Summer Projects and TWO Dinners

Today’s Happy Note: Chatting with my dad on the phone and getting excited to go home so that I can visit the bakery!  Is this what normal people get excited about when they get to go home?  Probably not.  But I’m a food blogger, which is mutually exclusive to normal.  And my little town has the best bakery in the entire world.  I want to have an eclair.  And an apple fritter.  I am, of course, also getting very excited to see my crazy but beautiful family!

The no good icky bad mood has lifted! Thank the Lord.  Or hormones.  Or my therapist.  I don’t know who to thank but I do know that it’s gone!  (Insert happy dance here).  I let myself sleep in today, went for a nice (ish…) run, had my favorite mid-week treat breakfast, worked, then came home and relaxed.  No obligations.  I’m really not exactly sure what my work schedule will be like in the evenings (I am working two jobs) this summer.  My guess is that it is going to be crazy busy/late on some days and really chill on others.  But after a week of coming home from work at five fifteen and having not not much to do, I know that I am in some serious need of summer “projects.”  I am not going to start any of these until I have “officially” started my summer schedule and am back in NY, which will be in two weeks.  But I’m making a list now so I can plan and keep myself entertained!

Caronae’s Super Spectacular Fun Summer Project List:

1.  Stay in touch with old friends/family members who don’t live in the city.

2. Make regular plans with school friends who are in the city.

3. Meet new blog friends!

4. Start a planter in windowsill.  I want to grow lavender and maybe some rosemary and thyme.  I would like a flowering plant, but I’m afraid a planter won’t allow its roots the room that they need.

5. Find muffin recipes.  Make said recipes.

6. Cook a few fancy dinners.

7.  Places to visit: museums, aquariums, botanical gardens.

8. Weekly yoga sesh with my cousin.

9. Learn to knit?????

10. Buy a set of pastels and use them (sidenote: I adore pastels; they are my favorite artistic tool by far).

11. Learn more about trees and (geek alert!) take walks around the city identifying different types of trees.

12. See some dance shows.

13: Library.  Books.  Read them.  Last summer I had a “reading project” in which I read as many major Russian authors as I could (Dostoevsky, Chekhov, Tolstoy, Pushkin, etc.).  I need a similar project for this summer!  It’s actually really fun if you are a word geek like I am.

14. Expand blog.

So that’s the plan for now!  This doesn’t include everything I’ll be doing, of course (read: running), just some fun and/or new projects.  I don’t really consider running a hobby so much as a part of my life, like eating or working or writing.

What are your favorite hobbies or activities?  Anything I should add to my list?  I’m totally open to suggestions!

Exercise: I did get in my 7.5 mile run today, and it was going really well — my legs were churning pretty fast, I thought — until I had to go to the bathroom about halfway through.  Stat.  Why are public bathrooms in this city so hard to find????  I had to walk for a mile before I found one.  Ick.  I hate when a pit stop derails my run, it’s one of the more annoying things about running.  Other “interesting” things that have happened to me while running: being chased (and almost mauled) by dogs, being stopped by annoying tourists asking for directions to Columbus Circle, getting very very lost in East Harlem, becoming convinced that my mother and sister were eaten by mountain lions, and sneaking into some very sketchy woods (on many different occasions) to go to the bathroom.  Runners have interesting lives and good stories.  You should befriend one 🙂

Eats: I had my special weekday breakfast treat today: a bagel with peanut butter and sweet iced tea from the deli/bakery.  This is one of my favorite things in the world.  I used to think it was so wrong that I would let food make me happy, but life is too short not to feel happy about having your favorite foods once in a while.  I freely admit that toasted cinnamon bagels with peanut butter make me very happy indeed!

I did the whole two dinners thing again today and it worked wonderfully.  No more Hangry Caronae!!!  Yay. 🙂

Dinner #1:

Vanilla-pear protein oatmeal eaten at 5:15.

Dinner #2:

Hodgepodge salad: mesclun base with carrots, steamed broccoli, refried pinto beans, brown rice, and a 2-egg puff.  So nom nom nom nom.

Dessert:

Pineapple chobs with crumbled raspberry chocolate luna bar — I maintain that this is not only the best luna bar flavor but the best bar out there.  Period.  It tastes like a raspberry-infused brownie that you might get for dessert at a fancy restaurant.  For twelve dollars.  I’m  not exaggerating.

Do you have a favorite dessert? I like almost anything with chocolate, especially brownies and homemade bake goods.  I have also been known to eat Ben and Jerry’s (ahem, Phish food) straight from the pint.

Goodnight friends!  Happy almost-weekend!

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Sad Bad Mood

Today’s Happy Note: Feeling better about therapy.  My therapist sent me a very comforting and calming response to my somewhat frantic letter to her yesterday.  That’s one thing, at the very least, that I don’t have to have in my mind right now.

Thanks everyone for your sweet comments yesterday.  Whenever I’m in a bad mood or sad or had a bad therapy day you never fail to make me feel better!  I am a lucky blogger indeed!

Unfortunately, while I am feeling a bit better about therapy, I’m still in a terrible mood.  Damn hormones.  I don’t really think there’s anything else to blame it on at this point.  I did have a good, lonely cry this evening which made me feel a bit better.  Although now I have a headache and about ten pimples.

I have felt terribly lonely over the last few days.  I sort of had an epiphany last night that friends make our lives worth living.  Even if I am only spending a few moments with someone, if that person is meaningful to me, they can make me feel so happy inside.  Friends make me feel radiant in a way that no amount of food or exercise or even positive self-talk can.  It’s another dimension of the health equation that I feel like I am just discovering — I have always had friends and have friends now, but hadn’t considered their importance to my own well-being before.  Sometimes the only thing in the world that can make me feel better is to have someone to snuggle with or someone to braid my hair or someone to just sit with.

Does this make sense? I often think of myself as a loner, but really, I’m not.  I am most definitely not a social butterfly with twenty best friends (and I never will be), but the relationships I do have with people mean everything to me.

Exercise: I came home from work tired and cranky (again!) and took a little nap.  I wanted to watch the Biggest Loser because (a) I like the show and (b) I knew I would feel motivated to do some moves while watching.  Success!  I spent the first hour of the show doing a circuit where I did 3-4 minutes cardio (mostly jumping moves a la Janetha) followed by 25 reps of a leg move, 25 reps of an ab move, and 25 reps of an arm move, then I did 3-4 minutes of yoga.  I probably went through the whole circuit 6 or 7 times.  It was a nice way to switch things up a bit.  Now that I’m not training for a half-marathon — or any running event for that matter — it’s nice to do some fun, non-running exercise.  In the next few weeks I’d like to do some swimming, bike riding, and maybe exercise classes!

Do you ever make up your own workout circuits?  What moves do you include?

Eats: Somewhat fun today!  I’m having to get creative, especially with protein and dessert options, but I’m managing.  I might have to buy some cottage cheese or black beans or sliced turkey to get me through the end of the week, but I’m really trying to hold out — I’m going home Saturday morning.  I hate wasting food.

Melty almond butter and blackberry oats=perfect way to start the morning!

Packed lunch for work!  Trader Joe’s chicken sausage ravioli with BBQ tempeh, green grapes, and carrots.

I have trouble packing lunches that will keep me satisfied all afternoon (through three or four hours), but this did the trick!  I am often afraid to include carbs in my lunch (silly, I know), but the pasta with the tempeh was a great choice for a main course, I think.

What are your go to lunches to bring when you’ll be at work all day?

Afternoon snack: clif mojo peanut butter and jelly flavor.  This tastes like real pb and j, actually.  It’s amazing!  I like all the clif mojo bars.

Dinner Part I: looks like weird pink soup.  It’s actually just watery kashi oatmeal (I love watery oats — they last longer!) mixed with cranberry-pommegranate tera’s whey protein powder.  I have to say, this was the most disgusting protein powder I have ever had in my entire life.  It tasted very fake and was way too sweet and cloying.  I should have just stuck with my regular WF vanilla whey!  Yuck.

Dinner part II: A semi-random but highly delicious combination!  I topped a base of plain spinach with a two egg puff, refried pinto beans, and a sliced pear.  The flavors worked really well together; smooth, creamy, sweet, savory.  I want to have the exact same thing for dinner tomorrow!  I think having two dinners wokred really well for me.  I am always afraid to do this because I fear that I’ll end up eating more calories, but instead of feeling ravenous after work and then ravenous again around ten or eleven, I spread everything out and felt satiated all evening long.  I might do this more often!

I just munched on a chocolate coconut chew lara bar for dessert.  It’s one of the best flavors in my opinion.  If you like laras, do you have a favorite flavor?

Definitely time for me to crawl into my bed now.  I’m hoping to squeeze in a run before work tomorrow morning so that I can relax in the evening.

Happy Wednesday friends!

Caronae’s “Lasagna” Make This.

Today’s Happy Note: I was feeling really unproductive in the morning, but all the sudden I realized “it’s never too late to turn the day around” and ended up getting lots of things done. 🙂

Good evening friends! Yesterday was just one of those days where my energy was zero (yet somehow I felt the need to consume massive amounts of cereal), my output was zero, and well, it was just icky.  I couldn’t seem to do anything.  I went to a performance in the evening with friends and a (boring) academic conference in the morning, so I guess I did some things.  But if I don’t work out, eat healthfully, and get school work done, I feel terribly unproductive.  And a part of me still translates this lack of productivity into worthlessness.  And then another part of me hates that part of me.  And then I feel like I’m at war with myself and I try to solve it by eating cereal (I never really “solve” my problems with other foods, oddly enough).

Lesson? It’s okay to have days where you do nothing.  Productivity is not measured in how much I exercise, precisely how many vegetables I have consumed, or whether or not I spent six hours at the library.  Sometimes it’s valuable to take a nap or rest day or spend an hour lounging in bed with my journal and hot chocolate.  I feel like I keep coming back to this lesson again and again.  I think it’s just something I need to keep telling myself, albeit gently, until I get it.

Somehow that feeling from yesterday began creeping into today, but I turned it around!  I was so proud of myself for this.  Geeky, I know, but when I’m in a bad mood or just a general funk, I tend to consciously keep myself in that place and make myself miserable.  Not today!  I didn’t get everything on the to-do list done, but I covered a lot of ground: I ran, did all readings for one class and am starting a paper for another, called my grandparents, washed clothes, cleaned room, prepped veggies for rest of week, cooked an awesome dinner, chatted with two friends, picked up my class shirt, and blogged.  Sounds like I have actually gotten quite a lot done.

Conclusion: Dear Caronae, please stop being so hard on yourself.  You are enough.  You are beautiful and capable and strong.  Smart and productive and friendly.  Smile!

I may go to the second most stressful college in the country (proven fact), but I don’t need to be stressed all the time!  Although with that said, this week is going to be mighty busy.  My goal is to take that stress and find healthy outlets — not hating on myself, eating emotionally, or moping around!  Here’s what has to get done this week (I’m only talking about schoolwork here):

-outline, research, and write 15 page paper on Arabian Nights

-outline and research 15 page paper on Amartya Sen vs. basic needs

-write prose poem

-read Virginia Woolf book and Foucault book

-read history textbooks

Okay, time to stop boring you all, seeing as this is not a homework blog or a stress blog!  Onto the fun stuff!

Exercise: I did the same workout I did earlier this week — a six mile run with 25 minutes of abs/yoga sandwiched in the middle.  This workout is actually really fun!  It’s nice to have a break in the middle, and I used a bench by the Hudson River to do the abs and yoga, so it was quite scenic.  I got to stare into the water and the coast and the various wooden docks; it seemed to help my focus for the yoga, and made the ab work more enjoyable.

I am looking for more “fun” stuff to do in terms of workouts for the next month or two (or possibly more).  I have no upcoming races or events to train for and I definitely want to cut back on the running a bit.  I have been doing strength and HIIT twice a week which is nice.  I want a class or a new form of exercise though.  I’m getting bored.  Anyone have any ideas or favorite classes or recommendations for stuff in NY (inexpensive)?

Eats: I consumed many delicious things today, as usual, but I will only be sharing one thing with you now.  Why is that?  Because it is the most delicious, fanciest, awesomest dish I have ever cooked and probably in the top five I have ever consumed.  That is why.  And it all started off as an experiment!

Caronae’s “lasagna” (serves one; cannot be easily doubled or tripled because it would probably fall apart) :

Ingredients…

about 10 large stalks of asparagus

about 1.5 C baby bella mushrooms

1 tbsp olive oil

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup part-skim ricotta cheese

basil (dried or fresh)

spinach

1 egg

1/2 ounce very finely diced or shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Wash and dry the mushrooms and asparagus.  Cut asparagus spears (horizontally, not lengthwise) into two even pieces.  Thinly slice the mushrooms.  Toss the asparagus and mushrooms with the EVOO and salt.  Spread onto a baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes.  Meanwhile, measure out the rest of your ingredients.  When asparagus and mushrooms are finished, removed from oven.  Using a glass baking dish, make a little “raft” of asparagus — I used about eight half-spears for each layer of the raft.  Top this first layer with mushrooms and then half of the ricotta.  Sprinkle on a bit of basil.  Repeat the process again.  Top the upper layer of ricotta with a few more pieces of asparagus, if desired.  (Sidenote: I realize I should have taken pictures of this process, but it’s pretty much the exact same thing you would do when making a real lasagna). You may have extra veggies, if so, set aside for another day.  Cook this stack for 5-7 minutes.  Meanwhile, crack egg into a bowl and heat in microwave for about 30 seconds.  Remove the egg and, using a spatula or other utensil, carefully work your way underneath the egg so that it is separated from the bowl.  Try not to break the yolk.  Lightly wash the spinach using a damp paper towel.  Do NOT submerge or soak; you need it to become dry and crispy.  When the “stack” is done, remove.  Top with the spinach (it should be pretty thoroughly covered; don’t worry because the spinach shrinks down and dries up), the egg, and the dices/shredded cheddar.  Cook for five more minutes.  Remove and eat.

I can’t really say anything about this dish — you just have to try it.  I don’t know if it was the richness of the ricotta and the EVOO or the combination of the smooth mushrooms with that distinct asparagus flavor.  Or the tiny bits of cheddar melting into the crisped up spinach.  I don’t think any individual component of this dish made it what it is; everything worked together.  That’s why the “stack”/”lasagna” format works so well for these ingredients; they can easily be consumed all in one bite.  I rarely post the recipes for my “experiments”, but this experiment was one serious winner.

Your plate should look like this afterwards (I actually licked mine)…

It’s actually fairly healthy too, probably because it’s made with a vegetable base.  Lots of healthy fats, yummy protein, and plant matter.  Totally fresh.  I might be gushing about this little creation for several days.  You have been forewarned.

This dinner was probably my weekend highlight.  What was yours?