Nearly There!!

Today was a new milestone for my weight loss.  I never thought I’d ever, in my life, be here…but today I stepped on the scale and was down 50 pounds from where I started last year!  Holy crap, 50 pounds is huge!  I feel SO much better.  Better about myself, better physically and emotionally…just all around better.  I still have 3 more pounds until I hit my goal weight, but I’m hopeful that I’ll be there by the time we go to Seattle in a few weeks.  Normally, I wouldn’t even question it, but I’ll be traveling next week for work, and I always gain weight when I go on work trips.  It’s like the stress of working externally, combined with long hours and eating, all contribute to me gaining at least a few pounds.  We’ll see.

On top of the weight loss, I decided to take my measurements as well.  Back when J and I were doing the “Biggest Loser” challenge in the NL, we took measurements over nearly every thing we could.  Biceps, thighs, waist, hips, calves, neck, and chest.  This time around, I only took measurements on hips and waist, because I was lazy.  That said…I took new measurements today and I was super excited with the results!

Loss So Far

Hips:  7.5 inches
Waist: 10 inches

Body Fat: 12%

TOTAL INCHES LOST:  17.5!!
TOTAL WEIGHT LOST:  50 pounds!!

I plan on doing a “before/after” photo once I reach my goal, which hopefully isn’t that far from now.  I’m a little unsure whether I want to post the photo, because it’s me in a bathing suit.  I’m shy like that!  So yeah…we’ll see.  In the meantime, I’ll keep you posted!

Much love,
K.

healthy

 

Happy Anniversary! (at least, as far as presents are concerned)

So, to start this post off, I will tell you all that it is NOT our anniversary.  That is next month, on the 16th.  If you would like my paypal address in order to send us a financial “congratulations” in honor of our anniversary, I’ll be happy to provide it for you.  (Ok, that was a joke.  Sort of.  Except if you really want to…ok, ok…it was a joke!  Gah!)

Anyways…on Saturday, J and I were sitting at Culver’s, dining on awesome cheese curds that were deep-fried to fatty perfection, when he piped up with a question.  “So…about our anniversary.  Let’s talk gifts.”  And, I immediately interjected that I was fine if he didn’t want to do gifts, but a card was non-negotiable (as always).  J looked a bit taken aback, and was like, “Umm…we’re going to do gifts.  But, I was wondering if you wanted to just get something for “us” instead of individual gifts to each other?”  JACKPOT!  Frankly, I have been WRACKING my brain over the past month for a present to get J for our anniversary.  We normally try to tie in the “traditional/modern” gifts for our anniversary year, but this year was a rousing two options of “candy/iron” or “wood.”   Not too much to work with, there, if truth were to be told.

In actuality, I had picked out an AMAZING (if I do say so myself…and I do) idea for what I wanted to get J, incorporating wood.  He loves working with his hands and building things, as well as being outdoors, so I thought it would be perfect to sign up him for a weekend woodworking course on building your own kayak or canoe.  I mean..how perfect would that have been?!  So, in typical fashion, I started scouring The Google looking for what would surely be an easy find.  And it was, there were a ton of different options…if you lived in Washington state, upper Michigan, or Maine.  Of which, we live in none of those options.  Plus, looking at the prices for the courses where you actually BUILD your own canoe/kayak to take home, and not just watch someone else do it…well, I just didn’t see how I was going to manage to pull off a $5,000 anniversary gift without J noticing.  Hell, the man snarks off when I spend $30 on random romance novels for my Kindle, there’s no way he’s not going to notice a $5k charge on the credit card.

So, my initial hopes and dreams for an epic gift were now dashed, and I was back to square one.  Until, that is, J pipes up in the middle of Culver’s about how we could buy a gift for “us” and just call it a day!  Now, that’s a damn good deal, if I ever heard one, and no one could say my momma raised a fool, so I took it.  “Why honey, that sounds like a FANTASTIC idea!  You’re so smart!”  (Stepford Wives, table of 1, thank you very much)  Then, J launches into this story about how he was working on updating software on his iPhone, and wanted to download all his photos onto the computer, and how our laptop was being an absolute pain in the rear.  And, as clear as the sun shining outside, the writing was on the wall.  “So, you’d like to get a new laptop, is that what you’re telling me?”  “Bingo.”

And, at this point, the sky opens up, the angel trumpeters start the trumpeting, and I can FINALLY see a light out of the tunnel that is the horrific slab of useless that we call a laptop!  Granted, it was a good laptop, don’t get me wrong.  It’s just slightly dated (about seven years old), and it met with an unfortunate accident while in the NL, involving an entire glass of diet soda that it’s never really recovered from.  So, the laptop can’t really be blamed, exactly, she’s just led a hard life.  And it’s time for retirement (or the junkyard, whatever).  Needless to say, if I wasn’t down with the plan before (and I was), I was DEFINITELY down with it now!

Of course, never one to miss a golden opportunity to get what I want, I mentioned that I was completely fine with that idea, but I’d like to get a Mac this time around, as I was tired of messing around with PCs.  I thought it would be a pipe dream, as J clings tighter to his wallet than just about anyone I know, and we all know you can get a comparable PC for half the price of a Mac.  But, alas, fate was on my side this time!  J was all, “yep, that’s what I was thinking too, and they have Mac’s at the Best Buy in Bloomington, so I thought we could go.”  Umm…YES, PLEASE!  Not only do we get to go to my favorite town in the state, but we also get a Macbook?!  That’s right…forget the cheese curds, it is ON!.

And now, all this lead up to get to the point of this post.  For once in I don’t know how long, I am blogging from a computer that doesn’t randomly shut down.  I can use the shift key without back deleting text!  The battery life is longer than 5.78 minutes!  I am now blogging via my amazing Macbook Pro, and I couldn’t be happier!   Happy Anniversary, indeed!

Much love,
K.

It’s happened.

As of Saturday evening, I am now a baptized and confirmed Roman Catholic!  Holy Week started last Thursday, and it was a whirlwind of activity all weekend.  Very busy, but it was a great time.

Thursday was Maundy Thursday/Holy Thursday.  Part of the mass was a foot washing ceremony, symbolic of when Jesus washed his disciples’ feet during the Last Supper.  I was initially really nervous about this, because I am not a fan of being in front of others as the center of attention.  But, once I got there, and we did a walk-through, a lot of the nervousness faded.  Then, when it was time for the ceremony during the mass, I was totally fine.  No nervousness (which was odd).  The ceremony was surprisingly beautiful.  All of the people in RCIA (those going through preparing for baptism and those preparing for confirmation) were up there as well, and both priests were washing feet, one at a time.  During all of this, the story of the last supper was being read and music was being played.  It was really nice (plus, the church was freezing due to an AC issue, and the water was warm, so I can’t complain too much).

Then, after mass, I stuck around to watch the church be stripped.  This was when all the adornments were removed from the altar and the walls, and wouldn’t be brought be in until the Easter Vigil.  It was very solemn and quiet, and just a time for a lot of reflection and thinking about where I with my faith and where I wanted to end up.  It was just, overall, really nice and thought-provoking.

Friday was spent with a ton of house remodel stuff going on.  It was basically “go” from the moment we woke up.  We got a ton of things done with the bathroom (which is another post in the making), as well as some cleaning and general readying of the house.  We had the day off work as a holiday for Good Friday, so we tried to put it to use (days off are rare in our work).  We hung a lot of cement board in the bathroom, and my shower is starting to look like, well, a shower!  Very exciting stuff, to say the least.

Saturday was the big day!  We had a dress rehearsal / run through for the Easter Vigil service at 11:00am that was to last “at least an hour.”  Two and a half hours later, we were finished.  I’m glad we had it though, because there was so much that went on, I wouldn’t have known what to do!  After that, I ran over to the local outlet mall to grab a few things, then back home to help out around the house before the evening mass.  I had to be at the church by 7:45pm at the latest, so I left around 7:00pm to give myself plenty of time and to get my stuff set up.  We’d been warned that we would be DRENCHED…so to bring a change of clothes.  ALL items would need to be changed.  So, I wanted to make sure that my outfit was set up, that my hair dryer and stuff were all ready to go, and that I had everything I needed.  After that, I just hung out and waited for the show to start.

7:45pm rolled around and we started with a fire pit outdoors that was blessed and then used to light the Paschal Candle.  From there, all the sponsors and godparents had candles that were lit off the Paschal candle, and were then brought back into the church to light everyone else’s candle in the congregation.  The cool thing about the Easter Vigil is that the church starts off in darkness.  Then, as those of us being baptized and confirmed come in with our sponsors, the sponsors light candles of those in the congregation, and the candle light slowly spreads throughout the church.  It’s really quite gorgeous.  After that, there were some prayers, some readings, a homily…the usual stuff.  Then, the baptism.

I had been “chosen” to be baptized first.  Kathy (RCIA director) said it was because I had a way of putting everyone else at ease.  Honestly, I think it’s because she knows that 90% of the time I end up making a fool of myself, and at least she’d get a few laughs out of the peanut gallery.  But, whatever…po-tay-to / po-tah-to.  It was my turn, so I got into the baptismal font, kneeled, and Father Clem poured water of me three times, baptizing me in “the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.”  And then…it was done.  I was helped out, given a towel, a white robe garment to wear over my clothes for the rest of the vigil, and then whisked away to “Conference Room #1” to get changed.  The entire process took, maybe, 3 minutes.  And while it seemed fast, it also seemed to slow down a bit, and was very profound for me.  It was truly a culmination of the process I had been undertaking for the past seven months.  Plus, again…the water was warm and the church was cold.  I couldn’t complain.

After that, things seemed to speed past.  Everyone was baptized, then those children not being confirmed (because they were too young) were anointed with oils, then we were all brought back into the church for more prayers, more readings, and Confirmation.  Because I was an adult and had decided to go through this process, I was baptized, confirmed, and given first Eucharist all in one church service.  After the baptism, we were then taken through confirmation.  At this point, we were anointed with oils on our forehead and were sent back to our seats (the oils smelled lovely, truly…but good lord were they overpowering!).  After about an hour of more prayers, more readings, and another homily, it was time for Eucharist (nearing the end!).  By this point, it was probably 11:15pm and J and I were exhausted!  So, I received my first Communion in the Catholic Church.  Then, a few more prayers, another song or two, and we were done!  At midnight.  Oy!

So, overall…it’s been an incredibly long past few days.  Well worth it in every way, but long.  J stuck with it though and stayed for the entire Easter Vigil (I was proud of him…he had no idea what was going on), and I told him his Catholic duty now extended to Christmas services only.  I figured I’d let him off the hook for Easter after that one.  I’m incredibly glad I did it, and I’m so eager to see where my faith journey will lead me.  If you’ve made it this far in the post, well done!  I know it was a long one!

Much love,
K.

Recipe Monday (Easter Edition)

I had such big plans for Easter this year.  I was going to do an Easter for Two and it was going to be epic.  EPIC, I tell you!  Alas, life has a way of taking even the best laid plans and throwing them under a 5 ton semi, and then setting them on fire.

So, I was going to do an “Easter for Two” for J and I…and in a way we still had one.  Unfortunately, with the massive “work week from hell” last week for both of us, a lot of the prep work just didn’t get done.   And then, my baptism and confirmation into the Catholic Church was during the Easter Vigil on Saturday evening, and that lasted until nearly 1:00am Sunday morning.  Needless to say, we slept in.

But, I did manage to pull it together for breakfast.  I made us a homemade breakfast, complete with pancakes topped with fresh raspberries and strawberries, and whipped cream.  It was on par with IHOP, just a whole lot healthier!  After we had breakfast, we worked around the house on the yard and on cleaning up inside the house (and of course, can’t forget the laundry).  It was relaxing and nice, and then we ran a few errands in town and grabbed some frozen custard.  By that point, it was time for us to come home so I could make dinner!  And while I didn’t pull out the full “Easter for Two” that had originally been planned, I did want to do something semi special for us.  Which lead me to a favorite of both of ours, quiche.  Quiche…the delicious egg “plus everything else you can think of” dish…a million different ways to a million different results.  It was a sure win for dinner, and I was up for the challenge!

I settled on a FoodNetwork recipe for Cremini Mushroom, Bacon and Shallot Quiche, which sounded absolutely delicious!  Plus, I had a lot of the ingredients (or I had stuff I could substitute for the ingredients).  I picked everything up this morning while I was at the grocery getting the fresh berries for breakfast.  Once it was time for dinner, I started in with the prep work.

IMG_8531Quiche, if you do the crustless kind, is fairly simple.  It’s a matter of cutting everything up, measuring, mixing it all in a dish, and then baking it.  Simple and easy, which was exactly what I required after the last seven days.  I started with the mushrooms, and used the baby portobellas that we got from our produce delivery on Tuesday.  I love baby portobellas…so tasty!  Then, I grabbed a red onion that I had on hand.  Shallots are a much milder onion taste, but I didn’t see a point in buying a bunch of shallots when I love red onion and had some on hand.  Then, the bacon.  Now, this is something I didn’t have on hand.  A year later, I’m still around 98% vegetarian.  We don’t buy meat for home, and I rarely ever eat it when we go out.  I, overall, IMG_8543prefer a vegetarian diet, but occasionally I will eat meat.  I prefer not to do anything in extremes, and that includes being a vegetarian.   Plus, as much as we travel, I can’t always be guaranteed to find a vegetarian option, and the last thing I want to do is get so used to a meat free diet that having meat by accident makes me sick.  So, I had to get some bacon.

I got it all chopped and started mixing up the ingredients, when I realized I didn’t have a 9-inch pie dish.  Which, no big deal, I had a nice 8×8 Pyrex dish I could use instead.  I layered in the ingredients and put it in the oven to bake.  And waited, and waited.  And peaked through the window (because I was starving and wanted to eat, dammit!).  And finally, it was time.

And voilà!  Dinner was served!  Yep, that’s right, you guessed it.  IMG_8546The quiche was a bust!  Everything was measured correctly and I followed the directions, but the eggs just didn’t set up correctly.  I’m thinking part of it had to do with the fact that I used a smaller dish than was called for (an 8×8 square Pyrex, compared to a 9-inch pie dish).  Also, it just seemed like there was too much liquid and not enough egg.  I think I’ll try to make this one again, and probably use 1/2 cup less of the half-and-half, and one more egg.  Hopefully that will help make up for the excess liquid in the dish.   And, even though it wasn’t set up like a quiche should be, I tasted it, and it was DELICIOUS!  So, we decided we’d salvage the dish by tossing it in a skillet for our breakfast, scrambling it up, and eating it on a whole wheat tortilla as a breakfast burrito.  See, a lot of disaster kitchen creations can be saved, you just have to be a bit creative.  So, we’ll still eat it, we just didn’t bother dealing with it at the time.  And, based on how it tasted when I tried it, it’ll still be a fantastic breakfast!

So, let this be a lesson.  Any time you try out a new recipe (and you should NEVER be afraid to try a new recipe) always be ready for things to go “not quite as planned”.   In our case, that means having delivery on speed dial.  Sadly, as this took place on Easter evening, not many delivery options were available, hence the Taco Bell.  But, it’ll be a good story to talk about, and hopefully you all got a smile out of my culinary disaster!

Much love,
K.

My very first rosary.

Most days of life, I consider myself to be very lucky.  I mean…I have down days, I think we all do, but overall I feel very blessed in life.  I have a good job, a fantastic husband, and wonderful friends.  This past week, however, has been absolutely HORRID at work.  It’s been incredibly stressful, and that’s been bleeding over to most parts of my life.  And (maybe I’m waxing poetic here) I think God knew that and really stepped in for a “pick me up.”

My best friend in the Netherlands, who has been a huge guide during my conversion to Catholicism, is my shoulder for a lot of tchaplethings.  Lately, she’s been my sounding board for work stress and other things going on in life.  And, as a “bestie” she’s well aware of my feelings of being a bit defeated this week.  Yesterday, at work, she sent me a message saying “the package has been delivered!” and I had no idea what she was talking about.  She let me know that she had sent me something, and that it had been delivered, and I was to check my mail when I got home.  And after that, I went back to my work, and got through the day, then went to Girl Scouts.  When I got home, I remembered her message to me, and ran out to check the mail (definitely was very excited by this point).  I knew it would be amazing, but had no clue what she had sent me.

I grabbed my package and ran back inside, ripping it open as I went (I am such a child at times, I’ll admit it).  rosaryInside the package were two boxes…plain brown paper boxes with some blue string tied around it.  Confused, I untied the string and opened it up.  And honestly, as soon as I saw what she had sent me, I nearly cried.  Nestled inside the two boxes were two rosaries!  One was a full rosary and the second was a chaplet with my patron saint, St. Cecilia, on it.  It was the perfect gift for me at this moment in my life!  Work had been crap, I was feeling overwhelmed and completely ineffective, and here was this beautiful gift to commemorate my baptism this coming Saturday.  It was though God, through T, was reminding me that there were more important things in life aside from work.  Family, faith, friends, spouse, etc. …whatever each person’s personal belief system is, there’s more to life than working yourself to death.  It was a perfect reminder at such an opportune time, and I am truly blessed to have such amazing friends!

Much love,
K.

 

 

Recipe Wednesday (because I’ve given up on Mondays…)

I actually made this meal on Sunday, and was totally prepared to write up this post on Monday.  And then Monday happened.  And we all know how Monday’s are.  They taunt you with the promise of a bright and happy week, and then they arrive and then reality sets in, and you realize that instead of bright and happy, you’re actually buried under the weight of deadlines and work.  I’m sure you’ve all be there.  If you haven’t…come hang out with me for awhile, I’ll show you around.

Anyways, enough of that.  After our weekend in Louisville, which was full of sun, great weather, time spent with J, and LOTS of food, we got home on Sunday and realized that we needed veg.  Lots and lots of veg.  I always get that way after a weekend of eating out…it’s as though I pretty much crave anything healthy and made at home.  We didn’t eat overly terrible while we were away (though we definitely indulged), and the food was all fantastic, but it was still eating out.  And three days of straight eating out will do us in, every time.  So, once we got home, I immediately set out to see what I could put together from our fridge.

Luckily for me, we had the ingredients for eggplant parmesan!  I love eggplant parmesan…especially with fresh mozzarella.  We normally put it on ciabatta bread as an open-faced sandwich, but I was all carb-ed out from the weekend (I know, it just sounds like a tragedy, doesn’t it!), so I wanted something other than bread of pasta.  J came up with a great suggest…spaghetti squash!  I love spaghetti squash!  It’s all the tasty goodness of al dente pasta, only it’s not.  It’s a veg.  And really, who doesn’t feel good about a meal of veg, served on a bed of more veg.  That’s right…NO ONE.  So…off I went.

My favorite eggplant parmesan recipe is one from Martha Stewart.  It’s an eggplant and mozzarella melt recipe, for sandwiches.  And the sandwiches are AWESOME, don’t get me wrong.  In fact, I’d definitely recommend you try the sandwich too, because it’s a great meal for lunch or dinner, and it’s fairly quick.  The reason why I really like this recipe so much is that the eggplant is baked, not fried, and it doesn’t involve salting the eggplant and letting it rest.  It’s basically cutting up the eggplant, dipping in egg, breading it with breadcrumbs, and baking it.  Simple!

Then, the spaghetti squash.  Spaghetti squash is one of my most favorite vegetables out there, because it’s SO easy to prepare.  Basically, you cut the squash in half and scoop out the innards (like you would a pumpkin…also another type of squash…are we sensing a trend?).  Then, you drizzle some extra virgin olive oil on the insides, add some salt and pepper, and put it into the oven for around forty minutes while it bakes!  Then, after it’s finished, let it cool a bit so you can touch it and not burn yourself, then take a fork and scrape out the insides.  Instant veggie spaghetti!

So…I did all this.  And I managed to snag a jar of my favorite pasta sauce for both the eggplant and the squash.  It’s the Classico Roasted Tomato and garlic pasta sauce…so good.  (Yes, homemade is way better, but I was out, and this was cheap.  Sometimes easy wins out)  After adding the sauce to the eggplant rounds, I topped them with a slice of fresh mozzarella and put back under the broiler for a few minutes to let the cheese melt.  Oh yeah…mozzarella makes it awesome.  Then, I added more sauce to the spaghetti squash (like I would do with normal spaghetti), and topped the squash with the melty, cheesy, eggplanty rounds.  And then I ate it.  All.

So…that’s my recipe of the day!  You all should try it…it’s pretty darn healthy and nutritious, and if you like eggplant, it’ll taste great!  Enjoy!

Much love,
K.

On why I must move South…

This weekend, we’re in Louisville for Thunder over Louisville.  It’s a giant air show and firework display that kicks off the Derby season here in Kentucky.  J and I came here for our first “weekend getaway” eight years ago, about a month after we started dating, and I’ve wanted to come back ever since.  Of course, living abroad, it wasn’t like we were just going to fly back to the US for a weekend in Louisville, so it’s been put off…until now.  And so, here we are.  And I’m finding that, even though I’m only an hour and some odd minutes from home, I’m literally in a whole other world.

The accents!  People here sound different!  It’s crazy, and I know that there is the “Southern Accent” of course, but I’m only a little over an hour from home and people here sound completely different!  I absolutely adore it…it’s so soft, slightly slower, a slight drawl.  There are “ma’ams” and “sirs” all around, and the politeness of people makes me want to run around offering free hugs for everyone.  Not that where I’m from is unfriendly…far from it, in fact.  Compared to the Netherlands, the people of Indiana are damn near indecent in their friendliness!  And I do love Indiana, though I cringe at times when I say it, because no one is supposed to “love” where they’re from…unless it’s the big city that typically has some sort of “big city pride” accompanying it.  You know…like NYC or L.A.  Everyone who’s from there just LOVES their hometown.  But…that’s trendy.  It’s not trendy to love being from Indiana…and yet, I love it nonetheless.

But that doesn’t change the fact that, at times, I long for a different pace.  For all the friendliness of Indiana, we are still firmly in the “Yankee” category.  We rush a bit, and hurry through life.  Most of us are workaholics (at least, in my circle of friends we all are), and few really take the time to stop and appreciate what we have in the now.  And I feel like people here (and by “here,” I mean, the South) really do all those things.  The pace of life here feels slower.  Instead of hurrying on to the next big project or the next major catastrophe, people here take a minute to stop, breathe deep, and really invest in the “here and now.”  And I long for that.  I yearn for it!  At this point in my life, I spend the vast majority of my day being overwhelmed.  Overwhelmed by work, by home remodels, by “extras” in my life that probably aren’t necessary.  And, it’s tempting to see something different and think “this will solve ALL my problems!”  Which, of course, isn’t true at all.  And I should probably focus on fixing the actual issues of my “overwhelmedness” (is that even a word?) rather than spend my time dreaming about living somewhere else as a fix.  And yet, the temptation is still there, and quite strong.  And hey, a girl can dream, right?

So…here I sit, getting ready to head out for breakfast with my love, and explore a pretty awesome city.  And I’ll take some photos (or rather, I’ll have J do that…while I drink a martini) and come back and post on my travel blog all about it.  And in the back of my mind, I’ll probably sit and ponder about life and how it would be if we moved down South.  And who knows…maybe in a few years from now, I’ll come back on here with a big post about how we’re transferring jobs or being relocated, and the “dream” as it stands will come true!  That’s the coolest part of life, really…the unexpected is always around the corner!

Much love,
K.