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Things I am doing today besides worrying about the outcome of Presidential election

by SweetMidlife
My mother and I smiling after our civic duty. Then we got coffee and bought the kid a muffin.

My mother and I smiling after our civic duty. Then we got coffee and bought the kid a muffin.

So this is Leslie, and Lynne and I, like anyone paying attention, know that today is a historic day in our nation. Not only is Election Day sacred, to us, as the chance to exercise the rights that our mothers and fathers fought and suffered for, but this one comes at the end of the ugliest contest anyone alive seems to remember. Whatever happens, there are going to be some desperately sad and angry people, and we’re all going to have to figure out how to move on, together.

My mom and I, with my little one, voted this morning, after I’d already walked/run three miles, and then after we voted we walked some more and then got some coffee, and the day moved on. I am concerned about what happens tonight, but I can’t sit by my TV and dwell right now, either. Here is what I am doing instead:

– Watched the end of the first season of “Good Girls Revolt” and wished that my Afro was as glorious as Joy Bryant’s.

– Exchanged emails with John Schneider’s publicist, because I love my job.

– Talked to “Gilmore Girls” fans.

– Pondered what kind of tequila to bring to the taco party I’m going to later.

– Started watching Netflix’s “The Crown” and renewed my crush on Jared Harris, because smart gingers are sexy as hell.

– Consigned a dress that my mother bought by last year, that is now too big and that I never wore, because she bought two sizes and challenged me to get into the smaller one. She is a genius.

– Decided not to put olives in with the rest of the veggies at the taco party as one of the attendees is anti-olive. I shall segregate the olives. More fish for Kunta!

levar-morefishforkunta

– Tried to figure out how to leave work early to go cook the non-olive beans.

– Trying to figure out where I put my coupons because I’m running out of leftovers and my kid has to eat something more substantial than mac and cheese for every meal.

In other words – I am living my life because other than try to figure out how to possess every American voter and make them do what I want, which is impossible, illegal and bad for the soul, I can’t change things other than what I have already done today, which is to vote myself, and then pray for our country. We are better than this crap we’ve done to each other. We’re America. That’s like in the manual, right?


So much to say, so little blogging: Some thoughts while I’ve been away

by SweetMidlife
IMG_2327

How many times do you watch a kid’s movie before it burrows UNTO YOUR SOUL?

 

It’s Leslie! And it’s been a minute – several of them, really – since I’ve written here. I was up to a lot, including finalizing the adoption of my son, Brooks, who is almost three years old and more than almost awesome. He is all the way awesome. And super loud.

In that time, with all that stuff going on, there’s a lot I’ve been thinking about, some stuff that directly relates to motherhood (I’ve been raising him since he was six months old, but it’s just been official now.) Some of it is serious, some of it is stupid and some of it involves the proper number of times a day a child should eat macaroni and cheese.

– Is it wrong to tell your kid “We are not watching any more ‘Dora Into The City’ today because Mommy doesn’t like it and it’s making her angry?”

– How much mac and cheese will warp your kid and turn their blood into actual Velveeta cheese sauce?

– I realized this morning as I packed the kid into the stroller to walk him to daycare that we were out of lunch food so I walked past the CVS and put a Campbell’s soup cup, one of those plastic cups of peaches (but in real juice!) and a yogurt in his lunch bag. Not one thing was either homemade or even wrapped lovingly in a plastic bag by me. Am I a bad person?

– “Bad Moms” was actually funny but annoying because every one of these moms was upper middle class or at least well-off, where they could blow off their part-time jobs or stay at home or at least get drunk in the middle of the day and not once was one of their complaints “If I change my life at all I can’t pay my bills.” Because I know very few moms who don’t worry about that.

– Are you gonna watch “Dancing With The Stars” even if it means endorsing Ryan Locthe’s stupid butt? (I am! Because of Vanilla Ice and Babyface.”

– Does the cancellation of “I Am Cait” set back the transgender movement or just mean Caitlyn Jenner needs to be nice to Kris Jenner so she can get back on “Keeping Up With The Kardashians?”

– How much sleep do you need before you can’t function? Asking for a friend.


Seeing less of cheese: My backwards glancing sliding sorta into some sort of vegan thing

by SweetMidlife
This is what happens when you have a little less cheese and work out a lot.

This is what happens when you have a little less cheese and work out a lot.

I am Leslie and cheese is my boyfriend. Even when my husband and sweet schmoopy love of my life was alive, he knew that cheese was my illicit habit, my thing that I could not get enough of (besides my husband, of course.) He actually gave me gifts of cheese, sometimes a good brie, other times a gorgeous feta from a Greek importer. I was raised mostly vegetarian, and as I stopped completely eating chicken and other poultry, I claimed cheese as my primary protein besides the fish I maybe ate once a week. Cheese? Ate at least once a day. Sometimes once a meal. My mother once told a friend that her kids’ favorite food groups were potatoes and cheese.

Mommy was not lying.

So it was with much resistance that I took in a suggestion from my trainer, Victor Ayala, who had tortured worked me into a weight loss of 12 pounds and at least one dress size: “You’d lose more,” he said, in that way that forces you to not rest on your laurels too much, “if you cut our meat..”

“I don’t really eat meat,” I said.

“My dear,” Victor said, eyebrow skyward, “cheese is meat.”

Well, heck.

Vegan cheese makes a good casserole. Next time needs more onions and cheese. No! Not cheese! Stupid, stupid!

Vegan cheese makes a good casserole. Next time needs more onions and cheese. No! Not cheese! Stupid, stupid!

Although my beloved fromage is not technically the flesh of a living thing, it is an animal product and can cause inflammation (It’s also a thing to avoid if you’re about to sing, as I am wont to do.) When I was clean eating two years ago, I limited myself once a week or so to only the best quality cheese, but when our little one came to live with us, all that went out the window. Cheese became my crutch again. But between Victor and my beloved almost-sister Rissa, a longtime vegan who has sent me several vegan cookbooks and recipes a month since last summer, I feel I’m a crossroads.

Which is not to say that I am about to become vegan, because I am not and I really don’t want to. I am not going to just say I will never sample an exquisite brie or sprinkle aged Parmesan Reggiano on a perfect tomato soup, because I AM GONNA. But I want to explore playing with it, cutting back and seeing what new cooking adventures await me. This will upset real vegans who have ethical reasons for their lifestyle, like I’m dabbling and being disrespectful. But it’s where I’m at.

Cheeseless pesto. It is a thing.

Cheeseless pesto. It is a thing.

So far, I’ve adapted some recipes, some of which were already vegan and some which just included stuff I didn’t have. I did a vegan tomato bisque, a vegan cauliflower casserole and, most deliciously, vegan pesto with cashews, which creamily take the role of both traditional pine nuts and the cheese. A year ago I would have told you the point of pesto was cheese. I still think it might be.

The point is, I am learning. I am growing. I am not breaking up with cheese. But we are agreeing to see a little less of each other.


Mom question: What won’t you eat after your kid?

by SweetMidlife
Would you eat this after your toddler? I did!

Would you eat this after your toddler? I did!

This is Leslie, and like my sister, and a lot of you, I live with a small person with no jobs, bad table manners and a demented joy in painting in his own food. Because he is developing his own palate, there are some things that he loves to eat over and over again, like bananas and yogurt, some things he likes most of the time, like small pieces of hamburger, greens and noodles, and stuff he turns on fickle-like, takes out of his mouth and drops on the floor like “How dare you even?”

A lot of the time, the food left over is not in a state where I’d ever consider eating it – Toddler is teething and he’s a drool monster, so sometimes his cups and plates and forks are a river of yuck. No yummy. But sometimes, as in the case of the above banana, or when he’s eating off my plate and there’s enough left that doesn’t have drool on it…well, I’m still hungry if he’s not.

So my question is…what can you not go for (no can do) when it comes to eating after your kids? Can you eat anything for love but you won’t do that? What is too gross for you?


Revisiting the “Abs Diet,” spaghetti squash, and hopefully my abs

by SweetMidlife
Here we go again!

Here we go again!

This is Leslie, and I’ve been writing about my attempts at good health, weight loss and general prolonged fabulousness for, well, ever. Things have started to turn around, with a brief budging on the scale and some changes in flabbiness in some areas. The workouts have been more consistent, and that helps, but the biggest key to weight loss is what you eat. That sucks, because I would much rather work out three hours a day and still eat pecan pie every night than never have pecan pie. Or pecans. Or pie. I love you, pie.

But I also love not being fat, and it is to that end that I have been trying to stick to eating well. I’ve done everything – Weight Watchers, clean eating, calorie counting and, off and on, Men’s Health’s “The Abs Diet,” which I had amazing success with about, like 8 or so years ago. I think I read about it in “Women’s Health,” and I took to it, because even though it has the word “diet” in it, it’s really more like a lifestyle, but with enough rules to keep my honest. I do better with some rules, because if not the pie takes over.

I admit that when I had the most success with the Abs Diet, I was still running hardcore, working out five or six days a week, and was also in my 30s before the Bad Metabolism set it. And I wasn’t a regular cocktail reviewer, didn’t share food and a home with a husband and a toddler, and just seemed to have more time to plan meals and do stuff. But I broke out the book the other day and realized that a lot of it is in keeping with how I’ve been trying to eat – whole grains, lots of veggies, lean fish and meats, the avoidance of processed stuff.

But, again, there’s rules and a cute little acronym, which tells you of the foods you should focus on, eating at least two of them in each meal and one in each snack. So I ordered the 2012 version, the “New Abs Diet For Women,” plus a cookbook I am still waiting for. It’s basically like the first one, but with some updated testimonies and more women-centric info.

So it goes like this…

Almonds and other nuts

Beans and legumes

Spinach and other green veggies

Dairy (low fat or fat free)

Instant oatmeal

Eggs

Turkey and other lean meats

Peanut butter

Olive oil

Whole grain breads and cereal

Extra-protein (whey) powder

Raspberries and other berries

There are things on this list I always fudged, since I don’t eat turkey or meat, and used lean cuts of fish and tofu for that “T,” and I like real oatmeal instead of the instant stuff and it seems that was only there for the “I.” And now that I’ve been trying to eat clean, I would rather not do protein powder, preferring instead to do ricotta cheese, which is listed as a substitute. If I can do it naturally, I would rather do it.

photo (40)

Since Mondays are a good day to start things, I started today, with a yogurt parfait (two Power foods, although the toddler who lives here ate half of it), then the end of some Israeli couscous with nuts, avocado and greens in a miso broth with tofu (three Power foods) and half a spaghetti squash with olive oil, Hoppin’ John and avocado with cheese (three Power foods). We haven’t gotten to dinner yet but I hope not to fall to ruin. Much.

 


Forgiveness, or why I keep going back to the worst Dunkin Donuts in the world

by SweetMidlife
So you wanna know? Well,  I'm pulling for you, Dunkin'.

So you wanna know? Well, I’m pulling for you, Dunkin’.

I am Leslie, and I am insane. Because that’s what they call it when you keep doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. And every time that the Dunkin’ Donuts down the street from me screws up my order – this happens roughly 80 percent of the time – I scowl and grumble and call my husband and scowl and grumble over the phone.

And then the next day I’m right back there again. Like a hopeful caffeine-starved dummy. Because I want them to get better. They have not yet done this. But I’m hopeful.

Also coffee.

The cup above encourages me to Share my Dunkin’ Story, so here you go. It might not be the story you want, but whatever. There are several reasons that this particular Dunkin has become a stop for me approximately four days a week. It’s between my house and daycare, or, as we call it, Baby School. They have a drive-thru so I can get my morning black coffee on the way home and not have to show anyone whatever yoga pant/yogurt-stained tee combo I’m sporting with my smashed ‘fro. The same owners used to own a smaller DD store on my corner, and I like supporting hardworking franchisees, because local business owners are the best.

However, this sitch has got a big ol’ but (oh yeah!)….which is that they are sweetly, reliably awful. I was not kidding when I said that during the busy pre-work hours between 7-9, which is when I am usually driving through, something more than not goes wrong. Most of the time it’s something like missing food from the bag that’s caught before I pull off, which they always immediately rectify with a genuine apology (they ought to throw in another coffee for my trouble, but whatever.) Or there’s a general uncertainty about what I ordered, or the price on the blinky screen is not what they just said to me when they took my money.

About a month ago, I had an empty Dunkin cup in my cup holder from the day before, and when I insisted that my order was missing a coffee, the manager pointed at that cup and said “There’s your second coffee!” and as I went to shake the empty cup at him, the lady behind him was sheepishly handing him the one I’d ordered. And the look on his face was like “Oh, Lord. We screwed up her order yesterday, too.”

“It’s cool, man,” I said. “Not your fault.” It’s not that he was calling me shady. I just really think he didn’t want to believe that they got something else wrong, because y’all know it’s not just me. If they screw up my stuff every other day, imagine what’s happening in every other car.

Even with angry hungry people in line behind me, I have no issue taking a few seconds to read my receipt and check my bag before pulling off, because if I don’t it’s my fault, and mistakes are harder to prove once you leave. And then there’s the truth that busy people are less likely to turn around and go back if, say, they got the wrong donut, unless it’s one they hate, or were overcharged 60 cents. Last week I went to sip my supposedly black coffee and got a mouth full of cream and sugar…and kept drinking as I grumbled because I didn’t have time to go back. And it makes me mad a little to think that maybe they count on that? Again, it CAN’T just be me. The worst was last Thanksgiving, on the way to Orlando with a car full of people and a larger than normal order, half of which was missing. We went back for that one, and the overwhelmed clerk was almost weirdly relieved, like she knew it was wrong but had gotten so much wrong that day, she was just waiting for the returnee. And it was me.

So this is the part where you want to hear that I have gotten out of the car, gone inside and asked to see a manager, to calmly but firmly explain the month’s long pattern of mistakes on the part of the staff. And I want to hear that too. Unfortunately it never happened, sooo yeah I’m an idiot. Of course I register my objections every time I go to the window and say “Dude this is wrong,” but that won’t help as much as parking the car, or going back when the rush is over, and talking to someone. It’s surprising that I haven’t because I am the Queen of “Can I see your manager?” which I usually do in frustration but would likely be more effective if done calmly and not when they’re not busy.

I guess that’s why I haven’t quit my DD, even though they’re lacking. I don’t feel like I’ve given them a chance. And they are so sweet. And they have the coffee.


“How’d that get in my cart?”: The joy-ish of shopping with your partner

by SweetMidlife
Sometimes we have too much peanut butter. And sometimes, Husband buys excellent hot sauce.

Sometimes we have too much peanut butter. And sometimes, Husband buys excellent hot sauce.

Greetings. My name is Leslie, and I like grocery shopping. If you read this blog, you might notice that we post about food a lot, not only because we’re in the gym working on our fitness just like Fergie, but because we like food, which is why, unlike Fergie, we need to LIVE in the gym working on our fitness.

In my case I think that my weekly-ish visit to the supermarket and to the cool vegetable market down the street is also a function of my control freak-ism. As a single girl, it was about trying to control what I ate, which translated into what I weighed and, unfortunately, how I felt about myself. But now, I’m the primary meal planner for three people, one of whom likes meat and white pasta, two things I don’t eat, and the other of whom expresses his displeasure by wrinkling up his face or turning his head as the spoon’s headed for his lips, or just says “No” in a Hobbit voice and then runs away to play with blocks.

(It’s up to you to guess which one’s my husband and which one’s the Toddler.)

Anyway,  because we should all be healthy, doing the shopping means that I get to control at least the dinner options of the household (Husband gets lunch at work, and I do buy Toddler’s food for Baby School, but iF a cookie or something gets in there I’m not there to police it, and a cookie isn’t gonna kill him.) (Yeah, I said it. Come at me, bro.)

I also do most of the cooking, and I’m the only one who remembers what got shoved in all the little drawers in the refrigerator or that we ALREADY HAVE PEANUT BUTTER OH MY STARS THERE’S THREE JARS OF UNOPENED STUPID PEANUT BUTTER IN THERE BEHIND THE SALAD WE NEVER ATE AND I DON’T EVEN EAT JIF ONLY YOU DO PLEASE EAT IT OR STOP BUYING STUPID PEANUT BUTTER.

It’s stuff like JifGate that make me kind of territorial about the shopping, and I usually do it by myself, during the day, when I don’t have to worry about Husband dropping duplicate items in the cart or Toddler having a random meltdown when he’s not allowed to reach out and shove everything off the olive oil shelf. (That’s never happened, but I don’t want to be the woman sheepishly asking the store manager about the oily pile of glass in Aisle 7.)

When Husband and I do wind up doing a joint trip, it’s usually during the weekend, when I’ve had time to clip coupons, make a list and check the store ad. I can’t organize my closet but I’m a staunch grocery lister. Go figure. So even if he runs off the rails in the meat or hot sauce aisle, I’ve got what I need and I’ve usually budgeted for the week, so a few odd sauces aren’t gonna kill me. It’s the random tandem midweek jaunts that can test my ability to zig and not zag, and that also test my ability to just shut up sometimes.

Husband and I both worked from home yesterday, and decided to hit the local grocery an hour or so before having to pick Toddler up from Baby School. This was supposed to just be a “shopping for tonight’s dinner” trip – I was making chili – so I had already Terminator-scanned the store from the door. I need ground beef for Husband’s portion, beans and tomatoes and such, a bottle of wine for me (not all to be drunk last night, of course) and yogurt for Toddler and me.

Husband was in line for Powerball tickets for last night’s huge jackpot, and you should not be shocked that we didn’t win, because if I had I would not be still sitting here writing this. (#truth) So I did a workman-like job of rounding the aisles and getting what I needed, and was mostly done when I heard my name and saw Husband making his way across the store with a full hand cart. And I swear the control freak in me started panicking, because he likes buying the same stuff over and over, even if we didn’t use half of it the last time he bought it and it’s still in the fridge hello Jif. But he is also a grown man who contributes to the groceries and it’s not fair to be the Food Cop unless it’s something really unhealthy that humans shouldn’t eat.

“Look what I got!” he said excitedly, offering two cartons of real actual juice without artificial things, which are excellent, fruit, the good burgers for the chili because he didn’t know that I already got meat, but which now form the basis of another meal, because why not buy a few days in advance? We’re here, right? And I felt my control freak shutting up. He did good.

(NOTE: I must also add that Husband’s real superpower is farmer’s markets. He finds the best cool little sauces and spreads, including the fish dip I ate all of, and this boss mango chutney he bought from his “hot sauce guy” at the South Florida Fair. Yes, he has a hot sauce guy he sees annually at the fair, to the point where when he didn’t answer his cell, I knew where to find him.)

There was absolutely nothing unhealthy in that cart, and besides the Soap Opera Digest “for me” that is totally for him and the fancy paper goods he gets, that I never do, because I am cheap, it was an excellent trip. He’s grown folk. Chill out Leslie.

So we get to the checkout, and I start seeing the numbers adding up. I had an arbitrary number in my head, and we were past that before I even put all the stuff on the belt. And I started panicking, not because I didn’t have the money to spend, but because IT WASN’T IN MY PLAN. And it wasn’t even a good plan, because we have to buy for the rest of the weekend sometime, so why not last night? I originally pegged it as a quick trip because of time constraints and because I didn’t have my coupons, but it actually took less time because I had an extra pair of adult hands and no tiny shelf-clearer in the cart. And if Husband is picking his own healthy food, he’s going to eat it. And that’s awesome.

I now have a full fridge, and some yummy, healthy things to eat, and I don’t fear badness in there. The multiple peanut butters? That’s another story.


Grace On Your Journey

by SweetMidlife

Lynne here! Today we have a guest post from my dear friend Robin, who I have known since Freshman year of college. Leslie and I have both written before about our own journeys with food and such, and today, Robin writes about her own relationship with food and spending, and how her faith is getting her through. Enjoy. 

Where Sin is Found, Grace Abounds

by Robin Peace

“Life is a journey.  When we stop, things don’t go right.” Pope Francis

I can’t remember when I stopped living and just existing, or rather sub-existing.  Each meal was a battle between “good” food, “bad” food.  Every store was my enemy.  I was either purchasing things I could not afford or food I shouldn’t be eating.   In December, I finally hit rock bottom financially.  I was confronted with my poor spending habits by the realization I could not renew my lease on my apartment and still stay afloat on my bills.  In shame, I am moving back home after three years of living like a “real” adult.  The Bible said it best, “For the love of money is the root of all evils, and some people in their desire for it have strayed from the faith and have pierced themselves with many pains” (1 Timothy 6:10).  My sin wasn’t the love of money, per se, but the love of possessions and food.

So I went on the offensive.  I found some friends willing to be my money accountability support group.   I managed to control the possession spending after realizing every dollar I spent, I would have to confess it.  But the buying of “bad” food continued, even though I was on an expensive diet program.  The Bible also says, “Everything is permissible but not everything is beneficial” (1 Corinthians 10:23).  I had to come to terms with the fact that I have been living like I had an endless supply of permissible and not thinking of what was actually beneficial.  I had to come to terms with my two addictions and the fact that they were inseparable form one another.  If I fought one, I had to battle the other as well.

Someone then advised me to think of my addiction in this way – whenever you have the desire to spend money on food or things, think, “Jesus loves me so much, that I want to be just like him.”  Looking at things that way forced me to have interior conversations with myself about the pros and cons to spending money on food and on things.  They were some intense debates, which ended in me learning to say, “NO!”  It’s not easy, but my faith is managing to save me.  God is managing to save me.  I had grace all around me, I just had to reach out to Him.  Call His name.

This summer, at Mass, there was a reading from Hebrews that spoke to me then but I didn’t appreciate until now.  “Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1).  I had always hoped to be in control of my spending and eating.  But now I am in charge, which is better, because the buck stops with me.  I’m in charge of where my life goes from here.  I am no longer sub-existing.  As for evidence not seen, I haven’t seen a dramatic weight loss or oodles of money increase in my bank accounts.  But I have seen my confidence increase and my ability to say, “NO” grows easier each day.  I am so blessed with good friends and wise advisers.

“I was made for more than being stuck in a vicious cycle of defeat.  I am not made to be a victim of my poor choices.  I was made to be a victorious child of God.” Lysa TerKeurst from Made to Crave


Random yummy thing: Bananas

by SweetMidlife

 

“Bananen Frucht”. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons –


Leslie here!

My friend Stephanie was here this weekend, and as longtime girlfriends who have taken many vacations together, as well as people who used to be in and out of each others kitchens, it made sense that we’re really casual about food. We cook together, eat together and shop for food together. We wound up splitting the tab at Publix (that’s our grocery store) and it was cool to look at both baskets and know that whatever was left over from hers when she left would be something I’d like.

Which brings me to bananas.

There are very few foods that I straight up dislike, but as a kid, bananas were at the top of the list. Something about the consistency. I didn’t like the tendency of mushiness, or the brown spots. They seemed to easy to damage and get icky, so I didn’t want any parts of them. I also have weird flashbacks to banana milk, something we used to have in Saudi Arabia as kids, and which for some reason makes me think about coughing it out of my nose. I imagine this happened at some point, because why else would I have that thought? Am I weird or something?

I outgrew my banana hate eventually as a young adult – maybe I was broke and  at somebody’s house, and was offered one, which I likely took because, you know, broke people don’t turn down food. And it was glorious. I am not being fancy here. It was a complex experience – the firm bite that dissolved into softness, the fresh, distinctive smell, the sweet/savory mouth feel…

It was awesome. And I have loved them ever since, au natural for breakfast or a snack, in pancakes, on toast with peanut butter…however. And Steph left a few when she went home, so I’ve had the pleasure of cutting a whole ‘nanner into my cereal with almond milk and chowing down. I had a second one for lunch! It’s awesome! It’s healthy! It’s bananas! (Call Gwen Stefani!)


In search of a smaller size: The good and bad things about fruits and veggies

by SweetMidlife


(by Leslie)

The Good: Fruit has no Weight Watcher point value, meaning that you can eat a lot of it within reason – as a former WW leader I know used to say, “Eat a lot but don’t eat the whole orchard.”

– It’s tasty.

– It’s healthy and you should be eating it anyway.

– it’s way portable, depending on the fruit. Watermelons, for instance, are not.

The bad: Eaten in significant quantities, the fiber content can make a girl…fibery. In the tummy region. And a little gassy.

– That’s pretty much it. But it’s significant.


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