September 30, 2023

Saturday Night Photos

When I sat down to write my post yesterday, I realized I only had a few photos on my phone, so I didn't end up doing my usual Friday Night Photos. Today I grabbed the camera to take a picture of one of the squirrels and I remembered that I had taken a few photos on the camera last week... so here goes. Saturday Night Photos.

Below is one of those pictures of me that Jerry takes when I don't know it. Yesterday, he told me that The Bachelor had a new season called The Golden Bachelor. Probably 15 years ago, my sister said that they should make a "Bachelor for old people"--people that were retired or otherwise up there in age and looking for love. I thought it was a cute idea! I've only seen about three seasons of The Bachelor/The Bachelorette, and I don't remember the last one I watched--probably 15 years ago!--but when Jerry said there was The Golden Bachelor on Hulu, I insisted we watch it RIGHT NOW. I don't know why I was so excited for it.

Not even three minutes into the first episode, I was totally choked up and I knew I was going to be a mess. Jerry finds it hilarious that I'm so sensitive (it's not unusual for me to cry at the simplest tug of a heartstring) so I put my hood up and told him not to watch me. Hahaha, so he took this photo.

I think The Golden Bachelor will be so refreshing! The Golden Bachelor is 71 years old, a widower with two daughters, and in great physical shape. Considering the women chosen to be on the show are all at least 60 years old, I think the whole dynamic of the show will change a bit. They have a lot of life experience and they know what they want. I can't imagine it getting as catty as the regular Bachelor seasons. But who knows? I'm not going to watch another episode until the entire show has aired; streaming has spoiled me in that I can't wait a week between shows when I'm really interested.

Even though I have a million pictures of Duck sleeping on my head/neck/shoulder, I still take selfies when he does it. This one made me laugh because of the look on his face. I think Chick was in the cat bed above us and it caught Duck's attention.

When two of the cats both want to sit on my lap, they play nice with each other so that I don't kick them off. I couldn't believe how big Duck looks next to Estelle! (Estelle was there first, and then Duck snuck VERY slowly up behind her to avoid waking her.)

When I was making some seitan recently, it called for white beans. I decided to save the liquid (called aquafaba) and try out a recipe that I saw in a cookbook. It sounded SO odd to me, but apparently, you can whip aquafaba like you would egg whites--into a meringue-like texture or whipped cream. To make it, you just add aquafaba, sugar, vanilla extract, and a pinch of cream of tartar to a stand mixer and let it go for 10-15 minutes. I was extremely skeptical, but it actually worked! This picture was about 10 minutes in. I have no idea what to do with it, but it was a fun experiment.

I hardly ever make bread, but I was in the kitchen today for several hours cooking all sorts of stuff--I have been really into cooking lately! And since I was making chili in the crock pot, I decided to make some crusty bread to go with it. Look how good this looks... it is, by far, the best looking bread I've ever made.

And this was the chili. Jerry said chili sounded good to eat during the football game this afternoon. I put four different kinds of beans in it--it was delicious.

This is one of my favorite squirrels. He's super friendly--not at all shy--and I have to actually be careful not to open the door too far or I'm afraid he'll come right in the house. Today, he kept dramatically looking through the screen door until he got my attention. Then I'd give him a walnut and he'd go bury it quickly, and then repeat this over and over. He probably got 10 of them today.

I desperately wanted to get a picture of Chick and Joey without Joey noticing. I didn't have my phone with me in the kitchen, and I knew if I walked past them into the living room for my phone, Joey would jump up. So I grabbed the camera by the back door and hid in the pantry to take pictures. As soon as the shutter clicked from the first picture, Joey looked up--he knew I was looking at him. And he stared me down while I took several more pictures, haha. 

Chick ADORES Joey, and thankfully, Joey tolerates Chick sleeping on him, hugging him, and even play-biting his neck. 

I think I posted this already, but I thought it looked kind of cool. I was returning from my morning run around the block and Jerry had just gotten home. He was standing in the driveway taking pictures. The red light is from my headlamp. I had already let Joey off of his leash so he could run to Jerry.

Jerry and Noah went to a wrestling event a couple of nights ago. I'm not sure what the look on Noah's face is all about, but you can see that he recently got snake bite piercings. I was not thrilled about the idea, but I can keep my mouth shut and be happy that it's not a tattoo ;) 

Eli and his girlfriend, Ava, went to homecoming last weekend. I can't believe it's his senior year already! His freshman year was during lockdown, and that doesn't seem very long ago.

I took a couple of quick pictures before he left to pick up Ava, and I love this one. He rarely smiles a big smile like this, which is unfortunate, because he's such a good-looking kid. He's so grown up!

I posted this picture earlier as well, but I think it's funny. The cats are so fascinated when I stretch/foam roll on the living room floor. The second I sit down, they are all over me. Duck always manages to put his butt right in my face. 

And that's all I've got. Have a great Sunday! xo

September 28, 2023

Three Things Thursday: Fall

I really need to make a list of all of the "Three Things Thursday" topics I've done. When I try to come up with an idea each week, I can't remember if I've already done it or if I've just thought about it. A couple of times, I've even written the post before I realize I've already written about it before, haha.

Today is such a perfect fall day. It's been overcast and kind of drizzly on and off all day, and the temp is perfect for wearing a hoodie and jeans. This is my very favorite time of year, by far, and it never fails to lift my mood. With today really feeling like fall, it got me in the fall mood... so I thought I'd write about three things that I hope to do this season.

1. Bury a time capsule with my family.

I bought a time capsule ages ago (literally probably four years ago) and we still haven't put things together to bury in it. With my kids being so grown up, I don't want to waste another year without putting together this time capsule; I think it will be a fun thing for us to do together. I have no idea when we'll open it--we'll have to come up with a date or event--but it's fun to think about what we can put in there!

2. Watch football.

This is something I never in a million years expected to be interested in! Jeanie taught me the basics in the summer and when I watched my first game a couple of weeks ago, I actually really got into it. I've watched a couple more games since then and I found myself acting like a "real" football fan--covering my eyes (but peeking a little) at the really nerve-racking parts, yelling "Go go go go!", jumping up in excitement and, being me, tearing up a little when a rookie got his first NFL touchdown.

I'm writing this as I'm waiting for the Lions game to start, actually! Jerry and Noah went to a wrestling event, and Eli is at work. I find it so funny that I'm home alone and I'm *voluntarily* watching football. I've lost my damn mind! Hahaha.

I have no recollection of the reason behind this family photo in 2017, but I was told to wear a Lions shirt.

3. Go apple picking.

I feel like I'm probably the only person in Michigan to never have picked apples at an orchard (or maybe I have and just don't remember?). I know Jerry would love to go, and we'll force invite the kids to go as well. And of course, I romanticize the idea of making applesauce, baking an apple pie for my dad, and maybe making a vegan apple cobbler.

(I just opened my photos app to look for a picture of some sort to go with this post and found a picture of the fake apple that my dad attached to the apple tree in my yard a few years ago! That was hilarious and one of the most random things he's ever done. You can read the story here. I just realized I didn't update that post to show that after I replaced the apple with an orange, my dad then retaliated with a ginormous fake apple--see below)

I wish we had this fall weather year-round. I'm hoping we get a lot of these days this fall!

September 27, 2023

Wednesday Weigh-In: Week 122

I feel about as good as I look in this picture, haha. I just showered and put on my pajamas and it's not even 5:00 pm. I've been feeling for about a week now like I'm getting sick--it started with a non-stop headache, then a sore throat, and now a cough. I just wish that if I was getting sick, it would happen already! I took a COVID test, which was negative, and my symptoms haven't been bad at all. Just really annoying, especially the headache.

Anyway, I actually decided not to do a weigh-in this week. I've only skipped out a few times in the last couple of years, but I just really didn't want to get on the scale today. When Jerry gets sick, he drops a good 6-8 pounds because he loses his appetite. When I get sick, especially with a sore throat, I eat way too much!

I haven't been eating all sorts of junk food or anything, though. I've been eating my usual food, just too much of it. It may not have affected my weight all that much, but I woke up feeling bloated and just kind of crummy altogether, so I am going to skip my weekly weigh-in.

Like I've told myself in the past, though, I will not skip two weeks in a row. That's when I know that I'm headed way off course! So, no matter how I feel next week, I'm going to do my accountability weigh-in on Wednesday.

This upcoming week will be a good indicator of how well I'm going to be able to manage times like this on maintenance. There will always be times where I eat too much or eat the "wrong" foods, and to be successful at maintenance, I'll have to learn how to navigate that.

A question that I get asked frequently is how I get back on track after a weight gain or just a bad week or month or even year. I honestly don't have an answer for that! I wish I did. I know that the longer the amount of time that passes, the harder it is to get back on track, so I'm going to keep that in mind this week.

Something that always helps is to stay very busy. Since I've been sick (my headache is the worst part), I haven't been very active during the day. So I'm hoping that once I feel a little better, I can get back to the norm!

September 26, 2023

On This Day: September 26

Jerry usually writes on Tuesdays, but he forgot about it and I forgot to ask him about it. I haven't done an "On This Day" post in a while, so I thought that would be fun. I always like to look at pictures!

September 26 apparently wasn't a very eventful day for me over the decades, but here are a few pictures...

2008 - This is when I was picking Noah up from preschool. That sweet face!

2013 - This is one of my very favorite pictures of Jerry. He was going to visit John in San Diego, and I took him to the airport at 5:30 in the morning. He'd designed that shirt to wear, and I love it.

2015 - The four of us at the Renaissance Festival

2015 - I can't remember what year I started coaching cross country, but I think this was one of our first meets. I loved these shirts Renee and I wore! I still have mine. (I'm not coaching this year because of how stressful everything has been over the last year.)

2017 - This was probably my most memorable cross country practice. The kids were complaining about the heat and we were doing sprints. I told them that whoever did extra sprints could pour water on my head. They got a kick out of that!

My heart! Little Duckling in 2020, when he was only about six months old.

2022 - Eli lifting an ungodly amount of weight at the gym!

September 25, 2023

Atomic Habits: September

I probably should save this for next week, considering September isn't over yet, but I never actually wrote a post about this at the beginning of the month. I really wasn't sure how this was going to play out and I didn't want to make a big deal about it.

I know I've mentioned the book "Atomic Habits" several times already, but that is what prompted this whole "mission" (I'm not sure what to call it; basically, I want to change some habits, both good and bad). The book idea is simple: adding new good habits and breaking bad ones.

However, it is super helpful for figuring out a plan on HOW to do that. (I'm going to add a few Amazon links to products I have; in full disclosure, they are affiliate links which just means that if you should use the link to purchase, then I may get a commission. I'm not trying to push them; they are just products I have and find helpful.)

First, here is a link to the book "Atomic Habits" by James Clear. I listened to the audiobook first, and found it so helpful that I borrowed the Kindle book as well. The audiobook is really well done, if you prefer to listen rather than read. And it's not super long. (Actually, if you sign up for the free Audible "Premium Plus" trial on Amazon, you get to choose a book for free--and you can keep it! Even if you cancel the after the trial. I think that's how I got it.)

Several readers suggested the book Atomic Habits to me years ago, and I bought the audiobook with some Amazon credits I had--I just never got around to listening to it. When I saw the title "Atomic Habits" I immediately thought "huge"--I pictured an atomic bomb! But I learned that it's actually meant to be the complete opposite: "atomic" meaning minuscule, the size of an atom. Atomic habits are tiny little changes that eventually add up to big results.

"Here's how the math works out: if you can get 1 percent better each day for one year, you'll end up thirty-seven times better by the time you're done. Conversely, if you get 1 percent worse each day for one year, you'll decline nearly down to zero."  --James Clear, Atomic Habits

An example that helped me visualize this was to look at calories. If you eat 1% more calories than you burn every day, then you will gain a noticeable amount of weight over the course of a year. But if you eat 1% fewer calories than you burn, you'll lose weight. And either way, the change is so small that you barely notice it on a day to day basis. 

According to Atomic Habits, to build new habits, there are four "laws":

The Four Laws of Behavior Change are a simple set of rules we can use to build better habits. They are (1) make it obvious, (2) make it attractive, (3) make it easy, and (4) make it satisfying.

Each of those has key points that help you make a plan for implementing habits. I won't get into all of them (that's what the book is for), but here are a few that really helped me this month.

1) Make it obvious- I used what Clear calls habit stacking, which is where you follow one habit with another so that the first is basically a cue for the next. (I'll get into my own examples below.)

2) Make it attractive- I didn't make use of this one yet.

3) Make it easy- I used the "Two minute rule" and this was the biggest factor for me this month. The two-minute rule is simple: Downscale habits until they can be done in two minutes or less. (Again, I'll write my own examples below.)

4) Make it satisfying- I chose to use reinforcement, which means to give yourself an immediate reward when you complete your habit. I also chose to use a habit tracker, which is satisfying because you can see the progress on a chart.

First, I'll show you my habit tracker with the items I chose to work on this month:

Prior to reading Atomic Habits, I tried using trackers dozens of times and never got anywhere with them because I didn't make the habits "atomic". For example, I wrote "Read for 2 minutes" this month; two minutes might as well be nothing! Considering the two minute rule, however, the habit is doable. And eventually, the two+ minutes per day will lead to finishing books.

So, yes--this list of habits looks long. However, only a few of them take longer than two minutes. Here is how they played out for me:

1. Run around the block first thing in the morning.

Jerry was getting home from work right as I was getting home from my run, so he took a series of pictures--I'm wearing a headlamp, which is what the red light is from. I think the picture looks kind of cool!

I took any sort of preconceived running goal and threw it out the window. The sole purpose of putting this on my list was to get in the habit of running in the morning. Before reading the book, I would have written "Run 3 miles"--and then I'd procrastinate and quit shortly after. However, I chose "run around the block" because it's SO SHORT and I can be done with it before I even have time to change my mind.

Immediately after waking up, I change into my running clothes. Then I strap on my Garmin and Joey's leash (he LOVES this new running habit, by the way) and we head outside. We run one loop. Around my block is 0.41 miles, which is what we did for the first week. The second week, I decided to circle two blocks because it only adds 0.1 miles, making it a total of 0.52. (However, a couple of times I've only done one block; I don't ever want to hate it, so if I don't feel like doing more, I'm cool with that.)

The run takes a grand total of 4-6 minutes. And since I do it immediately after waking up, I don't even have time to think about it or talk myself out of it before I go. It's been 25 days now and I've run around the block every single morning. Without procrastinating. Without feeling like I should have done more. Without feeling like it doesn't really count because it's "only" half a mile.

I don't have future plans for this. If I want to add more distance later, I will. If I don't, I'm fine with just doing one loop of the block. Doing the 0.52-mile loop every day for a year will add up to 189.8 miles! In the past year (not counting this month), I only ran 54.7 miles total.

I've implemented the "satisfying" part into this habit as well. Right after my run, I make a cup of tea and I do the Wordle and Connections (New York Times puzzle games). I *love* the puzzles and I look forward to doing them, but I only do them after my morning run. It feels like a reward.

2. Take vitamin D and B-12.

This is simple. I had frequently been forgetting to take them or I'd take them at random times each day. However, I use habit stacking to make this a habit. While my tea steeps, I take my vitamin D and B-12--I keep the bottle with my tea bags so that I see it and remember to take it.

3. Drink 64 oz. of water.

I used to aim for a gallon. And I was having such a hard time reaching that! I used to drink that much when I was running a lot of miles, but for the past few years, staying hydrated has been a struggle. So, I changed it to 64 oz.

On Amazon recently, I found some water bottles that we used to have years ago--I loved them, but we lost them at some point. So, I bought two new ones.

(These water bottles are fantastic! They are the size and shape of a standard disposable (16.9 oz) bottle. The plastic is very good quality, and the whole top of the bottle can be removed for cleaning or adding ice. I'm kind of a water bottle hoarder, but these are (hands down!) my very favorite ones. Here is the link to Amazon.)

The goal is to drink four of them throughout the day, so after I drink one, I refill it and put it in the fridge and pull the other one out. I like to add a packet of True Grapefruit (it's not sweetened or anything--it's just a tiny amount of crystalized grapefruit juice). Here is the link to the True Grapefruit on Amazon. I actually wrote a review/giveaway of these WAY back in 2012, and you can find that post here.)

4. Clean kitchen counters before bed.

This is just one little chore that I would always used to put off until morning. I always feel like the house is gross when the counters are dirty, so I just feel better when they are clean before I go to bed. I used habit stacking for this by doing them immediately after dinner.

5. Do 3 back stretches before bed.

After dealing with chronic pain from 2018-2022, my back had gotten SO STIFF. I was kind of stunned recently when I realized just how little flexibility I have. A lot of it is due to a messed up disc that has caused problems for as long as I can remember, but the new chronic pain made me avoid any movement at all that would aggravate it. Anyway, the point is, I want to have some flexibility. And if there is any chance that I can help the disc in my back through exercises/stretching, I am willing to do it.

I used to make a whole list of stretches and vow to do them every day; and then I'd quit after a day or two. This time, I chose the two-minute rule: three back stretches that I learned in physical therapy, done for 30 seconds each (with 10 seconds rest in between). Using the foam roller (especially this particular stretch) has actually helped tremendously! It took about a week to feel any difference, but I've definitely noticed an improvement.

As anyone who has a cat knows, this is what happens when you try to do any sort of exercise on the floor:

Pardon me, just let me put my butthole in your face while you do that.

Chick, Duck, and even Phoebe have to check out what I'm doing.

That stretch on the foam roller feels amazing, by the way. It was my favorite at physical therapy.

6. Take iron supplement.

I'm still working on building up my ferritin level, so I'm continuing my iron supplement. I always take this right before eating dinner so that it becomes a habit.

7. Journal one line.

I've always loved the "Five Year" or "One Line A Day" journals because they only take a minute or two. I have a Five Year Journal and I love it. I've actually bought it as a gift for a few people, too. If you're not familiar with a five-year journal, it's a really cool concept; there are 365 pages (one for each date), with lines divided into five sections. Each page is marked for the date, and each paragraph section is where you write for the current year (you just fill in the last two digits of the year and then circle the day of the week).

So during the first year, you write a brief entry--just a couple of sentences about your day or whatever--on the first section for each date. Then the following year, you go back to the beginning of the journal and write a new entry for that date in the spot below it. It's neat to see what you wrote the year prior, or the year before that--kind of like the "memories" notifications on Facebook. (Here is the Amazon link to the one that I have, but if you search "five year journal", there are several. I like this one--it's not too small, not too big, and the pages are thick.)

8. Read for 2 minutes.

Again, I use the two minute rule for this. Sometimes I just don't have time to read or I don't feel like reading, so I will literally just read for two minutes (well, I usually finish out the page, so maybe a little longer). Most of the time, I get caught up in the book and end up reading for 20-30 minutes. I'm still reading Demon Copperhead--it's SO good! I'm just a slow reader, which is why I haven't finished it yet.

9. Do one Duolingo lesson.

One of my New Year's goals was to build my vocabulary with one new word each week. I wasn't doing great with remembering to do that, so instead, I started using Duolingo to learn Spanish. I took four years of Spanish in high school, but I remembered very little. The Duolingo app is free and each lesson only takes a couple of minutes. Most of the time I end up doing three of them, but doing at least one a day has helped me learn a lot!

I feel like I'm about to the point of where I stopped learning in high school, and I've only done it for 140 days or so. This is one of those habits that really shows how improving just a tiny bit each day will eventually add up.

10. Floss before bed.

This one is just one of those things that only takes a minute, but I just don't want to do. I guess I just feel like it's not totally necessary because I floss after breakfast every day (I put chia seeds in my cereal, and they always get stuck in my teeth). However, it feels good to go to bed with a totally clean mouth, which includes flossing. I use the water flosser now, so it goes much more quickly. I use habit stacking for this. I change into pajamas, do my back stretches, brush my teeth, then floss before getting into bed. The whole thing takes five minutes or so.

Funny story: A couple of days ago, I dropped the ball to one of my earrings down the drain in the bathroom sink. I was super bummed, and even though it was really tiny and probably hopeless to retrieve it, Jerry wanted to try. So he unscrewed the pipe under the sink to look. And then I noticed a little seedling growing in the drain--it was from a chia seed! Hahahaha.

As you can see from my Habit Tracker, this is day 25 of doing these every. single. day. I can feel them becoming mindless habits! It's amazing how much of a difference reading the book has made--the "two minute rule" is invaluable to making these stick. I always have a tendency to get overzealous (in pretty much everything I do) and that's why it's so hard to stick to. Breaking these down into "atomic" size habits made them very doable--and actually enjoyable!

I'm only making a few changes for October's habits, but I'm keeping most of them the same until they truly become automatic and I do them without thinking (or having to check the tracker to make sure I did them).

You can find a ton of different habit trackers on Amazon (or free printable ones, I'm sure). The one that I have is no longer available, but here is the link to a similar one, as well as the pens/markers I use. I love these! The tip is firm like a pen, but they write like a marker and best of all--they don't bleed through the paper. I even use them in my five-year journal. The tracker has a section for weekly and monthly habits as well as the daily ones, but I haven't used those yet. I want to get the daily habits down first.

September 22, 2023

Friday Night Photos #130

I don't have a ton of photos today, but I do have a "Good Lord!!" moment to write about. As I've written way too much, we've had a tough year--bad luck and mini catastrophes, one after another. And each time, I say, "Well, what else could possibly happen?" 

Nothing major has happened since the flood, so I finally decided to say it out loud to Jerry: "Our luck has turned around! What else could possibly happen?" Then Jerry started laughing, and said, "Really?! Really. Okay. Here, HOLD MY BEER!" Hahaha.

Over the weekend, I was working on a new sewing project--basically combining two pairs of pants into one--and each pair had a drawstring. I was only going to be using one drawstring for the finished pair. I am METICULOUS about picking up any piece of thread or string or anything like that because of what happened to Duck in 2021.

(If you're not aware, Chick and Duck ate some yarn. Chick threw it up, but Duck did not, and he got very sick. I took him to the vet as soon as I noticed what had happened, but he needed emergency surgery. He developed a high fever and spent several days at the vet. It was horrible. And it cost $3,000! Lesson learned: DO NOT LET CATS PLAY WITH YARN OR STRING OF ANY KIND.)

Sewing is kind of a scary hobby for me to have after what happened with Duck--but that's why I am extra careful about keeping all thread cleaned up. I even cut the tails into tiny pieces just in case one should fall on the floor. It drives Duck crazy that I don't let him play with it. Anyway...

Duck was attacking the drawstring while I was pulling it out of one pair of pants. Since it was so large, I decided it was okay for him to play with it. Jerry and I played with the cats (all four of them were having a blast) and when we were done, I looped the drawstring around a dining room chair.

The next day, Jerry and I decided to play with the cats again, but we couldn't find the drawstring. (You see where this is going.) I really wanted to get the cats playing again, but I couldn't find the string. Chick likes to take his toys into my room and hide them under my bed, so I figured that's what he did. I didn't bother looking; again, since the drawstring was so big I wasn't worried about the cats eating it.


The next morning, Duck was sitting on my lap and I heard the god-awful noise of (who I thought was Phoebe) retching like she was going to throw up. I felt bad disturbing Duck, but I knew I'd have to clean up cat puke, so I got up to clean it. Then I noticed it was Chick and not Phoebe. Chick very rarely throws up, and the few times he has, it's just been a hairball (well, except for the yarn of course).

I noticed something hanging out of his mouth just a couple of inches, but I reflexively grabbed it (he was trying to swallow it back down). And then it was like one of those clowns pulling scarves out of their sleeve--it just kept coming.

The entire thing came out. And it was the ENTIRE DRAWSTRING. You can see just how long it is--about as tall as me!

The look on my face is actually a moment between my retching (that drawstring was the most foul-smelling thing I've ever caught whiff of) and Jerry laughing at me. I literally almost threw up while I held it up for a picture to show how long it is.

I was completely stunned by the whole thing. I am SO SO SO glad that he threw it up instead of it making its way into his intestines. He is so lucky.

And so are we! Can you even imagine if he'd needed surgery? That would be the cherry on top of the shitshow that has been the last year.

So, please don't ever assume that just because a string is huge means that it's safe for cats to play with. I will never, ever make that assumption again.

Anyway, after all of that, the rest of my pictures aren't exactly exciting. But here is what I've got...

Jerry sneaks (the most unflattering) photos of me all the time and then I come across them on my phone later; this is when I was making seitan. We love seitan and because it's so versatile, it's super fun to try new recipes for it. (I almost always have some form of seitan in the fridge for lunch or snacking.)

This week, I made a recipe for a "vegan turkey roast" and it was SO AMAZING--Jerry and I both immediately agreed that it was our new favorite. This picture is before glazing and baking, but we couldn't help slicing and eating it--next time, maybe we'll end up getting to the glaze part, haha. The herbs reminded me of Thanksgiving (and this is definitely what I'll be making this year).

I also decided to try making vegan pepperoni. Well, as soon as we tasted this, we declared it was our NEW favorite--just a couple of days after we said the "turkey" was our favorite. I honestly believe that this tastes so much like pepperoni, if it was on your pizza you'd never know that it was vegan. I think that's the only time I've claimed that seitan could fool someone into thinking it was meat. (I love seitan for what it is, and I don't try to make it look and taste just like meat--I just don't think that's possible--but this pepperoni is as close as it gets.)

I always rely on my kids to tell me honestly what they think, and neither of them eats seitan. However, they both said that this "tastes just like turkey pepperoni" (they have always preferred turkey pepperoni because it's not as greasy). The fact that they BOTH like this made me feel giddy, haha. This is perfect for snacking (and it's super healthy). Now, if I could just find an amazing vegan cheese recipe for homemade pizza... (I've tried so many. There is one that we like, but it's not what I would call "amazing". If you have one that is knock-your-socks-off good, please share!)

Speaking of pizza, Eli decided he was going to ask his girlfriend to homecoming by making a pizza at work with "HOCO" spelled out in pepperoni--hahaha! (They are going to homecoming tomorrow; it's Eli's last one, so it's bittersweet.)

When he told me about the pizza idea, I remembered that I have a picture of Jerry from when we were dating, and he worked at a pizza place. One day, he knew I was going in there to see him, and he made this crust with "I <3 U" cut out. Eli totally one-upped that, haha. 

This was a great week for Eli because he also bought his first car! It's a 2008 Volvo, and my parents' neighbor sold it to him for $500. (Luckily, he'd started saving up for a car in the summer and had the money.) It's in fantastic condition--and naturally, he's thrilled. After what happened to him with the Patriot, he deserves this.

And that's all I've got. Have a great weekend! xovegan deli sliced turkey

September 21, 2023

Three Things Thursday: Dad

I almost skipped writing today because I just couldn't come up with anything to write about! "Three things" is such a broad category that you would think I'd have no problem coming up with a topic, but I was struggling.

Today is my dad's birthday, and it just occurred to me that I could write about him! So, here are three things that I love about my dad...

1. He's a hard worker.

This sounds like a cliché line, but my dad is probably the hardest worker that I know. Starting when he was a kid! When he was 16 years old, his family moved to Florida but he wanted to stay here in Michigan. He was 100% independent and had to work just to support himself--while he was still in high school.

Lately, I've asked his advice a few times about what to do with my kids as far as finances go. I couldn't remember what my parents still paid for when I was a teen (car insurance? gas? entertainment with friends?). My kids have been very spoiled and I wish I'd done things a little differently, but knowing what my dad went through as a teen has made me feel confident about being a little tougher with my kids (making them work harder for what they have/want).

My parents were 18 and 19 when they got married, and my dad continued to work hard to support us (four kids!). He's been an auto mechanic in some form for his entire life, which is not easy money--it's a lot of tough, physical work. Countless people have trusted him to work on their cars for decades, knowing that they'll never get that kind of quality service at a shop.

When he taught me how to change the oil in my car

2. He taught himself to paint.

This talent seemed to come out of nowhere at all; in fact, of any talents that may run in my family, art is definitely not one of them. Once in a while, my dad would catch Bob Ross on TV and I can remember watching with him. We would both be amazed at Bob's work, and then gasp, "Oh no!" when Bob would decide at the last minute to just paint one huge black line down the center of his painting--only to turn it into the most lifelike tree and make the painting even more mind-blowing.

My dad actually learned how to paint by watching Bob Ross.

We may have gone overboard with Bob Ross novelty gifts that year. The painting he'd just finished was of a bridge that we used to go fishing on when I was a kid.

And seeing the evolution of his paintings is unbelievable. I don't have pictures of any of his recent ones, unfortunately, but this one below is one of my favorites. It's hanging in my living room now.

We still have a couple of his first paintings and it's stunning to see how far his work has come. That he taught himself to paint like this is unbelievable.

3. He's very resourceful. 

You've seen on my blog when I've made projects out of wood or fabric or things like that, and I use up every last scrap of materials that I can. I save all of my wood cuts offs and find a way to use the small pieces to build things. I sew things without having to buy fabric (I like to use old clothes or bedding or whatever I have on hand). Rather than buying new furniture, I use leftover paint that I already have and refinish old furniture.

All of that comes from seeing my dad do it all these years. For him, it was about money; when he was younger, he didn't have any choice but to make do with what he had. Even as an adult, he continues to use and repurpose things, because why spend money on something new when you can use what you already have? (There have even been a couple of times where I've given him a gift and had to tell him I got it super cheap or that I got it for me and just wasn't going to use it, otherwise he wouldn't accept it, haha.)

I will say, though, despite the fact that he doesn't like to buy things unless absolutely needed, he's extremely generous. If you tell him you like something, you just may come home to find it on your porch. He likes to do things that he knows will make people happy.

I could list several more things that I love about my dad, but these were the first ones to pop into my head. He turned 72 years old today! I made him his favorite pecan pie, which has become a tradition (I make one for Father's Day and one for his birthday).

This was from a couple of years ago. I wish I'd taken a picture of the one I made today, because it was probably the best looking one I've ever made!

I'll end this post with a little essay I wrote--I don't know what my age was, but I'm guessing about 10 or 11? I wrote it at church to nominate him for Father of the Year, haha. My mom came across it a few weeks ago and gave it to me. It's a little cringey, but cute! ;)

September 20, 2023

Wednesday Weigh-In: Week 121

I can't remember if I posted about this hoodie, but it's another item of clothing that I altered. It was actually a bathrobe! Haha. It was a wrap-around robe but I was missing the belt so I only wore it like a cardigan. I really wish I took a good before photo of it; this is the only one I could find, and you really can't see it well. (This is a horrible picture of me and I have no idea why Jerry took it!)

I really like the colors (and the fabric, which is a stretchy knit fabric, thicker than a t-shirt but thinner than a fleece sweatshirt) so I decided to see if I could turn it into a zip-up hoodie. It was kind of asymmetrical in order to wrap it, so I had to cut it to shape before adding a zipper. I also had to cut some of the length off, obviously. The cuffs had been kind of short, so I made long ones with the leftover fabric and added thumbholes. I also sewed in the pockets. I like how it turned out!

Anyway, I feel like these Wednesday Weigh-In posts are becoming kind of redundant. I'm not really sure what to write when it's been an uneventful week (as far as my weight is concerned, anyway). This morning's weigh-in:

I was at 130.6, which I think is up a little over a pound from last week. Like I said, though, my weight has been between 128 and 131 for six weeks now, so I'm happy with it! I've been doing really well with my eating habits.

Speaking of habits, I keep meaning to write a post about the "Atomic Habits" I've been working on. I'm kind of amazed at how much of a difference they've made--mostly in my attitude, but also in making a good routine for myself. I think it's helped my mental health as well. I will write a whole post about it this weekend, because I can't believe how well the suggestions in the Atomic Habits book have worked.

I think a combination of taking time off from the blog and focusing more on my daily routine and self-care have helped reduce my anxiety quite a bit, and that has helped me to not eat for emotional reasons. I've stopped thinking so negatively about all of the bad luck my family has had over the last year and I've started seeing the humor in it.

I've been cooking a lot more new recipes lately and I think that has helped with keeping my weight pretty steady as well. I had gotten to the point where I hated cooking and would do the least amount of work possible in the kitchen, so we had a lot of the same (simple) meals. Now that I have more energy and a better attitude, I look forward to trying new recipes.

Over the last couple of weeks, I actually went through the binder of all of my recipes (hundreds) and vegan-ized them. I haven't tested the vegan versions, but I plan to do that; I'd like to get back to cooking one new recipe each week like I used to.

Speaking of cooking, I've got to go make dinner so Jerry has something to take to work! For this upcoming week, I'd like to just continue with the habits I've been working on. Hoping for another good week :)

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