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Archive for April, 2012

Morning Smoothie

I have to have breakfast before I get going every day, or else I turn into a crazy lunatic.  Really.  Not joking about this, people.

Because I’m often running late, though, I have to be really fast about it. For that reason, I’m a big fan of smoothies… but there’s one problem.

They’ve got a great texture and are tasty, but they usually don’t fill me up.  I find that I am hungry an hour or two later, which defeats the purpose of a meal!

This may be that I don’t do dairy, so my concoctions are mostly fruit and a milk-substitute.  Today, though, I made one that is super healthy and creamy and kept me satisfied for a few hours.  I think that it’s the flax seed oil that made the difference, because everything else stays pretty much the same.

Anyway, it’s a quick, delightful way to get the day going.  Even better- this recipe is gluten-free, soy-free, dairy-free, egg-free, and vegan.  Yet it still tastes good.  Hooray!

Berry Smoothie
makes 16 oz of gf, df, sf deliciousness

Blend the following ingredients together:
2 C frozen berry mix
1 C unsweetened almond milk (Almond Breeze)
1 T rice protein powder (Nutribiotic Vegan Rice Protein, plain)
1 T flax seed oil
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon (or more, depending on your preference)
1 handful fresh spinach (washed)- optional

Weight Watchers PointsPlus Value: 5

Enjoy!

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We Can(‘t) Do It!

Tonight, I can honestly say that marriage can be trying. I am currently sitting in the car, stranded, because of a flat tire.

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Now don’t go thinking that I can’t change it. I’m actually really good at that. I’m stuck because there is no key for the final lug nut.

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Where, you might ask, is this vital tool? Good question. No one seems to know. While I’ve been driving this car for the last 6 months, it’s Chris’, and I’m going to throw this one into his court!

It didn’t help that when I called him, he responded, “I thought it might be that one. It looked off the other day.” WHAT was that?!?

Granted, he’s on his way to rescue me, but that makes me mad!! I wanted to take care of this on my own- like the modern day lady I am- but I can’t because I don’t have the right parts.

Maybe he did this so that he could be my knight in shining armor… But I think he’d say I wouldn’t need rescuing if I didn’t run over curbs so often.

Not It!

I am not the best housekeeper.  I take forever to do things, because I want them done perfectly.  This comes back to bite me; I take too much time to clean, so I don’t clean, which then means it takes longer to clean when I do.  Ugh.

To add to the mayhem, we’re not very good at picking up and putting things away, so in order to even begin to clean, we first have to organize and de-clutter.  So basically, we have to clean to clean.  We work so hard on the organizing bit that we have no more energy or time to do the actual dusting, vacuuming, etc.

The cherry on the pile- Chris decided recently that he doesn’t want to do floors anymore, because he has been doing them for the last 4 years.  (Also, because, with a dog, there is hair everywhere, and I’d like him to move the furniture to get it all up.)  I can’t do floors because of my back; the motion just sends it all out of whack. So if we want a squeaky clean house, Chris has to take that part.  And over the years, chores get old!!

So, yeah, I have a lot of excuses….  and I’m not even writing them all down, because I’m starting to get embarrassed.

Nevertheless, a clean house is very important to us for many reasons, but especially for our own mental health, so we had to do something.  We decided to stop living in a mess and hired someone to clean for us.

This was actually a really, really hard decision.  Here’s why I felt I couldn’t have something this good:

  1. I haven’t earned it.  It’s like being the boss before I’m the administrative assistant.  You know, I haven’t worked my way up the ladder by getting good at it myself and then passing it off.
  2. I don’t deserve it.  Like I should make myself do it because we aren’t old enough, rich enough, etc…
  3. It’s being lazy/undedicated/some other lame word. We’re adults and should figure out how to do this ourselves and take care of our own you-know-what.
  4. We don’t have the money.

#4 is actually based mostly in reality, because we do not have a lot of disposable income.  But it came down to this…  Should I feel guilty all the time over not taking care of the house (which I did), or should I find a solution (which I did)? Learning what I have the capacity for and what to let go of will be a lifelong process, but something had to give NOW.

I did the math and, while my numbers might be fuzzy, figured it out!  I’ve had a babysitting job every Friday for the last year and a half that I’ve thinking of quitting so that I have a proper 2 day weekend.  I sat down one day and contemplated whether I would rather babysit and have my friend clean or stay home and clean it myself.  Instead of staying home and doing something that I really don’t like and am not good at, I now make $2 less per hour babysitting than I pay my friend to clean.

Let me tell you; it’s been life-altering!  For example:

  • When things are clean, it’s just easy to keep them clean!
  • We straighten the house at least once a week in preparation for cleaning, but more often than not, we do it every day for our own pleasure.  It is a joy to have a clean house to come home to- not just on Fridays but every day.
  • I even enjoy babysitting now WAY more than before because I know that my hard work is allowing me something really special when I get home.
  • We’ve also had people over more often (and spur of the moment!) because we don’t have to run around cleaning before everyone arrives.

Chris summed it up two weeks ago when he said, “I love having a cleaner.  The house looks amazing, and I’m not even tired.”

So, feel free to stop by any time…  The house will be spic and span!

Sultry Days of Summer

Sundresses, sunscreen, sunhats, and baseball. Sounds like summer to me! This week brought the first HOT temperatures of the year, and Chris and I celebrated tonight with friends- watching our friend, Matt, sing the National Anthem at the Oakland A’s game, drinking beer, eating hot dogs, and joining in all around merriment.

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Best Friday Nights EVER!

BALLS (Bay Area Loquacious Literary Society) celebrated its first anniversary tonight!

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We Bought a Farm

My mom taught me about seasonal vegetables at a young age. One Thanksgiving, when shopping for the big meal, she decided that $7/lb for tomatoes was just too much for our big family. No kidding! Just one slice for all seven of us would total $8. Ouch… With that dent in the weekly grocery budget, it’s easy to tell what’s in season and what’s out.

In California, though, it’s a lot harder. Farms here can grow lettuce year round, and strawberries started up in February (which my niece, Annabel, enjoyed for the first time). At Whole Foods or the local markets, you can buy kale, corn, zucchini, or any other veggie at any time, because it’s imported from Mexico, Latin America, etc…

I’ve been told and have read that you get the most nutritional bang-for-your-buck if you buy produce that has a chance to ripen on the vine, tree, or stem. Logically, then, a fruit picked green in Mexico, pumped with gas to make it ripen, and transported here isn’t as nutritious as something grown closer and more naturally.

Going to the local farmer’s market would solve this issue, but I work during the times when they are running. Because I want to spend my hard earned cash on things that are healthy, I decided several years ago to join a CSA- Community Supported Agriculture; the community buys into the farm and, therefore, gets a share of the season’s produce. It takes the guessing out of what is seasonal and what’s imported! Around here, it’s also a way to get organic stuff at cheaper prices than the grocery store; plus, it’s often delivered to your neighborhood- so no shopping!!

When I first started, I tried Live Earth Farms. The produce was amazing- but way too bountiful! There was no way that I could keep up with the amount that I was getting each week, and, honestly, there were only so many weeks that I was willing to try to figure out how to cook all the new types of veggies. It was exhausting!

After taking a few years off, I started up again with a less daunting CSA, Eating with the Seasons. In this program, I pick which produce I’d like from what’s in season. For me, that’s been fun, because I can plan meals for the week ahead (because I know what’s coming), try a new item every so often, know how to use the rest, and am assured that what I’m getting is local and seasonal.

The extra options- like corn tortillas, local honey, rice, and preserves- make the CSA an even greater treat. With some CSAs, you have to pay in advance, but a lot of these now let you pay monthly. EWTS even lets you order more items and charges you each month for the extra.

Some weeks, things go bad, but that was one of the reasons I bought a juicer. If I know that I’m not going to eat something before it expires, I just stick it in the juicer and- voila!- a healthy snack.

This has taken some of the pressure off of me to grocery shop, because at least I always have some veggies around. Occasionally, I don’t even go to the grocery store, because I just order tons of vegetables. So I’m eating healthy AND saving money. Even in cold weather climates, there are CSAs at your disposal- not all are year round like ours, but many let you buy a share for produce, meat, milk, eggs, bread, and other amazing goodies.

Are you a part of a CSA? What have you found to be the benefits/drawbacks? If you aren’t a part, why not?

Reining It In

Chris and I have decided to take control of our finances and tighten the reins a bit.  We live within our means, but that doesn’t equate to stewarding our money well.  This means we don’t have savings, wonder how we’re going to make car repairs when big things come up, can’t splurge on something really fabulous when we’d like, or…  the list goes on.

Though bills get paid and responsibilities are covered, I often end up regretting how I’ve spent my money the previous month.  Instead of looking back and feeling bad, it seems more logical to be a grown up, have some self-control, and kick butt with utilizing what we have!

We spend a horrific amount of money on eating out. In a normal week, we purchase at least these things:
Pho
Burgers
Sushi
Pizza or Sandwich
Coffee
Coffee
Coffee

I don’t get the pizza or sandwiches, and Chris doesn’t get pho all the time, but still…  I buy food or beverages out at least once a day.  That cost adds up really fast!

We are looking at buying our first house (Hooray!  Holy crap!), and we’d really like to get our finances shored up tightly before we add another responsibility to the list.  It will help us to be more financially stable and keep me from being anxious about moolah.

With the market the way it is, we have a few months (at least) before we have to make our first mortgage payment.  In that time, we’re going to try to establish some great new patterns so that we spend less and save more!  You know, to take care of the roof, dishwasher, or whatever repair is inevitable when owning a house.

The first step is to eat out less.  And while this may be the simplest thing we can do, it may actually be the hardest!

So I’m turning to you for advice and support.  I’d love to hear what you do to encourage cooking at home, spending less money on groceries, not wasting the groceries you buy, etc…

Please share.  Because I’m going to need all the help that I can get!

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