Gratitude

You know when it’s real.

Ok, that was cheesy, and I totally stole it from Wendy’s (which only ups the cheese factor. get it? haha.) But seriously, I think there comes a point in life where you have a profound sense of what you should be grateful for.

Teenage is not that age.

Since coming home for the second half of the semester, I’ve had the privilege of observing my younger, 18 year old sister, who is a senior in high school, experience what I’m sure is the most frustrating time of her life. College applications, standardized tests, gymnastics training, raging parties, friend drama, and plain old high school to top it off. She feels as if the world is against her, that I’m against her, and that whatever she puts out will not be rewarded. So why bother? It’s easier for her to just throw out phrases like, “I’m just stupid,” or a simple “Fuck this,” when she tries her best, yet still fails. And even easier to state, “I’m 18, I can do what I want.”

With that mindset, it’s difficult to find the motivation to earn respect.

For instance, tonight my mom told my sister that she needed to come home on time tonight, because she had an important day tomorrow and needed to get to sleep on time. My sister agreed. Instead of coming home around midnight,a however, she showed up at 10 PM and informed us that she was going to have a bonfire in the backyard. People were already on their way over; to late to cancel. Hehe.

Well, she only started to usher them out at 11:45 PM when I called down and told her, and then, completely missing the point of a curfew, took her friends home, leaving some of the bonfire burning. Idiot. And then she acted pissed when she had to keep bringing down buckets of water to put it out. Typical of most of our arguments over this matter, I subtly berated her about her lack of respect, and she closed it with, “Well you know what? You don’t know shit, Erica.”

That’s all she’s really got on me. I’m cool with it.

I just wish I could take her on a flight through what I’ve come to know in the 2.5 more years I have on her. We have so many things to be grateful for, not least of which includes:

  1. A mom (and dad).
  2. A house.
  3. Friends.
  4. Friends that happen to be cute boys.
  5. Wood to make a fire.
  6. Car to drive friends home.
  7. Uggs to stomp around in the dirt.
  8. Legal curfews that aren’t strictly enforced.
  9. Oblivious (or maybe hard of hearing) neighbors.
  10. Oh, I don’t know…life?

She’ll learn one day that the world is not against her. As she herself would say, shit happens. To EVERYONE. It’s part of life!

And bad mistakes? I’ve made a few.

Ok, quite a few.

And I keep making them, but I don’t care. I’m happy not to be..

a ball of teenage angst…

…or a walking zombie…

…or an uptight perfectionist.

I’m 20 years old, and I’m so grateful to be alive.

 

 

 

 

Snape, Snape, Severus Snape

DUMBLEDORE!

I could say that today did not revolve around the midnight showing of Harry Potter tonight.

But then you’d have to give me some veritaserum, because I’d be lying!

Ok. Enough. Breakfast.

This morning’s agenda was packed; I knew what the solution was to getting out the door FAST.

a GREEN MONSTER! Ain’t she a beaut?

For those not familiar with this beautiful concoction, it’s green because of the spinach. Hear me out!

This blog may be called The Spinachsty because I love the leafy green stuff, but believe me when i say YOU CANNOT TASTE THE SPINACH. Rather, it tastes like a banana. But better, because you’re being so sneaky about adding those greens and other nutrients. And you get a cool-looking and yummy smoothie, to boot!

In my green monster, I typically use:

  • A big handful (or two!) of spinach
  • 1 banana
  • Scoop of vanilla protein powder
  • 1/2 cup soymilk

The supplies. Don’t buy that blender; it’s slower than a melting ice cap.

Blend and go! So nutritious and so delicious.

Errand #1: Dropping my iPod off at the UPS store to be sent in for repairs. This is my fourth iPod, and like its ancestors, it is dying a slow, mysterious death. Fortunately after #1 died suddenly, #2 got “corrupted” by software, and #3 was left on an airplane, I coughed up the extra $50 to give #4 a 2-year warranty. I bought it used, anyway; a good investment, since I accidentally left #4 out for an hour or so in Colorado rainstorm this summer.

I know. Bad, bad iPod owner. But it held in there this long, so I was lucky.

Errand (or rather, love of my life) #2: Gym! My gym has 3 branches on the Connecticut shoreline, so I used the gym in the same town as the store. Convenient! I played on the elliptical for a bit, and then I was able to take a BodyJam class! Ever since I started taking ballet at school, I’ve developed a love for the way dancing makes my body feel; namely, flexible and energized.  I’m sure I would love Zumba, and this gym branch is doing a launch next month! So excited.

Errand #3: Get soymilk. We were almost out.

Rushing back to the house to give the car back to Mom for work, I then distracted myself with the paper until noon. Lunch break!

(Anyone read that recent-ish article in the Times about the comeback of pie? I’m a fan. Cupcakes are cute, but not satisfying to me.)

Leftover rice mix (with sesame-ginger dressing, brown rice, edamame, chickpeas, & pine nuts) over spinach.

(Yes, more spinachstiness.)

The rest of the afternoon was reading a really good book and napping on the couch; I had to prepare for the night’s (er, morning’s) main event. I wasn’t in the mood but to eat anything but snacks for dinner:

Some Kashi cereal and soymilk.Kettle Corn (this is a 100-calorie pack. Can you believe it?!) with some hidden cinnamon and chocolate chips.

Mhmm, that is a quality Jane Austen novel-turned-movie in the background, Mansfield Park. Not bad!

Snape, Snape, Severus Snape, DUMBLEDORE!

 

Walking to Running, Failing to Fixing

Last night, I had a curious thought.

If overnight oats work with oat bran, could it work for multigrain hot cereal of the same brand?

Might as well try.

Overnight oats are essentially mixing together equal parts milk, yogurt, and oats, and letting the mix sit in the fridge overnight. Then you add other toppings in the morning! It’s a fun change from hot oats.

But the hot cereal mix (Hodgson Mill brand) did not create the texture I was going for. Shucks!

Thankfully, banana + peanut butter + cinnamon additions saved the day. Yaaay protein!

Mom and I had an interesting trip to the gym. My sister stole my iPod earbuds, and I discovered that the Pod itself had died once I got to the gym. Boo. I was ready to resign myself to a treadmill, geeky gym-issued headphones included, and watch the news to past the time. But then my Mom realized she had forgotten her sneakers! A friend in the locker room lent her an extra pair, but by that time we had decided we’d rather walk outside, in the still-lovely November breeze.

Not complaining! Walking around the North Cove area of Old Saybrook is kind of like architecture porn for those who love New England-style houses. Once I get a good camera, I’ll go on a photo tour.

Lunch on top of the NYT (WTF, Somali pirates? P.M. Netanyahu?? But I won’t get into that now…):

Leftover chickpea mix with spinach and hummus on a whole wheat tortilla; brussels sprouts

Later, sis and I took a quick run. She’s a little hipster: Our persistent rivalry is good for something; our pace was definitely ambitious. Neither of us like to be the slowest.

Dinner started with more brussels sprouts (yay yay love love!):

And since I recently watched the B-grade Brittany Murphy movie The Ramen Girl recently, I decided this would be the night to pull out one of those packets from the depths of the pantry, throw away the MSG-filled seasoning packet, and attempt to season it myself. I tossed in some shrimp, almonds, and spinach for some diversity, along with lots of curry and cumin.

Oh, and had some spinach with it, because I like to do the SPINACHSTY. Haha.

Unfortunately, it was tasteless. Now I understand why there are “ramen masters” in Japan. The broth isn’t easy, yo!

So I drained the noodles, salvaged the shrimp & spinach, googled “easy peanut sauce” and threw together something entirely different:

Peanut noodles with shrimp & spinach? The S.S. Peanoodle, perhaps?

Hen piaoliang!

(That’s totally Chinese, not Japanese or Thai. But at least I kept it Asian!)

Speaking of keeping it international, I just watched the Diary of Anne Frank movie.

Why? I recently spent a few months very close to the fighting grounds of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Any insight I can get into its past, present, and future…I’ll take it.

Plus, I liked the book, so why not?

Ended the evening making apples with cinnamon and honey for my sister and I. You know, to keep with the theme :)

 

 

 

Squash for the Win

My first attempt at making spaghetti squash was a win!

It looked like it was pure cheese. With some beans and tomatoes thrown in. However, looks can be decieving.

The recipe came from this cookbook, which I rescued from the clutches of my school’s “free stuff” drive at the end of the semester. It’s been a lifesaver; I even used it this summer, when I was a cook at a summer camp. The staff even hunted me down for the recipes at the end of the term! I’d say that’s a win.

Southwest Spaghetti Squash (adapted from Incredibly Easy Vegetarian)

Ingredients:

1 spaghetti squash

1 can (14 oz) organic diced tomatoes

1 can (14 oz) red kidney beans, rinsed and drained

3/4 cup (3 oz) shredded Monterey Jack cheese (don’t use cheddar like I did- it doesn’t spread well!)

1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro (or a teaspoon of the dried leaves)

1 tsp cumin

1/4 tsp garlic salt (didn’t have any, so I used celery salt)

1/4 tsp black pepper

Preheat oven to 375 F. Spray baking pan and medium-sized baking dish with nonstick spray. Cut squash in half lengthwise. Remove and SAVE seeds! Place the squash, cut side down, into prepared baking pan. Bake 45 minutes or until tender. While donning oven mitts, shred hot squash with fork; place in large bowl. Add all other ingredients and toss well. Spoon the mix into baking dish and bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes or until heated through. Garnish with more cheese or cilantro if you’d like, and feast!

It was good; I definitely feel better about stuffing my face with this pasta-resembling form of squash than with actual spaghetti. Not like I don’t know the feeling, though! I actually existed on pasta for most of my childhood, with no veggies except for peas and carrots. And the peas HAD to be buttered.

But what’s the best part of cooking these seedy fall vegetables?

Saving the squash seeds and roasting them!!

After separating from residual squash goo, I tossed the seeds in some olive oil, salt, and garam masala and popped them in the oven to bake along with the squash while it was roasting. Then my sister and I got to munch on them while the rest of the mix was on round 2 of baking! So necessary; f.y.i., don’t start roasting squash only after you come back from a long chamber music recital. It’s worth the wait, but a bit more time-sapping.

 

 

Saturday Concerns

I love the mornings when I wake up at the same time as my sister.

Then she can’t say no to my question: “Can I make you vegan banana french toast?”

It’s been a long week. It’s Saturday morning.

Time to take a break from the rushed-before-school bowl of Kashi and sit down to something that requires a frying pan.

I’ve never been a huge fan of eggs, or of french toast. But ever since I discovered the vegan version, it’s nice every once in a while. It doesn’t hurt when it’s soaked (and topped with) my favorite fruit ever, hands-down. BANANA!

Super simple: I mixed a banana with cinnamon, flax, and a little almond milk in the blender, then soaked the pieces and laid them to rest on the frying pan. I topped it with more banana, plain greek yogurt, and some sunflower seed butter.

The Saturday morning mentality isn’t really one that gets you up and going after a leisurely breakfast, even when followed by 2 cups of coffee. So hours later, I decided to combine exercise, productivity, and pet maintenance by taking Mack on a walk to the library.

Such a dominance of golden leaves! What is this monotone nonsense?

Mack didn’t seem to mind.

He was even a good sport when I tied him to a bike rack for a quick minute.

5 printed pages and one high school librarian encounter later:

Oh, Mack. I love you, even the leaves permanently lodged in your whiskers.

We walked for a loooooong time afterwards, my head caught up in thoughts. Eventually, I made it home, showered and lunched:

(Spinach tossed with olive oil, plus leftover pumpkin-feta mix)

I was in the midst of addressing more Saturday concerns, such as icing my foot (is it possible to strain the bottom/side of your arch??) when my dear friend Erin texted me, echoing my opinion of how perfect the day would be for a woodsy stroll. She’s at college in the northeastern part of the state (I’m in the southeast), but she drove down speedily, and we had a quick stroll until night fell. Pictures didn’t happen, but we met a lovely old lady who let us park in her driveway so we could get lost around her street walk the river path nearby. It was just what we needed: a break to catch up, get some extra exercise, and appreciate the woods. Beats this:

Prunes and a couple almonds before I left:

Prepared a quick dinner with Mom when I got home:

I was in charge of the roasted brussel sprouts tossed with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Personally, I like them better roasted with balsamic vinegar, but my mom kept saying, “I forgot how much I like brussel sprouts!” and  “They’re so cute!” so I think they were still a win. With it, I had some mixed greens with goat cheese and some plain greek yogurt with honey.

Now I’m munching on kettle corn, listening to the echoes of my sister trying to throw a rager in her bedroom. I might just have to troll my Netflix queue for something to drown them out. Night!

 

Here goes!

I might have stayed up a bit too late getting this blog started. We’re talking…3 AM kind of late. Worth it! Here goes.

Slept in as long as I could till I had to dash out the door to CoreYoga. Mom couldn’t go today; she’s got the flu, poor thing! But the class was small, and Dana (the one, the awesome, the only instructor) is in the midst of her pilates certification, so we did a lot of mat work instead of weights and the usual yoga-ness. It was an interesting change, but I just don’t love pilates. Maybe one day?

I had a prune before I left; I hate exercising on a full stomach, but I usually have a little bit of fruit beforehand.

I wasn’t too hungry when I came home, so I took Mack (my dog) on a quick 45-minute run through the woods. Not too cold today; I had to take off my fleece and run in my tank top! Good thing there was no one around…I don’t really want the world to notice that I’m utilizing my sister’s wardrobe for the time being, therefore sporting a blinged out tank that said “GUESS” in huge letters. Not so classy. Thankfully, the foliage provided an adequate distraction:

Showered in record time, then had lunch:

(I would love to say that I read the Business section of the New York Times, but the truth is that I prefer almost any other section. Therefore, it served as the placemat.)

(What’s that word? Capital? Meh.)

Mixed greens with a chickpea-edamame-rice mix I made the other night, alongside a whole wheat tortilla with some hummus.

Initially, it was a pretty meal. Then I decided I would prefer my salad inside the tortilla, and it started to get a bit ugly.

The best things in life are messy, anyway :)

The rest of the day was spent visiting Central Connecticut State University with my little sister; she didn’t really like it, and neither did I. It seems to me like every Connecticut public school I’ve been to has such sprawl to their campus that there is no shelter to the wind…it was a warm day, so I was okay, but the school was basically dead on a Friday afternoon. That’s a little lame. Where are the frisbee players on the quad? Needless to say, there are no pictures. *sigh* She’ll find her place somwhere.

We drove back and got some special dishes from a gourmet store (The Cooking Company in East Haddam, CT. So charming!), including an onion baguette, pumpkin-feta salad, and veggie corncakes.

Not this grapefruit, however.

Just a little something I found in the fridge to tide me over until dinner.

I actually dislike grapefruit (the taste? the difficulty to eat it without a specialty spoon? the association with silly fad diets?), but there was only one apple left, and I knew my sister would want it. She eats about 3 a day!

Obviously, she was goofy with gratitude:


I must have been working so hard to earn brownie points (ooh, I wish I had a brownie…) that I forgot to take a picture of my dinner plate. Oops! I’ll get better. It’s hardly 6 and I might soon call it a night. I have no idea what tomorrow holds, but I already like it.

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