Thursday, May 31, 2012

May Foodie Pen Pal Box

So, I don't even remember if I wrote recently about how I'm giving my up monthly areas of opportunity for a while. I don't even remember if I wrote about it, that's how crazy life has been. My goal for now through September 1st is to just hold on to my sanity and hold on for dear life. 

So far I've been doing an okay job. 

I started grad school, am wrapping up the teaching year, and trying to figure out what I'm gonna do as a stay at home mom for 5 weeks. I am planning a vacation and am planning a summer camp and researching pool memberships. Oh, and apartment hunting now that I've kinda settled on the fact that I have to take my reduced contract at the school I currently teach at because no one else offered me a job. Oh well, such is life. 

However, despite the insanity in my life right now I have undertaken a super easy new project: The Foodie Pen Palls. The "game" is sponsored by Lindsay over at the Lean Green Bean. Here are the details:

Each person signed up is sent a patch who they are mailing a box to. She says to fill the box with: "fun foodie things, local food items or even homemade treatsThe spending limit is $15The box must also include something written. This can be anything from a note explaining what’s in the box, to a fun recipe…use your imagination!"

I am SOOOO glad I got such a good box this month as an example of how to be more festive next month. The box I sent had yummy stuff, but this was definitely more thoughtful than mine. It's okay, I'll do better next month. 

My pen pal was Susan over at It's not all Bento. For those of you who don't know ('cause I didn't when I first visited her site) a bento is a cute little single serving meal. Here is a picture of one she made: 

Okay, now on to the goodies. 

[Side note:To be totally honest, this post is making me realize that my photo editing skills suck... and that I need Photoshop. Also, I took the pictures with my phone (yeah, I need a nice camera too...a full time job would also be nice while I'm at it) and they were doing something funky when I uploaded them and put a gray strip at the bottom of the picture and cut some of the image off. I don't know; I know how to crop so I just cut it off and some of the pictures came out weird.]

So, what did I get?

1) Homemade Plum-Kissed Pear Jam
2) Flavored Honey Sticks and Tea 
3)Dry Roasted Edamame
4) Powdered Peanut Butter...which is just so exciting in itself that I'm afraid to even try it
5) Chocolate almond toast sprinkle
6) Homemade chocolate granola (which the baby LOVED!)
7)Vegan "jerky"...which is not in the picture because my sister and I ate it as soon as we opened the box 

She also sent me a recipe for Risotto made with TVP because she is awesome and read through my blog to find out what I might like. Isn't she the nicest ever?! I haven't made it yet, but I haven't done much of anything except work and do homework recently. I'll get to it soon because it sounds yummy. 

Now, on top of the goodies something kinda weird 
The top two and bottom left are her handwriting, the bottom right is mine.

Seriously?! Does everyone see that her handwriting looks exactly like mine? I have sticky notes and a two sided recipe cared covered in what looks like my own handwriting. 

I have no words to describe what it is like to find that someone from a billion miles away (oh, did I mention that she's in Alaska and I'm in Ohio) has such similar handwriting.

 No words, make of it what you will. 

Well, there you have it. My first Foodie Pen Pal reveal day. 

Hopefully I'll be back soon with something productive, but if nothing else I'll be back the end of next month with my box. 

Until then, go visit Lindsay and Susan and make some new friends. 

The Lean Green Bean

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The plan for my first veggie freezer cooking day

Okay, so I am trying several new things this weekend:

1) Several new recipes
2) Allowing someone else to help me cook so I will remember to take pictures and write down the quantities I actually use (I'm very much of a "make it up as you go along" cook)
3) Showing a new boy how domestic, I mean crazy, I actually am. 
4) Freezer cooking a lot. 

I started grad school this week and feel a lot like my life has fallen apart. Holy crap did I forget how much work college is.

These are the things I really want to make:

1) Freezer breakfast burritos (without sausage for me, with sausage for him to take home and finally believe me that they are just as good as fresh made. 

(I need to fix and update this post and the pictures, so that's another goal for Saturday)

2) Whole Wheat Strawberry Oatmeal Muffins
Via Harper's Homemade

3) Zucchini Tots I am going to make about 4 million of these, and then hope to god they come out as good as they look.  
Via The Two Bite Club

4) More vegetarian chili like I made last week, but I modified the recipe so much that there isn't really point in liking you to anything. I am going to take pictures and type this all up hopefully. And by me I mean the boy is going to document and write while I cook =)

5) Bean and Spinach Enchiladas I will make them in the oven, not the slow cooker like this suggests, and I will omit the radishes, because I simply don't like them. But otherwise this sounds AMAZING. It will be eat some for dinner, wrap and freeze in separate containers. 

Slow-Cooker Bean and Spinach Enchiladas
Via Real Simple
And, maybe, if I'm feeling adventitious (and still have zucchini left over) I will make zucchini pizza casserole. This recipe calls for ground turkey, and she says she substituted black beans, so I'll probably do half black beans and half TVP (A.K.A. my new favorite food). 

Via Debbie Does Dinner

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

May Area of Opportunity: Spark People Sleep Challenge

Okay, so on the first of the month I usually pick an Area of Opportunity to work on for the month. On the 29th of April I hinted that my opportunity  was going to be to kick my massive Diet Coke addiction. Well, the first came, and went, and I tried for about 45 minutes to not have my morning soda...and then decided I didn't care. 

My life is a going to be nuts for the next few months. I'm starting grad school, finishing up the teaching year, I'm going to take a month off work and try being a stay-at-home mom, then I'm running a 2 week summer camp (while still taking grad classes), then I have one week to get ready for a 10 day backpacking trip, and then it's time to either go back to my current teaching job or start a new one. Oh, and somewhere in there I'm going to be moving. So, needless to say, my goal for the summer is to hold on for dear life to my sanity. 

Soooo...I'm not giving up my Diet Coke. 

However, I found a recipe nutrition facts calculator at on Spark People  that somehow signed me up for their e-mail list. When I actually went today to see what the rest of the site was all about, besides the recipes part, I  was impressed with the huge amount of resources they have available in terms of healthy lifestyle choices. I put it this way because I'm not specifically trying to loose weight, but I am taking serious steps towards being more healthy and in turn I have lost weight. 

One of the things they have on the site is different challenges, and, because I haven't slept more than 6 hours a night in about a month, I signed up for a Better Sleep Habits Challenge

Each week I have different goals to accomplish. This fits perfectly with my "walk a bad habit down the stairs" philosophy. 

So, my Area of Opportunity for the next month (4 weeks starting May 9th, so not quite just the month of May) is to follow the Better Sleep Habits Challenge. 

The week 1 action steps are: 
1) Complete sleep quiz (done, this wasn't anything earth shattering. But it was a good reminder of the things that actually affect sleep and the urban legends that people tend to use as a crutch. 
2) Start a sleep journal to keep track of the factors that affect my sleep, looking at energy level, stress level, quality of sleep, and mood. They said the fourth should be self-esteem, but I know that my mood is directly effected by the amount of sleep and my self esteem is fairly consistent. I need to track these factors and the number of hours I slept. 
3) At the end of the week, I need to look at my sleep journal and set my goals. 
(the fourth is about earning trophies on the site, but I'm not super into external motivation so I'm not really worried about this one.)

So, last night I got 6 hours of sleep, I would rate energy level a 2 out of 5, my quality of sleep at a 5 out of 5 (I'm to the point where I'm too tired to not sleep like I'm dead), my stress at a 3 out of 5 and my mood at a 3 out of 5. For example, I'm currently blogging instead of doing the things on my to do list. I'm trading productive activities for self-soothing activities, which  implies a higher level of stress than I like and, therefore, a lower level of motivation. 

Man, I really need to start sleeping more. 

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Office Triage

I officially start my masters program next Monday, but, because my professor is a little OCD like I am she opened the course a week early for us to learn how to use the online interface. This is the first time I am taking a class at this school, the first time I am using the Springboard LMS (Learning managment system, a.k.a. the first new piece of jargon I have learned), and the first time I have taken a masters class. So, I have a lot to learn when it comes to format. I'm exited, but I'm also realizing I have one huge problem:

I no longer have a place to do homework in my house. 

This freaked me out at first, but, after reading a post recently by Michael Hyatt about calendar triage, I realized it's time to conduct some serious priority reevaluation and come up with a new action plan. 

I thought about posting a picture of the explosion of what used to be the office corner of my basement, but I'm using the excuse that there isn't enough light to take a picture down there as the reason I don't want to show you the carnage. 

I graduated from college in August of 2010, so it's been two years since I needed to maintain a workspace at home. Since then I have had a baby, my mother has moved in with me, and I've been working hard to purge my life of all the unnecessary stuff.

Now, this has been a slow process, and one of the fights I have with my mother is over what to get rid of and what to hold on to. And, since my office space is directly at the bottom of the basement stairs it has become a dumping ground for things she won't let me get rid of. And, honestly, it became a dumping ground for me when I was student teaching and thought I needed to save every single paper that was put into my hands.

Now, two years later, I wish I hadn't done all of that. 

Yesterday, I was looking at my beautifully clean kitchen (it isn't usually like that, it just happened to be yesterday) and the battle field of my laptop, textbooks, planer, sticky notes, highlighters, and other scholarly weapons, and made a few decisions. Here was my logic:

1) I am moving before August.
2) I shouldn't waste the time cleaning out and then setting up a new office. I should just clean up the junk, sort and pack as a I go. I will set up an office when I find my new living space.
3) I need some stable sense of organization when it comes to keeping my school life organized. 
4) I am going to add to my collection of specific purpose bags (work bag, speech bag, occasional use mom purse) a mobile office/school bag so I can have all my stuff in one transportable bag.

A lot of this comes from the fact that I have never been good at doing homework at home anyway. I lived at Starbucks and the library when I was in college. I have become very comfortable with the local library because I didn't have a computer at home for a few months. Also, though the baby will not be in daycare for 5 weeks this summer (which happens to be the 5 weeks when I am taking two classes instead of just one) I have worked it out with my 18 year old sister that she will come watch him for a few hours a few times a week so I can get my homework done. 

So, I'm excited to build a new mobile office. I really like how Tiffany from the Nest Effect set up her mobile office. Actually, I am sure subconsciously this idea has been floating around in the back of my head since I read her post about this and I have just been looking for an opportunity to put it into practice. 

I'm excited.