February 07, 2023

Jerry Loses His Dad Bod: Week 4

It seems like I just started this series--we can't be four weeks in already--?!

(In the photo above, Jerry was trying to imitate my face while I was taking the picture. I was backed up to the wall and couldn't back up any farther--so I pulled the camera as close to my face as possible, while smushing my head toward the wall. His imitation is spot-on.

It's funny how Jerry's attitude toward weight loss is so different than mine. I wish I had his attitude! He's working hard on losing weight, but he honestly doesn't care about the scale. He doesn't worry about weigh-ins or overthink anything (meanwhile, I overthink EVERYTHING).

So, how did Jerry do this week?

His weight was at 191.2, which is down just a little from last week's 192.0. He started this whole thing four weeks ago at 193.6. While he definitely wanted to be down more by now, he's just cool with the fact that he's losing at all.

His body fat and waist measurements were down this week, too, which is great:

Last week, his body fat was at 23.8%, and four weeks ago, his body fat was at 24.4%. Now it's at 22.9%. His waist was 37 inches and now it's at 34.25 inches (Last week was 34.5). I'd say that's good progress! Jerry has always lost body mass before his weight starts going down, so that may be why he's only lost a couple of pounds, but there is a noticeable difference in his waist and body fat.

But anyway... Here is Jerry's recap of the week, in his words:

"This week was really difficult for me. Although the scale shows a loss, I feel like it should've been better. Eating wise, it didn't seem so difficult. It was emotionally difficult and my work schedule was garbage. A couple weeks ago my grandfather died and they held a memorial for him at the local VFW. He was the last surviving veteran of WWII in his branch and the service was emotional to say the least.

If that wasn't enough, my cousin on the same side of the family died unexpectedly a week prior to my grandfather's memorial. With that said, I had a whirlwind of emotions... grief and guilt being the highest on the list. I was close to my grandpa when I was younger and then as an adult I didn't see him as much as I wish I would have. That's the guilt. And it's sticking in me like a knife.

With the death of my cousin, it's just made me wish that it didn't take a death or something serious like this to bring everyone together. So, there are some plans for the future to get people together and hopefully bring this once tight-knit family back together. 

My work schedule this week also played a role in some way. I had to get back onto a dayshift schedule for a couple days for some training I had yesterday. The switching back and forth is difficult. However, it gave me a couple days of being up in the morning and hanging out with the family all day. I miss those times and I haven't felt that good since I started night shift. So, it was worth it. 

Plans for this week? Well, I want to maintain my activity at work but I think I'm going to start incorporating some running, at least for now. I don't have a plan, just winging it and getting my baseline back. And with the eating, I'll be trying to bring more fruits and vegetables into the diet. Good luck to me."

Wow. I typed my portion of this while he was typing his thoughts out to give me. So I didn't read it until after I was done writing my whole intro. While I knew this was a difficult week emotionally, I didn't even think about how it would affect his weight or eating habits. After reading that, I'm super impressed that he wasn't emotionally eating all week long.

I'm proud of him--he's been working hard! (Definitely harder than I.)

February 06, 2023

VEGAN RECIPE REVIEW: Dill Pickle Roasted Chickpeas

For this review, I knew I wanted to choose a recipe that called for everyday ingredients--none of the "weird" vegan foods I've been hooked on lately ;)

Eli and I are OBSESSED with anything that is dill pickle flavored (including pickles themselves). Years and years ago, we bonded over a plate of fried pickles and have been pickle buddies ever since. So whenever I see something dill pickle flavored, Eli and I just have to try it. (They aren't vegan, but I used to love Dill Pickle Soup and Dill Pickle Pizza!)

Eli and I both also have a problem with snacking. We snack too much and on too much junk food. Since I've been discovering all the benefits of fiber over the past year, I thought that making these Dill Pickle Roasted Chickpeas would be a good snacking solution--lots of fiber + dill pickle flavor? Yes, please!

The recipe is incredibly simple, to the point where I wondered if it even "counted" as a recipe--but like I said, no uncommon ingredients! And hey--dill pickles.

I can't remember where I first found this recipe, but I would bet my life it was on Pinterest. Regardless, the recipe can be found at Three Olives Branch. (I'll link to it again at the end of the post.)

First, the ingredients:

Chickpeas, dill pickle juice (a couple of tablespoons of brine from a jar of pickles), olive oil, salt, and dried dill weed.

First, you just preheat the oven to 400 F. The recipe lists 350 F for 35-40 minutes, but there is a note on the recipe that says if you want crispier chickpeas, then you can bake them at 400 F for 30 minutes instead. I chose to do that.

Then, I put parchment on a large baking sheet. Parchment paper is seriously the BEST invention ever. Until recently, I had absolutely no idea just how well it works for baking things without having them stick to the pan. Better than any silicone mat, foil with any sort of oil/grease, or non-stick pan. I especially love it for making tofu! Anyway, I lined a baking sheet with parchment paper.

To prepare the chickpeas for roasting, drain and rinse them. I actually saved the "juice" from the cans (it's the cooking liquid from the beans, called aquafaba, and I only recently learned this when making vegan pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving). This is what it looks like and how much I got from two cans:

I've seen it called for in other recipes, but unless you want to open a can of chickpeas to use just a little of the aquafaba, you're out of luck. In vegan cooking, aquafaba is frequently used to replace egg whites. So, I poured the aquafaba into an ice cube tray and stuck it in the freezer--that way, I will be able to use just a little at a time whenever needed.

The recipe states you can peel the chickpeas if you like, but leaving the skins on "gives them a little extra crunch". I'm all about extra crunch, so I left them on.

Once I drained and rinsed the chickpeas, I spread them onto a clean towel to dry off (per the instructions on the recipe). I put another towel on top and then very gently patted the chickpeas in order to dry them the best I could.

While those are drying, you just combine the pickle juice, olive oil, and salt in a small mixing bowl.

After about 10 minutes under the towel, the chickpeas looked relatively dry to me.

I poured them into the bowl with the pickle juice and tossed them in the dressing, making sure they were coated well. As you can see a lot of the skins fell right off. I wish they came off that easily when I wanted them to!

Once they are coated with the dressing, spread them out on the prepared baking sheet.

I left the skins in there, hoping they'd get super crunchy ;)

I roasted at 400 F for 30 minutes, per the recipe instructions. From there, you are supposed to turn off the oven and just let them sit there to finish drying out, for another 30 minutes or so. First, I took a quick picture of what they looked like after 30 minutes of roasting:

I slid them back into the oven, then turned the oven off. I put away some laundry and did the dishes while I waited, and then after about 30 more minutes, I pulled them out of the oven again. They'd definitely firmed up some more.

These were looking very promising to me! Haha. 

Next, you toss them into a bowl with the dried dill weed, making sure the dill coats the chickpeas (they had just enough oil on them to hold seasoning). They looked so delicious!

I was excited to try them--even though Eli wasn't here to try them with me, I had to take a taste.

And I was super disappointed, unfortunately. They didn't have any flavor at all, except for the flavor of chickpeas (which is pretty distinct to me). I added a bunch of salt, hoping that would help, but they still didn't have any flavor.

The texture was okay, but they weren't as crunchy as they look. They still very much resembled a chickpea in texture, just drier.

Over the last several years, I've found that it's very difficult for people to nail the dill pickle flavor for foods other than dill pickles. You can't add pickle juice at the end, because it will make everything soggy; but the brine is not condensed enough to use just a small amount in something.

Dill pickles are very bold--so when you want to eat dill pickle flavored anything, you're expecting (and hoping!) that it will be just as bold as a dill pickle. A lot of commercial products have nailed the flavor (Lay's potato chips, for example). I haven't had the dill pickle Lay's since becoming vegan, but I just googled it--and YES, the dill pickle Lay's are vegan!

I think I need to try out different recipes for dill pickle seasoning until I find the perfect one--and then I can use it to experiment on other foods (like making something similar to the roasted chickpeas).

I wanted to like these so much, but the flavor just wasn't there. The whole family agreed.

Still, if you want to give them a try, maybe you'll have better luck than I! Here is the link to the full recipe at Three Olives Branch.

February 05, 2023

Light Therapy

I wish I could get out of this funk already, but lately, I am just NOT feeling my best mentally. I won't keep writing about how I feel incredibly overwhelmed or switching meds or anything anymore--it's getting redundant--but I can't think of another reason I've been feeling depressed.

Remember a couple of years ago, I bought a light therapy lamp out of sheer desperation to get rid of my depressive episode? I was SO skeptical because I usually don't go for the "natural" way of doing things. Give me meds! Hahaha. But nothing was working, so I decided to try out a "light therapy lamp", despite the fact that I didn't feel like my depression was from "seasonal affective disorder" (a type of depression that happens in the colder months, when the sun is rarely out).

Well, the joke was totally on me, because I couldn't believe how much better I felt after just using it for an hour in the morning! I felt more energetic and my mood was much lighter. (Here is the post I wrote about it, which also has a link to the lamp that I have.)

I had actually forgotten about the lamp and didn't use it at all for a long time. I just pulled it out again a few days ago, and found it really funny that Estelle is clearly feeling the "winter blues" as well. The second I turned the therapy light on, Estelle came over and planted herself right in front of it. Where she stayed for about an hour!

It doesn't give off heat or anything, so I have no idea why she was so attracted to it. It's SUPER bright, so I'm surprised she even wanted to get that close to it. *I* don't even look right at it when I turn it on! Estelle loves it, though--I put it on another time and she made herself comfy in front of it again.

Cats are hilarious how they each have their quirks. Before we got Duck and Chick, Estelle was the very quirky one--like Duck--but now, there is no comparison. Duck has more quirks than any cat I've ever seen. Still, it was funny to discover a new quirk of this old lady (she's about 14 now!)--I can't believe it.

Hopefully, I'll have more to write tomorrow. I just haven't been feeling it lately!

February 04, 2023

Master Bathroom Makeover Reveal: FINALLY!

Finally--I have bathroom photos! As you know, this was part of the nightmare that was 2022. I finally took the time to take "after" pictures and put together this "before and after" post for the unplanned bathroom makeover remodel. I'll try to sum the project up in a nutshell long post with fifty billion pictures.

Jerry was going away for the weekend at the end of July, so I thought I'd surprise him by getting rid of the carpet in our bedroom and replacing it with the same luxury vinyl planking we have throughout the house. We had extra boxes of it and it's a simpler project than you might think, so I knew I could knock it out in a weekend. Ha! Last words.

Just getting started with tearing out the carpet

I was excited to pull up the carpet and get started. I even took "before" photos, thinking it was just going to be the flooring I would be replacing. Well, when I got to the side of my bedroom that shares a wall with the master bathroom, I discovered what would become a huge headache for the rest of 2022. The shower was just on the other side of the wall, and apparently, it had been leaking for a while. The floor was rotted and there was quite a bit of water damage. (I couldn't see how far it went, but I assumed it was under the entire shower.)

I consulted my older brother, Brian, because he's been doing construction (not as a profession, but more as a serious hobby) since his late teens. He made it sound like it wasn't a huge deal, that I could just tear out the flooring under the shower and replace just those couple of pieces. However, I didn't like that the floor in my bedroom was "wavy". It felt uneven, and after pulling up the carpet, I could see why.

Below is the wall that we had to tear out. The door on the left is a walk-in closet, the little hole in the wall is the access panel for the shower (you can get to the pipes that way) and the door on the right is to the bathroom. You can see the water damage was directly where the shower was.

Brian said we could use some sort of leveler product that basically fills in the low spots on the floor, but I decided I wanted to just redo the entire floor the "right" way--using sheets of plywood instead of particle board. And I wanted to do the entire bathroom and bedroom.

And since we were going to be pulling up the subfloor, it was going to mean lots of reconstruction--so I might as well give it a makeover, too! I knew I wanted to move the shower to the opposite corner of where it was. We used to have a large corner tub there but we pulled it out because we never used it. Actually, here is a (very cringy!) photo of it when we first moved in:

So, the space was pretty large and empty. I figured we could move the shower there (especially since the pipes were already there from the tub) and then I could build a small closet where the old shower used to be.

We tore out the old shower, as well as the wall that divides the bathroom and bedroom. The floor damage was right under it, so it was a lot easier to take out the wall to redo the floor. Then we spent a gazillion hours pulling out staples and ripping out the subfloor that was glued down.

I was SO excited to get rid of this old shower!

Jerry tearing apart the shower (well, with a saw, haha)

I kind of panicked after that--we didn't have a floor in our bedroom or bathroom! There was insulation and then crawl space. 

Jerry fell through into the crawl space, and popped up with a small lever tool I'd lost forever ago!

When chipping away at glue and particle board, the dust gets EVERYWHERE.

You know, in the Three Little Pigs story, they never did have someone build a trailer. A house held together with glue and nails like this, well, it ain't coming apart for ANYTHING. While remodeling the house, nails have been the bane of my existence. After drywall dust, of course.

I was picturing spiders and raccoons and stuff all coming up through the floor. We spent the next few days replacing the subfloor so that we could at least bring our mattress back in the room. I'd been sleeping on the couch and Jerry was working nights--sleeping in Eli's room while Eli was at school.

I don't remember the order we did everything, but basically, I had to remove the old floor, add more insulation, install new subfloor. Build a dividing wall between the bedroom and bathroom. Build a closet. Install a bathtub/shower combo with surround wall and all the drywall. Install new lights and a new bathroom fan. Build a "cat hangout" on top of the bathroom closet with a hole that leads into the bedroom. Install new trim and a new bathroom door. Prime and paint everything. I did all of this while Jerry was at work or sleeping, and he did all of the floor planking.

Privacy is overrated.

We slept like this for a long time! The bathroom was the priority, not the bedroom.

No shower at all meant that we had to share with the boys. My 17- and 18-year old teen boys. Gross!

My first "wall"--hey, you have to start somewhere, right?! This would become the closet wall later.

Installing the new tub/shower combo in the back right corner.

I built another wall! This one was to separate the bathroom and bedroom again--yay.

Duck insisted on helping me with the cat hangout.

The cat hangout is on top of this closet--I put plywood on the top, drywall on the underside (inside the closet) and then carpet on top of the plywood--for the cats to scratch (it's a scratchy kind of carpet)

Cat hangout. Since this photo, I've cut out a hole in that back wall that leads to my bedroom--there are shelves so the cats can climb up and down. I'll show pictures of this in my bedroom reveal. 

I've also made over the bedroom, but I still have to take after photos. I chose the color black for the walls of both the bedroom and bathroom, and I was SO unsure about doing something that drastic, but I absolutely love how it turned out. 

The only thing I still need to get done in the bathroom is to install a bifold door on the closet. I wasn't sure if I wanted to, so I've been thinking about it. After seeing these pictures, though, I decided to go ahead and hang it--if only to hide all of the junk we have in there!

I also don't have the clothes hampers in the closet for the "after" pictures--I either need to buy narrower ones so that they fit side by side (no matter how I maneuver them, the pair I have won't both fit under the shelves) or just keep one in there and the other in my closet or other part of the bathroom.

Anyway, here are a few side-by-side pictures that I tried to take from the same angle before and after. 

This first side-by-side is only the bathroom BEFORE (in the point of view from the doorway and then opposite the doorway. And this was before-before. I'd since painted it and removed the textured ceiling, painted the vanity, etc. But this is the general idea. (The toilet was to the left of the dresser in the back.)

And here are some from before and now:

This is the vanity before I painted it a few years ago:

And now--everything looks the same, pretty much, except for the wall color!

I can't even describe how much space we've created in our closet by moving the heavier shirts (sweatshirts, sweaters, jackets) to the bathroom closet and hanging them up. In our bedroom closet, we don't have any hangers--I started folding everything after reading Marie Kondo's book. It keeps everything super tidy in there, but the larger items take up so much space! I'll post photos of the closet when I do the photos of the bedroom, too.

Even though this whole thing was a total nightmare that lasted way too long, I'm very happy with how it turned out! The bathroom makes so much more sense now (odd way of putting it, but not sure how else to word it). The black doesn't  make everything seem smaller and too dark. The new lights I put in are plenty bright and having the white accents keeps the black from being too claustrophobic.

The cats LOVE their cat hangout on the closet--Chick and Duck can always be found up there when I'm showering--I can see their eyes watching me, hahaha. 

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