Monday, September 26, 2016

Office Makeover (Again)

Hello, everyone! Welcome back to the blog. Sorry it's been so long. While I can't offer up any Whole 30-style hangry ranting (Currently sitting on my couch eating a box of Wheat Thins. They are delicious.), I can offer you before and after pictures of my office makeover! A different category of blogging perhaps, but I promise that what this blog post lacks in disappointing frittatas, it makes up for in blue and white Ikea furniture.

Ellen, you may wonder to yourself, didn't you just makeover your office? Like less than a year ago?

...yes. Yes, I did. But I had a perfectly good reason to make it over again, and I spent very little money, so don't judge me. Just look at the pictures. 

Stage One: July 2015

As some of you may recall, when I arrived at Macalester a little over a year ago, I walked in to this:

It was scary and dirty and had very little room to walk around. In fact, every time I walked in, I tripped over the godforsaken red dolly you see in that picture. I swear the thing followed me around.

Stage Two: August 2015

My first order of business, then, when getting started at Mac was to find a better home for Dear Old Dolly. Well, that and finding a little more floor space so that my staff and I could actually get in and out of the office. So, once I got my office back from student summer staff in August, I set about purging miscellaneous items that had been left in the office over the years, rearranging some furniture, and moving in a few of my own belongings.

I was left with this:

While perhaps not a Pinterest-perfect office, the result left me tremendously proud, especially when I looked at the before pictures from a few months earlier.

The freshly-redecorated office had floor space and seating space. It had things on the walls and curtains on the windows. Best of all, the darn dolly had a home that was conveniently off the floor and out of the way.

However, as much as I liked the new office set up, I still didn't want to be in the office. Sure, I felt comfortable making my student staff work several hour shifts there, and I wasn't embarrassed to hold one-on-one meetings or conduct hearings in the office, but it was not a space that I sought out. I didn't respond to emails or watch reruns of Gilmore Girls or curl up with homework in this room. 

But again, it wasn't a bad office. And I was happily living with it. 

Stage Three: May 2016

But then, last spring, I got word that my building was going to be getting new paint and new carpet over the summer. As a consequence, I had to pack up the contents of the office and take everything off the walls. 

I was left with this:

A beautiful, blank slate. A beautiful, blank slate and a $150 budget of unspent money leftover from my yearly budget. Suddenly, the possibilities were endless! I rushed to spend the money on decor and a few pieces of new furniture before the fiscal year ended. Then I stuffed everything into the building's basement and impatiently awaited the end of the summer, when the remodel would be complete.

Stage Four: August 2016

Finally, in August, the tarps came down, the painter's tape came off, and I got my office back. With just days before our Res Life staff returned to campus, I set about tackling the following projects:

Removing the unused filing cabinet 
Getting rid of the old desk chairs
Assembling the new chairs
Hanging new curtains
Rearranging the furniture
Assembling and hanging the gallery wall
Replacing the clock
Redecorating the staff bulletin board
Assembling the new side table
Assembling the new lamps
Unpacking the six boxes of equipment and office supplies I had crammed in the basement. 

After four days of unpacking, decorating, going to Target more times than I can count (I legitimately had to go to Target four times because I kept buying the wrong kind of light bulb for my lamps. It was ridiculous), I was left with this:

Rearranging the furniture and adding a side table gave me a much-needed sitting area where I can have my more informal one-on-one meetings. It's also a great place to read a book or respond to emails.

Pushing the two desks together allowed both me and the student staff to spread out a bit more without fear that our binders and textbooks would fall on the floor. As a bonus, this arrangement also meant I could add the aforementioned sitting area. And, as a bonus bonus, I was able to sort of achieve THIS look without spending any money!

What's a student affairs office without a little Brene?

I also removed the filing cabinet and moved its (meager) contents to the portable file holder, now located on the bottom shelf of the side table. 

This gallery wall only cost me $4! I grabbed four frames from the dollar store and used old sticky tack to hang each item. I used old calendar sheets, various greeting cards, personal artwork, and things I found on the internet to decorate the wall.

The best part of all is the addition of the new lamps. They make everything feel so cozy.

And that's it! (Well, okay, I also cleaned out the closet but it isn't quite as picturesque as the office. I love it. But I don't think others would be so enamored of my ability to cram multiple vacuums, art supplies, lawn games, and giant post it pads into a tiny little coat closet.)

For the interested, I've made a list of the items I purchased below. (I get no reward or compensation for listing these - I'm just in love with my decor, and I thought I'd share :) )

Thanks for letting me show off my office!

Friday, July 1, 2016

Whole30, Days 26-30: But Wait, There's More!

Catch up on all the Whole30 posts by clicking here. 

Hello, everyone. As I write this, it is Day 31: nine whole hours since Whole30 ended. Or rather, "ended." See, despite what the Whole30 name would suggest, Whole30 does not truly end after 30 days. Oh no. We've got eleven whole days left, my friends.

At its core, Whole30 is an elimination diet. Rather than trying to help you lose weight, Whole30 ihelps you discover how different foods impact your mood, energy, and overall health. So, for 30 days, we cut out dairy, gluten, non-gluten grains (think corn, rice, etc.), and legumes (peanuts, soy, beans). Now that those 30 days are over, Kenny and I will embark on the reintroduction journey. Hopefully it won't be too painful. (And I mean that literally.)

But those posts are all in the future! I'm only 9 hours into dairy reintroduction, so I can't write that post yet! Instead, I offer up a recap of our final days on Whole30. (Miraculously, we did not quit...and I didn't want to quit. Except for that time that I tried to talk Kenny into getting ice cream on Day 29. I figured it was close enough.)

Sunday, Day 26

Breakfast - Chicken Avocado leftovers
When Sunday dawned, Kenny and I felt far too lazy to break out any pots or pans for cooking. So instead, we pulled out the Tupperware and dug into the leftover chicken avocado salad from the day before. We didn't even bother with new bowls - we just ate out of the Tupperware. We're heathens.

Lunch - Red Potato leftovers, Lemon Garlic Chicken leftovers
For lunch, we had S.L.O.P. (Some Leftovers On Parade. You can thank my Aunt Molly for that one ;) ). A beautiful side effect of Whole30 is almost always having lots of yummy, homemade leftovers in the fridge. There's something immensely satisfying about having a full fridge (it makes me feel like I'm adulting successfully), and never has our fridge been more full than it has these past few weeks. Also, our Rubbermaid containers are getting a serious workout.

Dinner - Cauliflower Fried Rice
Kenny was feeling ambitious (and hungry for Chinese takeout), so he whipped up a cauliflower fried rice dish on Sunday night. I was skeptical at first, but it ended up being really tasty. The cauliflower was a great vehicle for all the delicious things we mixed in (chicken, carrots, green onions, etc.).

Cauliflower wreaths have never looked so tasty.

We also used coconut aminos as a substitute for soy sauce (since soy is off limits during Whole30), and I really liked it. A lot. Coconut aminos may become a permanent soy sauce replacement in our household.

Sorry for the shadow of my head. I didn't realize I'd done it until longer after the food was gone. 

Monday, Day 27

Breakfast - Apple and Almond Butter
On Monday morning, I just wasn't feeling the breakfast thing. I didn't want to eat, but I knew that I should eat. So rather than skipping the meal, I sliced up an apple and ate it with almond butter. The Hartwigs would be ashamed. No veggies and very little protein. But it was yummy and I ate it and I didn't skip a meal. We can't have everything.

Lunch - Rice Leftovers
Cauliflower rice leftovers were for lunch. They tasted nice.

Dinner - Squash Pad Thai
Are you on Whole30? Are you looking for recipes to spice up your life? Do you miss pad thai terribly?

Then run away. Run far away.

This meal made me so sad. First, look at the list of delicious ingredients:

  • spaghetti squash 
  • shrimp
  • ghee
  • green onion
  • red onion
  • coconut aminos (my fave!)
  • garlic 
  • red pepper flakes

Doesn't that seem like it would make a delicious meal?

Well, it didn't. And all because of one heinous additional ingredient: coconut vinegar.

See, we needed a substitute for the rice vinegar required by the original recipe, and the internet told us this coconut concoction would work. But it didn't. It was awful. All it did was make the sauce extra spicy, which made the meal extra spicy. And vinegary. There was no real flavor other than spicy. It tasted like someone had cooked and mixed up all these foods that I loved, but instead of adding yummy spices, they just made all these foods spicy.

It was sad. I was sad.

Tuesday, Day 28

Breakfast - Food?
I assume I ate breakfast, but I have no memory or record of having done so.

Lunch - Spaghetti Squash and Red Sauce
While picking up coconut aminos at Whole Foods, Kenny and I also found some jarred tomato sauce that was totally Whole30 compliant AND it didn't cost an arm and a leg! Huzzah! Losing out on the convenience of pre-packaged food has been one of the most challenging parts of Whole30, so finding something that wouldn't ruin our diets was a delightful surprise. At any rate, we had some (untainted) spaghetti squash leftover from the Pad Thai From Hell, so I heated it up, threw some tomato sauce and leftover chicken on top and had myself a pretty yummy meal.

Dinner - Slowcooker Garlic Pork Butt
Oh. My. Heavens. I was pretty doubtful when Kenny showed me a hunk of pork butt and told me he was going to make a delicious dinner. But he was dedicated enough to get up by himself at 6 am to put the butt in the slowcooker and then stuff that butt with garlic cloves.

All day I doubted him.

Then, at 3:30, I removed the lid, stuck a fork in the butt, and the whole thing fell apart. It was the juciest, yummiest,most tender, pork I've had in ages. Unfortunately, I was rushing to get to my night class, so I could only eat a few bites before I had to run off.

My rush to beat rush hour also prevented me from taking pictures, so please enjoy this pic from Nom Nom Paleo, where we got the recipe.

Wednesday, Day 29

Breakfast - Sadness
I've been getting really bad at feeding myself in the morning. Like, really bad. I keep making food for Kenny (I believe I made him a potato Wednesday morning), and then just giving up when it comes to feeding myself. I had a morning meeting on Wednesday, so I'm sure I ate something. Applesauce? Avocado? Who knows. 

Lunch - Leftover Pork
Just as delicious as it was the first time. 

Dinner - Breaded Porkchops (for Kenny) and Shrimp with Avocado
Finally, miraculously, on the second to last day of Whole30, Kenny and I were able to whip up a meal with just the ingredients we had lying around the house. When Kenny got home, he expressed a desire to eat a bunch of pork, and I felt like shrimp. So we independently cooked up our meals and ate a healthy meal together. It was lovely.

Thursday, Day 30

Breakfast - Cinnamon Applesauce
Day 30. I had been dreaming of this day for weeks. This was the day when I would pop out of bed, happily eat eggs and avocado, and revel in the gloriously healthy new lifestyle I had built for myself. 

Instead, I folded some laundry and dumped some cinnamon into a cup of natural applesauce. Yummy? Yes. A meal? no. Unsurprisingly, I was hungry by 9:30.

Lunch - A Baked Potato
Day 30 happened to be a grocery day, so our kitchen had very little food. As I stood in front of the refrigerator at 11:32 am, I came to terms with the realization that Whole30 was going to end with a whimper and not a bang. The fridge held a bit of chicken and a few shrimp, but neithersounded appealing, and neither constituted a meal. However, we did have a whole bag of jumbo potatoes, so I slathered one in olive oil and popped it in the oven. 

It was disappointing. 

Second Lunch - Shrimp and a Ruined Shirt
I'm sure no one will be surprised to hear that I felt hungry again by 3 pm. I tried to resist food as long as I could, but by 3:45, my stomach hurt from hunger. I decided to reheat the shrimp from the night before, hoping that they would tide me over until dinner time. 

Unfortunately, one of these devilish little shrimp fell from my mouth onto my silk blouse, covering it in oil and garlic. So now I need to go to the dry cleaners. 

Dinner - Chicken Tenders, Broccoli, Grapes, and Potato Chips (Oh my!)
By the time dinner rolled around, I was hardcore hangry. Kenny's mere existence irritated me. How dare he offer to help me make dinner? How dare he unload the dishwaher? How dare he be in the kitchen? How dare he breathe?? I was a mess. And poor Kenny had to deal with me. 

My hangriness was only exacerbated by the disaster that was the chicken tenders. As some of you may recall, I wasn't a fan of the oven-baked chicken tenders Kenny and I made a few weeks ago with cayenne pepper. But while meal planning yesterday, I had found a pan-frying recipe that including zero cayenne pepper and looked quite tasty - at least, in the instagram photo.

Definitely NOT my photo. Taken from Whole30's instagram.

The first 2 or 3 tenders turned out really well, but soon the almond flour started burning in the pan, and I was left with a smoky kitchen, a bowl of almond flour and a huge bowl of raw chicken. In the end, I just pan-seared and then baked the remainder of the chicken. I also took no pictures. But don't worry, they weren't very appetizing. 

Lastly, Kenny and I ate a few Simply Lays sea salt potato chips. (Can I take this moment to share that Simply Cheetos are a thing? Like, someone at Frito-Lay thought, What chips/snacks should we develop for our pared-down, slightly healthier snack line? I know! Cheetos! Shoot. Now I want Cheetos. Back to the blog post!) See, we wanted to celebrate the end of Whole30 by eating something we weren't allowed to eat during the month, but we also didn't want to jeopardize our reintroduction plan. So we chose potato chips. 

These were technically off-limits for psychological and healthy habits reasons - it's easy to overeat chips or mindlessly snack on them at 3 pm because you're bored. BUT the ingredients list is technically compliant - just potatoes, sunflower oil and sea salt (at least for the bag we grabbed. Beware of soybean oil.) Surprisingly, portion control was pretty easy. Mostly because we were both worried about accidentally making ourselves sick. 

Then, once dinner was over, Kenny chopped up potato and onion in preparation for our Dairy Reintro Day breakfast, and I stared longingly at the ice cream in our freezer. 

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Whole30, Days 22, 23, 24, 25: Stockholm Syndrome

Catch up on all the Whole30 posts by clicking here.

Alright. I went a bit rogue in my last post. Blame it on the sugar cravings. But this time I'm back to normal! Pictures of food, a regular eating schedule, and my uncensored thoughts on this whole Whole30 thing.

Now, before we get going, I should warn you, this post is full of oversharing about my bodily functions. You have been warned.


After going wild with cravings for the previous week, I woke up Wednesday feeling semi-normal. I didn't want to quit Whole30, and I didn't want cookies. Or at least, I didn't want cookies as badly as I wanted one earlier in the week. I definitely still wanted to eat a cookie.

Breakfast: Spoonful of almond butter
By Wednesday morning, Kenny and I were starting to run low on foodstuffs. The weekly meal plan told me I was supposed to eat leftover breakfast sausages, but I didn't want to eat that. So I had a spoonful of almond butter. Melissa and Dallas Hartwig would be so ashamed.

Lunch: Sausages with Avocado
By lunchtime, we truly had no food in our house, so I buckled down and ate the breakfast sausages. To make them more appealing, I sliced up an avocado to go with them. Surprisingly, it was very tasty. So then I regretted all the times I've eaten the breakfast sausage without the avocado. What a fool I was.

Once I had finished up, I accepted that we were out of food and that I need to just suck it up and go to the grocery store.

Snack: Raw Nuts with a side of Getting Pulled Over
Let me tell you a little story about my irresponsibility and ongoing hatred of the DMV. In June 2014, I moved to the lovely state of Minnesota. Minnesota requires that you get an in-state license within one month of moving to the state. However, I knew that I would be getting married and changing my name in November of 2014, so it seemed silly to deal with the DMV twice in six months. Plus, I'm a decent driver. So I figured that as long as I didn't get pulled over, everything would be okay. So, in November, Kenny and I got married. In February of 2015, once all the name-change paperwork had been filed, I finally went to the DMV and got a Minnesota license.

Unfortunately, although I filled out all of the paperwork corrently (I have the carbon copies to prove it) a clerical error/typo resulted in my new license getting sent to the wrong address. And the DMV will not forward mail. Of course, I didn't realize that the license had gone to the wrong address for a few weeks. Instead, I sat in our apartment wondering why my license still hadn't arrived after a full month.  By the time I called the DMV, figured out what went wrong, and waited an additional two weeks for my license to arrive at the correct address, the whole getting-a-license-process had taken 7-8 weeks. It was a nightmare.

So you'll understand, I think, that when I was offered a job at Macalester and moved to a different address in June 2015, I wasn't keen on updating the address on my license. I figured the position was only two years, I had had my license for less than six months, and I wasn't likely to get pulled over.

Well, problem is, the DMV uses the address they have on file for important things. Like mailing you reminder/renewal forms for your license tabs. And if you don't give them the correct address, they won't send these renewal reminders to you. And the post office won't forward them to you for security reasons. So when my tags expired in March, I  was clueless.

Fast forward to last Sunday, June 19, when my head popped off my pillow at midnight because I suddenly realized that it had been more than a year since I had messed with license tabs. Thankfully, Minnesota allows you to renew tabs online up to 10 months after they expire. Hooray! So on Monday, I got online to renew them.

Which brings us back to early Wednesday afternoon.  After eating lunch, I headed out to the grocery store to pick up food. I figured, Hey. I have been driving around with expired tabs for three months in blissful ignorance, and no one has pulled me over. I should be able to make a quick trip to the grocery store and back.

So naturally, on the way home from the grocery, I got pulled over for having expired tabs. And I also had an out-of-date license. And out of date car insurance because it had renewed the week before and the new cards were still sitting on Kenny's desk. It was a perfect storm of expiration.

On the bright side, the officer only gave me one ticket instead of three. (And yes, I did tell the officer that I had just renewed the tabs online, and yes I did show him the confirmation email, and no, he didn't care.)

And then I got home and ate some nuts.

Dinner: Chicken Burgers and Cauliflower Mash
By Wednesday night, I needed some serious comfort food - something warm and creamy and delicious. So while I whipped up some chicken burgers (using the meatball recipe in the Whole30 book), Kenny made some delicious cauliflower mash. It's no mashed potatoes, but it's still yummy and delicious.


Breakfast - I honestly don't remember
I assume that I ate something on Thursday. Maybe a larabar? Or maybe I skipped breakfast? I did have an early-ish meeting that day...

Lunch - Chicken Burgers and Mash
The chicken burgers were even tastier leftover. I'm telling you, this recipe is worth investigating even if you're not doing Whole30.

Shortly after eating those delicious chicken burgers on Thursday, my stomach started to feel weird - crampy and upset and just...not right. It was then that I realized it had kind of been a while since I pooped. (I warned you there were bodily functions in this post.)

Now, my digestive system has been kind of wonky since Whole30 started. I expected that in the first week or two (the book even warned me about it), but Thursday was Day 23, and I was ready to be back to normal. But I wasn't normal. I was constipated. And I hadn't been the bathroom since Sunday morning.

Frustrated and in increasing discomfort, I turned to the internet (naturally). And according to a "Foods That Help You Poop" Google search, my issue was vegetables. Or rather, a lack of them in my diet. I'm great on the fruit, fats, and protein front, but I just haven't been eating enough vegetables. (I had, however, been eating a lot of avocado, which is like number 2 on the poop list, but whatever. Clearly my body is pissed at me.) Conveniently, Kenny and I had already been planning a dinner heavy on the vegetables. So, knowing that relief was (probably) coming soon, I hunkered into bed and wallowed in my grumpy discomfort until Kenny came home.

Dinner - Chicken with Curried Vegetables
As soon as Kenny walked through the door, I hopped out of bed and turned on the oven. I needed vegetables, stat! Kenny and I set about dicing various root vegetables, tossed the veggies in olive oil and popped them into the oven to roast. Then, we turned our attention to the main attraction: the curry.

At some point in my childhood, I decided I didn't like curry. I don't know why and I don't know when. I just know that some foolish part of my brain ruled against it.

I also don't know why I thought it was a good idea to try curry again, much less while we were on Whole30. Perhaps I was feeling adventurous. Or maybe the picture in the Whole30 book just made the curry look a lot like delicious creamy cheese. Either way, we tried it.

And holy cow. I like curry. No, I LOVE curry. WHY oh WHY have I been avoiding curry for so many years? Oh my goodness this stuff was so amazingly delicious. Like, this may be one of my favorite foods. I don't mean on Whole30. I mean favorite foods ever. My iphone didn't know how to handle the dark blue of the cherry bowl and the bright yellow of the curry, so the photo is kind of junk, but TRUST ME. This was ohmygosh incredible. (If you've got a Whole30 book at home, it's the curry and roasted vegetables recipe. Make it.) How have I been living with out curry for so many years of my life?


Breakfast - Red potatoes
Unfortunately, the high of discovering my love of curry did not counteract my digestive issues. By Friday morning, I was exhausted (probably because my poop problems were preventing nutrients form getting to the rest of my body), I had a headache, and my digestive cramps had increased ten fold.

Although I had initially planned to get up early to make breakfast, my beautiful husband got up and made roasted red potatoes in my stead. In an attempt to relieve my poop issues, I paired the potatoes with some raw spinach. Except the potatoes just didn't really go with the spianch, so I just stacked spinach leaves on top of each other and rolled them up into little cylinders and ate them like cheetos. It was just as sad as it sounds. But I needed greens if I wanted to poop. And I really wanted to poop.

Lunch: Leftover curry
You know how delicious the curry was on Thursday? Miraculously, it was even better on Friday. Apparently letting the curry sit for a day or two brings out the flavors. Gosh it was good. It's been two days and I'm still thinking about it. Make this curry. Or any curry. Just indulge in some curry.

Also, around 11:28 am, something glorious happened: I pooped.

Dinner: Turkey Burgers
On Friday night, Kenny and I wanted something fast and easy, so we pulled out the leftover cauliflower mash (I needed veggies so that I could continue this pooping trend), chopped up some watermelon we had sitting in the fridge, and made turkey burgers. The burgers themselves weren't fancy - just premade patties from the grocery. But we topped them with red onions and guacamole (Also store-bought. I'm still too scarred from the jalapeno incident to make my own.) and they were delish.


Breakfast: Red potatoes
Leftover potatoes and turkey burgers. Nothing to see here.

Lunch: Chicken Avocado Salad
For lunch, Kenny and I broke out the Chicken Avocado Salad recipe we love so much (you can find it here if you're interested). We made it earlier on Whole30, but the avocados we used were weird and so the salad tasted weird too. But this time, all the ingredients were perfect! We also reduced the chicken content a little bit so that it didn't over power the avocado.

Then, we put it on a bed of spinach because healthy digestive systems are important.

Dinner: Lemon Garlic Chicken in Slowcooker
For dinner, we tried out a Buzzfeed recipe with only four ingredients: a chicken, a few lemons, rosemary, and garlic cloves. We also tried out a slow cooker liner for the first time. I am now in love. I will never use a slow cooker without a liner again.

As directed by the video, we transferred the slow-cooked chicken to a pan and put it in the broiler. We discovered that either our broiler is extra intense (we've never used a broiler before, so we have no frame of reference) or the recipe gave bad timing, because after only five minutes, it started to turn black. (The instructions say 10 minutes.)

Luckily, I heard the crackling of the burning chicken, so we retrieved it before major damage was done. In fact, the skin ended up being the best part!

Stockholm Syndrome / Reasons Why Whole30 is Sucking Less

And thus ends Day 26. Somehow, inexplicably, I am starting to feel kind of positive about Whole30. Could this be Stockholm Syndrome? Maybe. Maybe I've just forgotten how delicious cheese tastes. A lot of my frustration from a few weeks ago stemmed from not getting the result I wanted from this program. I had really been hoping for the boundless energy that so many other Whole30 participants experience, but it just isn't happening. However, lots of other good things have been happening:
  • My skin is clearer
  • I am sleeping soundly and through the night more often
  • I no longer feel like taking a nap between 1 and 3 pm every afternoon
  • Kenny and I have been eating every meal at the kitchen table instead of sacking out in front of the TV
  • I don't feel heavy and gross after meals the way I used to (I have a theory that I have issues with soy, but we'll see what happens once we get into the reintroduction days)
  • I have far more confidence in my cooking abilities. For example, ingredients list that include more than three items no longer scare me. 
  • I know what an immersion blender is and how to use it.
  • I am no longer afraid of mystery vegetables thanks to the magic of olive oil. 

No, don't get me wrong. I am still very much looking forward to the first day of reintroduction when I can eat some ice cream. But my resentment is slowly fading away. Especially now that I'm pooping like a normal person again. 

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Whole30, Days 16-21: Just Give Me Donuts

Catch up on all the Whole30 posts by clicking here. 

I've been putting off this post. Not because Kenny and I quit (somehow, ridiculously, we are still doing this), and not because I have gotten sick of the blog.

No. I am just sick to death of food.

I mean, we have had a few yummy things. For example, Kenny and I found some grass-fed beef sausages (not hotdogs) that were pretty awesome. Expensive. But awesome. We put them in lettuce leaves and wrapped them up so that it felt like we were eating the sausages on buns. It sounds really sad and pathetic (and this picture of the unwrapped sausage especially does), but it wasn't, I swear. We weren't, like, imagining the lettuce as bread. It was just a tool so that we could hold the delicious meat and cram it into our mouths faster.

Kenny also made some breakfast sausages which look like lame blobs of meat in this photo, but which were actually quite tasty, especially when combined with avocado.

But other than that, we've been eating a lot of repeat meals: potatoes, pan-seared porkchops, pan-seared chicken, pan-seared porkchops, chicken salad, pan-seared porkchops, EGGS. Ugh. Every time I eat eggs I remember how much they need cheese. The green onion is a poor substitute.

I'll be honest with you - I didn't eat that peach. I just needed something colorful to fill the empty space on my plate so that my photo would look slightly more attractive. And unfortunately, I'm not allowed to eat bacon. So a peach was the next-best thing. 

Also I tried to make sweet potato fries (which I thought were off-limits - we aren't supposed to eat fries or chips of any kind. BUT I found this recipe on the official Whole30 instagram, so I took that as official Whole30 approval to make fries anyway), but they turned out kind of disgusting. Which is maybe why Whole30 approved them.

Don't let their fry-like appearance fool you. These were not delicious. 

So anyway, I just haven't really been excited to share our meals, because our meals have been kind of lame. You can only blog about porkchops so many times before it gets old.

Plus, lately, my mental energy has been far more consumed with craving food I can't eat than with the food I am actually eating.

My Brain is Sugar

See, my cravings have taken over my brain. I am no longer in control. Last week, while at the grocery store getting potatoes, I found myself surrounded by parents and young children. As I walked down the main store thoroughfare, one particularly adorable child caught my eye: a pale-skinned, blonde-haired, blue-eyed, two-year-old child with a ring of pink frosting around his mouth. He could have been a Gerber baby. And he was holding the holy grail of store bought cookies:

I'm not sure what these cookies are actually called, but my family has always called them disk cookies because they have a round disk of perfectly shaped icing on top. Kenny calls them crack cookies. For what I assume are obvious reasons.

Anyway, the innocent two year old was holding one of these perfect creations, happily munching away. 

And, when I saw him, I stopped dead in my tracks. I am talking full stop, no longer walking, staring at this cookie in the child's hands, dead in my tracks. I am not embellishing. I am not being hyperbolic. I literally stood in the middle of the grocery store and watched this child eat this cookie. My sense of self-awareness was gone. I just wanted a cookie so badly. 

I managed to snap out of it before the child's parent noticed me creepily staring at their son, but this episode started a string of similar incidents. I have stared at people eating cake, ice cream cones, donuts, and pizza. 

I have also been hit  by overwhelming cravings for things I can't eat. For example, Kenny and I went to a friend's outdoor party on Friday. As we sat out on the back steps, we were struck by what a perfect summer evening it was: a beautiful sunset, warm but with a slight breeze, all the plants were green and lush. A perfect evening, you might say, for a walk up to the local ice cream establishment. A Dairy Queen for example. And at this establishment, one might get a Dairy Queen Blizzard with Snickers. So, instead of enjoying the party, Kenny and I sat on the back steps and debated the pros and cons of quitting and driving to Dairy Queen immediately. 

Kenny told me if we were going to quit we needed to sleep on it first. I told him that I only wanted to quit because I wanted a Blizzard RIGHT NOW, so if I had to sleep on it, I didn't want to quit. I'm all about instant gratification, baby. (Okay, not really. But like, sort of? If you're familiar with the marshmallow experiment, I would have been the kid who ate tiny little pieces out of the marshmallow, but like, inconspicuous parts of the marshmallow that the adults probably wouldn't have noticed so that I could still get my second marshmallow.)ANYWAY. We conquered our desire to get DQ Blizzards on Friday night. We went back home with dairy-free stomachs. 

And then we ended up at Kenny's parents on Sunday night where there was a big, giant, delicious-looking, fudgy, chocolaty cake. 

This is not that cake, but it looks like that cake. 

Kenny and I were overwhelmed with our desire for chocolate, so we had to go into a separate room and talk ourselves down. Kenny's mom told us that the cake made her feel sick, which probably wasn't true, but I chose to believe her for the sake of stamping out my craving. 

On Monday, the worst day of all, I was watching TV, and suddenly food was everywhere. ALL THE PEOPLE WERE EATING ALL THE THINGS. There were donuts! And cake! And yogurt! And cookies! And muffins! And cheese! And pancakes! And just...all the things. 

To pull ourselves together, Kenny and I have made a Freedom List aka A List of Things We Can Eat When This Blasted Program is Over. Here it is in its current state:

Please, feel free to share your own suggestions. Only the promise of apple pie is keeping me going right now. 

Today is Day 22, so Kenny and I are heading into the final week. I promise to do my best to return to the standard format in my next post - and I'll do my best to make yummy foods so that you don't have to stare at 10 pictures of porkchops. 

Until next time!

Friday, June 17, 2016

Whole30, Days 12, 13, 14, & 15: Why Am I Doing This To Myself

Catch up on all the Whole30 posts by clicking here.

Before we get started here, let me apologize for yet another late post. It is now noon on Day 17, a full 36 hours after I should have published this blog post. While I would normally chalk this up to good old fashioned laziness, this time we must blame my jalapeño-burned hand.  Jalapeño burns? you ask. YES. JALAPEÑO BURNS. We'll get there. Just wait.


Breakfast: Potato, Onion, Kielbasa Hash
Sunday started out calmly with a familiar meal of potato hash. It's a simple food, and we've had it several times already on Whole30 (first on Day 4), but it never fails to make me happy. It's just so delicious!

Lunch: Steak, Grilled Vegetables, Hashbrowns with Onions, Melon, and a Salad with Craisins and Pine Nuts

At lunch time on Sunday, Kenny and I ventured out of our little kitchen into the great unknown. We had been invited for a Sunday brunch at Kenny's aunts' house, and they had graciously offered to make a Whole30 compliant meal for us.

And OH. MY. HEAVENS. It was delicious.

Pam and Jane served us perfectly-done steaks with side salads, grilled veggies (squash, zucchini, mushrooms, and peppers), hashbrowns with onions, and tuscan melon (which is like cantalope on steroids). The weather was gorgeous, so we sat outside in the sunshine and enjoyed the breeze. It was perfect.

...and I forgot to take pictures. I am so sorry. The nicest, fanciest, most delicious meal we've eaten, and I took no pictures.

Dinner: Spaghetti Squash, Red Sauce, Chicken Meatballs, and the Hamiltonys

Kenny and I have made the squash and sauce several times already - we're getting to be pros at chopping open spaghetti squashes! However, the chicken meatballs were a new addition. To be fair, they were more chicken meatblobs than balls, but they were delicious nonetheless. (For those of you following along, the recipes for this meal can be found on pp. 294, 324, and 226 in the Whole30 book)

While we were cooking, I asked Kenny if he would mind if I turned on the opening number of the Tonys (I was hoping Hamilton would play a major role). I promised I would only watch the opening number and then come back to help him cook. And then I promised I would come back just as soon as the Shuffle Along performance was over...and then after the She Loves Me performance was over...and then suddenly it was after 10 pm and I had watched the entire award show.

Kenny graciously finished up dinner and joined me on the couch (he also didn't give me trouble for breaking the No TV During Dinner rule. Kenny is an angel.)

Also, if you haven't watched the Tonys, you should watch this:

And this:

You're welcome.


Breakfast: Leftover potato/onion hash
Monday proved to be a largely uneventful day with largely uninteresting meals. I ate some leftover potato hash for breakfast. No major excitement, and no photos.

Lunch: Leftover Spaghetti Sqaush with the Heavenly Meatballs
Lunch proved equally uneventful, though it did involve eating more of the fabulous meatballs that we made the night before. These meatballs are getting added to my list of favorite things. Like, right up there next to cheese. Whatever the results of Whole30 may be, these meatballs are staying with me for life.

Dinner: Meatloaf
On Monday night, Kenny and I opted to make a meatloaf. Due to a generous donation of almond flour (that stuff is expensive) from Pam and Jane, Kenny and I were able to make a meatloaf with an otherwise-normal recipe. We used leftover red sauce from our Sunday-night dinner, a variety of spices and a huge hunk of raw meat. Yum.

Unfortunately, no pictures of the cooked meatloaf. It turns out that meatloaf without a layer of ketchup looks pretty gross.


Breakfast: Chicken Tenders and Ranch Dressing
On Monday night, in addition to making meatloaf, Kenny and I made a batch of chicken tenders that we hoped to have for breakfast several times this week.

So we mixed up a bunch of spices (and way too much cayenne pepper)

and coated some raw chicken

and made an incredibly unappetizing meal of overly spicy chicken tenders with a soggy breading. Kenny enjoyed this very much. I thought it was disgusting.

And thus, my desire to quit Whole30 returned.

Lunch: Meatloaf - Pilates
Around lunchtime on Tuesday, I headed out to my Pilates class. I'm still pretty weak, but I'm making progress. This week I made it 25 whole minutes before I felt like death! Huzzah!

Tragically, when I returned home, I was greeted by this disgusting meatloaf.

Kenny likes this meatloaf. And I guess, by meatloaf standards, it is probably just fine. But day old meatloaf without ketchup is just wholly unappealing to me.

Dinner: Tuna Salad / Chipotle
After a disappointing breakfast and lunch, I really wanted to have a delicious dinner. Kenny had requested a big batch of tuna salad, so I opted to grab four cans of tuna, the rest of our homemade mayo and a bunch of diced onions.

After mixing it all up, I took a bite. And apparently, I don't like tuna anymore than I like spicy chicken tenders or day-old meatloaf.

This is not the meal I made. This looks more delicious than the meal I made. And this is cat food. 

In fact I hate tuna. My kitchen smelled like wet dog and dog breath and dog food had all been combined in a bowl and turned into a stink bomb that exploded in my kitchen. It was so awful. I threw it all in tupperware, closed the fridge, opened all the windows, and got the heck out of my kitchen.

Unfortunately, I needed to head to class, and I didn't have time to make any more food. So I stopped at Chipotle and got lettuce, carnitas, pico, and guacamole. And can I just share that Chipotle still charged my $9.65 for this? Even though I refused rice, beans, veggies, cheese and basically all the other salsas? Have they no common decency? No pity for a woman who is in a self-induced food hell?

Oh well.


Breakfast: Almond Butter
Our meal plan listed chicken tenders for breakfast, but I refused to eat them, so I just ate a bunch of almond butter instead.

Lunch: Meatloaf and a Bunch of Grapes
I tried to give the meatloaf one last shot, but after a full two minutes in the microwave, the darn thing was only hot on the edges and was still cold in the middle. So I picked at it and then put it away.

But I was still hungry. Hangry, in fact, given how little satisfying food I had eaten over the previous 24 hours. And all of my hangriness was directed at Whole30.

I wanted to get back at Whole30. I wanted to let Whole30 know how incredibly angry and frustrated I was with the whole stupid program. So I did something rebellious.

I ate too many grapes.

See, you are only supposed to eat fruit sparingly on Whole30. BUT I DIDN'T. I ATE SO MUCH FRUIT. I'm pretty hardcore.

Dinner: Porkchops, Guacamole, Roasted Potatoes
After recovering from my fit of rebellion, I decided to sit down and meal plan, then go to the grocery store to stock up on foods I actually like. I was determined to recapture my enthusiasm. As I assigned different meals to different days, I selected something that I knew both Kenny and I would find delicious: porkchops and guacamole. We loved it so much the first time, right?

So I headed out to the store to buy avocados and pork. If only I had known then that my pain-free hours were numbered.

At exactly 3:48 pm on Wednesday afternoon, I began finely chopping a japaleno. I cut this jalapeno with reckless abandon, slicing and dicing to my heart's content.

How delicious my guacamole will be, I thought naively. I'm so glad I decided to use the jalapeno like Chipotle recommends. 

Happily humming to myself, I dumped the jalapeno into the bowl, using my fingers to push every last bit off the chopping board.

And then, at about 4:23, I felt this weird tingle in my left ring finger. I ran some cold water over said finger.

Then, at apporximately 4:37, that tingle grew to become a slight burning sensation. I wondered if my finger had been hit by a grease splatter when I cooked the pork chops.

By 4:58 I was standing by the sink with my entire left hand under the running water, crying in pain.

Turns out, jalapeno oil can burn you.

You must understand, this is not equivalent to a burn you would get from a hot pan or from spending too long on the beach. This burn was the most unbelievably painful thing I have ever experienced. If I wasn't actively holding my hand under icy cold water, it felt as though my fingers were being held in an open flame or being pressed onto a burning hot stove top. I couldn't see straight.

Kenny and I even got in the car to go to urgent care because I just couldn't believe that it was normal for a human to feel so much pain simply because they cut up a jalapeno. However, in trying to figure out a way to be mobile, I discovered that holding my hand against an ice pack, numbing the heck out of all my nerve endings, was sufficient to keep me from death.

Of course, I couldn't do much or go anywhere with my hand submerged in a bowl of ice. Kenny had to take off my shoes, put toothpaste on my toothbrush, and help me put on PJs. (Have I mentioned he's an angel?)

But then it was time for bed, and the pain was too great to fall asleep. So I turned to the internet for remedies that would reduce the pain enough for me to get some rest.

And let me tell you, I tried everything:
1. Covering my fingers in a baking soda paste
2. Soaking my hand in apple cider vinegar
3. Soaking my hand in lime juice
4. Soaking my hand in lemon juice
5. Slathering my hand in aloe vera
6. Slathering my hand in aloe vera with menthol
7. Pouring sugar all over my hand
8. Covering my hands in oil
9. Covering my hands in dish soap
10. At the suggestion of one internet blogger, I even filled a glove with mustard and soaked my hand in ice water.

I stuck my hand in a glove full of mustard. OF MUSTARD. THAT IS HOW MUCH PAIN I WAS IN. 

Also, it didn't work. Nothing worked. None of these damned remedies worked. 

So, I filled a bowl with ice cubes, got in bed, and slept with my hand on ice all night. About every 30-45 minutes, when the cubes had melted entirely, I got up and got a fresh batch of ice, stuck my hand back in, and cried myself back to sleep. At about 12:18 am, my right hand started burning too, because apparently I wasn't in enough pain before, so then I stuck both hands in ice and slept like a seal until it was time to collect the next batch of pain-numbing tools.

It was lovely. 

By Thursday morning, only my left thumb still hurt, so that was a blessing at least. 

But Thursday is for the next post. 

P.S. We're half-way through!