Sunday, February 23, 2014

In the spirit of getting healthy....

My cats have jumped on the bandwagon.  

The most delicious health food ever. Seriously.

While stumbling through random pinterest things in my spare time a few weeks ago, I came across such a thing as quinoa muffins.  I love muffins and their versatility, but even a whole wheat muffin is typically just a whole wheat cupcake.  Lots of sugar and processed carbs.  WELL NOT ANYMORE! I took this recipe and modified it to be EVEN MORE AWESOME AND HEALTHY.  I bring these babies to work for, get this, breakfast AND lunch.  That's how wholesome they are.  I literally do not feel guilty eating these muffins (even if I have 4) and they taste AWESOME.   The only somewhat outrageously expensive ingredient is the almond flour, but thats what turns these from a healthy muffin into, basically, a perfect food. More protein, less processed carbohydrate.  Worth the investment.  I figure you can make something like 100 muffins for $15 of almond flour.  Not great but not terrible either. Without further ado:

  • 1 cup cooked quinoa. (This is about 1/3 cup dry quinoa.  Add 1/3 cup of water, bring to a boil, then let simmer for 20 minutes.  Or look up how to cook your own quinoa better than that.)
  • 1/2 - 3/4 cup sugar, depending on how sweet you want it.  The original recipe calls for brown sugar.  I usually do half brown sugar, half agave.  You could also do honey or maple syrup or all four if that floats your boat.
  • 1/2 cup melted coconut oil.
  • 1/2 cup greek yogurt. (I use vanilla flavored. Plain or honey would work too. You could replace this with applesauce for a vegan substitution.)
  • 2 eggs. (There is also this new thing I learned called a flax egg: 1tsp ground flax seed and 3 tsp water, mixed and chilled= 1 flax egg.  Vegan substitution.)
  • 1/3 can of pumpkin puree. (I know that's an obnoxious measurement.  Just freeze the rest for 2 more batches.  Or triple the recipe.  Also, make sure you're not using pumpkin pie mix.  Just a regular sized can of pumpkin puree.)
  • 1 tsp vanilla.
  • 1 overripe mashed banana.
  • 1 grated zucchini.
  • 1-2 grated carrots.
  • 1/2 cup walnuts.
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds.
  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds.
  • 1-2 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1-2 tbsp flax seeds (ground or not.)
  • 3/4 cup + 1 tbsp whole wheat flour.
  • 3/4 cup + 1 tbsp almond flour.
  • 1 tsp baking soda.
  • 1/2 tsp salt.
  • 1 tsp cloves.
  • 1tsp nutmeg.
  • 1 cup blueberries.
From the above list, everything in black is necessary, and everything in red is OPTIONAL.  These muffins rock cause you can play with the ingredients.  Also, there are more options that aren't on that list, that's just how I like mine.  You could do cinnamon, any kind of nut or seed, grated apple, chocolate chips...the possibilities are endless.  Pick what you like and leave out what you don't.  All of those things above do taste awesome together though. Don't be scared!   My favorite thing about these muffins is that they have 3 vegetables, 2 fruits, 2 kinds of nuts, 3 kinds of seeds, yogurt, eggs, quinoa...So much awesome stuff!  I have like, all the food groups nailed with these!  (Except meat. No thanks.)

So basically, your going to stir together your first 7 ingredients, plus whatever fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, or other add-ins your putting in there (except blueberries or chocolate chips...they go last.) This should look like a colorful bowl full of health at this stage...and it is!

Then, add your dry ingredients, (the 4 in black in the middle) plus any spices you are using.  The banana, sugar, and vanilla really make these taste great without spices, but they do help you taste that yummy pumpkin-pie like flavor if you add them.  Last, add blueberries by gently folding them into the batter.

Bake these in muffin liners for 18-20 minutes at 350.  The top of the muffin should be a firm and golden brown, but the inside should still feel soft.  This recipe makes about 20 muffins.  I've noticed that if you try to eat them warm, they don't come out of the liner very well at all. Like you leave half or your muffin behind.  After completely cooling, that problem resolves itself.  Just thought I would warn you.

I usually just leave them on the baking rack covered with a clean cloth until they are gone--putting them in a plastic bag makes them a little too soft and gooey for my taste.  


Sunday, February 2, 2014

Our NEW (cough) apartment!

So it's not really that new anymore.  I finally got it all cleaned enough for me to feel comfortable taking pictures and posting them on the internet, so now you can finally see!

This is the first unfurnished apartment I have ever lived in, so when we moved in in August, it took a lot of scrounging to get everything that we needed.  This couch was found a few-weeks post move outside the laundromat where I do laundry.  I wasn't sure if it actually belonged to someone or not...I left it there for a few days, and it never moved from its outdoor location, so I figured no one musta wanted it tooooo badly.  I got it home and thoroughly cleaned it, and it has made all the difference from sitting in lawn chairs.  (I made all the pillows :) (Winky's eyes look a little scary...)

This is the chair I bought on sale before I had a couch.  It's a little crowded in here with both, but it works.  Rob's stepmom painted the pictures.

We have a lovely little bookshelf with a plethora of my Pinterest projects displayed on it... That door leads out to our back deck, which is raised so the kitties can go out but can't escape without a 20 ft fall.
On the other side of the living room, we have a kind of organized chaos corner.  A larger than half percentage of it is mine, and believe it or not its actually cleaner than this now.  But basically we both have a desk and a bunch of stuff stored in the corner.

This is where I do all my sewing/art projects/ work? ...nah.

This is the 4th wall of the living room between the kitchen and bathroom.  Obviously, this was taken at Christmas time.  My Uncle Ron gave me the tree from his farm, and I made the stockings and the tree skirt.  The TV was found outside our apartment with a sign that said "free" and was in perfect working order, simply lacking a remote.  But, as my friend Brett informed me, my phone has "infrared blasters" and he performed some sort of voodoo magic and now my phone works as a remote.  Its pretty cool.  We don't have cable, but for Christmas Brett gave us a Chromecast, which means whatever is happening in my Google Chrome browser can show up on the TV.  Like Netflix.  It's nice to have friends like Brett around.

Off the living room is the kitchen.  It's not huge but its nice.  The stove is hiding behind the refrigerator. I really like the shelves and the spice rack, and I don't have a picture, but above the stove is a pegboard where we hang our pots and pans.  Its pretty neat.

I had to add an extra table in the kitchen for the sake of having more counter space.  Originally it was going to be like a kitchen table, but its become more of a plant/produce/bread table.  With kitty litter underneath.

The cats have decided that the plants are fun to dig in/tip over/eat.  They are bound and determined to kill them all. I've had to put in place from doing that since this picture was taken.

 There is also a lovely little pantry, which actually goes all the way though to another closet on the other side by the front door where we hang our coats.

On to the bedroom!  This is the bed set I got for christmas.  I love it.  The bed was an excellent deal, as a friend of a friend was moving away as I was moving in.  It wasn't the optimal level of comfortable, so it now has a 3 1/2 inch memory foam/down alternative mattress pad on it.  The curtains were made by me in about 4 minutes with a spare piece of fabric I had, and the Bob Marley flag is of course Robs.  He wanted it in the living room.  This was the compromise. :)

I was in need of a dresser, and on my second day in the apartment, I happened to drive by one on the side of the road with a sign that said free!  I couldn't get in in my car, so Ryan came and helped me with his truck (as with the bed and couch...Thanks Ryan!)  The drawers are a little skeewompus, but they work, and the mirror/shelves are very nice.  

And that's basically it!  Well, besides the bathroom and closets.  The bathroom has purple tile floors.  Thats about the only exciting thing.  I'm pretty pleased with the furniture I managed to scrounge.  Also, alot of the other things came from second-hand stores for cheap or from Rob's house.  All-in-all, I'm very pleased with the whole thing, although it's become apparent that a 2-bedroom would fit us better, especially when Casey is over.

In other news, I've discovered an awesome app for anyone interested in Nutrition and/or weight loss.  Well actually I discovered it about 3 years ago, so its not really new or anything, but I've rediscovered it and fallen in love.  It's called myfitnesspal, and its basically an easy/fun? way to track your food and exercise. It will give you a daily calorie goal, and you try to stay within it.  It will also show you how you're doing nutritionally, like if you're eating too much sugar or sodium or not enough vitamin C or anything like that.  I've been enjoying it, and I think I've dropped a pound or two since I started playing with it.  It's amazing how just being aware of what/how much you're eating can change your decisions. Check it out!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Meet Winky and Dobby

My kitties are almost 9 months old, and I've had them for over 5!  They are getting so big, but they're still kittens at heart.  When people see them, they have a hard time telling them apart since they are very similarly sized and almost completely black.  I, however, can be asleep with my eyes closed in the dark, and if a cat jumps on the bed and I wake up, I can tell exactly which one it is.  They have very different personalities.

This is Winky! She's a little cross-eyed and has a little white spot on her chest. Some of her favorite things include:
  • getting inside empty boxes or bags
  • hiding underneath things (her favorites are rugs and any sewing project project I'm attempting to work on)
  • climbing on to her people's laps, purring and being affectionate, but refusing to lay down.  She just stands there and tries to balance and walks in circles till she gets sick of it and gets down.
  • standing on my bladder while I'm trying to sleep
  • standing on my throat while I'm trying to sleep
  • standing on my boobs while I'm trying to sleep  (she hasn't mastered the whole "cuddling" concept yet)
  • staring longingly at the ceiling whenever someone picks her up
  • falling in the toilet
  • standing on the side of the bathtub and watching her people through the clear showers curtain as they clean themselves

This is Dobby!  He is almost pure black with just a few white stands of hair on his chest, and he has an extra toe (or maybe 2?) on every foot.  His favorite pastimes are:

  • Laying on anything except the floor.  (his favorites are any sewing project I'm trying to work on and any bags or coats that guests and visitors bring to the apartment)

  • yowling loudly whenever someone walks into the kitchen at any time of the day that could be considered meal time, hoping to be fed.
  • laying with his feet out behind him, crossed
  • laying in my armpit while I sleep
  • cuddling with me in general while I sleep
  • maintaining the exact position he was originally in if someone picks him up and puts him back down somewhere else
  • walking right between my legs when I first get out of bed (this is usually more like me stumbling over him in my sleepy daze while he trips me on purpose)
  • chasing lasers

And the funniest thing that they both LOVE is earplugs. I typically sleep with earplugs in, and from the first time they discovered them, they are always on a mission to take them from me and play with them.  At first, I did not have a nightstand with a drawer in it, and every morning I had to hide them when I woke up, and retrieve them from their hiding place before I went to bed.  I went through several hiding places, because they kept finding them, and eventually, I bought a nightstand with a drawer just to keep them out of my earplugs.  Now, every time they hear the drawer open, they run into the bedroom to see if they can snag an earplug.  Also, if ever I'm in bed reading or anything, they do checks to see if maybe I've already taken the earplugs out of the drawer, but haven't put them in yet.  Every 3 or 4 minutes, one of them will jump up on the bed, search the nightstand, and the covers around me, and then leave.  Once in awhile if I'm not paying attention, they get lucky.  I've tried buying them their own, less expensive, earplugs, and they don't mind those, but really they like the ones I use.  On more than one occasion I've woken up to a cat tugging at one thats in my ear.  I guess they are just the perfect size and texture for batting around and chewing on.  They've lost so many.  I have a feeling that when we move out of this house, we are going to find massive amounts of earplugs under every piece of furniture.


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

More things for you to read but still an impressive lack of pictures

So I thought that this whole "taking a year off thing" would be kind of relaxing and give me time to do the stuff that I like to do. BOY WAS I WRONG.  I think I mentioned before, but I work, like, a lot of hours in a week.  And most days, I have gaps in my day (i.e. I work 7-10 in the gym and then 12-3 lifeguarding).  So, while my actual worked hours at the Y are pretty high, there is a lot time in addition to that that I spend there while I'm not getting paid.  Usually I work out.  It works out well because I enjoy working out.  But, nonetheless, it is more time that I am not at home relaxing. 

In my first few months since living here, I spent every free moment I had studying for the GRE.  I took that in October, and every free moment since then has been spent on grad school apps.  You want the official list, you say?  I chose 6:

Syracuse University
Umass Amherst
Framingham State College
University of Florida
University of Washington
Colorado State University

All my GRE scores are sent, my letters of recommendations are in the works, my transcripts have been sent, and most of the easy parts of the applications have been filled out.  Basically, all that's left is financial aid apps and my letters of intent.  It would be great if I could use the same one for every school, but alas, some want 300 words, and some want 4 pages.  UW even wants two separate letters. SIGH.

Once these apps are done, I will probably spend all my free time taking at the very least Microbiology and Food Science online, because Ithaca College has left me woefully unprepared to pursue a masters degree in my field.  Maybe eventually I'll get to come home from work and just hang out with my cats, but not for many years it seems...

Speaking of my cats...They are doing excellently.  Dobby's little leg condition he was having seems to have cleared right up... I've been giving him GNC Hip and Joint Treats (chicken flavor, obvs) and he loves them and they make him walk normally.  He still lays on the ground with his legs stuck out behind him crossed, but I'm just going to attribute that to him being weird....They're both a little off but what can I expect when I pick the extra-toed, cross-eyed siblings. Both of them love to cuddle and they usually sleep right up next to me (when they are not busy standing on my throat and marching across my face and kneading the very sensitive skin under my upper arm, of course).  

I am hopefully going to get the lady who lives next door to take care of them for a few days over Christmas.  I am going to Florida to visit my grandpa and uncle, and Rob is going to Syracuse/NYC for a few days.  I know that cats don't really NEED that much taking care of....but I might just have her pop her head in now and then and check their food and water.  I'm a little over protective....Don't judge.

I'm very excited to have a FULL 8 DAYS off of work to spend in Florida.  I had so much fun when I went down there for spring break, so I'm really looking forward to it.  Hopefully most of my apps will be done by then so I don't have to agonize the whole time I am there....but that's unlikely as I am leaving in about 10 days.

For Thanksgiving, I went to Vermont and spent time with the Pembrokes.  They are such a fun family and even though we're not technically blood related, I always have so much fun with them as if they were my own family.  My uncle owns a Christmas tree farm and he let me take a tree home!  My first real Christmas tree in years!  (I'm aware that this would be an excellent place to insert a picture but just feel lucky I am blogging at all!) It's beautiful and I love it and I immediately filled up underneath with as many presents as possible.  The cats have only eaten 1 so far.

Rob has also been applying to a bunch of grad schools.  He and I rarely see each other because he works late and I work early.  Everyone who knows me well knows that the number of hours of sleep I get is directly proportional to how much I enjoy life the following day, so needless to say I am usually asleep before he gets home so as to not have a miserable next day.  He is usually fast asleep when I sneak out around 6:45.  This can lead to several days on end without speaking any words to each other.  Kinda weird how that happens.

I am in the works of making 2 t-shirt quilts for a friend.  I'm kind of excited about this because someone is actually paying me to perform sewing related services for them. Unfortunately I rarely have time to work on it so it's been a little slow in the making, but there are only so many hours in a day!  Nonetheless, its awesome that I'm good enough at creating things that someone is willing to pay me to do it.  It's kind of a weird feeling.

Casey has been spending a lot of time here.  She only lives an hour away and works an hour away and it's just as close for her to come here after work than to go home.  Since most of my college friends are no longer in the area, it's great to still be able to spend time with her.

I've officially become a personal trainer at the Y.  Every Thursday I work with an older gentleman who recently had a stroke, and other people sign up here and there.  I'm also getting a temporary promotion in the swimming lessons department. In January and February, I will be the Friday and Saturday lessons Coordinator while the current weekend coordinator is out of town.  That will be nice because I will have some leadership experience and I won't have to get in the pool!  Of course, because it's the Y, it does not come with a raise, but I'll take being in charge and problem solving over getting in the icy water for several hours.  (Not that I won't be teaching on other days of the week...but ya know.)  Our Diabetes Prevention Program will also be starting in January, which will be great because it will be that nutrition related experience I was looking for at the Y.  I was really hoping to be able to bring more of a nutrition program to the Y this year, but I think I've asked my boss about it an unacceptable number of times, and I need her blessing to move forward.  It's not that she doesn't want me to, it's just that she's always even busier than me, and it's hard to find time to sit down and figure it out. She's always on the run.  Also, at this point, by the time any program took off, I would be leaving for grad school, and I think she knows that.  For now, I'm just settling on fitness, diabetes, and making informative nutrition bulletin boards.  Let's be honest, I don't have time to do any lesson plans or anything either. 

While I always notice that judgemental look of pity on people's faces when I tell them that I'm working at the Y right out of college, I'm hoping that in the long run, all the things I'm doing there (in addition to making money) will help me get in to good schools and help me get jobs.  It's not like these things look bad on a resume by any means, nor does it look bad that I'll have put in over two years by the time I'm done.  So, when I have a kickass job later in life, all those people who judged me can GO SUCK IT.   ....What? Too aggressive?

So anyways...Hopefully in a few weeks I'll have some good pictures of from Florida to actually post here.  I also still have full intentions of posting pictures of this apartment that I love so much.  Every time I think about it though, my apartment is WAY to messy to post pictures of on the internet.  Maybe someday....

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Grad School

I feel like a high school senior all over again.  "Where are you going to grad school?" is the question I get far too often and still don't know the answer to.  I've spent the last two months studying for the GRE (which is like the SAT for grad school), and now that that's over I can finally start focusing on applications.  Today I did some good work and have a solid list of 7 schools.  I've firmly decided that I will no longer look at any other schools outside this list....I don't have time. My efforts need to be redirected from looking at schools to applying for schools.  Plus, I still need to cut off 2 or 3 of these before I fill out applications, because it's going to be time consuming and expensive to apply to 7 schools. SIGH.  A little more research should narrow out the ones that won't work for me.

Most of the application deadlines are in January/February, so luckily I still have a bit of time to figure all this out.  I'm looking at programs that allow me to take the courses I need as well as place me automatically into an internship, rather than trying to find my own after I get my master's degree.  That's just more work I don't need.  I'm also looking at cost of attendance and how much money they can give me for fellowships, assistantships, and scholarships because I definitely don't need any MORE student loans.

So, without further ado, here is my list of 7. (Actually 1 more ado.  Very few of these are the same from the list I made 2 years ago....funny how things change.)

Colorado State University (Fort Collins)
Framingham State University
Umass Amherst
University of Vermont (Burlington)
University of Florida (Gainesville)
Washington State University (Spokane)
Syracuse University

So there you go.  All spread out across the country.  I have kind of a good feeling about both of the Massachusetts schools, but we shall see.  I need to find out about the length of the program, application fees, and general "how-much-is-this-going-to-cost-me" things about all of them before narrowing it down more.

I won't know where I'm going for another 4-6 months I assume, so until then, no more questions!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Bullet Points

This is the format I have to use or I will never ever get this done.

  • For Labor Day weekend, Casey and I drove to Boston.  We stayed in Vermont at my aunt and uncle's house for one night, and stayed at a connection of Liz's close to Boston the next two nights.  Did I mention Liz met us there?  'Cause she did.
  • The first day we spent in Boston, wandering around playing our favorite game of "Find a Cute Guy and Ask Him Directions to Whichever Place we are Going Next."
  • The next day we drove to New Hampshire and Maine up the Coast and went to the beach.  Then we drove back to Boston and went on a whale watch.  Whales have been an item of obsession for me ever since.  SO COOL.
  • I took 600 pictures of whales.
  • Then we drove back up the coast and ate lobster for dinner while looking at the ocean.  Sorta. SO AWESOME.

Christina is so far away!

We were lucky enough to see two humpbacks, and one of them put on a little fin show for us! Amazing.

  • A few weeks ago, Casey, Brett, Rob, and I hiked Watkins Glen. It's about 45 minutes from Ithaca and very pretty.

  • I've been working 40 hrs/week at the Y.  I've been doing a combination of swimming lessons, lifeguarding, and being a "fitness trainer", along with helping any particular boss that needs my help with bulletin boards.  I've made about 4 so far.  Somehow I'm becoming bulletin board lady.
  • I get to use the laminator a lot and that's fun.
  • I made a bulletin board entitled "Where is Sugar Hiding?" and it brings me much joy when people stop to read it.
  • I'm happy that I'm getting to do something sort of in my field.
  • I'm also happy that I'm really good at what I do (in the aquatics department), and I have parents requesting me for private lessons so much that I can't possibly please them all.  One mom even looked through the lesson book with me and signed her daughter up for every empty slot I had.  

  • I've started shadowing a dietician.  I go in every Wednesday (and Fridays will be happening soon...I'll get to that later...) and I've done 3 so far and learned SO MUCH.  I know how to calculate so many things about a person.  It's amazing how much I know about these people's eating patterns and bowel movements, and how to manipulate them.  Nutrition rocks!  I know how many ml of fluid they are drinking and how much they should be.  Same with protein.  And calories.  I'm learning all the chart lingo and where all the info is and so many things.
  • I'm learning my way around the building and I don't think there's much I could be doing that would be better experience for me than this. (Unless I was getting paid, of course.)
  • Today I started learning about allllll the medications these people are on and how they could affect absorption of nutrients, their weight, their appetite, or their bowel movements.
  • I get to wear nice clothes twice a week and that makes me SO HAPPY.

  • About a week ago Dobby started walking funny.  After, for God knows what reason, I volunteered to take a shift at 5:45 on Friday morning (after staying out till 1 the night before....blech) I had to take him to the vet.  Hence, the not going to shadowing last Friday.  She said he either A) has an infection in his knees, or B) has genetics that give him "luxating patellas", aka, messed up knees, which apparently is really rare in cats.  I got some antibiotics and was told to bring him back Monday for an x-ray.
  • Note to self: don't pick the most genetically deformed looking cats next time; they will be expensive.
  • So Monday I brought him back, but when they took him out of his cage to do it, he was walking fine.  That was news to me, but they thought the antibiotics might be working because his fever was down.  They postponed the x-ray and upped his dose, along with some pain meds and an order for strict bed rest so they can heal. (He is currently running around being the most rambunctious....Sigh.)
  • I think they might be right.  He has been walking much better today and yesterday.  I'm going to hope for a speedy, (and inexpensive) recovery.

  • I'm signed up to take the GRE again on Oct. 28th.  Rob and I have purchased a book and study every night....Sorta.  I think it's helping, especially with math.  I took the test. once already, but I would like to improve my scores.  Grad school won't pay for itself! ....Unless I get good GRE scores! Haha.  
  • I've been looking into schools, and realizing the gianormous cost difference between paying full price and getting an assistantship position and paying the remainder after their stipend and waiving of tuition, etc. I definitely jump on that boat.
  • Don't ask where I'm going yet...I don't know! :)

  • I would like to give a huge shout out to my Aunt Laura and Uncle Joel, as well as Casey's parents, for all of the fresh produce I have received this year.  I would love to have my own garden, but as long as that's not possible, what's better than having someone else do all the work and getting the veggies for free? Haha! Just kidding.  Kind of.  But seriously, I've made so much salsa and fresh veggie juice and beans and everything else.  YUM.

  • Eventually, I will take pictures of my apartment and upload them.  Not today.  Maybe when it's actually clean.  I just love it.  It's perfect.  Rob gets increasingly annoyed every time I tell him how much I love this apartment. And my cats.  Because I do it like 8 times a day.  
  • We are setting up a compost pile this weekend, because we are sick of throwing out the infinite amounts of compost we create.  We have a nice little woods behind our house, and are just going to assume that its okay without really asking.  

  • We have a laundromat right down the extraordinarily steep hill for convenient laundry services.  Unfortunately my car (still, after 3 visits to the dealer and over $200) makes a terrible noise while going up it.  So my laundry rarely gets done.  Really that's just an excuse and I'm way too lazy to put away the laundry I did 3 weeks ago....  Sigh.  Laundry is the bane of my existence right now.  I'll do it....Eventually!  (All That, anyone?)

  • I love my cats.  And my apartment.  BYE! :)