one that gives me chills. I’m sure there’s more. There is! Electric Feel by MGMT,  Midnight City by M83.

28. Do you listen to rap?

Yes. Nothing super new though, and with rap there is always something new so I’m way behind. The latest “album” I bought was Drake’s More Life and I listened to Passionfruit over and over again like a teenager. I like Drake (of course, I’m a girl). It’s cute to see and listen to his sensitivity from afar, as opposed to actually dealing with someone like him in real life. He’s such a dweeb (that’s a compliment)! I mean, he wrote an entire song that is basically “I had sex with Jennifer Lopez”! Ha! Dork! I agree with Chris D’elia’s assessment of Drake though.

I do like Kanye, despite his life. 808s & Heartbreak is like a dark comedy, brilliant. I know he was in a lot of pain at the time, but this album makes me laugh, like a wtf laugh. Imagine if your psycho ex had access to a recording studio, it would sound a little like 808s & Heartbreak. When I hear Paranoid, I’m like “I think my ex said this projected crap to me – word for word!”. It’s genius.

So, there were more questions but I cut them out. I’m sure I’ll do another music survey again…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Burmese Tofu!

I don’t really remember how I got obsessed with making Burmese tofu. I think I was reading about how terrible soy is for women (especially if you have hormonal dysfunctions like I, and so many women, do), and I was looking around for a substitute (probably, sounds like me). I do remember this was several months ago. I have been wanting to make this recipe for a while now. I had the bag of chickpea flour, just waiting in the wings. When I started making mug cakes and waffles with the flour I knew I had to use it for what I originally bought it for (because I would end up making 101 chickpea mug cakes and no tofu). So, here’s how I started…

Ingredients
First time using pano on my phone and it’s for food!

The ingredients:

  • 1 Cup of Chickpea (Garbanzo Bean) Flour
  • 3 Cups of water
  • Several shakes of turmeric
  • Two shakes of crushed red pepper
  • As much garlic as you can stand in your cooking (I can stand a lot!)
  • About four grinds of Himalayan Pink Salt
  • A few grinds of black pepper

As you can see, I’m really precise (heh). The most important thing is the flour and the water – you can season this however you like. Some people use broth or stock in place of water and, hey, if I had some I’d probably use that too. So, you boil two cups of the water and, in the meantime and in a separate bowl:

  • Blend the flour, and the spices, with the remaining cup of water.

Once the two cups of water have reached a rolling boil, add the flour/spice/water mixture. It’ll look like this:

Mixed Tofu
Glossy…

So, you have to whisk-whisk-whisk away to get rid of any lumps and until the mixture looks glossy (like it goes in the picture). You are now ready to pour the mixture into your prepared pan. To get your pan ready, line it with parchment paper. I used an 8×8 Pyrex pan.

Spread Tofu
Smooth it better than I did! I should’ve used a bigger pan…

Smooth it out in your pan, using a spoon or a spatula.

Then, once it’s spread out in the pan, let it sit until it gets room temperature (so condensation doesn’t form when you put it in the fridge). Which brings us to the next step: put it in the fridge! I let it sit out for about an hour and put it in the fridge for about three hours and I got this:

Refrigerated Tofu

After it firms up in the fridge, you can cut up your tofu in any shape you want for your dishes. I cut mine two ways – in triangles and small rhombuses (yup, I said “rhombuses” – wait, is it “rhombuses” or “rhombi”?).

Stir Fry Pieces
Rhombuses (rhombi), for stir-fry…

Here I am frying the triangles in some olive oil:

Golden Brown
Try not to use too much oil – these are like little sponges…

They are SUPER YUMMY! Take a look at this:

Cooked
Golden brown and delicious!

Crisp on the outside, a little soft on the inside. Seasoned perfectly (if I do say so myself)!

So, I made some meals with it:

Meals

I will most definitely share my stir-fry on Instagram!

So this was an easy, delicious recipe. A success! I can add this one to my repertoire, change it up a bit, make different sides. A great soy substitute!

Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

Eclipse Mode…

The eclipse has passed, but I still managed to complete a couple of “rituals” that are supported by the energy of the eclipse. The first thing that I did was break out my crystals

Crystals
I took them outside right before the eclipse, notice the shadows…

…Hematite and petrified wood to be exact. Both of these crystals bring forth a calming energy. I really need that right now. I am doing a lot right now and I need to chill out about it. It’ll be wonderful.

Hematite is great for grounding and stability and the petrified wood is great for easing worries and bringing about good fortune in business ventures (yay!). OKAY – so, about the crystals. Yes, I believe that if I believe that they are bringing the energy that they are supposed to bring then they will bring that energy. The Law of Attraction. Manifesting. I believe in all of that. ANYWAY. That brings me to meditation

Breathe Deep.PNG

I did manage to have a short meditation during the eclipse. It felt amazing! I was able to concentrate in a way that I haven’t been able to in a long time. I used a great mantra as well…

True Love
My mantra…

About love…

I WAS the type of person who was too busy for love. I WAS more concerned with myself and my goals (…the next one, and the next one, and the next one…), than I was with getting deeply involved with someone. I have been very self-involved for the past TEN YEARS! In 2007, I ended a not-so-good relationship (no deets here, sorry). After that, I threw myself into my studies, work and the endless pursuit of knowledge. So far I have received four degrees (AS, BS, MA, MPS…) and countless certifications (I’m an Offender Workforce Development Specialist and I’m certified to teach preschool through third grade in NJ – I’ve done work in prisons and preschools the whole spectrum!).

Of course, I have dated in these 10 years. I’ve had a couple of several monthers here and there, but nothing long-long-term. I realized that I usually approach dates like job interviews (occupational hazard). Not that I am cold and questioning, not at all, I’m a warm and excited person naturally, but I do have that mental checklist. We can have a great time, but I know by the end of the date if you are going to “get the job”. A lot of guys haven’t! When I realize they aren’t getting the job, that’s when I turn cold.

I thought, perhaps, I should be a little less judgey-wudgey (my mom doesn’t call me “Frasier Crane” for nothing). Nah. Having standards is necessary in today’s world. I think I need to be…MYSELF! My self is fine, always has been. I just need to be more open to possibilities…

Speaking of which, Sage Smudging (nice segue)!

Sage

Here is a great article on how to smudge and what materials you need! I didn’t smudge today. I am actually saving it for this Saturday at 7:32 am, my Venus Return. That’s so close to being a literal “total eclipse of the heart”. Speaking of which (better segue)…

Sunday Meal Prep: Feeling Productive…

As the title says, yes, today was a very productive day. I did everything that was on my to-do list and even a little more. One of the most important things I did today was prepare my dinners for the week. Yes – meal prepping is key to making life a little easier.

Seriously. One of my favorite meal preppers, WorkWeekLunch, mentioned a few weeks ago that we have so many decisions to make during the day, having our food already prepared eliminates the need to make even more decisions. It’s true. Think about it…I know that if I am at work, and I haven’t made my meals yet, I will wonder “What do I have? What can I make?”. Sometimes the answer is “go get pizza” – which is not good, because I can tend to overdo things (know yourself!)…

So, I have been meal prepping for a fairly long time. A couple of years, at least. When you see the pictures I post of older preps you’ll see that I haven’t always made the cleanest, healthiest choices. Oh well. That’s what I felt like eating at the time and those were times when I was in full-on maintenance mode, when I was comfortable making a little dip into the world of carbs and sugars after dieting for a while. Here are some of my preps, I added an Instagram link for the food listing. I actually have a lot more preps on Instagram, but you really have to scroll down and it was pre-iPhone…

Meal Prep 6
I had just gone to Trader Joe’s
Meal Prep 3
Not too bad
Meal Prep 2
Buffet Style! 
Meal Prep 4
I jacked all of the recipes from Mind Over Munch in this one
Meal Prep 5
A soup and overnight oats phase
Meal Prep
Another buffet style prep! This one looks really appealing right now! 

Below are some recent ones. Since I work from home most of the week, I don’t have to prep all of my meals, just dinner on the days that I actually do have to go into the office.

Meal Prep Recent
Those are not potatoes – it is pureed cauliflower with a little bit of ricotta!
Meal Prep Recent 2
I am in love with frozen meatballs, obviously…

Here is the prep from today. I have a busy week, filled with some exciting stuff! Yay!

Meal Prep Recent - Today
Vegetarian Meal Prep

I added a little something extra to it already. There is not enough red or orange for my taste, so I added some Tomato and Onion Salad

I started by cutting the farmers market tomatoes my grandma gave me today. Seriously, grandmas are the best with the food gifting! I also cut up a little red onion, for flavor…

Tomato & Onion
I decided to do this when it got dark out (bad lighting)…

I seasoned the sliced tomatoes with garlic powder and 21 Seasoning Salute from Trader Joe’s…

Tomatoes 3
Wax paper on my cutting board, I have been doing this forever. It really helps with clean up!

Then I added a little apple cider vinegar, olive oil and more 21 seasoning salute to the jar, then added the seasoned tomatoes and I shook it up!

Tomatoes 2
Extras for me! (Chef’s treat!)

I didn’t measure, I just wanted enough to coat the tomatoes when I shook the jar!

That should be great for Monday and Tuesday! I’ll have to think of another red or orange for Wednesday and Thursday…

Easy stuff. A little preparation on Sunday, helps you through the entire week!

Enjoy!

 

 

Happy #NationalRelaxationDay!

Honestly, I had no idea it was National Relaxation Day until I saw all the hashtags popping up on Instagram this morning. What a great day for it too…It’s raining where I live (Hudson Valley, NY)…I have to go into the office tomorrow…It’s Tuesday…

I don’t know! This holiday should be every single day. Or, every night at least.

Since I didn’t know about this, I was too late to make an appointment to get a massage (bwah haha!) so I’ll have to settle for the next best thing: A relaxing magnesium mocktail…

This is what you’ll need:

Ingredients

  • 1 packet of Natural Calm
  • 1 packet of stevia
  • 2 Limes
  • Your favorite unsweetened sparking water

Magnesium has so many benefits – and most of us are lacking in this particular mineral. It helps with…

  • Digestive motility (I told you I’d mention this a lot, it’s important)
  • Calming & Sleeping – a natural sleep aid
  • Beauty – helps maintain collagen
  • Heart health – it’s up there with potassium and sodium, assisting in heartbeat and blood pressure regulation
  • Muscle soreness relief 
  • Migraine prevention (I’ll have an entire blog about this, soon)

So, back to the drink…

Stirring
Action shot!

Juice those limes and add the stevia packet. Stir to combine…

Fizzy

Add about 3/4 of the can of sparkling water. It’ll bubble up a lot, and it’ll bubble up even more once…

Bubbles

…you add the packet of Natural Calm! Stir gently and then add the rest of the seltzer…

Finished Product

NOM! YUM! My choice of sparkling water (Simply Balanced Tropical Cherry from Target) made this taste like a Cherry Lime Rickey, or that cherry lime drink from Sonic…

Okay, so now that we’ve had a drink, we can look at some relaxing pictures. I just added some relaxing words to these pictures I took in various places. Enjoy!

Breathe 2

Relax

Breathe.PNG

Enjoy

These Moments...

Yay!

Saturday Morning ~ Zucchini Pancakes

As you might have guessed, I’m a big fan of the Food Network and the Cooking Channel. I haven’t watched it much recently, mainly because some of the personalities I enjoyed have either left, or are doing projects I’m not fond of now. WHAT DOES THIS HAVE TO DO WITH ZUCCHINI PANCAKES? Answer: Everything…

I happened to fall asleep with the tv on the Food Network (I am a HUGE Chopped fan, and I’ll watch that no matter what!) and when I turned it on in the morning “Brunch at Bobby’s” was on. Usually, I’ll turn the channel if Bobby Flay is on. Not because I don’t like him, I do, but because he’s usually grilling (I don’t do that) or on one of his competition shows (not a fan of those). This time though, I was intrigued. He was making something interesting, something with zucchini, uh, pancakes with zucchini? Now, I’ve seen and heard of zucchini pancakes before. But I had usually seen them done latke style, savory. But that morning, Bobby made them sweet and delicious looking. The way he described them too, “…they taste like banana bread, well zucchini bread”, that got me. I usually don’t bake (I hate being precise in the kitchen), but around the holidays I do bake bread from scratch and my two specialties are Date-No-Nut Bread and Zucchini Bread. So, duh, of course anything you can make into a bread you can make into a pancake! I had to try these pancakes out, especially if they taste like my bread (he-he)…

Since I’m not a chef and I am trying to keep this low(-ish) carb and high protein – I took many, many liberties with this and used many, many shortcuts. I didn’t even make the special syrup  he made his with (although I should have, but I just used my last apricot yesterday). Here’s what I used:

Whole Ingredients

That’s pretty much it. Here it is in the measuring bowl:

Dry Ingredients
1/3 Cup Kodiak Cakes Mix, 1 Scoop Vanilla Protein Powder, a few shakes of cinnamon and a 1/4 teaspoon of orange zest

I used the smallest zucchini I could find and I added a scoop of protein powder, a few shakes of cinnamon (the mix already had cinnamon and it smelled very cinnamony) and a little orange zest (the part I listened to Bobby Flay about). I added some yogurt for even more protein, and used almond milk as the mixing liquid:

Wet Ingredients
I used about a tablespoon of the yogurt and enough milk to make a batter. You’ll know that batter look when you see it!

And, that’s it! Mix, griddle and serve!

Zucchini Pancakes
Pretty plate…

Pretty easy! I served it with orange slices because “Waste Not, Want Not”. C’mon now, did you think I’d use an entire orange just for a 1/4 teaspoon of zest? Eat that thing up! And that, I did…

Almost Done
See the zucchini?

Yum! Tastes like Christmas…

Lazy Friday (?)

More like lazy days in general…

I’m supposed to be happy today. It’s Friday! I just haven’t been up for much lately. I have been trying to figure out why and here’s what I’ve come up with so far:

1) I am working from home more…A few months ago I got the option to go back to consultant status and work from home whenever I wanted. Boy, have I taken advantage of that! I only have to go in the office for the occasional meeting. While it’s pretty great, it’s kinda turned me into a shut-in. That’s because even though I’m home, I’m still on the clock. The emails, phone conferences and reports have not stopped just because I am not in the office. I still have to respond and actively participate because if I don’t, then am I really working? Hmm…I don’t want to have to answer that question.

So, I’m still at home, near a computer from 9-5. Why would I venture far?

Lighthouse
Random pic from my travels: Do you see the face in this building? Saugerties Lighthouse – Saugerties, NY

2) I have changed my lifestyle by way of food consumption…That’s a clever way to say I have been on a weight loss journey. Dieting, okay!

I was very happy with the way that I looked up until late August/early September of last year. It was then that I noticed I had put on about 15, 16 pounds. Did I do anything to take care of it at that point? Nope. In fact, I went on to gain 20 more pounds by the end of the year! So when January rolled around, it was clear that I had to make some kind of weight loss related resolution.

How did I gain so much weight? Well, last year, I went on a lot of trips. Trips that included me eating at a lot of restaurants. Going to a lot of wine tastings. Ordering a lot of cocktails (never underestimate how many calories alcoholic beverages add!). I took a lot of lunches out of the office. I picked up snacks at 7-11 and Quick Chek a lot. At one point I thought my veins pumped Burger King Chicken Nuggets, Trader Joe’s Macarons and whatever was in the latest Taco Bell Big Box. It was BAD.

So, this year I decided to take control and get back on track. It was actually kinda decided for me, now that I think about it. The main issue that I had was that I spent so much time in the office, so much time commuting, so little time eating real meals. WELL! Now I don’t have that excuse! After the initial sugar and fat detox (seriously, it takes about a month to get off of those “drugs”), it was very easy for me to get back into living a healthy lifestyle because I really enjoy cooking and I like using clean, nutritious, and sometimes odd, ingredients.

I’ve just been having such fun making meals for myself. No need to stop at a fast food place for dinner, I am already home, whippin’ up a huge, healthy taco salad (taco salads are my life). I go to the gym, that’s going “somewhere”, right?

Oh, and I’ve already lost the weight I put on (yay)! I just want to be a little more “tight”, “tighten”…

Teal Me
Tealin’ Myself: Yup, this is what I do when I’m bored.

3) I haven’t seen anything that has struck my fancy…SERIOUSLY. I belong on every event and ticket related mailing list, I have several event/ticket apps and I keep up with events on Facebook. Nothing has been interesting enough for me to go. I had plans to visit somewhere in March, I had my Amtrak ticket and everything. But, the day before, there was a major snowstorm! Okay, so I rescheduled my ticket. Then I rescheduled it again. And again. And again. I have literally (not figuratively) rescheduled my trip over 10 times.

Here is part of the actual email:

Amtrak Receipt.jpg
Yup, I’m dweeby enough to do this. I am rescheduling again soon!

I don’t know. Maybe I’ll go in September…

I’m hoping things pick up in the fall! I’m sure they will, there are a couple of events I am looking at and want to attend. For now, I’m just being dweeby…

 

Smoothie Supplements!

Smoothies are one of my favorite things. Seriously, I have been drinking them fairly regularly for years. I have gone though several blenders (blown out motors) and shaker cups (mold – from leaving them out in my car) over the years. I have tried several “diets” in my life, but the one thing that has remained constant is The Smoothie.

My smoothie taste has evolved over the years too. I went from just your basic fruit, ice and yogurt (delicious, but not that healthy) to pure fiber shakes (icky, but effective) to what I do now, which is a little bit of a blend of the two styles (accidental pun in there!).

Today, I’m not really going to show how I make my smoothies, talk about the protein powder I use (that deserves its own post) or give recipes. I’m just going to show some of the supplements I use to make my blends even more healthy.

Starting with my favorite, Hemp Seeds

SS - Hemp Hearts

I really like hemp seeds in my smoothies, for the health reasons I’ve listed above, but especially because of the last little thing I added there: they add such a nice, thick texture to smoothies. Use hemp hearts and cashew milk and you’ll feel like you are drinking a milkshake, seriously.

Another favorite – Chia Seeds

SS - Chia Seeds

I like chia seed for everything! I make chia eggs, chia pudding and even chia cheesecake pots. They gel up so nicely and add bulk and help bind food (all of which are reasons why they are great for digestive health).

While I rotate the use of all of the others, MSM is in every smoothie I make…

SS - MSM

MSM has no flavor. In fact, I used to just put a half-teaspoon in some juice in the morning and go. Now, it is in every smoothie. So many beauty related benefits, especially for hair, as it is supposed to help strengthen cells during the growth phase.

Here is a new favorite, Maca Powder

SS - Maca

I first found out about it when I was researching foods that would help in treating Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), something I am managing with weight regulation. Maca is great for helping regulate the hormones (if you know about PCOS you know how important that is) so, I ordered it immediately. And I love it! It tastes great – I am a fan of earthy tastes though, think about my beet post. It mixes so well with cocoa powder too. One of my favorite things to have mid-morning is a Hot Maca-Cocoa!

Here is an old favorite, something I’ve been using for a while: Flax Seed

SS - Flax

Flax seeds were one of the first things I heard about when I got into the “healthy food, health living” lifestyle, about 13 years ago. OMEGA-3s! That was all the rage back then. Heart health is still supremely important, but I don’t see too much out there about flax seeds anymore. Actually, no, I see them used a lot as an egg substitute in plant based diets. I am determined to bring them to the forefront again!

Now, something good AND tasty: Matcha Powder

SS - Matcha

I must admit, I originally bought this with lattes in mind. I knew about the benefits, but I really just wanted it hot and milky. However, a couple of weeks ago, I added it to a basic vanilla smoothie and WOW! It’s so good! Plus, a metabolism booster…and a mood booster…and an energy boost. So many benefits!

Last, but certainly not least, Spirulina!

SS - Spirulina

Yay! My new favorite thing! Not only does it have the benefits I’ve listed above, it’s great to use topically. The morning after I used it in a mask I looked in the mirror and thought “Either I got a good night’s sleep last night, or that mask helped my dark circles…” I didn’t get a good night’s sleep. I like to use spirulina in a fruity-slushy type of smoothie, goes better with the flavor.

These are the supplements I’m using right now, and I rotate some of them out and put others in. There will be updates when I do!

 

Taco Tomato Tuesday (I Won!)

I think I might have won Taco Tuesday. I know, it’s not a contest. But, if it was, I’d be taking home a blue ribbon right now!

So, I was inspired to make this from one of those videos on Facebook. I wish I could remember which site, because I’d totally shout them out (ETA: I remember! It from Delish!). In the video, they used regular sized tomatoes. I took one look and thought “One GIANT tomato!!!” So, I went to the farmers market and set out to find the biggest most beautiful tomato I could find…And I found a one pounder…

Big Tomato
This pic doesn’t do it justice!

Hey – It is huge, yes. However, it’s a tomato. It’s not a deep fried taco shell or a (not carb friendly) flour tortilla. It’s a tomato. A big , beautiful, locally grown tomato. I feel very good about eating the entire thing in one sitting. So, anywho…

I start by slicing this huge tomato. I don’t want to slice all the way down and I kind want to fan it out, like this:

Slices
That slice on the end missed the memo…

Then, I season that bad boy! Yes. The tomato itself must be well seasoned. I learned that from Rachael Ray – you have to season every part of the dish to get maximum flavor. I used Trader Joe’s Chile Lime seasoning, Trader Joe’s Pink Himalayan Salt, garlic powder and fresh cracked black pepper.

Seasoning
“Flavor every layer…” – Rachael Ray

Then, I fry my ground turkey (sorry no pics). I use the same seasonings I use for the tomato.

I top the tomato with the fried ground turkey and top that with a few slices of pepperjack cheese.

Cheese
I LOVE cheese!

I place the loaded tomato in my toaster oven, set on broil. Really just to melt the cheese and in the meantime, I get my guacamole ready…

Guac
These are the small avocados. One was perfect for this recipe…

I make the easiest guac in the world. I just use an avocado (duh), lime juice and Trader Joe’s Chile Lime seasoning (can you guess what my favorite store is?). That’s it.

So, I didn’t take a picture of my tomato just out of the toaster oven. I was so excited to get all of my taco topping on it. Take a look…

The Taco Tomato
WOW! Delish!

This is easily THE MOST DELICIOUS THING I’VE EVER MADE!

Wow! I think I owe it all to the hearty, delicious, juicy, incredible tomato I got at the farmers market on Saturday. That made all the difference!

MAKE THIS! It’s so easy (it’s a taco, in a tomato) and so delicious. YUM!!!

 

What I Ate…(Meat Free Monday)

…today. Okay, so today was an unintentional “Meat Free Monday”. I saw what I had planned to eat and noticed that it was all vegetarian food. Even the smoothie shop I went to for dinner caters to the vegan/vegetarian population. Cool. I was actually a vegetarian from the age of six, up until the age of 25. I didn’t eat any red meat, and I rarely ate chicken. I was more of a pescatarian now that I think about it. Something changed when I hit 25 though. I don’t know what it was, but I suddenly wanted to eat burgers. I can’t really explain how it happened and I don’t remember the exact meal that broke my 19 year  long stretch. When people ask I usually say, “I just wanted a Big Mac. I had one, and I fell in love!” I don’t know what they want to hear, but it wasn’t some big to-do. It happened over the course of time.

Anyway…What did I eat today?

Breakfast: Raspberry Cocoa Latte and a string cheese…

Latte Ingredients
Latte Ingredients

I use the same formula for my lattes:

  • Almond milk, heated
  • Packet of stevia – one in the cup, one in the pan with the milk
  • A small swig of vanilla in the almond milk, while it’s heating
  • Powdered flavoring – usually 1 to 2 teaspoons
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil

So, that’s how I made today’s latte. Powdered flavoring=Cocoa Powder and I substituted the pack of stevia in the almond milk pan for one raspberry honey stick that I got from the farmers market. That’s it! It was good. The raspberry flavor was slight, that’s probably because it was natural and not filled with sugar.

Breakfast
Big breakfast (heh heh). Honestly though, the lattes are really filling!

Lunch: Feta Dip, Veggies and Olives

Feta Dip

Okay, this was awesome!!! The dip was so easy too…

Feta Dip Recipe
Easy peasy…

Only four ingredients: Feta (half of a small container – I’m really precise – Ha!), cream cheese (about 1/3 of a softened brick), olive oil (about a teaspoon) and garlic powder (depends on your taste, I use a lot)…Simple. One of those back pocket recipes.

Beverages: Seltzer with lime or apple cider vinegar

Drink
…lime-ish squeezy!

I LOVE seltzer! Seriously, I stock up on whatever brand is on sale so I am never without it. Polar is amazing. LaCroix is great, but sometimes I’m not willing to spend that much. Vintage and store brand will do just fine, thanks! I used to have a SodaStream, but it broke a couple of years ago and I’ve yet to get a new one. I should (re-)invest. It would be worth it!

Dinner: Italian Kale…

***Warning: I turn into a bit of a smartass here, I was highly annoyed. Feel free to read this section in Sarcasm…***

Okay. So I had planned to go to a new restaurant in town to get a salad for dinner. And I went, with my cousin…

Blend
“Buddha Bowl” – (unmassaged) Kale, spinach, tomato, sweet potatoes, avocado and a lemon vinaigrette. Intentionally Missing: Corn. Just Plain Missing: black beans

I ordered what was called a “Buddha Bowl” salad. And I got what is seen above. It had everything it said it would, but it was not really a “bowl”, it was more like a plastic carton of produce. I paid $8.00 for a plastic carton of kale that is on sale for .99 a pound at Shop-Rite this week! The kale wasn’t even massaged! I know that sounds like something a snob would say, but massaging kale is a real thing. A real and VERY IMPORTANT thing. It helps break it down so one can chew and digest it easier. Seriously, I took one bite and I nearly choked. I actually need to warn this restaurant – this is a potential hazard. I just was not in the mood to argue tonight, so I just left…

…And, I did what any person who spends $8.00 on a carton of produce does: I took it home to cook it myself!

Kale - Fried
DIY Restaurant – I believe it’s called grocery shopping! 

Yup. I massaged EACH piece of kale (you could HEAR it breaking down as I kneaded), added the contents to a pan with olive oil and garlic powder and…

Kale - Fried - Yum
Repurposed food…

…Yum! Success! I turned this meal around! I sprinkled some parmesan on top, as you can see.

So, there you have it, a full day of vegetarian eats. Pretty clean eats too…Yay!