November 30, 2022

Wednesday Weigh-In: Week 79

Remember the post I wrote recently called "On This Day"? It was on November 22--that wasn't any special day to me, but I decided to post photos that I'd taken on November 22 throughout the last 20 or so years.

One of the photos was of me wearing a red sock monkey onesie (pajamas) in 2015. I loved those pajamas! But they got to be too big for me and I got rid of them. I wrote on the post that I wish I still had them because they were so comfy.

Today, Jerry gave me a surprise gift--another sock monkey onesie, identical to my other one! He'd apparently read my post and then searched them out on Poshmark. I love them :)  However, at the rate things are going, they just may become too small--ugh. Well, I'm keeping them anyway.

Which leads me to my weigh-in. Every week I just keep feeling more and more discouraged. Disappointed. Worried. Annoyed. Angry. Frustrated. Even indifferent sometimes.

Surprise, surprise--the scale was up again.

I was at 137. I'm not too upset about the actual number; I'm just really worried that I'm going to continue to gain like I have been for the last six weeks or so and then fast forward a few months and I'll be right back where I was last year.

A couple of months ago, I was done trying to lose weight and I just wanted to see if I could figure out maintenance--something I've never done before. I was doing really well, and it felt so NATURAL.

Until it didn't. I don't know what happened! I had finally started to accept that I might actually keep the weight off this time--something just felt so different about it--and then my appetite became ravenous. I have some ideas about what could have possibly triggered it, but they don't seem very likely. (When I was super stressed out and overwhelmed, my appetite was pretty much gone. So when some of my stress was relieved, it's possible that my body was making up for it.)

I know I'm eating too much and I know that if I continue to do so, I'm going to gain back every pound I just spent a year and half losing. It's depressing to think of it that way! I know people will tell me I'm being too hard on myself, and maybe that's true, but I can't help feeling disappointed that I'm *still* dealing with this.

Last week, I wrote that I talked with my therapist about the overeating and she gave me "homework". A few people asked what it was; it wasn't anything mind-blowing. She just gave me a worksheet and asked me to write down a few notes whenever I would overeat or eat compulsively:

1) "Something happens" (Activating Event--in my case, overeating)
2) "I tell myself something" (Belief/Stuck Point--in my case, "I'm going to gain back every pound and then be fat for the rest of my life")
3) "I feel something" (Consequence--in my case, anger at myself and worried)

Then, instead of telling myself something like, "I'm going to gain back every pound and then be fat for the rest of my life" --yes, I know that's dramatic; I tend to catastrophize everything--I should come up with a statement that is more productive. Telling myself I'm going to gain back every pound isn't helpful or productive--so I'm supposed to think of a productive statement instead, whether I believe it or not.

She told me that this activity may or may not be helpful, but I said I would give it a try. And so far, I haven't found it very helpful. I still have negative and unhelpful thoughts, and I'm not sure what to replace them with!

Tomorrow, I'm starting a month-long challenge of eating only whole foods. I was writing out a meal plan today and I hadn't realized that I can't have oil! It's going to be harder than I thought. I always cook with olive oil, and it's kind of a mindless habit. But I think this will be kind of fun--another sort of cooking adventure. No added salt and no oil?

When going through my recipes today, though, I realized that a lot of them are already whole-food plant-based recipes. I'll make several of those and I'll try out some new recipes as well. I'm just glad that I can still have tofu. Never in my life did I imagine that tofu would be a favorite food--I actually crave it pretty frequently!

Anyway, I'm getting off on a tangent here, and it's already past the time I usually publish my posts (10:00 PM). I was painting the bedroom and I didn't realize how late it had gotten. I'm going to put my sock monkey onesie back on and read some of my book before bed. I *really* hope that I have a good weigh-in next week! (Even if I don't lost weight, I'd like to stop gaining.)

November 29, 2022

A Goal For December

I've mentioned several times that I've been struggling hard with food lately--eating too much and too frequently. A couple of months ago, I was doing great! I had zero cravings for junk food and probably 95% of what I ate was unprocessed. I felt awesome, too.

Over the last several weeks, I'm not sure what happened, but I started craving junk food again. I noticed that once I eat something sweet, I crave sweets for about three days--and it's SO hard to get through those few days without feeding the craving. I know that if I can power through, the cravings will stop; it just feels so hard in the moment!

You all know I love goals and challenges--sometimes I get too ambitious and I quit (like 75 Hard), but sometimes I really enjoy them and I finish whatever it is that I set out to do (like a blogging streak--I haven't missed a day since December 2019).

I've been thinking this week about how badly I want to get back to feeling in control and not having any sugar cravings, and just feeling my best. I've been reading (very slowly, but surely) the book "How NOT to Die" by Dr. Michael Greger (Amazon affiliate link). It's all about how diet relates to our health and how "food is medicine" (it sounds really boring by my description, but it's actually very interesting!).

The book inspired me to want to try eating whole-food plant-based for a month. I'm currently still eating a vegan diet, but there are a LOT of junk foods that are vegan. I think challenging myself to eat whole foods for a month might be just what I need to get rid of the sweet cravings and feel good about my choices again.

Jerry made my favorite whole-food recipe last night--beans and greens! The first time he made this, I must have been having a rough day (or week or month) and it was SO good and comforting. And now it's a big-time comfort food for me. Thankfully, it's super healthy! Here is the recipe that he follows. (He uses collard greens instead of kale, and great northern beans--I like it better that way--and he adds an extra can of beans in there, too.) 

Of course, I'd love to eat whole foods all the time and not just for a month, but I think setting my sights on a short-term goal will help me to work on long-term goals afterward. (Does that make sense?) I can pretty easily control myself with "junk" foods that aren't sweet--like tortilla chips, for example--so after the challenge I may add stuff like that back in. I love lentil tortilla soup topped with some tortilla chips! It's the sweets that do me in.

I already know a ton of recipes that are made with whole foods, so it will just take some time to put together a menu for the month. I like the idea of a menu for the whole month so that I don't have to figure things out on the fly. I can make extra sauces and things to freeze for later in the month, too. I also like to prep ingredients here and there throughout the day so that I can cook dinner super fast, and it obviously helps to know what I'll be making.

As far as what is considered a "whole food"... I am just going to use my best judgment. There isn't a black and white list as to what is a whole food and what is not, so I may eat some foods that other people may not consider to be "whole" (nutritional yeast, for example). Something like maple syrup is controversial, too--it has a ton of sugar--but because it's one of the least processed sweeteners out there, I'll still use it to add to sauces (a lot of Asian sauces that I make call for some sort of sweetener) and things like that.

So anyway, I'm just going to use my best judgment and not be ridiculously strict. The whole point is to eat food that makes me feel good! I'm going to keep a simple journal, too--hopefully that will help me figure out the effect certain foods have on my body and cravings, etc. I'm looking forward to doing this challenge! Let's just hope that I stick with it ;)

November 28, 2022

(Almost) Wordless

I had another busy day working in the bathroom, and I'm exhausted! Jerry made beans and greens for dinner (which has become my most favorite comfort food) so I'm going to keep this "wordless" and just post a picture (or three).

I figured out a way to hang the hexagon cat shelf thing, so I hung that up in the bedroom today. I have the holes in it pointing downward--I'm going to add a shelf underneath so that the cats can jump down (or climb up) through the holes. They'll be able to go from shelf to shelf.

I painted the inside of it gray, but I still have to paint the outside of it; I just wanted to make sure I could hang it first!

There is a rectangular hole in the wall at the back of the hexagon that leads to the top of the closet in the bathroom. When it's done, I'll post photos of all of it so it'll make more sense!

November 27, 2022

A Super Quick Bathroom Update

Finally... color! :)  A very bold choice, and I was super nervous to do it, but I *love* it!! I'm waiting for the caulk to dry and I have to hang the shower curtain rod, and then we can take a shower in our own bathroom. I can't even describe how much I am looking forward to having our bathroom back. I will never take it for granted again. (Sharing with two teen boys is not fun.)

There is still a lot to do. Today I cut the molding for the top of the closet, but I still have to paint it (you can kind of see it in the top left). Jerry has to finish the floor, and then I have to install and paint floor trim. I have to paint the inside of the closet (I want to do white so that it's not super dark in there), paint and hang the closet door, paint the bathroom door, cut and install shelves in the closet, and THEN I can finally get to work on the bedroom.

For the bedroom, I have to install and paint molding; make and hang the shelves for the "cat wall"; and prep, prime, and paint the walls and ceiling. I'm sure there are more, but those are the priorities right now.

Tonight I'm trying to figure out how to hang the hexagon cat shelf I made a while ago and it's making me crazy. The placement of the studs in the wall is making it nearly impossible (I say "nearly" because I am determined to find a way to do it). I wish I'd planned it out when I was building the wall--I would have strategically placed the studs where I needed them.

Anyway, I'm actually keeping this post short today--I'm motivated to keep working! It's fun now that I can see the progress :)

November 26, 2022

RECIPE: Mulligatawny Soup

vegan mulligatawny soup

I made this recipe a few weeks ago and planned to post a recipe review, so I took all the pictures. Then I realized that I couldn't post it because it came from a recipe book! I emailed the publisher to ask for permission to post the recipe here but I didn't hear back from them... until a few days ago. Thankfully, they gave me the go-ahead to share the recipe. (I don't like to post reviews of recipes that aren't freely available.)

This recipe is from "How it all vegan!", a vegan cookbook by Tanya Barnard and Sarah Kramer. It's an old book that I got from a thrift store.

The name of this recipe, Mulligatawny Soup, caught my eye at first; and then when I read the ingredients, I thought it sounded super interesting. It was unlike any other recipe I'd seen before, but it still used common ingredients (nothing weird in this one!). The coconut was especially intriguing.

A google search just now showed me that it's not unusual at all--Mulligatawny is a common Indian dish. This particular recipe, however, is different from the few that I looked at, so I have no idea how authentic this is. 

This cookbook is kind of fun to cook from because there are no pictures. Normally, I like cookbooks with pictures for every recipe! But to make something with a weird name and not having any clue what it's going to look like in the end was kind of fun.

Here is a printer-friendly version, if you want to skip my beautiful food photography ;) 

First, the ingredients:

1 large onion, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
3 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. turmeric
1 tsp. coriander
1 tsp. curry powder
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
6 cups vegetable stock
2 medium carrots, sliced
2 large potatoes, cut in cubes
1/2 cup rice
1 small red pepper, diced
1 small green pepper, diced
1 small tomato, diced
1 cup cauliflower, sliced
3/4 cup grated coconut
3 tsp. lemon juice
3 tsp. cilantro (optional)

A lot of ingredients, but nothing strange! It didn't specify to use sweetened or unsweetened coconut, so I just assumed unsweetened and that's what I used. Also, I chose not to use the cilantro. As usual when I make new recipes, I prepped all of the ingredients first so that I didn't have to rush while cooking.

The "vegetable stock" powder I have is a homemade blend (recipe can be found here). I just add it with water for the vegetable stock in recipes; it's easier than having containers of stock around!

I thought it was a bit awkward to slice the cauliflower instead of cut it into small florets (and if making it again, I would choose to do the florets).

First, you sauté the onions and celery in oil in a large soup pot over medium heat until the onions are translucent.

Then you add the spices, soy sauce, veggie stock, carrots, potatoes, and rice. Bring to a boil and reduce heat.

Let it simmer for 15-20 minutes. Add the peppers, tomato, cauliflower, coconut, lemon juice, and cilantro. Stir together and simmer 5-10 more minutes until vegetables are tender.

Remove half of the soup and purée in a blender or food processor.

Then pour it back in the soup pot and stir to mix it all together.

And this is what it looked like when it was done:

Thoughts? It was very good! It was surprisingly creamy, considering there weren't cashews or coconut milk in it. To me, it tasted like a smooth, spicy curry. The curry powder I have is on the spicy side, so the spice level may vary, depending on the brand of curry you use. I loved all the different textures and I thought all of the flavors went together really well.

I can't remember if the kids ate it, but I know Jerry and I both really liked it, and we each had leftovers the next day. The creaminess and the spice made me think that it's the perfect winter comfort-soup. Next time, I'll make some bread to go with it. It's a great soup to make when you've got some veggies to use up! I think I may add some tofu next time, too--because everything is better with tofu ;) 

November 25, 2022

Friday Night Photos

Yay for Friday! This week feels a little off because of Thanksgiving, but after how busy the last few days have been, it's nice that we still have a whole weekend ahead :)

I've spent the last three days going back and forth between the kitchen (cooking) and the bathroom (painting). I finally decided on a paint color and I painted the first coat today. It's VERY drastic--but I love it! It's still drying right now so it looks splotchy--if it's dry enough for a photo before I go to bed, I'll add it here.

First, a few pictures of the nieces and nephews...

Brian wanted to do something fun with the kids while Luke is out of school for Thanksgiving, so they took a short trip to the everglades in Florida! He rented a convertible for them (it's not pink and purple with unicorns on it, unfortunately, which was Riley's request) but they were excited to ride in it!

I haven't heard about their trip yet, but Becky sent me this picture. I love that Luke and Riley are so close--I'm sure they posed like this all on their own. The last time I went over to babysit them, when Luke got home from school, Riley ran over to him to give him a hug and ask him how school was. 

This is Hunter! Laura (Jerry's sister) sent me this picture yesterday. Isn't that smile adorable?! (Hunter is the result of when I went with Laura to have her embryo transfer--I got to watch on the ultrasound as they transferred the embryo to her uterus--and it was so cool looking! I was thrilled when the transfer was successful, and now look at him. So sweet.)

This is Shelby, who will be three in a week! I cannot believe how fast she's grown. It's funny how all four of my nieces and nephews have super-blonde hair.


Yesterday, we went to my mom and dad's house for dinner. I brought over the vegan stuff that I made: seitan "turkey", mashed potatoes and gravy, green bean casserole, stuffing, and cranberry sauce (well, the cranberry sauce was from a can--my favorite, haha). Becky and my mom tried the green bean casserole and said they would never have known that it was vegan (I got the recipe for the condensed cream of mushroom soup from Plant Power Couple). Everything turned out really good! Jerry was thrilled that I made stuffing and that it tasted like the stuffing he's used to. 

I also made not one, but TWO pies! I made a pumpkin pie (that actually turned out really good--I don't have a picture, but I used this recipe). And I just had to try out a pecan pie to see if my dad would like it. As you know, it's tradition for me to make my dad a pecan pie for his birthday and for Father's Day. My recipe has butter and eggs in it, so I tried out a vegan recipe that was actually suggested by a reader. (You can find the recipe here. It's by the same food blogger that posted the pumpkin pie.) It doesn't look great in this photo, but it was AMAZING. And it's made with tofu!! (I use chopped pecans rather than halved, because it's easier to cut--so it's not very pretty, but it's practical.)

The verdict? My dad said it was good, but he likes my other pecan pie better. (I kind of knew he'd say that.) My mom said she was completely "sold" on the vegan pecan pie. I would totally use this recipe again. I was amazed that it stayed together so well--that was what I thought would be impossible. The pie crust that I always make is already vegan, so I was glad to be able to use that--it takes literally three minutes to throw together. (Here is the recipe for my dad's favorite pecan pie)

Becky and I walked over to where my parents had a puzzle set up and we started to look through the pieces. Then we got sucked in and started working on it, and my mom came and joined us. We were able to make some progress on it! It's a tough puzzle. (Also, I learned that my dad doesn't allow himself to look at the box when he does puzzles, because he thinks it's cheating--crazy, right?)

When we got home, we set up the Christmas tree. Jerry is totally in his element from now until Christmas--it's his favorite time of year. Oh, and this is a crazy coincidence: yesterday, while working on my blog post, I was looking for a meme to include in the post while Jerry was scrolling through TV. Right as I found the meme I wanted to use (the one about Home Alone), Jerry started a movie. The second he pressed the button, I asked him (without looking up), "You're watching Home Alone?" and he said yes, thinking that I watched what movie he chose. I literally had ZERO idea that he was putting on Home Alone, or even starting a movie! I only said that because of the meme I was looking at, and I figured he was probably looking for a Christmas movie. We were both kind of stunned and we laughed about it.

We got a new tree-topper this year...

And here is my annual "I Spy" picture... can you find Little Duck?

The second after I took this picture, Duck stumbled out of the tree, doing a back flip and landing on all fours. Half the ornaments came down with him, hahaha. 

Duck was sleeping on my head again. It's SO comforting to have him purr right next to my ear. Seeing the Christmas tree made me think about last year and how Duck ate that yarn and needed surgery. (I knew something was wrong that morning because he was hiding under the Christmas tree and refused to come out for food.) It was horrible! I'm so glad that he's okay and he still likes to sleep on my head.

And Phoebe has been super cuddly lately, too. She looked so sweet asleep on my thighs like this.

Well, it's 9:00 PM and I haven't had dinner yet, so I'm going to go find something to eat. I'm starving! Have a great weekend :)  xo

November 24, 2022

Three Things Thursday: Thankful

I really didn't want to write a cliché "things I'm thankful for" post. Yes, I'm very thankful for SO many things in my life but the list is the same for a huge number of people: my family, my friends, my health, etc. Of course I am thankful for those things! So I won't include the "given" choices. Instead, here are three things I'm thankful for that I may not think about every day...

1. Growing up with siblings.

My parents had four kids: Jeanie (48), Brian (46), me (40), and Nathan (38). Jeanie and Brian were quite a bit older than me, so I wasn't as close with them growing up. And Nathan and I fought all the time. So why would I be thankful for growing up with siblings? Our house was never boring!

I had an older "very cool" sister that I was always trying to dress like; I had a super smart older brother who I would ask a million questions and learn the answers to; and I had a laid-back younger brother who I spent a lot of time with because we had a mutual neighborhood-friend group. Whether or not we got along or had anything in common, I have great memories of growing up with them. And my relationship with each of them had some sort of positive impact on me as an adult. It's so hard to imagine growing up without them!

Why, yes, the year was 1990 in this picture--how did you know?

2. The patience and ability to solve problems.

I have very little patience for certain things in my life, but problem solving is not one of them. I'm not referring to mathematical story problems (although I do love those!), but rather diagnosing and fixing something--if the dishwasher is making a weird noise, or the light switch stops working, or the square peg won't fit in the round hole, I like to figure out WHY. And then I love to fix it! Even if it takes me hours and several attempts, the whole process is enjoyable for me. Like a really nerdy game.

3. Memes.

Yes, as shallow as it sounds, I am thankful for memes. There is NOTHING that can turn a bad mood around like looking at funny memes. I have a board on Pinterest with over 500 memes that make me laugh out loud. Aside from making me laugh, though, memes make me realize that I am not alone--even for the most obscure quirks I have.

When I was first diagnosed with bipolar and I discovered the "bipolar owl" memes, it was like this major awakening--there were other people who had all these weird issues, too! That was when I really started getting into memes; they made me feel better because I didn't feel alone and they made me laugh so hard I wheezed. Now, every so often, I'll just fall down the meme rabbit hole on Pinterest.

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving! 

November 23, 2022

Wednesday Weigh-In: Week 78

This picture cracks me up. I finally started priming the bathroom walls today and to prep them, I had to take off everything that was hanging in there, including the mirror. Rather than try to prop it up somehow like I've done before, I just asked Jerry to hold it up, haha.

The jeans I'm wearing are a pair that I bought several months ago at Goodwill and I put them in my "to mend/alter" stack of clothes. They were a straight-leg cut, and I don't like straight leg jeans--my calves are way too big! So I bought them with the intention of turning them into a flare-leg. They sat there for months, and I finally whittled down the pile over the weekend. I added flares to a couple of pairs of jeans and I took in the waist of a couple as well.

If I look completely exhausted and frazzled, it's because I am! I spent the whole day going between the bathroom and the kitchen--cooking dishes for tomorrow and prepping/priming the bathroom walls. I've made my FOURTH seitan "turkey" roast in three days, trying to perfect it for Thanksgiving. I've tried different recipes and methods, and the one that is on the stove in a steamer basket right now is *hopefully* good enough for tomorrow.

It really doesn't need to be perfect, but we are going to my parents' house for dinner, and if someone wants to get crazy and try the seitan, I don't want to put them off to vegan food! I've learned that seitan is an art in and of itself. There are so many variables that could go wrong.

I *really* didn't want to do a weigh-in this week. I knew the scale was going to be up and I was avoiding stepping on it all week. I was picturing my weight to be in the 140s because I've been overeating. I just can't seem to get it under control! I was so determined last week when I posted my weigh-in.

Anyway, I was glad my weight wasn't in the 140s, but it is over my goal range of 125-135. AND, it means I've gained 10 pounds in like five weeks? 

I know what I need to do to get it under control; I just have this compulsive urge to snack all evening. I'm not binge eating, which is good, but I'm still getting way too many calories.

I talked to my therapist about it yesterday and I think I use eating as a way to relax at the end of a long day. When I spend the day working on the bathroom or something like that, I am exhausted and I just want to get in my pajamas and chill--and eat. So she gave me some "homework" to do this week; hopefully it helps!

Well, I'm going to cut this short since I'm sure everyone has some yummy food to get to. Let's hope that I find my mojo this week and the scale is down next Wednesday!

November 22, 2022

On This Day...

The post I'd planned to share today was taking SO LONG that it will have to wait. Instead, I decided to do an "On This Day" post--photos that I've taken on this day (November 22) throughout the years. These posts are always fun to do (or not, depending on how many photos I have) because I never know what I'm going to find. It's a fun trip down memory lane! And apparently, November 22 was a popular day through the years because I have several pictures.

The first is from 2004, when Noah was just four months old. I loved that little duck towel I would wrap him in after his bath!

This one is from 2009, and it's so cute! I have no idea what's going on here, because Eli was potty trained long before this, but it makes me think about putting the kids on the toilet seat and with them being so small, they look like they'll fall right in! I love how happy he looks :)

I look terrible in this picture. This was when I was recovering from my jaw repair surgeries. And the towel on my pillow! Haha, when the surgeon repaired my jaw, he had to cut the "labial frenulum" (the little band of tissue that connects your lower lip to your gums) and ever since then, I drool in my sleep. Fun fact ;)  

Fast forward to a year later, and I was recovering from my skin removal surgery. These are my drain tubes--there were four across my abdomen.

I've always been a cat magnet, and with all the lying around I did after surgeries, they wouldn't leave me alone.

Later that day, I had a follow-up appointment with my surgeon. She may have removed my drains that day, but with the amount of fluid in them, I'm guessing probably not.

In 2012, I discovered how much Estelle loves canned pumpkin. I dropped a blob of it on the floor and she went nuts for it. So I gave her a little dish of her own.

In 2015, I guess I went for a run! This is when I was training for my goal 10K.

And then Jerry and I went to a family get-together (on his side). I can't remember what it was for, though. I'm pretty sure that's the only time in my life I've tucked in a shirt, and now I can see why! Hahaha.

Later, I put on my sock monkey onesie. I really wish I still had it! It was super comfy.

In 2016... Does anyone remember when "bottle flipping" was a thing with kids? They would toss water bottles in the air and try to make them land upright. It was SO ANNOYING--the noise that it made drove me (and probably thousands of other parents) crazy. This was my Facebook status--I don't know why I have a screenshot of it, but I'm glad I do. It made me laugh!

And in 2017, I'm guessing November 22 was a Wednesday, because here is a scale picture from my Wednesday Weigh-In. Interestingly, I am about the same weight today as I was five years ago. We won't talk about the in-between time, hahaha.

In 2019, I must have gone for a walk or run, because this is along my usual route. It's so pretty!

Also in 2019, I painted these trays... just a quick project.

In 2020, Duck lying in a sploot position--no matter how often he does this, I still laugh every time!

Also in 2020... playing Ticket to Ride during lockdown. My boys' hair hasn't been that short ever since. I miss when they had short hair! But they hate seeing pictures of it because it was "so ugly". I just can't get on board with the current trends in teen boy hairstyles. (Mullets? Perms? Why?)

This was in 2021--I remember wearing this outside, but I can't remember if it was a walk or a run. We'll just say it's a run ;)

And, finally, another one from 2021. This was just a project my dad asked me to do. He painted a board to use as a chess board, and he wanted there to be shallow grooves around each square to separate them better. So I used my router to do it for him. What I remember about that night in the garage was how COLD it was.

And there we go... I wish I had more pictures from the early years, but I guess November 22nd was uneventful back then!

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