Category Archives: Summer vacay

Food, how I love Thee

 

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What you see above is a picture of a supper I made a couple of weeks ago. Hang with me here, and I’ll share the oh-so-simple recipe at the end of this post.

For lack of a better term, I am a die-hard “foodie”. I understand that one should not “live to eat”, but rather “eat to live”. Intellectually, I know that is the healthiest way to think about food. In spite of this, however, I lean towards the latter and not the former.

A few years back, I made a decision to adopt healthier eating habits. My weight had grown to an unacceptable level in my view and I believed it was time to make some serious changes in my daily diet.

So after reading a few dieting books, I decided to go low carb. It wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be. I found myself mostly missing bread and baked goods, but not much else. I kept a daily food diary, which I think was the best tool I could have employed for this endeavor. I ended up losing 23 lbs over the course of about 5-6 months. I felt great about myself. I got myself down one pants size. People noticed.

However…I slowly but surely started to slip back into my old ways, enjoying bread on a semi-regular basis and increasing my consumption of chocolate. About a month ago, I told myself that while I’d managed to gain approximately half of the weight I’d lost, I was not continuing to gain even more weight. I was not gaining but “maintaining”.

Oh, the things I tell myself to justify poor nutritional choices.

I will at some point, in the not so distant future, purchase myself a brand spanking new notebook in which I will document my daily food intake. After of course I  recover those tried and true low carb recipes I collected back in the day when I was uber motivated to shed the weight.

Hubs and I recently returned from our epic summer road trip to visit family in Minnesota and Wisconsin.  I made the conscious decision to wholeheartedly embrace the “live to eat” method. The “YOLO” diet, if you will. Justified by the fact that I was on vacation. 

My vacay diet consisted of the following: cheeseburgers and french fries. Ice cream treats. Potato chips. Lots of those. Candy. Cinnamon rolls. Cookies. Pancakes. Banana cream pie.  I basically ate like the 10 year old version of myself in the lazy days of summer. And I have no regrets. Though to be honest, I am a good 6 lbs. heavier now as a result of this “no holds barred” foodie fest.  I am verging on the precipice of having to purchase pants in a larger size at this point.

I refuse to purchase larger pants. Even if they are purchased for a pittance at my favorite thrift store. Even if they are far more comfortable and don’t leave red indentations in my mid-section after taking them off. Not. Gonna. Do. It.

Luckily, the recipe for the supper I photographed for your hungry eyes is indeed both low carb and highly delicious. Here it is:

4 chicken breasts

Store-bought pesto (or homemade, if you happen to grow your own basil as I do)

Chopped garlic

Fresh mushrooms

Fresh tomato

Shredded mozzarella

Brown Rice ( I highly recommend Success Rice. Easy-peasy, trust me)

Using a mallet (and some pent up anger), pound chicken breasts between a couple of pieces of parchment paper. Sprinkle the breasts with salt and pepper to your liking.

Heat up some olive oil in a large skillet, then add some chopped up garlic and fry that up a little. Then add the chicken breasts. If it doesn’t appear to be cooking quickly enough, throw in a bit of water and cover the pan for a bit.

In a separate pan, heat up some olive oil and add the mushrooms. Once those are cooked up nicely, add them to the skillet with the chicken in it. Once the chicken is almost done, slather some of that delicious pesto on top of the breasts. Heat that up a bit, then sprinkle as much mozzarella on as you like. Slice up a tomato and put it on top. Cover the pan and heat it up a little more.

I’m going to assume you knew to make the brown rice in between all these steps.

Then simply plop your rice onto plates, and place a chicken breast onto that and chow down.

Enjoy, folks!

Pondering my playlists

I’ve mentioned in at least one previous post that, inspired by a different sort of self-help book entitled “Soul Song Playlist”, I started to create my own soul-soothing, uplifting, personal playlist. What I’ve discovered along the way is that this playlist is a work in progress. For me, it isn’t something I could just put together in one fell swoop.

I’ve added songs that I later removed, because they didn’t speak to me on a soul level like I presumed they would (“Let it Go” from the animated movie Frozen is a prime example) when I initially chose them. I’ve heard songs while driving that jumped out at me as the perfect additions to this very personal playlist of mine. I think I will continue adding and subtracting songs over the course of a good long time.

That said, I found myself last week itching to hear full cd’s of my favorite artists. The ones I cherish the most, to give myself a needed break from the overthinking I’d been doing with creating my soul song playlist. I listened to my very favorite cd of all time, Raising Sand, with Robert Plant and Allison Kraus. I listened to Alanis Morissette’s “The Collection” cd. So many rocking tunes on that one with very thoughtful, purposeful lyrics. And I listened to Sheryl Crowe’s “C’mon, C’mon” cd, which is one of those that I thoroughly enjoy singing along with. Raising Sand is not one I sing along with, for the record, because the sheer beauty of the songs on this cd compel me to simply listen. Few cd’s are like that for me.

That brings me to the new playlist I’m going to start creating this week, in preparation for our big summer road trip to visit family in both Minnesota and Wisconsin. Hubs and I will be strapped in for two full days so I figure a rocking playlist is in order. We can listen to it as we wish, interspersing it with catching up on national and world news on NPR and various podcasts.

The genre of our road trip playlist is primarily classic rock. With a few summery  pop hits added in to enhance our freewheeling, relaxed summer vacation attitudes.

Here’s a few songs that are going to be “musts” on this epic summer road trip playlist.

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A depiction of Hubs and I on our epic summer road trip
  • “2 out of 3 Ain’t Bad”, by Meatloaf (I feel I should know his real name, being kind of a music trivia buff. But more importantly, how did he acquire the name “Meatloaf”?)
  • “Walkin’ on the Sun”, by Smash Mouth (interestingly, at least to me anyway, was that this is the band Hubs named recently when I asked him what band he most wants to see live before he croaks. Didn’t see that one coming.)
  • “American Pie”, by Don McClean. A classic sing along song we always turn up when it comes on the radio. Doesn’t every American, at least over the age of 40, do the same thing?
  • “We’re Not Gonna Take It”, by Twisted Sister. A classic song of rebellion that begs to be sung out loud with righteous indignation, which is wholly appropriate in our current political climate.
  • “Layla”, by Derek and the Dominoes (for me, never the one put out by Eric Clapton years later…it’s just not the same, man).
  • “Margaritaville”, by Jimmy Buffett. A carefree summer driving sing-along classic.
  • “We Built This City”, by Starship. I know that many, perhaps most, people hate this song with a passion. But for Hubs and I, it’s a rollicking tune that reminds us of our younger days.
  • “You’re my Best Friend”, by Queen. Hubs is my best friend and I am his. I used to think it was sappy and unoriginal to proclaim this. But over time I have come to realize that it’s the simple truth. Me and my best friend are bound to have ourselves a great time on this road trip of ours. And now we will have a soundtrack that will set the tone.

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And so it begins

Hubs and I will be leaving this week for a road trip to visit family and friends in our beloved states of Minnesota and Wisconsin. I may or may not have opportunities to do any blog posts while we are away, but I will get right back into it upon our return to our still new Colorado home.

I have quite a mixed bag of emotions heading into this adventure: excitement, anxiety, and guilt are at the top of the list. I’m excited about the opportunities so see all those people I love and miss so much. I’m excited about presenting my mother in law, sister in law, and a dear friend their birthday gifts (all are in the month of July). I’m excited to give my dad a box of his favorite treats when we visit him in his new home. I’m excited to spend time visiting our friends at our favorite watering holes, restaurants, and backyards. I’m beyond excited to see our eldest daughter and our grandson.

I’m anxious knowing that this will be the first time at my parent’s home with mom living there alone.  It’s going to be so strange. I’m anxious about how my dad will react to our presence, as I’ve been made aware that he is farther into dementia than he was when I last saw him in April. I like to think he will know who Hubs and I are, but what if he doesn’t? I don’t know how to prepare emotionally for this possibility. I don’t want to cry in front of him because I think that will be confusing and upsetting for him. I must for his sake keep it together. Dementia is such a bastard.

The guilt will inevitably sneak it’s way into my brain too, I expect. Here I am, living the dream in wonderful, beautiful Colorado while my family is experiencing the hardship of my parents aging and the stress that comes with caregiving. I’m an unemployed (by choice for now anyway) housewife (domestic goddess?) with the time to pursue my love of creative writing via this blog and enjoy a decent social life.  Currently my life is virtually stress-free, which is a new state of being for me. I worry that my family might think “Who does she think she is?”.

But go forth we will. Much time and energy has been spent by Hubs and I in the planning of this vacation. That fact ought to optimize the chance that things will go smoothly.

I will savor the good times, which I have faith will be plentiful. Like having chats with Hubs in the car about the past, the present, and what hopes we have for our future. Listening to Al Franken’s audio book “Giant of the Senate”. Listening to the plethora of channels on our Sirius XM. Sitting in motel hot tubs with a cold beer at the end of a long day in the car. Trying new restaurants. Sitting out on my parent’s front porch reminiscing about the good old times with mom and Hubs. Morning walks along the shores of Lake Superior. Taking the dumpling (our 3 year old grandson) out for ice cream and to the zoo. Splashing in the hotel pool with him and reading him the Sesame Street book I recently bought. Having a nice long, heart to heart chat with my beloved eldest daughter.  Sitting out on my in laws deck, chatting the afternoon away sipping wine and smelling the barbeque my father in law is cooking on the grill. Having girl time with my sweet sister in law, laughing and shopping our way through Stillwater, Mn. Catching up with dear friends while sampling craft beers. Spending time at one of my very favorite places on earth: my sister’s home on the Baptism River. These simple things in life are what makes it worth living.

I am so fortunate to have all these people that I love so much and who love me back. I hope all of you, dear readers, are as blessed as I. Happy summer everyone!