Weekly Roundup

Wow, even without two bonus days off this week I made it to Friday! I’m not sure if I’ve ever been as glad. I can’t seem to get ahead this semester; each week I just barely finish the work for that week, and no sooner do I breathe a sigh of relief than do I look at my calendar for the next week and realize that it’s not time to relax yet. This week that seemed to happen every day because there was so much due. Just when I was almost home-free, my poor leftover baby tooth (did you know that sometimes you don’t lose one of your baby teeth? I was born without an adult tooth underneath it so it never fell out) finally bit the dust yesterday when I was eating lunch. I have to go to the dentist today to see what can be done about it. I am so phobic of dentists, even though my last dentist was awesome and friendly, so I am trying not to freak out!

Let’s get to the weekly roundup!

Recipes I tried:

This week wasn’t too crazy. I repeated some of my favorite tasty, healthy meals from recent weeks. Burrito bowls and creamy avocado pasta reappeared, along with the Jamaican red bean soup from last week which I adapted slightly by adding cauliflower and upping the curry powder and red pepper flakes.
Jamaican Coco Bread from Stick a Fork in It: I made this bread to go along with the red bean soup because we were dying for it when we had the soup last week. This is going to be my go-to coco bread recipe from now on. Coco bread is called that because some recipes have coconut milk. It is a sweet bread, and I first had it at a Jamaican restaurant in Hartford, CT. I made some a long time ago and it wasn’t good at all, but this recipe is amazing.

Since I will soon have to buy a plane ticket to Argentina, Dan and I are trying to be more thrifty, and one change we’ve made is not eating out every week. Instead I’m going to be making copycat recipes at home, which is obviously cheaper, but healthier too. Even if the meal is unhealthy, I control the ingredients and I know what’s in it! I started last week by making a Chinese feast (it was delicious, btw! I recommend you try the recipes yourself. I just had one note: the crab rangoon recipe said that you can’t freeze and bake them, but I did because I had so many leftover wonton wrappers and so much filling, and it worked out just fine. I just baked them a little longer, obviously, but they were crispy and tasted just as delicious as the first night!).
Anyway, tomorrow I’m making a copycat Olive Garden meal using the following recipes:
Olive Garden Salad Dressing from The Country Cook on a chopped salad, Almost Famous Breadsticks from The Food Network, and Creamy Garlic Pasta from The Cheese Pusher which I will be adding grilled chicken and steamed broccoli to. Oh yeah!

I also have a recipe for you this week! One of my favorite indulgences is a Broccoli Chicken Braid from The Pampered Chef. When I was in high school, Pampered Chef parties were spreading through my town like wildfire, and my mom and sister were always hosting or attending parties with their friends and coworkers and I loved to tag along. At the parties, the consultant will make a PC recipe using PC products, and I was always stoked when this was on the menu. I’ve been craving it lately, but I decided to make it with a twist so that it’s not totally unhealthy. Rather than stuffing it into crescent rolls, I mixed up the filling and it became chicken salad. I also upped the veggies so that it packs a health punch.

Chicken Salad with Red Pepper, Broccoli, and Dill
Serves 12

5.5 cups chicken, cooked and shredded
2.5 cups broccoli, chopped
1 red pepper, diced
3 scallions, chopped
1 small white onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic (or more to your taste), minced
2 Tbsp dried dill
3/4 cup mayo (more or less to taste, you could also sub in greek yogurt for some or all of this)
salt and pepper to taste

Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl until blended. That’s it! It’s best if you let this sit overnight to let the flavors develop. Don’t be skeptical of the dill, it is really the key flavor in this dish. It tastes nothing like a pickle, I promise! This would be really good with a slice of sharp cheddar.

 I’m of to get started on the work that’s due next week before my dentist appointment. After that I am going to a lecture by a philosopher about language that is offering an argument to the widely accepted concept that language is an innate human trait. I am so excited to hear his thoughts because although I believe that language is innate (the arguments are solid and convincing), in all my linguistics courses I haven’t heard the other theories.

Now it’s your turn
What are your exciting plans for the weekend? 

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Argentina Anxiety

Well, I guess it’s winter! I had to walk home tonight at 6pm (I am shaking my fist at daylight savings time because now I have to walk home three times a week in the dark) and it is snowing like crazy! Call me crazy, but I am actually excited about the snow!

Before I dive into tonight’s topic, I just want to give a little update on how my exercise is going so far. I mentioned in my last post that I was going to reluctantly start waking up an hour early to exercise before my 8am classes three times a week, which I did yesterday and today. Shockingly it was not hard at all! I thank the same daylight savings time that is making my walk home dark. It wasn’t hard to wake up either morning and I was surprised to find that I really didn’t mind exercising at that time. Maybe it’s because I’m still half asleep? I think morning exercising is the best because it definitely gives me energy to get through my day (I noticed I was yawning less even though I didn’t get as much sleep as I should have either night) and for me it’s always good to be awake for a good long while before I have to interact with anyone. I’m a morning (slash elderly?) person in that I prefer going to bed earlier and waking up earlier, but I am GRUMPY when I wake up.

Now on to what I want to talk about: anxiety! I am preparing to study abroad next semester, and it is really overwhelming. The biggest problem is that I have 20 credits left and I would be able to easily knock them out next semester and graduate in May–I have such specific classes left that making my schedule would be a no brainer. Since I’m going to be studying in Buenos Aires, however, it’s not quite so cut and dry. First off, there is one class that I have to take at New Paltz, so I will either have to take it online (if it’s available online) while I’m in Argentina or take one dumb class next semester (which would be totally worth studying abroad of course). Next, there’s all the unknowns: when I get there I will take a placement test to determine my level of Spanish. If I don’t test high enough, I am relegated to a Latin American Studies program, which doesn’t offer the most exciting classes. I also won’t know which classes are available until I arrive, and  since I need such specific classes in order to graduate this could mean that I would have to take more than the one class next semester if I’m unable to take an equivalent class there.

Basically, my mind is going crazy and doubting whether I should go since the path of least resistance is to stay and just finish up. There is also a program in Spain that I could apply for where I would be a camp counsellor and I wouldn’t have to pay for housing, food, or insurance and they pay a weekly stipend. I don’t know how easy it is to get accepted to the program, though, and I’ve already laid down a pretty hefty chunk of non-refundable cash on my Argentina program, so I really think that I’m letting my worries get the best of me.

I met with my advisor today and she made me feel a lot better and promised to work with me as much as possible so that I can still graduate ASAP. I also signed up for a tutor, which will hopefully help fill in the gaps in my knowledge so that I can test well and choose from any of the classes offered at the school.

I’m also trying to keep this in mind:

I know that the scarier something is, the more I will grow from it.

Now it’s your turn:
What’s the last scary thing you did that turned out to be awesome?

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Easing Back Into Exercise

How was everyone’s weekend? Mine was full of work and overwhelmed feelings about planning my schedule for next semester (more about that Wednesday), but the good part was that I was able to fit in a lot of exercise. Dan and I went on long walks Friday, Saturday, AND Sunday. It felt good to get outside and get some exercise, because I’ve been seriously slacking off in that department since I started working at the summer camp in July. My problem is that when I fall off the wagon, it’s really difficult to climb back on. I do walk every day to and/or from class (25 minutes each way), but I know that I feel better mentally and physically if I do some dedicated exercise that’s not just something I have to do anyway. I think it’s good to take the time to do something that you know is good for you. I tend to forget that taking care of myself is as important as getting my schoolwork done!

Thanks to my lack of exercise and the fact that I’ve been indulging in dessert a lot more and have just generally been lazy with my eating habits, I’ve gained a little weight. Usually even when I’m being lazy with my habits, I stay around the weight that I was at until recently, so my tight pants are a kick in the…well…pants to knock it off. I know it won’t be hard to lose the weight so long as I get back on the exercise wagon and tighten up my eating habits. I’ve been using My Fitness Pal again and am trying to figure out a strategy to start exercising regularly. I have a weird schedule this semester and I never feel like I have time to exercise and shower before class, while I’m doing homework, and at night when I get home is not an option since it will interfere with my ability to sleep. I am planning to get up early and bang out 30 minutes on the elliptical before my 8am class thee times a week, since with the Daylight Saving time change I don’t think it will feel as bad to wake up an hour early. We’ll see what happens tomorrow when my alarm goes off at 5:45am though! Actually, I that’s the wrong attitude. I’m just going to suck it up and do it, and hopefully after a couple of weeks it won’t feel painful. I’ve never been a morning exerciser, but I am a morning person, so with practice I think I can grow to love it.

On the food front, I am tracking my calories again like I mentioned before. I find that this is a surefire way for me to lose weight because it’s easy to eat too many calories if I’m not mindful, and it doesn’t take that many extra calories each day to equal pounds on the scale. I am also back to only eating dessert on the weekends because it’s all about habits–if I eat desert every night I can’t resist the cravings.

My major downfall is that I get in a good groove, but then something happens and I allow myself to get distracted. Summer camp was really exhausting and stressful, so I stopped exercising and started eating sweets because I felt stressed out. There is always something like this that happens, I need to figure out how to keep on keepin’ on even when life gets overwhelming. If for no other reason but that life feels less overwhelming when I’m exercising regularly!

My goal this week is to exercise three times during the week (Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday morning) and go on at least one long walk this weekend. I know I’m going to feel wicked grumpy, but hopefully it will get easier quickly! I am also determined to stick to my no sweets during the week goal. I have some really good, veggie packed dinners planned for this week, and I made a big batch of chicken salad with vegetables (recipe coming soon!) to have for lunches this week.

Now it’s your turn:
Are you a morning exerciser? Do you have any advice for making the transition easier?

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Weekly Roundup

We made it to Friday! That is actually not very comforting to me this weekend because I have SO MUCH WORK to do for next week, but I can’t complain because I did very little work last weekend and on the two days off from Sandy. It seems fair that I have a pile of work to get through this week since last weekend was awesome–I visited a friend I hadn’t seen forever in NYC on Saturday and then chillaxed with Dan on Sunday. I plan to hole up at my kitchen table with cup after cup of tea and just get this stuff done.

Onto my weekly roundup! The theme of this week’s meals was simplicity:

Recipes I tried:
Jamaican Red Bean Soup from Savvy Vegetarian: This is a great veggie-packed crock pot meal. I love using the crock pot because it’s so nice to come home and have dinner ready without having to do anything. I couldn’t find my measuring spoons (yeah, I definitely have it together right now) so I just measured the spices my-mom-way, which is to say I poured them into my hand to eyeball the amounts. Once my skeptical 8 year old self asked if that was REALLY a teaspoon of salt in her hand, and my mom whipped out a teaspoon and damn it, it was. Anyway, I would add more spices to this soup next time, and I think I would also add cauliflower to up the veggies even more. It turned out thicker than soup, more of a stew. I served it over rice and it was very filling, and it made 6 hearty servings so I spent a few minutes throwing ingredients into a crock pot and got three meals for Dan and myself. Can’t beat that!

I also threw together burrito bowls for dinner on Halloween (and then proceeded to call them boo-rrito bowls). My camera was nowhere to be found, but I just threw brown rice, black beans, avocado, and a copious amount of salsa into a bowl, so that should be pretty easy to imagine. This was the laziest meal ever, yet it was very tasty and filling. Dan was sad the next day when he found out there were not leftovers for lunch. I think I might start making this once a week because it’s cheap, quick, healthy, and vegetarian (I eat meat but try to limit). You can’t beat that!

Usually on Fridays we get takeout, but tonight I’m cooking some of our takeout faves at home: Baked Crab Rangoon with Sweet Chili Dipping Sauce and Lighter Sesame Chicken from Iowa Girl Eats along with some quick fried brown rice. I am stoked.

Alright, with that short and sweet roundup, I am off to try to bang out a paper on how “Los ojos verdes” by Bécquer exemplified Romanticism. I already have some notes on the topic, so I’m hoping I can just get it done today.

Now it’s your turn!
Do you have any exciting recipes from the week to share? How about plans for the weekend?

Have a great one everybody!

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Exciting Plans For The Spring

Hi there! First things first: my appointment with the cardiologist on Friday was great and there is nothing wrong with me! I am glad I went for the peace of mind and glad that I am healthy!

Next, I am relieved to report that Hurricane Sandy came and went without impacting my area much. We were actually prepared this time with non-perishables and water, but as the sun set I started getting nervous that we didn’t have enough lights for reading in case of a power outage. We discovered that our two flashlights didn’t work on Sunday so we had to buy the only one left at the hardware store, and we aren’t allowed to burn candles in our apartment so we only have a couple around for decoration. Thankfully we never lost power (the worst that happened was some flickering throughout the evening) and the water supply wasn’t effected this year (last year we weren’t allowed to use the water for almost a week). I spent some time last night doing homework at the Barnes and Noble in Newburgh  which is about 30 minutes away and it seems that they are experiencing a lot of power outages down that way, as the cafe was PACKED and everyone was talking about how they lost power Monday night. I hope that anyone effected can get back to normal soon!

Besides suffering no ill effects form the storm, I actually got two days off from classes! On Monday the entire east coast was shut down and yesterday morning classes were cancelled. Finally something good comes from taking that 8am class! Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on how you look at it) I got almost no work done because I was too excited to have the extra days off! I have a paper and a test due on Friday so this will come back to bite me, but I have no plans this weekend so I can just focus on those two things during the week and then play catch up over the weekend.

Now on to the exciting news!

I am getting really close to graduating with a degree in Spanish. This semester is the most Spanish heavy yet–three and a half of my five classes are conducted entirely in Spanish (I say and a half because one of my classes is a hybrid, which counts for Latin American Studies or Spanish, and technically we’re supposed to speak English during the class [while all of my reading/writing is in Spanish] but my professor forgets that and usually just speaks Spanish) and my comprehension has gone through the roof and my reading and writing skills are getting much better also. Unfortunately, with class sizes of 20-30, I almost never have the opportunity to speak and therefor my speaking skills are lacking. This shouldn’t be a problem soon, though, because in February I’m heading off to Buenos Aries, Argentina for a semester abroad!! Wheee!

It is really important that I spend time abroad in order to do the work I want to do: translation. I need to be immersed in the language to gain the fluency necessary to be able to translate confidently. I have mixed emotions about going; of course I’m really excited about spending five months in another country, but I’m also terrified! It’s going to be hard to be away from Dan for that long and the adjustment of living in a different country is going to be rough. There’s also the financial aspect of it–while studying abroad is one of the cheapest ways to travel, it is still more expensive than attending school at home where I’m able to work on my breaks to earn some money, not to mention the cost of a plane ticket, housing, food, etc. while I’m gone on top of the cost of rent for our apartment here. At the end of the day, Dan and I talked a lot about this opportunity and decided that it is definitely a worthwhile investment in my future and will open doors once I graduate. I applied for a scholarship that would cover about half of the cost, so I’m keeping my fingers tightly crossed!

There are definitely lots of aspects of this trip that I will discuss in the future, such as my feelings about going, the money part, the things I’m excited about, and more. I really felt that study abroad was kind of out of my reach because I’m not a traditional student, so I think my experience could be something that others in the same situation as me might benefit from.

Now it’s your turn:
Have you ever lived abroad? Tell me about your experience!

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Weekly Roundup

I am trying out a new format for my weekly blogging this time around. I plan to focus on fitness/eating well topics on Mondays, school on Wednesday, and a “weekly roundup” on Fridays, where I link to things from around the web that I found that week, such as recipes I used and loved, and just talk generally about what was on my mind.

Recipes I tried this week:
Creamy Avocado Pasta from Flourishing Foodie. This was SO tasty and really fast to throw together, which is always a plus. I have to admit I was a bit skeptical about the whole avocado on pasta concept, but it works really well. I used whole wheat linguine, so it was really filling and satisfying. This will definitely become one of my regular meals.
Orchard Turkey Burgers from Iowa Girl Eats: Let’s be honest: 75% of my food pins are from this website. Her recipes are always awesome. This burger is really tasty, with all kinds of contrasting flavors (brie! green apples! caramelized onions!). Despite all of these components, it didn’t take too long to make. One note is that you should make sure to smoosh them down flatter than you usually do with burgers, because mine kind of puffed up (almost like little meatballs!) and took for-EVER to cook through.
Sweet Potato Tots from Your Vegan Mom: I made these to go with the turkey burgers, and they were very tasty. I followed the directions to grate the cooked sweet potato, but I think next time I will either a)grate a raw sweet potato finely and fry that or b) cook the potatoes first but then just throw all of the ingredients into the food processor, since grated cooked sweet potato turns into mashed when it’s handled. I really liked the flavor of the green onions in these!

This week I also made a heart shaped pizza for Dan on Wednesday because it was our 6 year dating anniversary (dataversery if you will). Once we got married we weren’t sure what the protocol was for the other meaningful dates, but in the end we decided to continue celebrating them on a small scale. Coming up on November 1 is our 7th anniversary of living together (yep, we were roommates before we started dating!). It’s crazy how fast time flies! So, anyway, I got the idea during class on Wednesday to make the pizza as a surprise for Dan when he got home from work because that’s his favorite food.

In a few minutes I’m heading to the cardiologist to find out what the heck is going on in there. I have felt fine all week and am becoming increasingly convinced that my fainting spell last weekend was just a fluke, but it will be good to make sure everything is okay.
After my appointment I guess I’m going to go stock up on some bottled water and stuff just in case, as we’re supposed to be hit by hurricane Sandy on Sunday or Monday. Last time a hurricane came, my preparation was pitiful so even though nothing bad happened last time, this time maybe I’ll actually try to prepare myself in the event of a disaster.

Have a good weekend!

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Health Scare

I alluded to the fact that I am going through a bit of a health scare in my last post, but this topic deserves a post of its own.

On Saturday Dan and I headed up to Slide Mountain because I had finished tons of homework on Friday and I really wanted to do something outdoors to recharge my batteries. We ate some oatmeal and then drove to the mountain, which is about an hour away.

Slide mountain is rated moderate to strenuous, depending on who you ask. We started up, and was definitely steep. Dan was ahead of me and going pretty fast because he’s been running a lot and is in excellent shape. My legs started to feel tired about 20 minutes up, although I felt fine otherwise. I stopped for a second to rest my legs and was planning on telling Dan that we needed to slow down, when suddenly my lungs started burning and it was hard to get a breath. Right after that started, I felt dizzy, then a second later dizzier. The next thing I knew I was on the ground and Dan was shouting my name. Thankfully he was coming back to me when I stopped and was able to catch me and break my fall, and I was only unconscious for about 20 seconds, but it was really scary. I was completely disoriented when I woke up. After I sat down for awhile and drank some water I was able to walk down the mountain back to the car.

This was scary because I’ve never fainted before, and I guess it just never occurred to me that it could happen. I’ve hiked plenty of times on mountains equally challenging so I wasn’t sure why it happened. Also since I ate oatmeal for breakfast and had some water before we started I couldn’t I couldn’t attribute it to blood sugar/dehydration. I felt okay afterwards besides a headache, but I frequently have a headache so I didn’t feel too alarmed at first. Once I had some time to think about it, though, and doing some internet research (thanks Dr. Google!), I started feeling nervous. All of the sites said that while fainting with exercise isn’t necessarily abnormal, it could signify a heart problem and that you should get it checked out.

I am very lucky to have health insurance and access to the health center on campus, so I went in on Monday morning and saw a doctor. She examined me and everything seems normal, but since I felt a burning in my chest, have never fainted before, and have a family history of heart problems and blood disorders, she was pretty insistent that I see a specialist and not do anything strenuous until I do so (thankfully I am allowed to do normal activities like walking and can use my elliptical at a slow pace!). I will be meeting with a cardiologist on Friday and hopefully will be declared healthy!

Now that a few days have gone by and my doctor listened to my heart and said it sounded okay to her, I feel much less stressed about the whole situation, but still worried. I feel really lucky that I have health insurance, as I didn’t have any for years. Fingers crossed that my appointment will go well and I can write this whole thing off as a fluke!

Now it’s your turn:
Have you ever had a health scare? 

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