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Friday, September 30, 2016

Everything is Terrible and Life is the Worst.

Do you ever have one of those days? Weeks? Months?

I am having one right now.

I have always been an optimist, a look-on-the-bright-side, silver linings, glass-half-full, look-how-great-life-is kind of gal. I think for the most part that is still in me.

But honestly, right now everything is terrible and life is the worst.

4 weeks ago tomorrow I quit smoking. This is an awesome, long time coming decision, and I actually feel really good about it. I am not really craving the cigarettes, and they smell bad to me outside now. This is a huge deal, for me. Everyone who knows me knows I have been a smoker for a long time (almost half my life) and I always enjoy those few minutes alone that smoking provided. The social crutch, the stress-reliever, and the habit of it.

So, I quit smoking.

And immediately started eating everything in sight.

So, I decided to go on a low carb diet. I'm still eating everything, but now I am eating only low carb snacks. There have never been more eggs in my life than there are right now, which is awesome, because I love eggs. 

I have still managed to gain a couple pounds (damn snacking!), but I'm eating healthier and I'm making myself go to the gym more, so I'm hoping that will even out soon. My insomnia has been acting up and I've had issues sleeping.

I am genuinely upset over the presidential election and the state of the world. I have never been more concerned for myself, my fellow man, or my country. I am having a difficult time reading the news, just to see another innocent person shot and killed, another person in authority who has done something wrong and faces little to no consequences. To see another ridiculous thing Trump has said. To see people parrot Trump, or refuse to listen to any facts, or clutch on to the email server of Clinton and never let go, unlike Jack in Titanic, who did eventually let go (spoiler) as opposed to the literally almost unending parade of terrible things the orange toddler has said (yelled) and done.

This is a guy who openly cheated on his first wife and is now trying to say that Clinton has un-presidential, bad judgment for staying with her husband after his scandal. And something like 40% of people polled is ok with that?

It's like arguing with an anti-vaxxer. I did an article on it before, about how people form and cling to false beliefs despite overwhelming evidence, the phenomenon is labeled as “motivated reasoning.

As explained in an excellent Newsweek article, “rather than search rationally for information that either confirms or dis-confirms a particular belief, people actually seek out information that confirms what they already believe.”

The thing is, terrible things happen all over the world all of the time, every single day. But for some reason, right now, I am feeling just completely overwhelmed by it all.

Everything that is happening, the nonsmoking, the whole diet change, the world, and more, it is all coming together to make me feel bad. I am moody, frustrated, lacking in willpower to stop snacking, which makes me more upset with myself, I find myself get annoyed over things people do and say that last month (and the 30 years prior) would have just made me laugh and roll off my back.

I feel more disillusioned and reactionary than ever in my life. I feel controlled by food, by my thoughts about everything, but how judgemental I feel over other people right now. I feel unmotivated, writing less in the last few weeks than in the months prior. I feel useless at work and like a moody wife.

I feel like my cat prefers my husband.

Sometimes it all goes away. When I'm joking around with my guy, hanging with a friend, being silly, reading a good book. But then something (or nothing) happens and it comes back and I feel yuck again. It's hard to explain, honestly. 

I'm sure I'll get over it at some point, and stop feeling like there is no way you could ever bring a child into the world the way it is right now. I hope it happens soon and I go back to normal. It's very emotionally and physically draining to feel like this every day, all the time.

I know it's a combination of everything happening in my life right now, and I am just dealing with it the best I can. I have an excellent support network and people I love, which definitely helps.

And I am definitely not going back to smoking! I can't imagine having to go through all of this again!

It's hard to explain.

But for now, everything is terrible and life is the worst. And so are people. And my cat. And this article. And my pants, which have an itchy tag. And my coffee, which I drank and now it is gone forever.

At least I get to sleep in because it's about to be the weekend! I swear, my husband is so nice and supportive and sweet and so very long suffering, for dealing with me like this. I don't know where this all came from, but I hope it leaves soon.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Egg Salad & Turkey Bacon Lettuce Tacos

I just like thinking of them as tacos. I know some people call them lettuce WRAPS, but honestly, thinking of them as tacos is 1) more fun and 2) gives me a lot more ideas of things to put in them!

I used a baby romaine, a pretty crunchy but tasteless lettuce. If you like something crisper, go with a kale, or if you like something more bitter, grab some escarole. Basically any lettuce will do!

You don't see it underneath, but I tossed a couple of leaves of fresh, raw spinach under the egg salad for some added crunch and greens. Spinach has basically no calories and a bit of fiber.

My husband has a healthy appetite and we each had 2 lettuce tacos and he was comfortably full and happy. Neither of us felt stuffed, but we did feel satisfied!

Egg Salad & Turkey Bacon Lettuce Tacos
**This whole thing took me about 15 minutes, start to finish!
1 dozen eggs makes approximately 6 servings, (12 tacos).
-12 eggs
-5-6 slices of turkey bacon (use any kind of bacon you want, but it will change nutritional info. I used Oscar Meyer)
-4 tbsp mayo (I used Hellman's Light)
-2 tsp dijon mustard (I used grey poupon)
-1 tsp lemon juice (Add more to taste)
-Salt, pepper, garlic, onion powder
-Lettuce of choice (I used a baby romaine)

-Hardboil all 12 eggs. I did approximately 10 minutes from cold water to removal. They were not super hard boiled, which I like.
-While eggs are on the stove, put 5-6 slices of turkey bacon in between 2 paper towels and microwave them for 2-3 minutes. (I did 2 minutes on high, and I got crispy edges and rubbery middles, which I love.) Longer times for crispier bacon. You can also cook it on the stove, this is just the least-dishes option. 
-Cut up bacon into smaller bits.
-Peel all 12 eggs and put into a medium sized bowl.
-Add 4 tbsp mayo, 2 tsp mustard, 1tsp lemon juice. I used a potato masher for the initial mash, then left it chunky and used a fork for mixing everything in.
-Spices to taste. I liked a good amount of pepper and garlic powder in this. It's creamy but not TOO creamy.
-Use fork to scoop egg salad on top the lettuce leaves, top with turkey bacon, and enjoy!
Variation options: 
-For those who like crunch, relish or celery would be great, or raw bell peppers and a small amount of raw onion.
-Or make it brighter and use a little lemon, lime or orange zest in the egg salad.
-I also added a couple leaves of fresh raw spinach to my lettuce tacos before adding the egg salad. I just like spinach, and it really doesnt change the nutritional info. More greenery!

Nutritional Information for 1 serving is:
Serving size is about 1/2 a cup of egg salad, which is 2 good sized lettuce tacos:

210 calories (for BOTH!)
1.2g sugar
1.67g carbs
3 g protein
Make 2 of these.


Monday, September 12, 2016

Very Low Carb Muffin-Sized Egg Cups! (keto)

My masterpiece!
I like to bake/cook on Sundays, and make breakfast for my husband and I to take to work for that week, as well as lunches for myself (mealprersunday, woo!). Cooking at home is generally healthier than picking up breakfast on the way to work, and it's definitely cheaper!

For awhile, I was making banana-blueberry muffins with whole wheat flour. I did a lot of fiddling with the recipe, and while it tasted good, they were pretty dry.

For several weeks, I was making oatmeal-banana-peanut butter bars. Those were yummy and VERY filling and high protein, but also very high carb. These had no sugar added, they were sweetened with honey, and were delicious, but the base of it was rolled oats and peanut butter.

I have decided to cut down on carbs and am on the keto lifestyle, and wanted a healthy and filling breakfast for us, and decided on an egg cup! Basically an egg muffin cup, and could also be considered a small frittata.

But not a quiche! A quiche has a crust (like a tiny pie!) and typically has cream in the egg, to make more of a custard. A frittata is a thick omelette that is cooked on the stovetop and then often finished in the oven to get it nice and browned on top.

But an Egg Cup is neither of these! It's more like a frittata than a quiche, but the eggs are cooked in the oven. Though I did cook the other stuff on the stovetop, as they would not have been completely cooked through in the oven.

I only used 6 ingredients, plus spices I already had. At the bottom of the recipe there are exact nutritional info (math'ed all by myself), but each cup only has 89 calories, 1.5g net carbs, and 9g of protein!

I used half a cup of milk in the eggs to cream it up a bit, and the 1% milk I chose actually had 55 calories and 6g of sugar in just half a serving! You can save yourself the sugar and some calories using unsweetened almond milk, if you like, though it won't change the nutritional counts much overall.
EDIT: In the multiple times making these since this post, I have used unsweetened almond milk in these egg cups, and have changed the below nutritional totals to reflect that.

In some similar recipes, the cheese is halved, and with a meltier cheese like cheddar, you may prefer less.

TIP: When using ground turkey, the taste of the meat alone is fairly bland, and you can really make it pop with spicing. Hot sauce would be great in this recipe, chilli powder, some adobo, I used some coriander in mine. Have fun with spicing, just taste as you go to make sure the turkey has enough spicing. It may feel like a lot, but ground turkey typically needs more flavor added than other meats.

This recipe makes 24 egg cups! The nutritional info below is per 1 egg cup, but I actually do 2 per breakfast.

Low Carb/Keto Muffin-Sized Egg Cups with Spinach, Broccoli & Turkey

-1 cup shredded cheese (I used 1 package of Borden low-moisture, part skim Mozzarella)
-12 extra large eggs
-1/2 cup of unsweetened almond milk
-Approximately 1 cup of broccoli (I used about half a head, chopped into very small pieces)
-2 cups of spinach (I used fresh, but frozen could also be used. 2 cups = about 2 big handfuls)
-1 package of lean ground turkey (I used Sandy Brook Farms, 93% lean, total weight was 20.8 oz)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
1. In a large skillet on the stovetop, start browning the ground turkey over medium heat. Make sure to break up the meat into small pieces, and spice to your taste. I added a lot of salt, pepper, garlic, coriander, and both onion powder and minced dried onion, as well as chili powder.

2. While turkey is cooking, chop broccoli into small bits and add to the same skillet. Add the spinach to the same pan as well. Spice as wanted. Let it all cook for another 3-5 minutes, stirring around the meat and greens occasionally. The meat should be cooked through and the spinach should be wilted.

3. In a medium sized bowl, crack 12 eggs and add the 1/2 cup milk. Add salt and pepper. Use a fork to mix and break all the yolks.
EDIT: I have found I use less cheese AND save on the macros by adding the cheese separately. This step used to involve adding the cheese to the egg mixture before adding to muffin pans.

4. Spray muffin tins with cooking spray (I use Pam with Olive Oil). Using a slotted spoon, add meat and greens from your pan to the bottom of each muffin cup, it will fill each cup about halfway.

5. Pour egg mixture into each muffin cup, about 3/4 of the way. If you used less meat than I did, you may find that there isn't enough egg for all the muffins! If this is the case (it happens to the best of us), simply crack another egg or 2 into your bowl, add milk, and finish off the rest of your egg cups.
Another option is to make fewer egg cups. I only need 20, but make the full 24 to have extras to take to work. If you make fewer, remove the meat and greens from unused cups and save for salads or munching later.

6. Once the egg mixture is poured into all the cups, the last step is to take mozzarella cheese and just by hand add some onto the top of each egg cup, and then use a fork to smoosh it down slightly into the egg.

7. Cook at 350 for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown on top. A toothpick should come out clean (not runny with egg). Let cool before storing.

I put 2 egg cups per small baggie and loaded them into the fridge after cooling. We have 20 for our breakfasts all week (2 per person per day), and I take the extras to work to share with colleagues. Husband and I actually just ate them cold at our desks, and they are just as yummy heated up. 

Nutritional Info:
89 calories per cup! 1.5g carb (this rounded it down, and below rounded it up, ha)!
 Nutritional info per ingredient: (Used MyFitnessPal recipe builder)

Update from author: This recipe originally had asparagus instead of broccoli, but I was not super excited about the asparagus by the end of the first week (it is not my favorite veggie) and in the weeks since, I've used broccoli instead. I went in and updated this recipe to reflect that.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Random Thoughts

Marriage is basically asking "Where are you going?" every time someone gets up, and if it's to get something and come right back, then marriage is also "Can you get me some water/chips/pants too?"


I think my computer has slid past "annoying" and is now openly at war with me. 
Guess what? It's winning.


You know it's summer in New York when your bare arms are touching other people's bare arms on the train. 


My cat always watches me shower. Not only is it mildly creepy, but what could he possibly be thinking? He hates getting baths, but loves to sit in the bathtub. Is he wondering at my stupidity for purposely standing under falling water? Is he plotting my murder (this could be a constant)? Is he daydreaming about napping in the tub later? I DONT KNOW. 
I am leaning towards stalker-peeping tom kitty.

I never post anything fun or funny on Twitter. It is literally hooked up to my LinkedIn work account. Yet somehow I acquire followers. 
But try to be a hilarious writer on a blog and attract followers? Good luck!  


My dad got into town last night. It was his first time in our new place, and only maybe the second time meeting our cat. Dad sat on the couch, and my cat came up and investigated. After receiving exactly 1.7 pets, the kitty climbed to the back of the couch and decided it was the right time to cross some personal boundaries and sniff dad's bald head, sweep his tail across the aforementioned bald head, and just kind of tap his paw on it. Was he seeing if it was ripe? I don't know. Cat then wandered off. 

Friday, September 2, 2016

My Husband Inspires Me

 My husband is an IT geek. He loves computers, math, algorithms, coding, programming, card and board games, and me. He has been computer science focused since before high school, and in high school was even able to take computer-science-specific classes along with his regular classes.

He went to college, achieved a Computer Science Bachelor’s degree, and then moved home to Brooklyn and immediately got a job in programming, and has transitioned into bigger and better jobs since then. He has built websites, programmed and fixed giant deployment tools, coded stuff, taught himself mobile phone programming, and reads articles about techie stuff in his free time.

My husband loves what he does. He is passionate about his chosen career field, and is 100% certain that he is doing the right thing for him. He is creative in a techie/mathy way that actually creates something out of nothing, using his lines of code, which is really cool.

I am 10 years deep in a career I sort of fell into after college. I am good at sales, I am decently successful in my field, and I have been lucky enough and have worked hard enough to move into good positions with great companies, and work with amazing bosses. I like my job.

But I am not passionate about my job the way Hubs is. I don’t take the same depth of satisfaction from mine as he does when he’s solving a code crisis. I didn’t know at 14 that this is what I would be doing.

When I was a kid, I wanted to be a singer, songwriter, illustrator, writer, or lawyer. I was always told I was good at arguing and should be a lawyer, so I’m not sure if I wanted to be that, or if it just seemed like a good back-up plan.

As an adult, my hobbies include singing, songwriting, and writing. None of those are my career and none of them are paid. I still am passionate about them, I love doing them, and I let my creative flag fly free.

Listening to Hubs talk about work and the projects he is working on (I have learned SO MUCH about computer-y things in the last 6 years!) and the problems he faces, the solutions he finds, acting as a sounding board and suggesting things from a different point of view, seeing the gratification he gets from a job well done, a project completed, and a good review from his boss, has inspired the hell out of me.

I recently turned 30, and also marked 5 years of having my personal blog. It is a creative outlet full of rants, ramblings, coherent articles, doodles, lyrics, and lists. For some reason, I assumed if my blog was entertaining enough, it would magically attract readers and I could maybe get some ad revenue out of it, or somehow parlay that into a writing career. Well, that hasn’t happened, but I have gotten a lot of happiness and satisfaction from maintaining my blog, so that’s awesome.

When I turned 30, I started examining my writing goals. I have journals full of poetry and lyrics, and 2 half-started books on my computer (one is a young adult novel, one a self-help book on confidence), I have a small demo with a couple of songs I wrote and recorded, and I already had a few articles posted as a guest contributor on one website that was not my blog.

I wasn’t actively taking steps forward to write elsewhere or try to get paid. But the truth is, I’ve always wanted to be a writer, and getting published isn’t just going to fall out a window and hit me. If I’m going to be a writer, I needed to start making a real concerted effort to write.

And I have. Since my birthday in June, I’ve added several more websites to the list of places that publish my articles, including my most recent achievement of Huffington Post blogger platform. I’ve applied to several part time writer/editor positions, and have started working on a couple of pieces to submit to writing contests. I am continuing to apply to websites to be a guest contributor.

I’ve blogged and posted articles on sites significantly more often than before, I’ve taken more time to work on my book, and I’ve carved out time weekly to just sit at a computer and WRITE. Even when I’m not sure what to say.

It’s tough sometimes, and I get frustrated or I have nothing to say. I try to pay more attention to the news, so I can write more relevant articles instead of rants or funny posts that were more for my personal blog and less for a wider audience. I have started thinking a lot more about keywords and SEO and what appeals to people who are not me.

It’s also exciting and interesting and new and shiny. I have always wanted to be a writer and every single time I see my byline and thumbnail photo on a new website, I get giddy and happy.

My husband loves what he does, even when it annoys or frustrates him. Seeing him happy and successful and fulfilled inspires me to find that as well. His passion and drive inspire me to do better and improve. And that is pretty awesome.