Category Archives: Uncategorized

The Beginning

I haven’t known exactly where to start with this post, and after trying (unsuccessfully) more than a couple of times to write, I think the best place to start is just right where we are, right now.

We are living in Pennsylvania.  It almost doesn’t seem real, and after 6 weeks, I still catch myself wondering when we are going back to Florida…when our vacation will end. But instead of feeling upset about not returning to Florida, I’ve accepted it with open arms.  And yes, I miss my people, those amazing friends we made in Florida, the extended family who welcomed us with open arms, who became our mom and dad, our sisters, brothers and cousins when we had no one else around.  But that is the thing about making “true” friends…no matter where you live, or how long it has been since you have been together, that relationship will always be there.

And we are happy… and I daresay, calmer than we have been for a very long time.  Rob really enjoys his job.  He is respected and listened to and best of all, his job no longer comes home with him.  When he is at work, he works, but when he comes home, he is here with us, without dividing his attention to emails that MUST be answered, conference calls that MUST be listened to, or rouge employees that MUST be dealt with immediately.

I no longer feel like I’m doing this “kid” business mostly alone.  Not only do I have my husband back, but I have my parents who always take such an active interest in the kids.  They now have three very cool aunties and an awesome uncle who love them and get involved with their lives on a regular basis.  They have cousins and second cousins who just want to be around them.  They have new friends from the Kingdom Hall who involve them in their games. Both the boys have blossomed under all this attention, and seem to be settling into their own finally.  And having happy and excited children makes my job as the ringleader of the circus SO much easier.

Sometimes all this change doesn’t seem completely real.  It really does feel like a dream we haven’t woken up from.  And every time I have to remind myself that this isn’t a long vacation, that we live here now, there is no airplane ride to go home, that we are home, well…

There aren’t too many times in life when you can really see just how blessed you are, but then again, sometimes it just slaps you in the face. 🙂

cousins dancing with mandy kids at park Logan and deer pap and ev

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The Last

We are moving in 3 days.

This huge project that we first started thinking about and planning for almost a year is thisclose to being over.  And man, have we been keeping busy.

For those who don’t know, I am about as close to a professional mover as one can get without buying a large truck and hiring some burly men to do the heavy lifting.  Since we have been married, we have moved 8 times.  On eight separate occasions I completely boxed up our “valuables”, threw away the crap, donated extra things we didn’t use, and organized it all into perfectly packed and labeled boxes.  I’ve spent way too much time trying to fit all said boxes and furniture into pick up trucks and U-haul’s, proving that the time spent playing Tetris when I was younger was not in vain, and that it did teach me valuable life skills.

When we got the word that Rob was being promoted to Managing Partner at Roy’s in Sarasota, we had two weeks notice…and I was 7 months pregnant with Evan.  That was the only move that ever really stressed me out, until I discovered that Roy’s was covering the cost for a moving company to pack and deliver all our items to our new house…I didn’t even need to lift a finger.  All I had to do was clean out our new empty house (which was not an easy job, but that is a story for another time) before the truck delivered our household items back to us.  Being so big and pregnant, unpacking all the professionally packed boxes was like nesting on crack…I had the whole house ready to go in less than a week!

For the sake of keeping this move as simple as possible, we decided to get rid of everything and make the journey with whatever meager possessions could fit in our car and the 4’x8′ trailer we will be towing.  It didn’t make sense to spend over $1,000 to rent a truck and bring all our stuff with us, when we barely spent that much to acquire all our furniture anyway (thanks Craigslist!)  Let alone how to figure out who would be driving what…one of us would drive a large box truck for two straight days while the other was stuck following the box truck with two unruly children?  I don’t think so!

So I started by listing some of our bigger items on Craigslist for sale, and loading up our garage with stuff for a monster yard sale.  Rob’s parents came up to take the kids off our hands, and I found myself with nothing to do and no children to watch for a few hours.  The yard sale was completely organized, the house was clean, the laundry was washed.  I decided to go for a walk up and down our street, lost in thought.  This was our area, the crazies and I.  All those days and evenings spent walking and biking up and down this street, and I trying really hard to get nostalgic.  After all, if I was going to have a mini- breakdown, this was the perfect opportunity…there’d be no witnesses!  So I strolled around, taking pictures of the little things we would see everyday.

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The flowers outside the abandoned house across the street.  Every single time we would go outside, Logan would ask to run over and would pick one or two for me.

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The fake alligator in a neighbors front yard that Evan would growl at, and rip out of the pot.  Again, every. single. time.

photo 3The beautiful (but stinky) flowers Evan would rip off of the bush, then squish between his fingers, much to my chagrin.  It would take hours for the smell to wear off.

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The little walking path/shortcut to get to Logan’s school.  This spot was my favorite part of taking him to and from school.

Even after such an enjoyable and peaceful little walk, I still got nothing…no mushy feelings, no longings, no sadness over leaving this beautiful place.  If anything, the quiet walk helped me to mentally organize all the little (and huge) things that still had to be done.

First thing… our mega yard sale!

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After a very long and HOT morning, we were able to sell almost everything…leaving just a small stack of leftovers to donate, and two more items to sell on Craigslist.  And, surprisingly, I did have a sad, nostalgic moment.  A very sweet young mother purchased Logans bike for her son, and asked if we, by chance, still had the training wheels.  After digging through the garage for a minute, I found them, tucked behind some paint cans, and I felt my breath catch.  This was Logan’s bike…the bike he was SO excited to get that he woke Rob up at the crack of dawn to help him assemble it.

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The bike that he first (and painstakingly) learned how to ride without training wheels.  The bike that carried him back and forth from school, through sun and rain.

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Proud boy on his first day riding his "big boy" bike.
Proud boy on his first day riding his “big boy” bike.

He had grown out of it, complaining that his knees would sometimes hit the handle bars, that his helmet was too tight.  We had been planning on buying him a bigger bike this summer anyway.

But still…

She thanked me repeatedly for finding the training wheels, and as I watched her walk away with the bike, his bike, I had to excuse myself and take a couple minutes inside to gain some compose.  Proof that I am, in fact, human.

The yard sale was so successful, that we have resorted to using a twin air mattress as both our sofa and dining room table.  Classy, I know.

We have been so busy that sticking 100% to our plant based whole food diet has not been 100% successful.  I’m trying really hard to prepare foods from extras in our pantry, since space is limited in the trailer, so the less food I have to pack, the better.  Plus, who really feels like messing up a kitchen to prepare something like a lentil “meat”loaf when whipping together a smoothie like this one is SO easy?  (and delicious!)

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This smoothie (and variations of it) have become at least one meal every day.  With a base of unsweetened almond milk, spinach, vegan protein powder and banana, you can add almost anything else to it and it is AH-mazing!  I’ve added coconut, peanut butter, chia seeds, strawberry, and mango.  Slim fast has nothing on me 🙂

Tomorrow is my last day of packing and prepping, Thursday we pick up the trailer, and I have an appointment to get my (completely overdue) hair done.  We then will go to our last meeting at Bee Ridge congregation.  Friday is Rob’s last day of work at Roy’s, and after he gets off of work, we will finish packing the last of our things into the trailer.  We wake up, (if we are able to sleep at all that night) and put the hopefully still sleeping crazies in the car, and we drive.

That’s it…it’s over.

Till…Pennsylvania 🙂

 

 

The tale of the $.47 jeans

I love Old Navy.  The bright, high industrial ceilings, the stacks and stacks of clothing entirely covering the walls to said high ceilings…I even love the slightly creepy but fashion forward mannequin family that greets you at the door.  And I didn’t forget about the fake dog stationed around the store, although I am confused as to why he is always wearing a hat or sunglasses…but I digress.

I had my first of many happy experiences at the Old Navy in the Poughkeepsie Galleria in New York.  Until I went to college, the closest I came to an Old Navy was through those annoying commercials, the jingle of which would get stuck in my head for the rest of the day (half-zip performance fleece!)  And even though I didn’t know who the fashionable old lady with the huge black glasses was, (the late fashionista, Carrie Donovan) I knew I’d be doing pretty good if I looked like her at that age.

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But I had never set foot in an Old Navy until my first full weekend living in New York.  I was homesick and bored, still too new at school to have made many friends, so going to the mall on a chilly November weekend sounded like the perfect activity.  Plus I had some money my parents gave me for such an occasion. (score!)  With mouth agape, I stumbled through the brightly lit goliath of a store until I found the clearance section.  And by section, I mean the back quarter of the store.  It was HUGE!

As I started looking through the racks and racks of markdown clothing, I was almost breathless with the deals.  Boot cut jeans for $6.97?  Oh, and a cute sheer pheasant top for only $3?  Why yes, I’ll take them both.  I left the store that day delirious with the deals I scored, large shopping bags brimming with shirts and pants, and even a pair of flip flops (they were only a dollar!) although I wouldn’t be able to wear them outside for months.  My trips to Old Navy became a bi-weekly experience, spending whatever left over money I had from my meager paycheck at a local coffee shop on the deals I could find.

After Rob and I got married, we would still frequent the clearance section at the Poughkeepsie Galleria Old Navy, making our nonexistent clothing budget stretch far.  But it was not meant to last…once we moved out of New York the buzz started to fade.  I still tried to recreate it, excitedly searching any Old Navy for the back portion of the store with the big red signs, only to be disappointed by the small selection and not-so-cheap prices.  I stopped looking forward to shopping, only visiting a store when I absolutely needed something specific.

It was with this attitude that I found myself entering an Old Navy shortly after we moved to FL, in September 2009.  I needed some new summer clothes desperately, particularly shorts.  South Florida is hot year round, but truly horrible in August and September, something that my 280+ pound frame was unfortunately discovering.  I previously had a “no shorts” policy, but desperate times called for desperate measures.  After sweating through three pairs of jeans every day, I started my first shorts shopping trip, determined to find a pair of shorts that would not only fit my size 22 butt, but not make me feel too self conscience to leave the house.

I made a beeline for the clearance section, but was soon disappointed (again) by the lack of any “real” deals.  If I was a size 10, I’d have been in luck, but could not find a stitch of clothing that could reasonably fit me.  It was then that I stumbled on them…a pair of size 16 light washed jeans.  I found the tag, and did a triple take…

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Wha?  That had to be a typo.  I took the jeans to the checkout line, determined to show them their mistake, upon which they would thank me repeatedly for my amazing observation.  But after a quick scan, both the associate and I were blown away…these jeans were in fact, only $.47.  And yes, I’d like to buy them.  Two quarters later, I left that Old Navy with a bounce in my step, and way too tight (but CHEAP!) jeans in my bag.

I came home, excited to show Rob my amazing steal, and while he was impressed with the price tag, he was a little amused that I could get THIS excited over a pair of jeans that had no way of fitting me.

So begins the tale of the $.47 jeans.  No matter what happened in our lives, where we moved, the weight I lost (and gained back) those jeans came with me.  They survived many purges in our closet, at least three yard sales, and 5 moves.  They were always with my small pile of goal clothes, to be put on whenever I stumbled across them.  When I first bought them, I couldn’t even get the pant leg over my calf.  As I lost weight, they slowly started to come up further…first to my knee, then to my mid-thigh, back to the knee as I gained some of the weight back.  When I lost enough weight to fit into size 16 jeans, they were the first ones I tried on.  Of course, they didn’t fit, and I became convinced that I now knew why they were so cheap…they had to be the wrong size.  But still, I kept the jeans.  They were in the back of my closet, but I always knew they were there.

Three months ago, I was having a particularly bad day.  I don’t remember why, just that I needed to throw things away in a angry girl, listening to angry girl music, moment.  I found the jeans, tried one last time to put them on, and rolled them up into a ball when the zipper wasn’t even close to closing.  It was time.  They got angrily tossed into a trash bag, along with some other fat clothes I was sick of looking at.  “Let someone else be excited about these stupid jeans!”

And still, I went back for them.  (I really am a sucker for a good deal)

Once the weight started coming off for good through juicing, exercising, and eating only real food, I kept trying on the jeans, knowing that one day, soon, they just HAD to fit.  Even when all my size 16 pants were too big and falling off my newly discovered hipbones, the 47 cent jeans were still too tight to comfortably wear.

And finally, yesterday, I tried them on, and this happened…

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Almost five years later, countless miles traveled, 89 pounds lost, and the stinkin jeans fit!  And they fit well, mind you.  If someone competent was here to take a picture of the jeans (instead of my poor attempt at a lower half selfie, holding onto the tablet with one hand while trying to keep nosy little Evan out of the picture with the other hand) I would venture to say that they make my butt look quite…lovely.

I know that I just spent almost 1200 words telling you this tale about a pair of pants, but I feel like there is a moral to this story.  These pants were like a little cheerleader in my closet, quietly urging me to make the changes I needed to get healthy.  They are proof that I always knew I could lose the weight, and even though I tried a couple of times to give up on ever fitting in them, (just like the few times I gave up on being happy with myself) there was always something that made me go back, to take them out of the trash bag, to save them for when it might happen.  They are a reminder that goals, no matter how far fetched they might seem at the time or how silly they sound to you, are completely attainable…as long as you never stop trying.

The ironic thing is, it’s still too hot outside to wear jeans, so back on the shelf (and into the moving box) they will go.  Hopefully the next time I get them out again, they won’t fit because they’ll be too big.

Till next time…

My happy place

The mini juice fast went really well!  My tastes in food seem to have returned back to the healthy and raw variety, and my stress levels went down.  As long as you keep the Cheez Its away from me, I’m completely able to keep on track.  I made the mistake of buying a box for the boys the other day, and only three days later, they are completely gone. Don’t quite know what it is about those 1 inch squares of baked cheese delight, but I now realize that they are my own version of kryptonite…a guaranteed healthy eating destroyer.

Something else amazing has happened during this week.  People of the internets…I’ve made it to One-derland!  That happy, stress free place where everyone is dressed in skinny pants and tube tops.  Ah…not really.  Seeing the number one in front of my weight is cool (nay, VERY cool) I really don’t feel any different than I did four pounds ago.  Just the fact that the scale is (almost) consistently on it’s way down is enough for me to be happy with my progress so far.

Rob is doing fantastically.   It seems like every other day he is happily surprised over a previously tight article of clothing now being too big on him.  And he is solidly back into his wedding suit size, which was his goal before going on job interviews this week in Pennsylvania.

For anyone who knows me…I’m a planner.  I love setting deadlines, making lists and the feeling of accomplishment that comes from completing tasks.  But I’m having a hard time NOT being in control of our move to PA.  It seems like everything rests on Rob finding a job, and while I know that he won’t have an issue getting decent employment, it is making me a little bit crazy that there is nothing else I can do.  And it’s the not knowing that is making me a little out of breath.  I know that we are moving, but I don’t know WHEN.  I know that we are literally selling all of our furniture, eliminating almost everything that we have worked so hard the past 5 years to acquire.  I know that we are uprooting our kids again (hopefully for the last time) and going to have to register Logan at a new school where we are going to need a proof of address for an address we don’t have yet.  The orderly little part of my brain NEEDS to know when all this madness is going to begin so I can make my lists and prioritize what is important, but I have to wait just a little bit longer.

With all the unknown in our future, I needed a break.  I needed to go to the beach, and not the tourist trap that Siesta Beach has become, but I needed to go to MY beach, my own little zen spot.  Naples…

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My happy place…Naples Beach.  The smooth, but not perfect sand.  The calm waves that lap at your toes, letting you walk for 100 yards before the water is deep enough to reach your chest.  Being able to pick up a foot long Lightning Whelk and play with the creature inside.  The excitement of shell mounds, sitting down and sifting through the treasures that the ocean left behind.  I have bowls of shells throughout my house that I refuse to get rid of, because every shell for me is a memory of who I was with and what we were doing when I found that shell.  And almost everyone of those shells came  from this beach.

And the sunsets…

From Naples Pier
From Naples Pier

Watching Rob and Logan spend quality time while I searched for seashells…

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Those are all memories that I  will never forget, and I know this place will always hold a special piece of my mind and heart.

After our much needed visit to the beach and sleep-over with friends, I had a new perspective on our situation.  I know that things will work out for us, that the pieces will fall into just the place we need them to be.  I know this because our goal is an honorable one;  to make our family stronger and more spiritual and to raise our sons around their amazing extended family.  I’m looking forward to building new memories with them of being able to run around and get dirty in the summer, going for day long hikes in the fall to see the colors of the leaves changing, and knowing the joys of hot cocoa and a warm house after playing in the freezing snow all afternoon.

I don’t need to worry or stress…the rest will come.

Till next time…

Day Three

I woke up feeling much better this morning.  Writing down what all is stressing me out has helped to both give a voice to my concerns, and show that most of them, while valid, are not realistic.  I’m using some of my pent up anxiety to get ready what I can, such as cleaning out the freezer (a much bigger job than one would expect!) and today I’m going to (attempt) to clean the oven, which looks like a food bomb went off inside and is now permanently baked on.  The boys rooms have been cleaned out and organized, and the overabundance of toys is relatively contained, along with starting piles of extra things for a yard sale and for donation.

There is nothing that a good purge can’t solve. 🙂

Plus today is day three of our mini juice fast, and day threes always rock.  Thank you little micronutrients for helping to clear up my head cold and giving me a boost of energy!

Breakfast and dessert juice today are scrumtrulecent.  And yes, I know that is not a real word, but it should be, because it accurately describes the delight that is this juice.

1 cantaloupe, peeled and seeded

1 1/2 pounds carrots

1 pint strawberries

two big handfuls of fresh mint

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I prepped all the ingredients while Rob was at the gym, then took Logan to school while Rob juiced it all up for us.  He forgot to get a complete before picture, and snapped this shot after juicing the strawberries and cantaloupe.  Ah well, still looks pretty!

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It’s a little hard to see, but the juice came out an almost rust orange color.  And the combo of cantaloupe and mint was such a refreshing surprise.  This juice would be perfect over ice, garnished with one of those paper umbrellas, sipped while basking poolside on a hot day.

I went outside to mow the rain forest jungle that our lawn had become (thank you torrential rains) and came in to Rob prepping our green juice for the day.  I had to take a quick shower, and by the time I came out, he was completely done, juice bottled up, and had started cleaning up after himself.  (Apparently he has the day three buzz too!)

He proudly showed me the pictures he took:

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And yes, he named his own juice.  In honor of Rob’s hard work, I present:

A Bounteous Delight Juice (serves 6)

two big bunches of spinach

1/2 head green cabbage

1 small pineapple

two sweet potatoes

three cucumbers

1/4 watermelon

10 stalks of celery

Not only was I impressed by his sudden urge to clean up after himself, but this juice is delicious.  I’m not a huge fan of cabbage juice, but it doesn’t taste like cabbage at all; just a slightly sweet and creamy juice that fills you up.

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Well, I’ve been procrastinating long enough…time to go tackle the oven!

Till next time!

Last Visits and a Final Fast

My husband is leaving me in eight days.  Not leaving me for real…just for a week to fly to Pennsylvania to look for a job.  It is a happy trip, because it means that our goal of moving up there is getting closer and closer, but after planning it for a year, we are only eight days away and I would be lying if I said I wasn’t freaking out a little…just a smidge.

It’s part being uncertain about our future and part stressed about being alone with the crazies for a whole week.  Logically, I know the things that are stressing me out are unrealistic fears.  The fear that Rob won’t be able to get a job (after looking in the past two days, Rob found over 40 jobs he is more than qualified for) the fear of not finding a place to rent (many acceptable places on Craigslist, plus we are not picky people) the fear of running out of money (been saving for a year for this) or Rob settling for a crappy job that he hates (we are moving to be closer to family so that his time OFF of work is more enjoyable.)  I know that everything will work out, but the fact that all the uncertainty is coming to a head in only EIGHT days…well, I’ve been a little wound up.

We had to make one last trip to Fort Lauderdale to visit family before making the big move, so we packed up the kids on Wednesday morning and drove through Alligator Alley to say our goodbyes.  We spent Wednesday night with Rob’s big sister, Brandi, and her daughter and husband, Taylor and Bill.  They recently bought a beautiful piece of land in Parkland FL, which Brandi has been busy renovating into a small horse ranch.  The boys were able to get up close and personal with horses, a large bearded dragon named Dazzle who was extremely long suffering (Evan kept trying to literally eat him), and their 11 month old mastiff “puppy” Bear.

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It was a perfect evening spent outside on a gorgeous night.  The type of night that I look forward to having more of once we move to PA.

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With the assistance of his cousin, Logan even climbed up a huge banyan tree.  He is a very cautious little boy, but also very determined, and I really got a kick out of watching him figure out how to climb higher on the tree.

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The next day we had a lazy morning hanging out with Grandma Nancy, lunch at the Rainforest Cafe, followed by a quick visit to see my best friend before beginning the long drive home.  We stopped off in Naples, (about halfway home) to say hi to some friends and grab dinner at Roy’s.  Rob used to be the hospitality manager there, and wanted to tell his old manager face to face that he was leaving the company.

Before starting to eat dinner,I started to feel really sick to my stomach.  I skipped a lot of the food at Roy’s (since I could tell something bad was getting ready to happen) and drove home hoping to make it without any issues. I’ll spare you the gory details, just know that there was SOME type of food illness going on, and my body decided that the best way to deal with it was a full scale evacuation of all contents of my stomach, as quickly and violently as possible.  It took an entire 24 hours for everything to calm down long enough to let me resume walking longer than 5 minutes at a time, and I was completely spent.

Between the head cold/sinus infection and food poisoning I hadn’t been to the gym in over a week, and was trying to eat the plainest foods possible.  When Rob suggested that we do a final mini juice fast before moving, I wholeheartedly agreed.

Yesterday we started with a beet juice combination that was out of this world delicious.

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2 beets (peeled)

1 1/2 pounds carrots

2 grapefruit

2 apples

huge handful of fresh mint

SO STINKIN GOOD!  Even Evan got in on this action, yelling at me until I filled his sippy cup with the gorgeous red juice, the little mooch.

I can’t tell you exactly what was in our green juice.  I lent my “Reboot with Joe” book out to a friend, and haven’t gotten it back yet, so Rob has been improvising our juices, with very good results.  Yesterday’s green juice was a combination of kale, apples, lemon, lime, celery, cucumber, fennel and watermelon.

Today I was wanting some orange juice, so our breakfast (and dessert) juice is:

3 oranges

1 pound carrots

3 inches ginger

2 apples

hunk of watermelon

Nom, nom, the ginger made this juice have a little of a kick and was a great, and spicy way to start our day.

Our green juice is another creation of Robs…very similar to the one he made yesterday, except without limes.

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I’m hoping the juice will help to calm down my slightly tattered nerves, and put a more peaceful and calm perspective on the next few weeks.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m still CRAZY excited about all the changes happening this month.  Just have to remember to take one day at a time, and that it will all work out…right?

Till next time!

Movin’ on Up!

As much as I call them “crazies” (and they truly are) I have the best two boys.  They are such little balls of energy and spunk, but they also are amazingly sweet lil creatures.  They both love to snuggle and give hugs and kisses, often without even having to ask.  I am one fortunate mama…except all those hugs and kisses have led to me developing a wicked head cold/sinus infection.  I can usually skip getting whatever disease they bring home and pride myself on my awesome immune system.  When Logan started sneezing 10 days ago, I just tried to wash my hands more often.  Even when Evan started having a drippy nose about a week ago, I still wasn’t too worried.  And now they both are almost completely over their cold, and I wake up with sore sinus’s, a dry cough and a nasty headache.  I’ll try not to complain too much, since I know that I inherited those funky germs through a particularly wet and sloppy kiss from the smallest one, but now I know why I haven’t been feeling that great lately.

So, the mini juice “fast” isn’t going completely according to plan.  My heart is really not in it…I’m just trying to keep from sneezing on the vegetables while I prep them for juicing.  The sinus headache has finally gone away, but I’m still tired and spacey almost all day long, especially first thing in the morning.  I am juicing, about 4 times a day, but have a small snack once or twice.  Today my snack was about 1 cup of watermelon and a dill pickle, and later I’ll have a rice cake with a bit of peanut butter.  Today is day 3 of both the fast and of the head cold, and I think another day or two and I’ll be back to 100%.  The plan is to continue juicing over the next few days, while eating small and uber healthy meals.

Not only have I started a new business (Origami Owl) but we are also preparing for a huge life change.  We are moving back to Pennsylvania!  Well, I guess it is not completely official since Rob doesn’t have a job up there yet, (he is flying up in two weeks to look for one) but this is something that we have been thinking about and planning for almost a year, and I am so excited that the time is almost here!

I can’t wait to be around my family again.  I come from a very supportive and close family, where we all used to get together on the weekends and just spend time with each other.  From watching movies on my dad’s huge TV in the basement, serious Scrabble games that go on for so long that we start to get loopy, to playing slightly aggressive volleyball until we can no longer see at night, my family is pretty cool.  Add to that a huge extended family (over 40 first cousins) aunts and uncles who are crazy fun and loving, and a niece and two nephews who don’t really know who their Aunt Andrea is.

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We kind of have a history of making these big changes almost spur of the moment.  We bought our house in PA after only looking at one house, chose to sell and pack up all our belongings for a new start in Florida one evening, moved into the first apartment we saw in Fort Lauderdale, and again in Jupiter.  We tried to slow down our pace when we moved to Naples for Rob’s work, seeing four different apartments before making our decision…on the same day.  When Rob go the promotion in Sarasota, we packed up everything and moved with less than two weeks notice…while I was 7 months pregnant with Evan.  We didn’t have time to look for a place, and took over the rent on the house the old manager was living in.  Our history proves that we make up our mind quickly, and are just as quick to act on that decision.

The past year has been almost torture, keeping this exciting news from friends and family, but we really wanted to take our time making this huge decision.  After all, Rob has a great job down here…as close to financial security as one can get.  And some people might think we are crazy for giving that up, but our family is more important to us.  The family members closest to us live three hours away, and are often busy with their own issues.  Our everyday life consists of the boys and I, trying to pass the time…just the three of us.  I try to make arrangements with other moms and their kids, but often don’t get replies, so it is again…just the three of us.  I see pictures of my nephews and niece, playing with their cousins or with my mom and dad and I think “That should be my kids.”

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I grew up surrounded by my cousins, spending summers running around with them, tenting in the backyard, going sledding and having bonfires during winter break.  A lot of the best memories I have as a kid involve spending time with my extended family, and I feel like I would be doing a disservice to my children if I didn’t give them the opportunity to make their own memories.

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There is the saying that “It takes a village to raise a child” and I’m a firm believer in that.  Right now, my children’s village is me, and if his schedule allows, Rob.  Working in a restaurant doesn’t allow Rob to have many evenings off with his family, and the kids are usually asleep by the time he gets home from work in the evenings.  His goal in moving to Pennsylvania is to hopefully find a job with better hours that will allow him to be home in the evenings and weekends.

So that’s our plan!  Rob goes up on the 29th for a week to hopefully find a job, and depending on when he has to start, we will be going up there.  A perk of planning something so far out is we have had a year to save up a little extra money and a year to downsize our life so a move will be easier.  That being said, a lot has to get done in the next 5 weeks, a yard sale, selling almost everything we have, and tying up a lot of loose ends.  It’s going to be a lot of work, but I can’t wait!

RE9A1634Till next time!

 

Day One (yup…again!)

I’ve been feeling different.  Not my usual peppy, energetic self.  Not that I woke up one morning and felt down and out, just a gradual slip away from the post juicing high that I was used to.  It doesn’t help that the past week has been really busy, not leaving much time for relaxing, or even cooking.

But this type of busy has been good.  My best friend payed a much overdue visit.  She is from Fort Lauderdale, which is about 3 hours away from us.  Our distance and opposite schedules make it hard to us to get together, so I was really excited.  It had been a long time since I had hung out with someone else who just “gets” me (other than Rob, of course!)  I think everyone needs at least one true friend, who tells you like it is and accepts you completely… messy house, greasy hair and all.  Someone who will tell you when you are being stupid or selfish, and you know it is only coming from love.  We had a great time talking, catching up, playing with all our kids (she has an adorable little girl almost two years old) and planning for the jewelry party for the next day.  She is a designer with Origami Owl, something I had been interested in for some time, so it was a good opportunity to watch how she works and figure out if I wanted to do the same thing.  The jewelry party went well, very well.  So well that I decided to sign up to be a designer with them too!

Then came the best part of her trip…going out for a girls night dinner, just the two of us.  We got dolled up, filled the babysitter in on what to do with the kids, and went over to Roy’s for an amazing dinner.  We had sushi and various appetizers, tried different fish, enjoyed a Hawaiian martini (or two:) and the chef kept sending me yummy vegetarian treats!  (Perks of being married to the general manager!)  All in all, her visit was fantastic and over WAY too soon, and left me feeling happy and full.  Happy from all the friendship, love and fun, but full from all the extra food!  I snacked on some strawberry brushetta on french baguettes, had a vegetable spring roll at Roy’s, and had a couple glasses of wine and one cocktail.  It doesn’t seem like a lot, but since I’ve only been eating really well, the gluten and alcohol made me bloated and sluggish…a feeling I haven’t been able to shake since.

So it was time to do a little juice fast,and after talking to Rob about it, we agreed to do a small one, just 3-5 days to reset my tastes away from sugar and get rid of the bloating.  Today was day one, and to say that I’m not too thrilled about fasting again is a small understatement.  I know it will be good for me, is ultimately what I need right now, yada yada yada, but this morning, juicing was the last thing I wanted to do.  I grumpily prepped and made our juices while longingly looking at the big bowl of oatmeal in the fridge which seemed to be calling to me.

I knew I wanted some orange juice this morning, since I might (hopefully not) be getting a head cold, (Thank you, my germy little crazies!) Another good reason to do a small juice fast!

Carrot and Orange (4 servings)

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4 oranges, rind cut off

1 pound carrots

1 inch fresh ginger root

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Simple, but perfect for this morning.  I needed this little big of sunshine to improve the foul mood I woke up in…and it did (a little)

Rob helped to prepare for our big green juice of the day.

Mean Green (6 servings)

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20 stalks of celery

5 cucumbers

3 lemons

3 bunches of kale

2 inches of ginger

6 apples

This juice is always tasty, and a perfect way to ease back into juicing after a long absence.

I’m a bit of a brat today, but I guess it is good that I can admit to that, right?  I’m sure I’ll feel more positive about juicing tomorrow.  For now, I’m just going to fake it until I make it, and try to focus on the great benefits of juicing.  The clarity, the weight loss, the holiday from cooking, a cleaner kitchen, and the energy…ah the energy!

Looking at this next month, I’m going to need all the energy I can get.  There is a lot to do, plans to make and people to see.  Remember how I posted about a week ago that there were big changes soon to happen?  Well…I’ll spill the beans tomorrow about our plans.

Till tomorrow!

Summer Rolls

If there was one thing during my 30 day juice fast that would have ruined all my fasting plans and decimated all the self control I was working so hard on building, it would have been watching someone else eat a summer roll.  I know I wouldn’t have been able to hold back from snatching some for myself.

I’m not quite sure how or where my love affair with these tasty and fresh Vietnamese rolls began.  There is just something amazing about stuffing fresh, crunchy and unique flavors in a chewy, flexible and see through wrapper.  And the sauce…oh baby, especially the peanut sauce…

This past Sunday, Rob and I were tired and not wanting to do all the prep and spend all the time cooking a hot meal.  It was Rob’s genius idea that we should finally make our own.  I found the peanut sauce recipe I was looking for, and whipped up a double batch for dipping.

Fresh peanut and lime sauce

1 clove of garlic

1/4 cup peanut butter

2 T fresh lime juice

2 T low sodium tamari (or soy sauce)

2 T water

2.5 tsp pure maple syrup (or other liquid sweetener)

1/2 T sesame oil

1 tsp grated ginger

Puree all ingredients together in a food processor and get ready to enjoy!

Now for the fun part!  Make sure to prep all your ingredients and have them ready to go, once you start rolling, you won’t want to stop!

Julienne carrots, cucumber, green onions, and thinly slice avocado and tofu (optional)  Thinly shred romaine lettuce.  Pick, wash and trim 1/4 cup of basil and cilantro.  Feel free to add bean or alfalfa sprouts to suit your tastes.  I personally like the texture of bean sprouts better.  Now that your vegetables are prepped and ready to roll, time to get the rice paper ready to roll as well.

Rice paper can be purchased from most specialty and oriental grocery stores.

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Put some water on the stove and heat it up, almost to a boil.  I used a large stockpot (the only pot I could find right away)  Rice paper can be tricky, since you want to get it hydrated enough to make it chewy, but have to be careful not to cook it too long which will make it fall apart when you try to roll.  Once your water is ready, put a sheet of rice paper in, count to 5, then pull out carefully with tongs.  Gently stretch and even out the now translucent and soft paper, and place on cutting board.

Fill with the yummy vegetables, using slightly less than a handful of total ingredients.

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Carefully roll the bottom of the rice paper over your veggies, fold in the sides, then roll over the rest of the way.

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A delicious little chewy pocket bursting with different flavors and textures.  Oh mama-mia…

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Traditional summer rolls often have bean thread or thin rice noodles rolled into the pocket, as well as different meats and shrimp.  There is also a variation of a dipping sauce made from rice vinegar, lime juice, chilies, and fish sauce.  But for us, stuffing ours full with healthy veggies and paired with peanut sauce made the perfect and light supper.  Ah, the love affair continues!

Veggie Love

Our conversations about food used to go a lot like this…

Rob – (looking in the fridge) “I don’t think we have anything to make for dinner, we should make a list for the grocery store.”

Me – “Well, some steak sounds good, do we have potatoes in the pantry?”

Rob – “Yes, we do!  I’ll make some mashed potatoes if you run to the store?”

Me – “Sounds good”

I would go to the back of the grocery store, where there are cases of different cuts of steaks and choose something that looked good, perhaps a sirloin.  I would come home to a hot grill and put on the steaks while Rob finished up our potatoes, and our whole family would sit down for dinner.  We would eat until our stomachs hurt and our pants were too tight, then laze around on the couch for the rest of the night.  In my mind, that used to be the perfect evening with my family, along with the perfect dinner.

Now I realize how much we were missing out on.  I’m not talking about missed opportunities for family bonding over a board game or interesting conversations with the crazies because of time that we wasted, but physically, there was something that used to be missing from almost all of our dinners, and lunches, and even breakfasts.

Where’s the vegetables?

So often relegated to being a neglected side dish, we never made a habit of planning a balanced and healthy vegetable to go with our meals.  Most times it would cross my mind that there wasn’t any real produce on my plate right around the time it was ready to eat, so I would quickly look for a head of lettuce to chop up for a quick side salad, or even a can of green beans to quickly nuke in the microwave.  Being such a food nerd, I knew better than to consistently neglect the most important food group, but I still did.  I would think to myself, “Well, I have the protein which I need to be strong, and the starch will help to fill me up…I’ll just eat a salad tomorrow.”  But I rarely would.

I grew up knowing that vegetables were “good” for you… being taught that I wouldn’t be allowed to have any dessert until at least the vegetables on my plate were finished.  I went to culinary school, where one of my favorite classes was “Introduction to Gastronomy.”  Basically an introduction to every type of plant based food there is.  I was amazed by all the different flavors and colors of the produce we were learning about.  Every day there were tables of new exotic fruits and veggies we would look at and sample, and still we were barely able to put a dent in the millions more out there.  But I still felt that vegetables were something that you HAD to eat, even if you were forcing yourself to do so.

I’m not the only one who feels this way.  Think about the last time you were out to eat…more than likely you based your decision on what animal protein you wanted to eat first, then choose a side like fries or potatoes or rice.  Only when prompted by the server for a side salad or that your meal includes another side do you give any thought to what else you should get.  What about the last time you went to a large potluck gathering, maybe a family reunion or graduation party.  If you take a look at the table of food, it is always the baked mac and cheese or potato salad that are front and center and are finished first, while the veggie trays and chopped salad are left at the end of the table…just as full as when your well meaning Aunt first brought them.

Well, I feel like vegetables have been neglected for long enough, especially in my mind. One of the most enjoyable parts of this experience has been getting to know and appreciate vegetables for all that they do and how naturally delicious they are.  There is something amazingly gratifying about eating a plate of food that is colorful, vibrant and alive, and as soon as it goes into your body, you can feel the goodness going in.  I think that is one of the reasons why juicing is SO addictive once you get started.  All the micronutrients from the fruits and vegetables are absorbed into your body within 15 minutes of drinking them.  They go to work repairing and cleaning your cells, making them stronger and giving you more energy and stamina…in just 15 minutes!  

Vegetables are the perfect food for our bodies, especially if, like me, you are trying to lose weight.  Think about it like this…100 calories of vegetables, especially of the dark green leafy variety do a lot more to fill you up and quench those hunger cravings than 100 calories of fried chicken do.  Would you rather eat and enjoy a plate heaping over with 3 cups of spinach, 10 baby carrots, a green bell pepper, garlic, 1/4 an onion and 10 cherry tomatoes or…one chicken wing.  Both have approximately 100 calories, but what do you think would be more effective at satisfying your hunger?

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Spinach, baby greens, and arugula salad with chickpeas, cucumber, tomato and red onion.

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White miso dressing with orange, ginger and garlic for…

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Enriched noodle bowl.  Gluten free pasta with edamame, spring onions, carrots, cucumber, red bell pepper, cilantro and sesame seeds, tossed with the miso dressing.

I’m absolutely in love with the vegetable based dishes we have been making.  They are visually so stunning and beautiful that you feel good just looking at your food…let alone eating it.

Till next time…