I Didn’t Pull Out My Eyelashes

There was an incident on Friday night. I suppose this is why they say not to look at your electronics right before bed because you end up staying up later than you should, which makes your eyes sleepy and itchy and when you go to rub them, something comes off that looks a lot like your eyelashes. 

I flew out of bed to verify that I indeed still had my eyelashes intact. To make doubly sure, I applied mascara to make sure that the lashes extended and were as full as usual. Crisis diverted.

Friday morning started with quite a workout! With muscles no longer so sore, I went through a dumbbell circuit that involved lots of heavy weights. I hopped on the treadmill for five minutes of sprinting, which by the way, sucks less when you are running off the treadmill and going freestyle, but sometimes you have to make do, then I went through an intense, tiring Plyometrics workout. I almost talked myself out of burpees, but I sucked it up and got through it. Ending with five minutes of jump roping makes things burn, but I left feeling so powerful!

Since Friday traffic is lessened, I had time to whip up these pancakes from a mix I bought at Stonewall Kitchen- toasted coconut. They were a little flatter than my homemade recuperating, but still delicious! I topped them with some peanut butter and jelly and enjoyed a bowl of strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries that were so juicy.

  
For lunch, I ate another stir fry. I ran out of my Thai peanut sauce and only had a little to spare for the dish, so I drizzled some chili sauce for a kick of flavor. Divine!

  
I wanted a soup and sandwich for dinner on Thursday, but they ended up giving me a full sandwich so I really only had a bite of soup. It was a ham and cheddar with mixed greens on a baguette with honey mustard. Not too shabby. For soup, I had a tomato based broth with corn.

On Saturday, I expected a relaxing and refreshing day, which started out with these peanut butter pancakes that made my heart and tummy happy.

  
Turns out, springtime cleaning had another idea in mind for my Saturday afternoon. I spent most of the day raking up dead grass, which is great exercise. I still had a run on tap afterwards and it was amazing to be outside in the sun to rack up 3.1 miles. I added another 2 of walking since it was so nice out. When I got back, I went through a half hour Yoga sequence that was the cherry on top of another great week of exercise!

After my day of labor, I sat down to enjoy my leftover soup with a fresh roll and some veggie sticks.

  
I was very excited to make a stop in Barnes and Noble after dinner last night because it’s one of my favorite places. I really like to walk around and browse, but I did end up purchasing a new journal, JK Rowling’s illustrated version of her Harvard Commencement speech from 2008, and  the Bell Jar, which I’ve been wanting to reread.
Sunday morning, I woke up feeling only slightly hungry, a rarity, so I toasted an English muffin and smeared peanut butter on top. I also had a small bowl of raisin bran with chopped banana, so I guess I was hungrier than I claimed.

Now lunch was something I was quite proud of. I ended up taking my Parmesan zucchini recipe and applying it to tilapia. Parmesan cheese, red pepper flakes, oregano, thyme, garlic powder, and basil all mixed together. Drizzle the fish with a little olive oil and coat it with the Parmesan mix. With the oven at 400, cook for 12 minutes. In the future, I think I will try broiling it for a minute or two longer just to make it a bit crispier. So good! On the side, I made myself a shaved brussel sprout salad that included shaved carrots, chopped peppers, craisins, and pistachios mixed in the rose blush dressing I adore. An original Caitlin gourmet dish that made enough for lunch the next day! One might claim restaurant worthy.

  
Sundays, as I like them, are often spent cleaning and prepping meals for the week. Not only do I enjoy taking the time to create healthy, fresh, quality meals, but it also allows me time during the busy week to do other things that I enjoy. The fish and brussel sprout salad was one meal and I spent good time chopping up more veggies and readying dishes you will be drooling over throughout the week. Laundry was folded, my room was cleaned, then I sat down to put in a good amount of time writing. Diligence!

For dinner, I had a craving for hot dogs which was stimulated by my afternoon walk. All around me, people were at their grilles for a good old barbecue and I knew I needed to get on that as well. I paired the dogs with some veggie sticks and tempura broccoli which was a fun change. 

Enjoy the week!

An Appointment with the Hair Doctor, Ham Solo, and Birthday Wishes

You know those great moments in the middle of the night when you wake up and have to pee? You glance at your clock and you still have a few more hours rest, so you snuggle under the covers and full back to sleep blissful and cozy.

Yeah, that happened to me this morning and it was 4:58. Technically I still had 17 minutes of rest, but that flew by and I was a miserable lump. And I couldn’t hold it in until then so knock off another three minutes. Whiny, I know.

Once at the gym, I built up more motivation. First up was a body strength workout using some stretch bands and a medicine ball. I did squats, lunges, kneeling kickbacks, push-ups, hip lifts, Russian twists- or as I prefer to call them, rushin’ twists because they hurt so good- mermaid raises, v ups, and sit ups. I finished with some planks, a couple that were elevated. By the time I hopped into the pool, my abs were burning. Today was sprint day in the pool. By the time I was done and out of the pool, I was still catching my breath. The key to sprints in the pool is continuous and fast kicking followed by long, quick strokes to get into a groove. Wooo-eeeeeee.

Breakfast was a stovetop oatmeal that came together quite quickly. I did my usual stovetop oats with some white chocolate peanut butter and raspberry peach jam mixed in. Strawberries and blueberries joined the concoction. 

 

Stir frys are so simple, healthy, and delicious. I’m liking the buckwheat noodles for something a little different and heartier. I paired them with a combination of chicken and chickpeas, veggies, sesame oil, and Thai peanut sauce. A bag of popcorn came on the side.

 

  

After work, I had a hair appointment scheduled, but I accidentally said I had to go to the hair doctor, which is just funny. The dead ends needed to be chopped badly and after it finished, I felt so refreshed!

 

 I was on my own for dinner and had a hankering for pizza. Some slices and a great big salad popped into my mind and wouldn’t waver! I ordered a small so I could take the same for lunch. Delightful!

  

I feel obsessed with weather lately, but HELLO!? It’s been crazy nice out lately and we have had such a long, cold, butter, snowy winter. A little sun and warmth- and appreciation for it- won’t hurt you!

Also, I need to mention the new Star Wars trailer because HAN SOLO! (Autocorrect tried to make it say Ham Solo, which is just funny). I can’t wait to see Leia in it too, specifically with Han. Don’t even get me started if they aren’t happily married. Stay on my good side, Abrams.

Finally, a very Happy HAPPY birthday to one of my oldest and dearest friends, Molly! Have a great day, brotha! (Yes, that was a Lost reference).

The Power of Representation and a Sunshiney Day

Growing up, it took me far too long to realize that women were allowed to be president, it just hadn’t happened yet. I thought it was like being a priest where only men took the stand. There is power in representation.

My first election that I could vote in was the 2008 primaries. I didn’t know much going in and I hadn’t decided who I was going to vote for. Ideally, I try not to vote for the party so much as the candidate, but since there are no blurred lines in national politics, I lean left in many ways. My friend Bobby, who remains to this day one of the people whose opinion I respect most, told me more about Hillary Clinton. I had obviously heard about her before this, but my family wasn’t big in talking about politics, so I didn’t know whether I was going to go with her or President Obama. I liked the idea of a female president, but is also respected Hillary’s ideals and the confidence she exuded in a male dominated field. 

People may claim that she has a tendency to flip-flop based on the time’s, but so do all politics. A good politician- not necessarily leader- knows how to sway their beliefs to match that of their audience. From what I’ve seen, on a national scale, Republicans are all republican and Democrats are all democrat, but it changes when things get to a smaller scale- Massachusetts Republican candidates being more central or left leaning when running here and altering their beliefs when running for president, for example.

I still don’t know a ton about politics, but I do know that there needs to be more common ground between Democrats and Republicans if we want anything of merit to succeed. That is besides the point at this moment because what I really want to do with this post is explain why I think it’s time for Hillary  Clinton to be president.

Yes, it’s important that she is a woman. But it’s also important that she’s the right woman for the position. In the 2008 election, we had the opportunity to vote for the first female Vice President. The idea itself is tempting because I want to support female candidates, but it shouldn’t just be done for the sake of the accolade. That candidate was not someone I wanted running this country by any determination. To be honest, I think much of her reputation was based on how her campaign manager wanted her to appear rather than who she actually was (I could be giving her too much credit), more feminine and light-hearted than a Hillary  Clinton-type, and it came off foolishly.

There is a lot of power in claiming a female president, but as we learned with Barack Obama being the first African American President, we know that this notion does not stop prejudice or inequality. It is a step, a pretty major one, and my hope is that one day I will be able to tell my children and grandchildren that I saw- and voted for- the first African American President and first female president and more- be elected and for them to think that it’s not that big of a deal.

It’s important that Hillary Clinton is running for president. It’s important that Hiklary  Clinton is a woman. It’s important that she’s the right candidate.

Anyways, enough politics. This morning was difficult to get myself up. It was one of the first times where I almost convinced myself to switch my alarm clock and go for the extra two hours sleep. I talked myself out of the bed, however, and got myself to the gym to kick off my workout with a strength routine. Kettlebells got things started with swings, alternating shoulder to knee presses, high pulls, kick backs, and shoulder raises. I performed each move in a circuit 3×12. I did a few planks and then moved into the bigger strength room to do some barbell lifting. I did bench presses, dead lifts, squat presses, bicep curls, and front rows in 5×8. As I was working, I kept glancing longingly outside and had the brilliant idea to head home and get my run in outside. Marvelous idea! I enjoyed a 2.5 mile run/walk in the sunshine and warmth.

Breakfast was this leftover blueberry pancake with a tablespoon of dark chocolate peanut butter and a new jelly, raspberry peach- SO good and only 30 calories! I had blackberries, raspberries, and strawberries to go along with it.

 

My lunch was a mediocre salad that was fine, but nothing special. I didn’t have time to concoct my usual delight of fresh, vibrant veggies as we hadn’t made it to the grocery store after the weekend away. I used bagged lettuce with other veggies and topped it with some shredded chicken. I had a bag of popcorn and a pear to pair with it.

Dinner was a tasty Italian dinner. Homemade chicken Parmesan, whole wheat pasta, spinach, and a mushroom dish I developed myself. All I did was chop up some portabella mushrooms and three them in a pan with olive oil, Parmesan cheese, lemon juice, and thyme.

  

I cannot get over how nice it was out today. It had to be close to 70, but the number didn’t matter. It felt like a breath of fresh air and I couldn’t resist rolling down the window on my ride to and from work. When I got joke from work, I went out for a two mile walk to enjoy the weather that much more. It’s supposed to be rainy this week, but as long as it remains above 50, I don’t care!

No April Fool’s Here! It’s A Review!

I’ve retired from April Fool’s Day because I know how to learn my lesson. A few year’s ago when my sister was living in Argentina, I decided it would be funny to email her that I was feeling too overwhelmed and would be dropping out of school. This would be ridiculous on many levels, but primarily because my parents never would have allowed it unless something was seriously wrong. Now, at the bottom of the post, I wrote APRIL FOOLS in huge font, and she should have been suspicious given my propensity for humor and past reputation, but she was thrown off I guess with the time change. Anyways, it happened to be a day she was traveling so I couldn’t even reach her to explain it was all a joke, she only realized when she looked down at her ticket and saw what the date was. I’m no longer allowed to prank…her at least.

As promised, I have a book review to share with you all. I took out Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker from the library and quickly became entranced by the topic. It’s a short book from the perspective of a pubescent teem girl who is battling the repercussions of growing older and the changes that come with it, along with a massive alternation in the way the world works.

It’s never explicitly explained exactly what has happened, how, and why, but time has slowed. Days grow longer, as do nights. Among the chaos, fear, and danger of this realization, species die, illnesses arise, and crops can no longer be grown naturally. Tensions rise between those who remain on “clock time” and the few, now ostracized, who prefer to live by the sun.

It’s interesting to read how people acclimate to even the most extreme changes. What once seems normal, is foreign. Things like pineapple-gasp!- are no longer. Grapes cost over 100/pound. The sun is to fierce to be outside and people work, go to school, and live their daily lives in the darkness. Personalities shift as well as some relationships crumble and others grow stronger. Despite this, many people adjust, though there are always those who don’t.

Among the changes to the earth’s rotation, life still progresses for this little girl. She still has those awkward moments puberty and being a middle schooler provide. She still has crushes on boys and complicated friendships. She comes to realize that her parents are human, susceptible to weaknesses and changes like everyone else. Loss and happiness are ever present and the daily ministrations of life still seem like the biggest things in the world, even with the larger things happening in the world that have nothing to do with her, because it’s her life and aren’t we all like this?

The perspective of the book seems old and wise, which makes sense because it’s the little girl looking back at this time of her life. Much of what she discusses is seeped in observations influenced by hindsight. Her reflections are beautiful and thoughtful. With the threat of Global Warming growing ever present and the changes in the atmosphere and weather far more severe, this topic is definitely something to consider. 

This weekend, I also finished watching The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. The show is a Netflix original comedy created and produced by Tina Fey. The premise is about a young woman, played by Ellie Kemper who was Erin in The Office and was also in Bridesmaids, who was kidnapped as a young girl by a cult leader who tells four women that there has been an apocalypse and the bomb shelter he has them locked in is the only source protecting them. The first moments of the show reveals the “mole women” being rescued and then becoming viral sensations. On a publicity tour in New York, Kimmy Schmidt decides she wants to lead an adventurous life and chooses to stay in my New York rather than go back to Indiana. Now she is an almost thirty year old woman who has the cultural knowledge of a fifteen year old girl, who has been damaged by this heartbreaking incident, yet remains optimistic.

The show is quirky and weird. The premise alone as a comedy seems outrageous. My favorite part are the supporting characters, The sassy roommate, the jaded landlord, the wealthy and shallow boss, and so on. I also think Ellie Kemper does an excellent job, but it’s the cast of characters that make the show worthwhile. The episodes are about twenty minutes long, very weird, but full of smart jokes, and genius guest star appearances. I cannot ruin this because the shock value alone is so clever.

I’m sad that I’ve already finished the season, but it left off at a satisfying point. I’m still intrigued and want to know what happens next and I think that is a mark of any quality show. Thus far, the jokes are funny. The characters endearing, and the writing clever. For me, it’s not quite at the level of Parks and Rec, 30 Rock, or The Mindy Project, but it certainly has the makings and the potential to get there. But honestly, it’s not like Tina Fey can do bring anyways. Watch!

Breakfast was a little weird this morning. After the gym, I ate a hard-boiled egg, but we were having a bagel morning at work and so I figured one in like three years would not do harm. I chose a sesame one with a smear of cream cheese and it was quite good. No time for pictures though.

Lunch was a simple salad with some grilled salmon on top. Since I had a carb-heavy breakfast and ice cream cake to celebrate a birthday, I felt satisfied by just the salad until I got home from work and ate a pear. Thankfully, I still seem fine to eat them. Last week my eyes were red, raw, and sensitive, but I started to take an allergy pill before night and it cleared right up. I might even be brave and try an apple, but only when I’m home and Benadryl is accessible.

  

Dinner was simple and tasty. Grilled chicken paired with leftover brown rice, roasted brussel sprouts, and a dollop of leftover cauliflower gratin. Delicious! The trick to these sprouts are salt, pepper, and a mixture of olive oil and maple syrup.

 

 My workout this morning began with a body strength workout. I performed four sets of ten moves with step ups, squats, lunges, kickbacks, burpees, push ups, mountain climbers, mermaid raises, hip lifts, ankle grabs, v ups, and Russian twists. I did a few planks before jumping into the pool for my cardio. I switched things up just a little by doing three sets of sprints. Very tiring, but very refreshing. I’m just loving the effects of hemming on my body when mixed with running and strength training. I also went for a brisk walk when I got home from work because at 40*, it felt spectacularly warm!

Food Made Delicious

This week’s meals kick off with a bowl of stove top oats. It has been quite cold inside now, though outside it may still be warm. I’m definitely ready for the chilly weather and my warm meals and affinity for wearing sweatshirts and sweaters proves this. This bowl of oats included a tablespoon of maple peanut butter, cinnamon pecans, and blueberries among the usual ingredients. Not too sweet and very satisfying.

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I was craving eggs of the scrambled variety, so I whipped up two with a dollop of milk and then topped it with cheese. This was enjoyed with a dark picture of assorted fruits and a grilled slice of my homemade zucchini bread! Instead of oil, I used apple sauce and subbed whole wheat flour for the white kind. It was so moist and yummy.

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Up next came my favorite, go-to pancake recipe. These are topped with peanut butter (of course), jelly, and toasted coconut and served with fresh, beautiful berries.

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Another oatmeal day included chocolate peanut butter, blueberries, strawberries, and banana. Again topped with a swirl of jelly and toasted coconut. I can’t get enough!

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Peanut butter toast was on the menu one day, the usual served with a healing bowl of fresh fruit. Simple, yet delightful.

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When my college roommate came to visit this weekend, I knew what I needed to serve, pumpkin anything. I decided on the French toast recipe I developed last week. For my bread, I chose one piece of whole wheat sour dough and another cinnamon raisin. Unpictured are the strawberries, raspberries, and grapes I devoured on the side. Obviously these were enjoyed with my usual topping.

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I ended my breakfasts for the week with two eggs over easy, with a little cheese, buttered toast with jam, and a side of fruit.

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My first lunch was a bit of a stir fry fail. I get too over enthusiastic about vegetables so I couldn’t finish it all, and the salmon and chickpeas I used were past their freshness and I had tone at around them! The whole wheat bow tie pasta was the best part!

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Since I had eaten eggs for breakfast, I was missing my peanut butter fix, so for lunch I decided on a peanut buttered English muffin and veggie sticks with hummus. Light, filling, and so good!

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Leftovers always make for am easy, great lunch. This includes whole wheat spaghetti, shrimp, and a variety of veggies mixed with homemade marinara sauced and topped with cheese.

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Leftover pizza in general is the best gift. I quickly chopped up a healthy salad to accompany my slices and loved my meal.

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Oh, this is awkward. Another day, another pizza lunch. Again served with salad and again enjoyed with immense fervor.

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Okay, this is getting embarrassing. At the very least, this version is homemade and much healthier. And I served it with carrots, celery, and cherry tomatoes so that’s not quite a salad. Don’t judge me.

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Phew, my last lunch was a chicken kebab salad enjoyed out with my siblings. I saved face there. For now at least.

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My first dinner this week was some steak tossed with peppers and mushrooms and topped with cheese. I opted for some tortilla chips instead of a flour tortilla, threw on some sour cream, and enjoyed a side of spinach and cabbage.

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Whole wheat spaghetti, shrimp, and veggies came next with a Caesar salad, which I had been craving for some reason. I love this colorful, delicious dish!

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The next night, my sister and her fiancé came over for dinner so we ordered pizza and I made a huge salad. This week we got suckered into the Roosevelt special on PBS, which was excellent, but it’s hard to watch something on a weeknight that’s two hours long with no commercial breaks! Conversation was limited that night.

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To offset all that pizza floating about, we had grilled chicken over a salad the next night. I had to eat this quickly in order to get to kickball, but it was light and yummy fuel for the game. Of course it was enjoyed with a side of toast.

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I went out on Friday with my friends Stephanie and Katie to a Greek place. The service was not great, but the food was fantastic! This was a beef kebab with peppers, rice, and a big Greek salad. Hummus and pita enjoyed on the side.

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Another big salad for dinner before the ghost tour I mentioned in my last post. This included grilled chicken over mixed greens, veggies, peanuts, and a few tortilla strips which I handed off the majority to Stephanie. Very flavorful. For some reason, the peanuts were my favorite part…

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My meals were topped off this week with a perfectly grilled cheeseburger on an English muffin, broccoli, and the sweetest, freshest corn picked up from a farm. I also had a couple of chips for the salt factor.

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Another great week of eating!

Making The Garden Grow

Last year when I tried my hand at gardening, and it worked, no one was more surprised than me. I figured I was lucky. The crops got just enough sun, water, and love as I cooed and sung to it to make it grow.

The main crops we got from the garden last year were cucumbers, tomatoes, and kale. Since we had such success, we decided to add a few more: zucchini, carrots, and lettuce.

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With the carrots, we fell into the predicament of not knowing when they might be ready considering that they grow underground. Maybe I picked it too soon or maybe they didn’t grow, or perhaps carrots are just too much for my limited gardening experience. The lettuce came out just fine, but the zucchini exceeded everyone’s expectations.

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At first we were happy to get any at all and then we saw how big they came out. I mean, these are huge and we got so many of them. I highly recommend zucchini both in gardening because they flourish, and in eating because they are delicious and so versatile. With the kitchen almost ready, I’ll be sure to develop some new recipes to my repertoire.

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The cucumbers too are growing like crazy. Both plants have taken over almost all of the others, except the tomatoes. My theory is that is why my peppers, for the second year in a row, have failed to succeed. There’s still some time left and I see some flowers sprouting, so I’ll keep you updated. I just picked these three cucumbers today, we’ve already picked a bunch already, and there’s even more growing.

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Those are not my tomatoes in the background, though we did have some ready. Mine have been small, but delicious. I love the smell of fresh produce anyways, but there’s something about the scent of fresh picked vegetables that bring it to an entire new level. Even the carrots that grew not even an inch smelled so good, to tease me. This is one tomato reddening on its branch.

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If you are thinking of starting a garden but feel intimated, let me tell you, if I did it, so can you. Yes, it depends on the space you have, as well as access to water, sun, and time, but with a bit of initial work and some consistency tending to weeding and caring, a garden will grow. Around the neighborhood, we have a lot of animals like rabbits and turkeys running around. I’m sure you remember the time when I had to chase the turkey away with a hockey stick. We invested in a foul smelling, but effective spray to spritz around the perimeter and it has worked so well. It doesn’t have any preservatives or weird crap in it either, so you won’t be ruining your crops.

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Next year, I think I am going to expand the garden even further to give all the plants sufficient space and even add some more. I’m hoping to get some fresh fruit in there as well!

When you have access to fruits and vegetables, whether by growing or buying them, it makes it exciting to cook with them. You will be able to check out some yummy salads and other dishes on Meals on Mondays, as well as some exciting updates on the renovated kitchen.

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