Category Archives: Food/Drink Fun

Life, Work, and a Health Overhaul.

So…it’s been a while.

Life (read work) has taken over for the hubs and I. When we aren’t at work, we are doing work at home, and in the few moments we have to tear our eye balls aways from glowing computer screens (maybe while sleeping or shoveling food into our mouths), we think about work. May was just really busy for us both. Oftentimes, in those moments, I become stressed about everything I’m missing–friends, family, art, a walk in a park, blogging, FUN. I get all lost in, “I’m so busy. I’m so stressed and IT WILL NEVER END!!!” But it does end. It has ended. I’m home. Enjoying a cocktail of OJ and coconut water. The hubs made a roasted beet salad and honey, sesame glazed salmon for dinner, that we ate at the table like adults. We took Elphie for a nice walk before the sky broke open. And now, I’m writing again.

How do you live in the storm of work and still see through to the clouds parting (sun shining, birds chirping, etc)?

Like, for real. How do you do it? Does anyone actually do this??

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One thing I’m trying now is an eight-week health overhaul. It started when I read a blog post about a detox cleanse that made me want to try one. However, after discussing with friends, I decided a cleanse of protein shakes for meals was not really the way to go for me. Instead a more holistic–mind, body, soul–approach. My friend Emily (of wedding and pop up photography fame) came up with a plan/set of goals for herself (super rigorous and awesome) that I, with help from my buddy-and running enthusiast-John adapted for ourselves. Below is the full list, including the goals Emily outlined for herself and how I’ve adapted it for my life and my RA:

Emily–No alcohol, Sarah–same–this one is easy. I already limit my alcohol intake due to medications I’m on and I have to say, it is actually a lot less stressful not drinking than it is to think about, “How many drinks have I had this week? Is this beer really worth one of the two drinks I can have right now?” Also, even after a late night with friends, I wake up feeling just fantastic (instead of headachy and sluggish)

Emily–60 minutes of yoga a day, Sarah–20-30 minutes of yoga a day–I do a combination of what I remember from taking yoga classes, RA specific poses/stretches I found by surfing YouTube and core work a physical therapist taught me. This has changed my morning and all I did was take the time I was spending reading email on my phone in bed first thing and use it on yoga. So much better for the soul.

Emily–40 miles of running a week, Sarah–5 miles of running/walking per week–Here is where I have been struggling, not with the task but with finding the time. But I just have to do it. Aforementioned running enthusiast and friend John helped me come up with a run/walk program to ease me into running. I walk two minutes, run 30 seconds for eight sets for a total of 20 minutes (I can do about a mile and a half in this time right now). Slowly, like every week or so, I increase the running increment and decrease the walking increment until I am running the entire time. Still working on this one…

Emily–60+ ounces of water and green tea a day, Sarah–24oz of water per day plus green tea or OJ and coconut water–I gave up caffeine two years ago but green tea is so tasty and so good for you and doesn’t really have THAT much caffeine so I’ll have it once a week or so. But the water has made a huge difference. For real. I used to be one of those people who just didn’t drink things, not throughout the day, sometimes not even at meals. Very weird. Because now that I’m drinking water all the time, I feel really good. I’m sure the yoga and all this other stuff helps too, but on a very basic level, I can tell that water helped right away.

Emily–Oil pulling 1-2 times a day, Sarah–same. See my post on oil pulling. I love it.

Emily–Fish oil 1 time a day, Sarah–multi vitamin once per day–I eat a lot of fish and wasn’t sold on the whole fish burps thing so I started a multi-v. I’m sure I need all of that stuff. Oh, I also do chewable because, despite taking pills for most of my life, I’m really terrible at it.

Emily–Significantly reduce processed foods including sugars, Sarah–significantly reduce processed foods, especially sugars–I have a sugar addiction. I will eat cookies every day, multiple times a day then come home and have move cookies. I am an actual cookie monster and it just had to stop. It’s been two weeks and I have not had a single processed sugar item. I will tell you honestly that there have been days where the cravings were like, whoa. I mean. CRAZY. GIVE ME A COOKIE NOW OR I WILL STAB YOU feelings. But I have conquered them (for now). And while I may not ban sweets for life (I mean what’s Thanksgiving without pie crust?) I feel I am well on my way to kicking the habit. And most of my other meals have come from the organic produce section (of the fabulous new Mariano’s on Lawrence). I’ve also kept up with fruit for breakfast instead of–highly processed–cereal.

Emily–1 long dog walk a day, Sarah–1 dog walk a day–The hubs and I have thoroughly enjoyed this part. We do it together at the end of the night, when the sun has almost set and we reconnect. It’s nice outside, people are out with their dogs and our neighborhood feels like a community.

So that is what is keeping me sane these days. Anyone else want to join in on our challenge?

Weekly Obsessions-May 6

Fruit Salad

I’ve been reading and hearing so many things lately about going off grains and other inflammatory foods to help arthritis that I feel I need to give it a serious try. HOWEVER. That is super hard. So I’ve decided to eliminate grains slowly–one meal at a time. I started with breakfast. Normally I eat cereal or oatmeal for breakfast, however it has been relatively easy to swap that for fresh fruit. Once a week, I make a large fruit salad of sorts and then eat it over the course of the week. This week it includes

2 organic gala apples
2 kiwis
2 bananas
1 carton organic strawberries
a couple splashes of pure coconut water and organic OJProcessed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

I follow the rule of the peel when it comes to organic vs. not. As we all know, organic can be pricey, however, to me, it seems so worth it not to ingest harmful chemicals. So, the rule of peel is buy organic fruit and veggies when you will eat the peel (apples, strawberries) and don’t splurge for organic when you remove it (kiwi, banana). The switch to this delicious fruit breakfast has actually been very easy. I feel refreshed and light, yet satisfied every morning. If you need a little more protein in your morning, like on an especially busy day or after a particularly light dinner the night before, you could always add a hard-boiled egg (on its own. not in the salad. hopefully that is obvious).

In fact, hard-boiled eggs are  another obsession this week. I’ve been hard-boiling a bunch at once and then keeping them in their carton in the fridge. I just pull one out when I need a snack or add them to a lunch salad for some protein. They are fantastic, easy and delicious.Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

And my final obsession this week (surprise, surprise more food) is Honey Pie from Bang Bang. It is sweet and creamy with touches of lavender and salt. And their crust is always amazing. I’m savoring really really small pieces as it is also VERY sweet.Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

Hyde Park Night

I’m ashamed to admit that I am one of those Chicagoans that really sticks to their neighborhood. Or really the few neighborhoods that I already frequent–Buena Park, North Center, Andersonville and Lincoln Square. That’s it. So when my friend Allison said she wanted to do dinner, I said, “Why don’t we come to you?” She lives in Hyde Park, and the only times I’ve been there I have been picking stuff up either from her apartment or the University of Chicago–all for the theater. Shameful. So last Friday, Danny and I took Lake Shore Drive past the exit for I-55 to meet Allison and her beau and found Chicago, the college town.

Like for real, a college town with its mix of little independent shops and restaurants, the essential big box places and bars. It was a gorgeous night in Chicago so we ate dinner OUTSIDE (thank goodness) at Z & H. It was taco night and we had our fill of tacos, guac, chips, and quesadillas. Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

It was delicious, even if ordering and receiving the food was slightly chaotic. They subscribe to the deli model of taking your name and then shouting when your food is ready, which would be totally fine if there weren’t very segregated seating areas. Not to worry, we got our food and ate. it. all.

Processed with VSCOcam with x1 presetNext, we attempted to go to the new, swanky A-10 for drinks, however were denied access–no seats available. And it clearly wasn’t a standing bar. So instead we went to what can only be described as the exact opposite of new and swanky, what I’m told is a Hyde Park classic, Jimmy’s. Which isn’t even its name, mind you. The official name is Woodlawn Tap, however I think if you call it that, you might get kicked out. This is a college bar. Bad beer, torn up seats, loud, dark, FUN. We got a pitcher of beer and chilled with some friends of Allison’s that had the same idea.

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Here’s the other thing about Hyde Park; apparently everyone knows everyone! Walking down the street, sitting at dinner and upon entering Jimmy’s we ran into no less than 5 people that either Allison or her beau knew. Craziness. Sure we were surrounded by people who did not look a day over 15 to me, but who I’m sure were in college, saying things like, “If I wanted tacos, I’d just go to Big Star.” But we had a fantastic time and I loved the vibe of the neighborhood. People just out and about having a great time. Thanks Allison and Sam for a great night showing us your hood!

Anniversary Times

Yesterday was the hubs and my second wedding anniversary. Our weekend of eating and cleaning was, in fact, part celebration. We did not leave our trip to West Elm completely empty-handed. Since the traditional two-year present is cotton, we splurged on some great sheets and a new quilt for our bed (Elphie has chewed many holes in the old one). I love the chevron pattern against the simple (yet double-sided) coral quilt. Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

We also went out for a drink and dinner on Friday night at Fountainhead (one of our favorites, fantastic rooftop deck in the summer), which is something we hadn’t done in a long time. We realized that we had both been so busy with work and adoption stuff that we had been neglecting date nights.

So yesterday, we tried to create another date night by walking to the cute corner store that sells alcohol, sandwiches, chocolates and pasta (a fine mix if you ask me) to grab a champagne split. We had also purchased some fish and brussels sprouts in preparation for making an anniversary dinner to enjoy at home.

Well, we tried a traditional french recipe on the fish–except we used some grapefruits instead of lemons–and it turned out horrible. I mean horrible. Like congealed fish with buttery/grapefruit flavor. We had to dump it. So we sat down with our champagne split and our delicious roasted brussels sprouts (just tossed in olive oil, salt, pepper and cumin then roasted for 40 mins at 400) to partake in our wedding anniversary tradition: watching the wedding video our friend Gregory made for us.Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

The video is about 10 minutes long and, to me, it is perfect. It captures everything that was special to us about our day from getting ready and walking down the aisle (a wooden plank on the beach) to the canopy decorated with homemade tissue flowers (credit mostly due to my mom, though others certainly helped), to our best friends and family speaking and witnessing, to our kiss and the spontaneous hugging and dancing that immediately followed, to the dinner, drinks, and dances and, finally, to one of my favorite moments, the men’s exact dance replica of that heartfelt pop classic, N’Sync’s “Bye, Bye, Bye.”

We talked about watching it every year, about forcing our kids to watch it every year, and it made our night, congealed fish and all, so much better. Also, we may have then eaten a bunch of Haagen Dazs to make up for the fish. Happy Two Years to my boo!

Also, I’m sure we can’t be the only ones who have had anniversary plans fall through or not work out (though it did also kind of happen to us last year in London. Sheesh). Tell me about your not-so-perfect anniversary celebrations.

Weekly Obsessions-April 6

This week I am totally obsessed with Spring Cleaning. I have been a madwoman. No closet, dresser, or counter top has been safe from me. This weekend, after cleaning the entire apartment, the hubs and I went through every storage space/surface in our bedroom (including the closet-yikes), the hall closet and both bathrooms. Everything is organized, pretty and clean.

I would like to think this is something we would do every spring to rid ourselves of that which we’ve accumulated over a long winter of hibernating. However, I know better. We are super motivated in preparation for listing the condo for sale. In fact, part of Saturday’s organizing included visiting with our realtor on the market, listing price, and some things to change/fix up before listing. We plan to fix all the holes in the hallway walls and then paint. And, of course, going through the living area and second bedroom with the same fervor for cleaning and organizing. That second bedroom in particular is going to be a doozy.

However, the weekend wasn’t all work. The hubs and I rewarded ourselves with a trip to a few furniture stores to pack away ideas for the new place. We are both totally obsessed with West Elm’s Mid Century Modern Collection, so we peeked into a few vintage shops to see if we could find anything similar at a lower price. We did find some similar pieces, however they were the about the same price…Not to worry, though, we will keep looking!

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I mean, come on. Gorgeous.

I also took the hubs on his first visit to Bang Bang Pie Shop. Biscuits and vegetarian gravy topped with an egg. French silk pie. Need I say more? Just go.

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The face of the happiest and most satisfied of campers.

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