Monday, June 13, 2016

I've MOVED!!!

Have you wondered where my blog has gone? Do you ever sit back and say to yourself- "Is Stephanie still writing? Wasn't she going to write a book or something?" Well, I moved it to Patreon. Patreon is a great site that is run BY artists FOR artists. While I am still posting some material straight to the public, much of my writing is going directly to my subscribers. They're an elite bunch- big spenders, I tell ya- paying $1 a month to read all of the latest posts from me!
My goal in setting up this Patreon is two-fold. First of all, I am using it as an accountability tool for my book. I've written more in the last month than I have since my dissertation, and unlike my research into the effectiveness of STEM initiatives, you might actually want to read what I've been writing lately... My second goal in establishing the Patreon is to allow myself to identify as a writer- and to earn a little bit of money while I write. I'd love to be able to earn enough while working on this book that I can make a nice dent in my lovely student loans....
I would be truly honored and amazed if YOU would join in my subscribers. Subscribers to my Patreon account can also receive other perks besides just reading my musings... Let me know if you have any questions!

https://www.patreon.com/user?ty=h&u=3463167

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

May 11/18- The tale of the elephant graveyard

Come, my dear. Let us take a walk. The sun will not set for a little while, no. There will be plenty of light. And if you walk with me, you need not fear the noises in the grass nor the haunting notes of the bird calls. 

Walk with me, I want you to see something.

Ah, this is a beautiful evening, isn't it, little one? The warm air just barely moving, you can feel it tickling the hairs on your skin, can't you? Just like the tops of the grasses, so long and green, waving just a bit. Oh, the grasses are so green this season. We can be grateful to the rains for the verdant colors in the grass.  Feel how lovely this grass is! Roll around in it! Stomp your feet! See how it springs right back into place? Try a bit. A mouthful is moist and crisp. These grasses are good. You've not yet eaten the brown grasses of the dry season. Those bites are brittle and powdery. They aren't tasty, and you will never feel satisfied. Hunger is the constant companion of the dry season. But that is not what I wanted to show you today. Come along with me.

Ah, here come the oranges and purples of twilight.  No, it is not time to turn around yet. Listen to the birds calling to one another.  They are still singing their daytime songs.  yes, I do notice that the birds accompany us when we walk! I think our voices and footsteps make the bugs of the earth curious, and when they pop up to see us, the birds feast!  No, I do not mind when the little birds alight upon my head and shoulders. Birds are good company, sometimes it is good to have their voices in your ear.  Besides, the birds can see quite far across the grasses and sands. They are excellent travelling companions.

Ah- you have found the watering hole! Did you know that your aunties and I made this place? When I was quite young, I came here with my mother and my aunties, and we played and stomped in the dirt. The mothers encouraged us to roll around and scrapple in the hollow each day and then one day we woke to a wonderful surprise! It was raining! And in the hole we'd made with our feet, the rain collected and made this lovely pool.  It was a cool place for drinking and splashing and bathing in the hot sun.  This watering hole made the dry season bearable.  We were happy to share this place, too.  The fleet brown gazelles, tan as the summer sand, would come drink here in the twilight. The long necked birds gracefully arrived. When the lions would come, though, we would allow them to have the pool all to themselves. Not one of us much liked sharing with the lions.

Do you see how the grasses are longer and greener around the edges of the watering hole? How these trees grow, spreading their branches out thickly at the edge of the water? Even in the dry season, these grasses and trees are fortified by this hole that we've made.

Come here, nearer to the trees. This is what I wanted to show you, little one. Do not be afraid.

These bones, here, are the bones of my mother, your grandmother. you may touch them. You may pick one up. Here. This was once her leg. She walked many, many lengths on this leg.  It is okay. It does not hurt her for me to pick up her leg. She does not mind it. In fact, her bones have stories to tell.  That is what I wanted to show you.  Every time I come here, to this watering hole, I visit her bones. I pick one up, and listen to the story she wants to tell me.  Today her leg bone is telling me a story about how even though she walked many lengths on this leg, and she has been bones for many seasons, these bones are still strong. I have the same bones in me, so I need not worry about growing weary on our next journey.

Yes, it is getting darker. We will turn back and return to your aunties soon, for a good sleep. But you need not fear this place! Do the bones of your grandmother frighten you? Ah- you are frightened of the other bones- those that do not belong to your grandmother?

That is true. There are other bones here. But look! They are all bones like us. What cause have you to be frightened? Do you think that we have come here to die? Do you think that we must now become bones because we have visited this place? Oh, little one.  This is not true.

Your grandmother did not come here to die.  Neither did any of the others here of our kind.  Look around you! What have you noticed today? This is a place of life! There is a watering hole. There is lovely green grass, and strong, shady trees. There are birds, and friends. There is life here. During the dry season, you will find that sometimes life contracts to this point. Dry, summer grasses out on the plains are brittle. My grandmother did not come here to die. She came here to live.  Each one here came to live, but could not. That is a cause for sadness, yes, but not for fear.

It seems that is the story grandmother's bones are telling you, little one. Seek life. Do not fear it. Do not fear death, either, as long as you are seeking life.














Author's note: An elephant's graveyard is often used in literature as a metaphor for a scary place where large things go to die. Researchers initially believed that elephants would go specifically to one place to die because often, multiple elephant skeletons were found in the same location. Now, however, researchers believe that elephants are merely traveling to the last known place of affluence.  
In addition, elephants have been observed mourning a fallen elephant, standing vigil over a recently deceased elephant, or even carrying elephant bones around with their trunks.
Clearly, we have a lot to learn.

Photos taken by Deb McCaslin (my MOM) in Zimbabwe, 2011



Tuesday, May 17, 2016

May 17- Hymn mash-up

For years, each time we've visited my parents in their hometown for Christmas, she enlists each of us to sing in her church choir. Frequently, she asks my brother, Jeff, and I to do a duet with him playing the guitar and me singing lead vocals.

The piece she'd sected was a Spanish hymn. Alaru, alame.

She sent us to the music room to practice, but we kept getting distracted, jamming out with classic rock covers. Each time she'd come give us the fisheye, we'd pretend we were working on harmonies and descants.

The day came, and Jeff and I took our places. Jeff played the very identifiable opening five chords of Tom Petty's Free Falling. Then I started to sing, the Spanish words of her hymn. They mashed beautifully together.

Mom pretended to be mad, but she was secretly really pleased.

That's what kind of family I grew up with. We were always singing. Except during dinner. There was a rule: no singing at the dinner table. Of course, a second dinner time rule was that we weren't allowed to pretend that the backs of the kitchen chairs were harps to be played, either.

We never followed either of these rules.

Monday, May 9, 2016

May 9- A good woodsman

I'm currently reading Hard Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World by Haruki Murakami, and came across a phrase today that struck me.

A good woodsman has only one scar.

The underlying lesson behind this phrase in the story is that we should learn lessons quickly, and not continue to persevere in self-harming behavior.  In this thought, the woodsman learns his lesson and never again allows himself to be harmed.

You've got to know your limits. Once is enough, but you've got to learn. A little caution never hurt anyone. A good woodsman has only one scar on him. No more, no less.

As someone with several scars, I wonder about this thought.  Surely, as I've gotten older, I have become more cautious.  As a parent, I've exercised more caution than I did as a single. But is every one of my scars a result of not being cautious enough?  What if I have scars that I've earned through endeavoring to become a better human?   What if I have scars that I've acquired via putting myself in harm's way to protect another?  Does that not make me a good woodsman?

Dorothy knew a woodsman once.  He had several scars.  Because he loved the wrong girl, the witch caused his axe to slip several times, making him a hollow-bodied, heartless tin man.  But very quickly, Dorothy found out that the tin man was gentle and kind.

Scars are interesting.  People either love or hate to talk about them.  I'll happily tell you about the scars on my hands and arms. It's the scars we have inside us, the invisible scars that are much more personal.  Every time your heart breaks, you develop a scar.  Every time you lose someone or something, a missing place scars your soul.  But these scars are what makes each of us more unique, they give us a back story, an air of intrigue.

Kintsugi is the practice of repairing broken pottery and ceramics with gold, and is thought to make the object more beautiful.  Our scars mark us like broken pottery, but when we inlay them with gold, we make ourselves more beautiful, more precious, more unique.













(Image taken from http://www.mymodernmet.com/profiles/blogs/kintsugi-kintsukuroi)

Sunday, May 8, 2016

May 8- A post refusing to be

At first, this wanted to be a post about modern art, and specifically the conceptually-driven work of Robert Irwin.
But that wasn't working.

Then, this wanted to be a sappy bit about the overall lessons my mom taught me...
But that didn't work because I got distracted with my own writing. You see, in reviewing important lessons, I wanted to claim that I could still tell the difference between Poulenc and Ravel. But then I had to test my claim. I think I've still got it.

By then, I realized that I essentially quizzed Mia about more modern music. I'm pretty sure she was the only 5th grader that knew that Ginger Baker was the drummer of Cream. So then I thought about writing about the lessons I gave as a mother.
But that one didn't flow well, either...

Sigh.....

Sorry readers!

Saturday, May 7, 2016

May 7- Finding the zen of mathematics on a meditative long training run

Note: I anticipate that this topic will be a chapter in my forthcoming book. I have lots to say about math and running, so when my book does come out, instead of grumbling about how I have shared these ideas before, think of yourself as special, because you right now are part of the process and get to hear these ideas first! <3

I have grown to love long run training days.

When I started running, which I did only a couple of years ago, I did it just to see if I could. I figured I'd try to run a 5k, and took up one of those couck-to-5k programs.  Little did I know that a sport that I once detested would become part of who I am.

I ran a few little races, and found I really liked the 10ks better than the 5ks.  The 5k races were populated by so many fast runners, I always felt so sluggish. The 10k races didn't have so many sprinters, but people more like me, who paced themselves. 

I ran my first half marathon a little over two years ago, and loved it.  When you run a half marathon, it isn't about winning, or being fast, but you are amazing if you finish!  My first goal was to finish before the sweeper van picked up stragglers, which I did!  I also found that running these longer races was different in that people who ran had dedicated months to training, and often still had energy to dance at the after party! This was my jam.

But even more than the actual half marathon races, I found that I absolutely fell in love with the training.  The rituals of it, the rhythms, the long runs, this is what I thrive on.  Here's how you train for a long run: You start at least three months out.  You start by running three-five times a week.  You need some shorter runs, some speed/hill training runs, and always one long run a week.  Long run days are my absolute favorite day of the week.

Because I work in academia, I rarely work on Fridays, so generally long run day is then (although these last few weeks, I've had to shift to Saturday or Sunday).  Oh, what bliss.  I wake, have a light breakfast, grab my running partner (Copper), lace up my shoes and head out. 

My friend calls her long training runs "Meditative runs" which I think is a great name.  During a long run, I generally contemplate everything that has been on my mind.  I have conversations with myself, and with the dog. I make plans, and promptly forget them.  I find incredible peace in the beauty of the nature around me.  I look for birds, I save turtles, I smell the plants, I feel the wind, the sun, the rain.  Sometimes I listen to audio books, sometimes I listen to music, and sometimes I just listen to the sound of my breathing, my feet hitting the ground, and the wildlife on the trail.

 

One thing I always think about through my meditative run are my running statistics.  I have a Garmin watch which calculates data for me.  My distance is calculated with GPS.  The watch also tallies my average pace per mile, and my steps per minute.  Plugging it in at home, I can also see other data, like temperatures, elevations, fastest miles, etc.  I love seeing the data collected while I run.  I constantly do little math problems along the way.

If I maintain this average pace per mile, what time will I finish my run?

If I increase my steps per minute, how does that affect my pace per mile?

If I increase my stride, how does that affect my steps per minute?














Lately, Rob and I have done a number of long training runs together.  He's finally agreed to run a half marathon with me, and has been training for the Wilds HM next week with me.  When I run with Rob, I don't listen to music or audio books, and I don't think quite as much, but we do have a great time talking about everything along the way.  I was super tickled today to learn that he  likes to do running math, too!  I thought it was just something nerds like myself did.

Maybe math isn't as nerdy as I thought...


Friday, May 6, 2016

May 6- You know nothing, Jon Snow

I have a confession to make. I am 41 years old, and I have never bought a tv.

People sometimes look at me like I must be crazy when I tell them that, but it's true! Now, I guess I have owned a tv or two, but I've never bought one.

I've had several versions of sets wherein friends or neighbors have bought a new one, shifted their old one into the basement, and given us the basement model. Which is great by me. I don't watch a whole lot of tv. I prefer books. It's been years since  we've had cable. And though I've been known to netflix a series or two, the condition of my tv has never concerned me.

Since we don't have cable, we're always a season or two (or seven) behind everyone else. Not only that, but since we are bad tv watchers, we often get distracted and way behind. Sometimes so far behind we give up. For instance:

We still havent "met your mother"
We just found out it was "Not Penny's boat"
Castiel is in the lake.
The gang is trapped in a boxcar at Terminus
Diane still works at the bar.

This last year, we started watching Game of Thrones. I'd read the first few in the series and enjoyed them, but GoT took some extra effort. It's not on Netflix, so I have to go super old school and check those out of the library on DVD! Through the fall & winter, we got through the first four seasons, and then deliciously/terribly had to wait. Not just wait for season 5 to come out on DVD, but also wait for it to come available at the library. Even though I put my name on the request list on March 1 (before the discs were released) I was still 15 down!

Today, hooray! I got the call that my copy was ready for me. With just a few minutes before the library closed for the evening, I hustled across town and checked it out.

To make the evening even better, Rob called and said "I know you've probably got something planned for dinner, but how about takeout Chinese?"

Sometimes life is pretty great.

Anyway, there's a lot of hubbub this week about what's currently happening in season 6 on GoT. Some people hate knowing spoilers like that. I guess I don't mind so much, probably because I am used to always having read the books before seeing movies (by the way, the books are better, 98.5% of the time!). It doesn't bother me in knowing plot points, as long as the story along the way is good.

But some people really are offended by that! And that's ok. So, I'm not going to say anything more about it.

I know nothing, Jon Snow...

Thursday, May 5, 2016

May 5- Weighted averages

One beautiful thing about my job is that everything happens in cycles.  A semester begins, a semester ends. There's a certain comfort in knowing that no matter how weird my teaching schedule is, or if there's a time-consuming student or two, that in a few months, all of that will change. I will have a different but equally weird teaching schedule, and a different but equally time-consuming student.

I teach, I test, I grade. There's a bit of zen in all of that.

It is nearing the end of the spring semester.  There is one question I get over and over again, so I thought I'd address it here.

"What do I need to get on the (last graded assignment of choice) to get an A/pass the class?"

This is a concept that most students struggle a bit with, and it isn't hard, you just have to think about weighted averages.

You know that to find an average, or the mean of a set of values, you would simply add those values together, then divide the sum by the number of values you added.  Well, a weighted average takes into account that not every assignment given in a course is weighted evenly.

In order to calculate the weighted average, you multiply each score by the weight it carries as a decimal.

For instance, Tommy has an average of 75% on his homeworks which are worth 10%.  He had an average of 84% on the quizzes which are worth 15%.  The exams were all worth 25%, and he got a 90% on the first exam, an 80% on the second exam, and hasn't yet taken the last exam.

So, Tommy needs to set up what he has:
(75)(.10)+(84)(.15)+(90)(.25)+(80)(.25)=62.5

So, if he skips taking the last test, he would receive a D in the class. That's not good enough! Tommy wants an A! Well, even if he geta a perfect score on the last test, that isn't possible.

62.5+(100)(.25)=87.5 that's a B.

Hrmmm, Tommy thinks. Well, if the best he can do is a B, what's the lowest grade he could get on the test to get that B? Just replace the test score with a variable, and solve.

62.5 + .25x = 80
-62.5                 -62.5

.25x = 17.5
/.25        /.25

X = 70

As long as Tommy gets a 70 on the test, he'll have that B.

So, clearly, if the last assignment is worth 20% of the overall grade, then how well a student does on that assignment could have a big impact on the overall grade.  But if the last assignment is only worth 5% of the overall grade, well, it's not such a big deal.

It's funny, students will get all worked up about a little assignment, but flake off during the big assignments.  For example, a student who came into my office today told me that he was so busy completing the extra credit problems (worth 10 points) that he forgot to study for the exam (worth 100 points).  See the problem?

But honestly, it's not just students and grades.  

I'm guilty, too.

What is worth the most? 

Tonight's post is late because I was taking care of high point things today: work, a run, making great food, spending this evening with my love.

The rest can wait for tomorrow!

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

May 4- Take a moment to count your ducks.

This morning, I got up, put on my running pants, laced up my shoes, and readied myself for a run.  But I didn't run.

I know! Gasp!  What a terrible turn of events!

It wasn't raining, I had plenty of time to do it, but as I was getting ready, my brain was just buzzing with everything I had to do today.  Most of the time, I would have gone on the run, because my run time is my serious thinking time.  I could have quelled a few anxious thoughts out on the trail, but I still would have had a bunch to do.

So, I decided not to run, and instead took my normal running time to count my ducks.

What is counting ducks? Well, some people might refer to this process as "putting their ducks in a row."  Damnit, though, I'm a mathematician. I am not okay with just lining the ducks up. I need to know how many ducks there are.

It's a number thing. It always is with me.

(Out of curiosity, I just looked up the origins of the idiom "to have ones ducks in a row."   Worldwidewords.org states that this phrase possibly originated from the process of lining up target ducks at a carnival game, but the version they suggest that I like better is the process of a mother duck lining up her ducklings.)













So, I wanted to count my ducks.  This is just taking a little bit of time to put my affairs in order to make life simpler.  This is me lining up my ducklings so that we can safely cross the streets of Boston.

I work in academia, so my life works in cycles. Pre-semester is always busy- writing syllabi, preparing courses, doing a lot of computer work. Midterms and Finals times are also super busy, I give many tests, I grade many tests, and the next day I do it again. Right now I'm entering the last week of the Spring Semester, and like many people in my life, I'm feeling the crunch. It was good to take a moment.

What did I do then, instead of running?  Well, I did some house cleaning- often times when work is quite busy, as with most people, my house can get cluttered.  I've been staying on top of the clutter, but taking the time to give the house a good going over was well worth it. I swept, I vacuumed, I washed the welcome mats and the table cloths.  I also did some food prepping. Because I teach so late on Mondays and Wednesdays this semester, I don't often get a chance to make lunches for the next day. So I cooked some rice that I will fluff with some hummus and cucumbers tonight for tomorrow's lunch.

I was talking with Mia today, and she was stressed about the end of her semester, too. I suggested she take a moment to get grounded.  She figured out that it was really one project that was giving her stress, and the only reason she was stressed was because her classmate/partner wasn't doing their share.  Realizing the cause of her stress I think helped her. I also think it was good for her to talk it out and realize that she could do the entire project on her own, and didn't need her partner.  She counted her ducks.

Take a minute right now. Count your ducks. What are you stressed about? What is one thing that you could do right now that would help your stress level? If it is vacuum, then you should vacuum.  If it's going for a run, you should do that, too.

<3

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

May 3- To live at the risk of not being seen...

I came out on Sunday and announced to the world (at least to my little corner of it) that I was going to start writing. I have a book in me, I said. I am going to write every day, I told friends.  Several people encouraged me, telling me they wanted to read what I wrote, and buoyed by their encouragement, I wrote a really silly and fun blog post yesterday.

"Oooh," I thought, "I can't wait to hear what everyone thinks!"

I posted the blog link to my group, to my friends, and to other writers. I checked my post again and again. I wondered if my post actually went through. I bemoaned the techbunnies. I cursed social media algorithms.

And then, the self-doubt got me.  Why couldn't anyone see me? I just wanted everyone to laugh and tell me how cute my mouse story was. 

I felt unseen.

Please don't feel like this is a self-pitying post, or feel obliged to comment on this, past, or future posts, I'm just telling you how I felt....

This is not a rare phenomenon.  I have recently talked to several separate people who feel unseen, disconnected, unsupported and even ignored.  How can that be?

Well, one thing to keep in mind that if you use any type of social media to connect with others, you are subject to the algorithms of that platform.  If you feel unseen by people IRL, you might be out of sync with their current schedules.  

The internet is a wide beautiful place.  It gives us a false sense of closeness, and can skew our world perceptions because we join groups that are likely populated by similarly minded folk.  For instance, if I were to look at my facebook feed, I would assume that at least half of the world's population is vegan, because I make connections with vegans.  Looking at my instagram, one might guess that all of my friends were lithe and limber yogis, when in reality, most of the yogis I know would cringe to be photograph in bikinis.  Honestly, I have been surprised at the current state of American politics, because no-one I know is excited about the direction the primaries are headed. Clearly, my social circles, both on and off the internet, are biased in one way or another.

Like the internet, the human race is a varied population much bigger than we could ever imagine.

Sometimes it is hard to remember that just by shouting into the void, we are not always going to be heard.

Even when we share ourselves with those we love, we may not get the feedback we are looking for.  I asked Rob last night if he'd enjoyed my blog about the mice, and he confessed that he hadn't read it because he had too much work to do. I understand that. There have been days I've been remiss about emailing him because I've felt swamped at work.  Life happens.

But- what do we do? Is it worth it to live at the risk of not being seen? Do we just give up and stop sharing?

We can't. We just can't. Sharing ourselves is what makes us human. Whether we do so in person, or virtually via the interwebs, we must share.  And we must understand that sometimes we will be seen.

And sometimes we won't.

And we keep going. I will keep writing.

One of my favorite musicians, Amanda Palmer, has a lyric that I've incorporated into my motto lately.

"Stop Pretending Art is Hard."

Is it hard not to be seen? Sure. But harder yet is not to speak.

So, I have a favor to ask of you- if you read this, take a moment and make someone feel seen.  (Not me- I'm a big girl, I can take your silence.) Seriously, though, I implore you to tell someone who may feel under-appreciated that you see and respect them.

SPREAD LOVE <3


Monday, May 2, 2016

May 2- An open letter to the mice living under my stove

Dear Mice,

When we moved into this house, you didn't move in right away. You gave us a year to get settled, to let our guard down. Then, the second spring came with the typical east coast rain, and suddenly you were here.

Each year that you move in (and you sneaky buggers only seem to move in during particularly wet years) there's always about a month period of denial.

Me: Did you hear that in the kitchen?
Rob: Hear what?
Rob: Do you think we have mice again?
Me: Nahhh, we can't.

Part of my denial, please understand, dear mice, is that I don't understand how you can get away with brazenly setting up shop underneath the stove with three dogs in the house! Are you confused about this, too? Do you go to sleep at night thinking "Holy mouse-gods, how did we not get eaten by those barking fiends today?"

The second step, after denial, is bargaining.

Me (shouting towards the stove) : Ok, ahem, yes, hello Mice. I recognize that you're here. I get that it is wet outside and you've just moved in on a temporary basis. I'm okay with this. But let me lay some ground rules.
Mice:
Me: OK, rule number 1 is that you must keep all of your activities confined to the floor area. If there is any scampering, skittering, or darting, it needs to stay on the floor.
Mice:
Me: Rule number 2 is about your nesting and bathroom habits. If you could try to keep things tidy, I would really appreciate it. You'll notice that I no longer keep my baking sheets in the drawer below the oven. I've conceeded that space to you. But ONLY that space, understand?
Mice:
Me: Rule number 3 is about food. If it is on the floor, it is fair game, but if you start nibbling into my supply of nutritional yeast or garbanzo bean flour, that is immediate grounds for eviction.
Mice:
Me: And last rule, if and when you start procreating, please let your offspring know that you are not in development here. If they start moving out of the oven drawer and into other areas, I'm going to tell you right now, those are not friendly mouse zones. Are we in agreement?
Mice:
Me: I take it by your total silence on the subject that you understand and will abide by these rules.

The third step, which is where we currently stand, is where you mice start pushing the envelope. You start getting a little more comfortable. You are still abiding by the rules, but in a taunting way. Last night, as I sat at the kitchen island, catching up on some student emails, I could catch the glimpses of movement out of the corner of my eye. No direct mouse sighting, but shadow movements, like the dust sprites in My Neighbor Tortoro.
















I want to warn you, dear mice, that this kind of subversive behavior is not kind to your human hosts and providers. I know you think that because I am a vegan and I keep a cruelty free house that you are safe. You are safe, from death traps, those which might break your back, or rip off your skin. But what you are not safe from, dear mice, is me.

You see, I have amazingly fast reflexes when armed with a clear measuring cup. I have single-handedly caught many of your mice forefathers (and foremothers). I have a tiny animal carrier. I will begin rounding you up, and taking you to my running trail, many many miles away. When I catch you, you will go. Do I feel sad that you will probably never meet up with the remainder of your mouse family? Yes. But will I feel like a badass for live-catching you by hand and popping you in the woods? You'd better believe it.
















So, mice, this is your warning. You can quietly leave together now. I understand that there are several rotting trees in the back yard which would provide lovely nesting material. I don't even think our feral cat shelter back there is currently occupied, if you wamt to give that a go. Or, if you choose not to leave, you need to make sure every single one of our agreed on rules is followed.

Otherwise, lookout! I'm coming for you!

Love,
Me

May 1, Rabbit, Rabbit.

Rabbit, Rabbit.
If you've known me for a while, you know that on the first day of the month, first thing in the morning, I say "Rabbit, Rabbit."
It started in 2013, when I was reading a book wherein one of the characters said the phrase. The next day (12/1/13) I heard this quick bit on NPR's Weekend Edition ( http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=248041250).  Ever since then, it has stuck.
Do I believe my month will be unlucky if I don't say it? No, but I always say it. Just like I always touch the nose top of the bronze statue of Fala at the FDR memorial. There are just certain things that I DO. There's one particular thing I do prior to flying that I don't make a big deal about, but I just always do. After a little while, Rob asked me why I did it. It's not for luck, or anything in particular, it just is something I do. And over the years, it is cute, because now Rob and Mia do it, too.
Do I have a touch of OCD? Yes, probably. But I'm in good company. Among others who said "Rabbit, Rabbit" on the first of the month are FDR and Gilda Radner. Not a bad bowling team to join.
But this touch of OCD is probably why I love using my Mala for meditation. In Tibetan Buddhism, a mala is strung with 108 beads. Using this mala in meditation, the thought, mantra, prayer or desire is repeated 108 times, the thought being that through this repetition it is transferred into the universe.
Today I say Rabbit, Rabbit with a happy heart. Not only is it the start of a new month, but because I will finish out my spring semester this month, I'm establishing some new goals for myself that I hope to carry through (and add to!) This summer! Since May had 31 days, I'm resurrecting my #writeandrun31, meaning I plan to write every single day (and run 5+ days a week). There is a book inside me. And I want to start writing it this summer. So, even if I don't write material that will end up in my book, I will be writing every day. I'm also going to be doing some things in the next two weeks to make sure I don't get stressed with work, including meal preping, making time for yoga & meditation, and making sure I get plenty of sleep.
What are you doing today to set yourself up for the month?
And, remember, if you forgot to say "Rabbit, Rabbit" first thing this morning, don't forget to say "Tibbar, Tibbar" tonight before you go to sleep.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Plan May 2-8

I've been eating hastily lately. With travel, and evening classes, and hero flights, it is high time for a week of the cleanest, purest foods I know....

It is May 1st. I am very ready for the spring semester to end. The end of the semester gets so hectic! So I took time today to prep, grocery shop, and plan.

Monday
Yoga & walk
Breakfast: Blueberry pancakes
Lunch: leftover Pizza Poppers
Dinner: Avocado white bean crostini

Tuesday
Yoga & run (4+)
Breakfast: Pumpkin ONOs
Lunch: Chipotle (Teacher appreciation day! Free tacos for me!)
Dinner: Tijuana Tacos

Wednesday
Yoga & walk
Breakfast: Blueberry Coconut ONOs
Lunch: leftover Tijuana Tacos
Dinner: Green smoothie

Thursday
Yoga & run (4+)
Breakfast: Pumpkin ONOs
Lunch: Mediterranean Rice
Dinner: Tico Taco Pie

Friday
Yoga & run (4+)
Breakfast: Cinnamon vanilla chai ONOs
Lunch: leftover Tico Taco Pie
Dinner: Sweet Potato Curry Noodles

Saturday
Yoga & run (12)
Breakfast: Breakfast Muffin
Lunch: leftover Sweet potato curry noodles
Dinner: Thai Taquitos

Sunday
Yoga
Breakfast: Tofu Sandwich
Lunch: leftover Thai Taquitos
Dinner: Vegan Potato cakes with mushrooms

Monday, April 25, 2016

Plan April 25- May 1

I haven't been posting my food plans (OR MUCH OF ANYTHING) lately. In part because I've been writing other things. Mostly, though, because I've been traveling and working and working and working and working. Sigh. This semester is kind of kicking my butt right now...

But... I have a great plan for the future (to be shared, you guessed it, in the future). For now, I am focusing on my first goal of March Madness (remember that?) To drink 100 oz of water a day, and continuing to train for the Wildwood Half Marathon.

I was really good about yoga-ing last week. I love yoga, and find that if I can dedicate even just ten minutes a day to it, I feel better. Unfortunately, if I don't get it done in the morning, I am not very good about yogaing in the afternoon. This week I am also challenging myself to rediscover the love that is every day yoga practice.

Monday
Yoga & walk
Breakfast: Orange muffin
Lunch: Weekend leftovers
Dinner: Banana Berry Chai Smoothie

Tuesday Yoga & run (4+)
Breakfast:
Lunch: tofu sandwich
Dinner: Pizza poppers

Wednesday
Yoga & walk
Breakfast:
Lunch: pizza poppers
Dinner: Banana Berry Chai Smoothie

Thursday
Yoga & run (4+)
Breakfast:
Lunch:Mediterranean hummus pasta
Dinner: tofu sandwich

Friday
Yoga
Breakfast: fruit & vega shake
Lunch: TBD HERO FLIGHT
Dinner:TBD HERO FLIGHT

Saturday
Yoga
Breakfast: fruit & vega shake
Lunch: TBD HERO FLIGHT
Dinner: Buffalo Ranch chickpea burgers

Sunday
Yoga & run (10)
Breakfast: peanut butter french toast
Lunch: Buffalo Ranch chickpea burgers
Dinner: "Tuna" melts

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Books read 2016

2016: my reading goal each year is 100 books. 100 is nice, it is comfortable. A few years ago I read 120+, and that might have been too many. But reading is something I love to do, I never feel I have to work for it.
Anyway, this year I thought I'd track HOW I was reading. I'm determined to use the library more.
RR like last year, means that this is a book I have read before, and have re-read. It seems silly that there are so many great books out there, and I read something over, but some books deserve to be re-read. Others were intially read so long ago that re-reading give me new insights!
A means I listened to the audio book.
L means I've checked the book out of the library.
This year, at the end of each month, I'm going to add to my list a brief recap of the month, including book highlights, and share what books I'm currently reading. Some people read one book at a time, I have at least one book per device/style, sometimes I  have a book I'm reading in each room of the house!
January: several Neil Gaiman re-reads, more audio books than normal, a few yoga practitioner books, and two by Joe Hill.
#10 , Yoga, your home practice companion from the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Center was a really great resource, and I wouldn't mind adding that to my permanent collection one day. I brought Mia aboard the Amanda Palmer love wagon this month with her fantastic book, The Art of Asking  (#9).
January
1. The ultimate beginners guide to crossfit and yoga- Joe V. Run 1/2/16
2. A clash of Kings (GoT2)- George R. R. Martin 1/4/16
3. The Chimes- Charles Dickens 1/5/16 A
4. Odd & the frost giants- Neil Gaiman 1/8/16 RR A
5. Stardust- Neil Gaiman 1/9/16 RR
6. Heart shaped box- Joe Hill 1/10/16
7. Journey to the center of the earth- Jules Verne 1/15/16 A
8. Between the world and me- Ta-Nehisi Coates 1/20/16
9. The Art of Asking- Amanda Palmer 1/21/16 RR A
10. Yoga, your home practice companion- Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Center 1/22/16 L
11. 30 Essential Yoga Poses- Judith Lasater 1/22/16 L
12. 20th Century Ghosts- Joe Hill 1/25/16 L
13. Trigger warning- Neil Gaiman 1/30/16 RR A
14. Fortunately, the milk- Neil Gaiman 1/31/16 RR
15. The Strange Library- Haruki Murakami 1/31/16 L
YTD:15
February: 1Q84 was long, and interestingly challenging to read. I really enjoyed it, but thought the end dragged 100 pages too long.  This month I tackled two particularly lengthy novels, 1Q84 and Reamde (still working on the latter).
Interestingly enough, the books I read/am reading this month seem to fit a sci-fi/video game/Asian influence I've been drawn to lately: The Diamond Age/  Ready Player One/ Armada/ The Man in High Castle/ 1Q84/ Reamde....
February
1. How to market and promote your bok on a $0 budget- Kristin Lajunesse 2/1/16
2. The man in high castle- Philip K. Dick 2/4/16 A
3. Oryx and Crake- Margaret Atwood 2/5/16 RR A
4. The year of the Flood- Margaret Atwood 2/13/16 RR A
5. 1Q84- Haruki Murakami- 2/19/16 L
6. Armada- Ernest Cline- 2/21/16 L
7. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz- L. Frank Baum 2/26/16 RR A
8. Becomming a Supple Leopard- Dr. Kelly Starrett 2/27/16 L
YTD: 23
Ooops. I forgot to log things in March. I DID read.  I added a few that I know I read- but there should be others on this list.  Sigh.
March
1. Aristotle and Dante discover the secrets of the Universe- Benjamin Alire Sáenz 3/1/16 L
2. Furiously Happy - Jenny Lawson 3/3/16 L
3. Maddadam- Margaret Atwood 3/10/16 A RR
4. Fortunately the milk - Neil Gaiman 3/15/16 RR
5. The Miseducation of Cameron Post Emily Daneforth 3/?/16 L
6. The Curious Nature Guide- Clare Walker Leslie 3/?/16 L
7. Reamde- Neal Stephenson 3/?/16 A
YTD: 30
Ah, April, another slow reading month.... I can't wait for summer semester when I have TIME to read more!
April
1. The Diamond Age- Neal Stephenson 4/5/16 A RR
2. The first 15 lives of Harry August-Clair North 4/10/16 A RR
3. The Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy-Douglas Adams 4/13/16 A RR
4. Neverwhere- Neil Gaiman 4/15/16 RR
5. The Martian- Andy Weir 4/21/16 RR
6. Let's pretend this never happened- Jenny Lawson 4/22/16 L
7. Buddhism: A beginner's guide- M. E. Dahkid 4/25/16 A
8. A short history of nearly everything- Bill Bryson 4/30/16 RR 
YTD: 38
May
1. Are you my Mother?- PD Eastman 5/1/16 RR
2. Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki-  Haruki Murakami 5/5/16 L
3. Cosmos- Carl Sagan 5/8/16
4. Hard Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World-  Haruki Murakami 5/15/16 A
5. Lexicon- Max Barry 5/18/16
6. The Secret History of They Might be Giants- Michael Goleman 5/20/16
7. The World According to Garp- John Irving 5/31/16 RR
YTD: 45
June
1. What if- Randall Munroe 6/5/16 A
2. Watership Down- Richard Adams 6/10/16 RR
3. Origins: 14 billion years of evolution- Neil DeGrasse Tyson 6/15/16 A
4. Everlost- Neil Schusterman 6/17/16
5. The girl with all the gifts- M.R. Carey 6/18/16
6. Who we be- Jeff Chang 6/20/16
7. The Fireman- Joe Hill 6/27/16
YTD:52
July
July was a good reading month. I read 13 full books, and played with several others. When I say I play with books, I may mean I started them, re-read a portion of a previously read book, or previewed soon to be read books. I read two books this month in graphic novel form that I've read in traditional novel form before, and was pleased with the graphic take.
1. How to talk to girls at parties- Neil Gaiman 7/6/16 G RR
2. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's stone - J K Rowling 7/10/16 A RR
3. The Wrinkle in Time- Madeline L'Engle 7/10/16 G RR
4. The view from the cheap seats- Neil Gaiman 7/12/16
5. The illustrated Stephen Hawking- JP McEvoy & Oscar Zarate 7/12/16
6. An Ocean of Despair- Thor Harris 7/17/16
7. The wee free men- Terry Pratchett 7/19/16 A L
8. 14- Peter Clines 7/23/16 A
9. The Shining- Stephen King 7/23/16 RR
10. Everwild- Neil Schusterman 7/23/16
11. A hat full of sky- Terry Pratchett 7/24/16 L
12. Two brothers- Fabio Moon & Gabriel Ba 7/26/16 G L
13. Neuromancer- William Gibson 7/31/16 A RR
YTD: 65
August
1. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child- JK Rowling 8/3
2. The Fold- Peter Clines 8/6/16 A
3. Everfound- Neil Schusterman 8/10
4. Beyond Civilization-  Daniel Quinn 8/13 RR
5. Mistbourne- Brandon Sanderson 8/22/16 A
6. Robert Frost collected works 8/20/16 RR
7. Locke & Key 1- Joe Hill 8/24/16 G
8. Locke & Key 2- Joe Hill 8/28/16 G
9. The Inexplicable Universe-  Neil Degrasse Tyson 8/27/16 A
10. Locke & Key 3- Joe Hill 8/29/16 G
11. Coraline- Neil Bauman 8/29/16 A RR
12. Collins learn Spanish- Paul Noble 8/30/26 A
13. Locke & Key 4- Joe Hill 8/31/16 G
Books read YTD: 78
September
1. Locke &Key-  Joe Hill 9/1/16 G
2. Locke & Key - Joe Hill 9/4/16 G
3. George Carlin reads to you 9/8/16 A

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Plan March 24-30

Thursday
Run 4
Abs
Yoga
Breakfast: Blueberry Corncakes
Lunch: Oh My Greens Ramen Leftovers
Dinner: Ranch Style Tacos

Friday
Run 8
Abs
Yoga
Breakfast: Carrot Cake Baked Oatmeal
Lunch: Ranch Style Tacos Leftovers
Dinner:
Good Greens & Gravy

Saturday
Run Virtual 5k
Abs
Breakfast: Soy Free Frittata Cakes
Lunch: TBD
Dinner: Vegan Cheese Fondue

Sunday
Breakfast: Grapes & Yogurt Salad
Lunch & Dinner: Leftovers

Monday
Walk
Abs
Breakfast: Strawberry Polenta Shortcake
Lunch: Leftovers
Dinner: Caribbean Chili

Tuesday
Run 4
Abs
Yoga
Breakfast: Blueberry Corn Cakes
Lunch: Caribbean Chili Leftovers
Dinner: French Carrots and Polenta

Wednesday
Walk
Abs
Breakfast: Tofu Scramble
Lunch: French Carrots and Polenta Leftovers
Dinner: Pizza Joeys

Friday, March 18, 2016

Plan 3/18-23

Friday
Abs workout
Breakfast: matcha chia pudding
Lunch: leftovers
Dinner: Bang Bang Chickpea Wraps

Saturday
Abs workout
Race for equal justice 5k
Breakfast: PB & banana Onos
Lunch: Busboys & Poets
Dinner: Aloo Matar

Sunday
Breakfast: sweet potato pudding
Lunch: kale & tofu wrap
Dinner: Blossom Veg

Monday
Abs workout
Breakfast: Cinnamon Snail
Lunch: leftovers
Dinner: La Tolteca

Tuesday
Abs workout
Run 4
Breakfast: strawberry polenta shortcake
Lunch: Quick bean burgers
Dinner: Tostadas BBQ

Wednesday
Abs workout
Walk
Breakfast: Irish Soda bread mug cake
Lunch: leftovers
Dinner: Oh my Greens Ramen

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Plan 3/10- 16

It's my second week of my March Madness challenge, and this week, I've added to my goal. I'm continuing my week 1 goal of drinking at least 100oz of water every day.  I've been pretty successful with that! This week, I added logging all of my food in my fitbit tracker.  Now, I'm not so much using the fitbit tracker to tell me how much to eat. Because there are days when I run a lot, so it says I can eat a lot. But then on my rest day, it says I can't eat very much.  I'm using the tracker as a tool for accountability. I'm specifically looking to make sure I'm not snacking mid-afternoon (which I REALLY like to do). Snacking is especially challenging for me on my longer teaching days. Having a snack isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it is counter productive to my fitness goals to do it all the time.

This upcoming weekend is my next big race- I'll be running the Rock and Roll Half Marathon again this year.  It's gotten so that I really am running the same races every year. But I really like these races, and the timing works well with my training, so I'll keep at it for a bit. This past week, I've been tapering. Breaking in new shoes. Testing out my race day gear. You know, that kind of fun stuff.  I had to buy new running shoes because I have put the miles on the old ones. I go through 3-4 pairs of running shoes a year.  I also had to buy new running pants because my old pants were falling down. Yeah, I know, there are worse problems to have. But seriously, running pants industry. Just put drawstrings in EVERYTHING already, okay? Thanks.

Next week will also see some visits from Mia and my Mom! Whoot!

Thursday
Run 3-4
Breakfast: Blueberry pancakes
Lunch: leftover baked Caprese pasta
Dinner: A tribute to The Wild Carrot's Original Powerhouse sandwich

Friday
Slow run 3-4
Breakfast: Sweet Potato Pudding
Lunch: Samosa with Cari
Dinner: Cheater Pad Thai

Saturday
Rock & Roll Half Marathon
Breakfast: Race day breakfast- 2 bananas, dates, vega bar
Lunch: OUT
Dinner: leftovers or fend for yo'self

Sunday
Breakfast: Tofu Scramble
Lunch: baked tofu & kale wrap
Dinner: Hot Tamale Burgers

Monday
Walk
Breakfast: Irish Soda Bread in a Mug
Lunch: leftover Hot Tamale Burgers
Dinner: Philly Cheeseseitan sandwiches

Tuesday
Run 2-3
Breakfast: Carrot Cake Overnight Oats
Lunch: leftover sandwiches
Dinner: Asian tofu salad sandwiches

Wednesday
Walk
Breakfast: Strawberry shortcake polenta
Lunch: leftover Asian tofu salad sandwiches
Dinner: Irish Nachos












Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Plan March 4-10

I'm coming into my final training days for the RnRHM. I'll be tapering down my runs.

I've been doing this March Madness challenge with the Happy Herbivore meal mentor community. In this challenge, we each selected 6 habits we wanted to make or break during the month. Then we started with one habit the first week. The second week we will double and add a second habit, the third week again we will double and work towards 4 of the habits, and the last week we will work on all 6. My first habit/goal for this first week is to drink 100 ounces of water every day. Now, I drink a lot of water as it is, and when I'm not thinking about it, I generally drink about 60 oz per day. 100 though, which I've been successful at all week thus far, is something that I can feel a difference with. Sure, I have to get up and pee in the middle of the night. But my skin feels better, and I generally am feeling good.

Thursday:
Run 4
Breakfast: garbanzo patty breakfast sandwich
Lunch: leftover sweet & sour spaghetti squash
Dinner: Sweet Potato Chilaquiles

Friday:
Run 6
Breakfast: brownie batter ono
Lunch: leftover sweet potato chilaquiles
Dinner: Green Goddess Pizza

Saturday:
Breakfast: blueberry pancakes
Lunch: leftover green goddess pizza
Dinner: Jerk Polenta

Sunday:
Breakfast: blueberry pancakes
Lunch: leftover jerk polenta
Dinner: Baked Caprese Pasta

Monday:
Walk
Breakfast: peanut butter and jelly ono
Lunch: leftover baked caprese pasta
Dinner: Spinach Artichoke Rice Casserole

Tuesday:
Run 4
Breakfast: breakfast potatos rancheros
Lunch: leftover spinach artichoke rice casserole
Dinner: Baked Caprese Pasta

Wednesday:
Walk
Breakfast: sweet potato pudding
Lunch: leftover Baked Caprese Pasta
Dinner: Indian Hakka Noodles

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Plan Feb 25- March 2

I've been a bit sluggish lately, which is not something I can afford to be, with the Rock n Roll half just 2 weeks away.
So, as of today, I'm stepping up my game.
As part of Lindsay Nixon's Happy Herbivore Meal Mentors, I'm going to focus on 6 habits to incorporate this month, starting with 1, and doubling my efforts each week.
My 6 habits I'm working towards are:
1. Drinking 100 oz of water every day. This is not only great for hydration, but also incredible for my head. I need to do it.
2. Logging my foods. I have the fitbit app, its a great tool. When I log my foods I'm less likely to grab a snack, or drink another glass of wine. It keeps me accountable.
3. Sticking with my meal plans at least 5x per week. And my meal plans are set at roughly 1200 calories a day.
4. Doing 200 crunches at least 5x per week. I have the makings of great abs. They just need daily attention.
5. Doing 3 cross-training workouts every week. I've been using this program called Cody, with workouts ranging from yoga to strength, pilates, etc. Sometimes, though, I get so that I have on my running blinders. I forget to do much else. And even though I've been able to devote a little time every day to my yoga practice,  I should work on my whole body.
6. Having fruits and veggies for snacks. Let's face it, my Mondays and Wednesdys class schedule is a little busy. There are days I don't have time to eat lunch, so I have a snack. Which is fine, until I realize that snack isn't that healthy. Vegans make some pretty awesome junk food. So, to accomplish this goal, not only am I going to plan for fruits and veggies as potential snacks, when I get home from the grocery, I'm going to immediately chop these up so that they're ready to eat?

All of this will be in addition to things I'm already doing (half-marathon training, headstand practice, etc).

Here's my meal plan this week:

Thursday:
Run 4
15 minutes kettlebell
Breakfast: banana pb wrap
Lunch: leftover chinese
Dinner: green curry chowder

Friday:
Run 10+
Breakfast: smoothie
Lunch: leftover green curry chowder
Dinner: chickpea ceasar tacos

Saturday:
Run/walk 3
Breakfast: smoothie
Lunch: out
Dinner: California "drive through" fries

Sunday:
Breakfast: baked oatmeal
Lunch: leftover chickpea ceasar tacos
Dinner: very verde burritos

Monday:
Walk 4
Cody workout
Breakfast: ONO
Lunch: very verde burritos
Dinner: bbq sweet potato sliders

Tuesday:
Run 4
15 minutes kettlebell
Breakfast: garbanzo patty sandwich
Lunch: bbq sweet potato sliders
Dinner: pizza pasta

Wednesday:
Walk 4
Cody workout
Breakfast: ONO
Lunch: leftover pizza pasta
Dinner: sweet & sour spaghetti squash

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Plan Feb 18-24

Ok. Here's my plan for the week. Guess I should actually get out and run now.
I've got a little less than a month to the RnR HM. So I need to just focus on running. I need to run. Darn it, stop typing and go run now!

Thursday
Run 4
Breakfast: banana bread
Lunch: leftovers
Dinner: Triple Green Quesidilias

Friday
Run 10
Breakfast: Banana Bread
Lunch: leftover Triple Green Quesidilias
Dinner: Cauli-power fettuccine alfredo http://ohsheglows.com/2014/01/20/cauli-power-fettuccine-alfredo-vegan/

Saturday
Breakfast: Pesto Potato Scramble
Lunch/Dinner: Vegan Mac & Cheese Smackdown!

Sunday
Breakfast: Tofu Scramble
Lunch: leftover fettuccine alfredo
Dinner: Tofu strips and chips

Monday
Run 3
Breakfast: Pesto Potato Scramble
Lunch: leftover tofu strips and chips
Dinner: Chili sweet slaw wrap

Tuesday
Run 4
Breakfast: Tofu Scramble
Lunch: leftover chili sweet slaw wrap
Dinner: Vegan chili & cornbread http://minimalistbaker.com/vegan-cornbread-for-two/

Wednesday
Run 3
Breakfast: Overnight Oats
Lunch: vegan chili & cornbread
Dinner: Out

Plan Feb 18-24 for Mia

Thursday
Breakfast: smoothie
Lunch: leftovers
Dinner: Triple Green Quesidilias

Friday
Breakfast: Pesto Potato Scramble
Lunch: leftover Triple Green Quesidilias
Dinner: Cauli-power fettuccini alfredo http://ohsheglows.com/2014/01/20/cauli-power-fettuccine-alfredo-vegan/

Saturday
Breakfast: Pesto Potato Scramble
Lunch: leftover cauli-power fettuccini alfredo
Dinner: (vegan pizza)

Sunday
Breakfast: Cinnamon Roll Mug cake
Lunch: leftover (vegan pizza)
Dinner: Tofu strips and chips

Monday
Breakfast: Pesto Potato Scramble
Lunch: leftover tofu strips and chips
Dinner: Chili sweet slaw wrap

Tuesday
Breakfast: Cinnamon Roll Mug Cake
Lunch: leftover chili sweet slaw wrap
Dinner: Vegan chili & cornbread http://minimalistbaker.com/vegan-cornbread-for-two/

Wednesday
Breakfast: Pesto Potato Scramble
Lunch: vegan chili & cornbread
Dinner: Southwest spaghetti squash

Pesto Potato Scramble (makes 4 servings)
4 potatoes dice
15-oz can white beans drain, rinse
2 cups fresh basil
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
6 tbsp white wine
½ cup (4-oz) soy or almond milk
hot sauce (your fave) (optional)

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 400F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Rinse potatoes under water but shake off excess (potatoes should be damp).
3. Bake for 8-15 minutes, until fork-tender and golden around the edges.
4. Meanwhile, combine beans, basil, spices and wine in a food processor and pulse until well combined.
5. Add milk as needed to achieve a smooth, creamy consistency.
6. Add more milk to thin, so it's not a thick hummus, more like a rich sauce.
7. Toss baked potatoes with pesto.
8. Drizzle with hot sauce, if desired.

Cinnamon Roll Mug Cake
1/4 c flour1/4 tsp baking powder4 tbsp almond milk1 tbsp honey or maple syrup1/4 tsp vanilla extract1 tbsp brown sugar1/4 tsp cinnamon1 bananaIn a mug, stir all ingredients together except banana. Microwave for 1 min, 25 seconds. Slice banana, sprinkle a little additional cinnamon and top the mug cake and microwave for an additional 30 seconds.


Triple Green Quesadillas (makes 2 servings)
2 garlic cloves mince
6-oz broccoli florets
2 cups fresh spinach
2 flour tortillas
1/2 cup plain hummus

Chipotle Sauce
3-oz plain vegan yogurt
1 chipotle chiles in adobo

To make sauce: Combine yogurt and chipotle pepper in a blender and blend until smooth. Taste and add more chipotle or salt if desired.

Directions:
1. Line a pan with ¼-cup water.
2. Sauté garlic for 30 seconds.
3. Add broccoli and cook, stirring frequently, until bright green and tender.
4. Add spinach and stir while cooking so it softens, cooking until water evaporates.
5. Turn off heat and set aside briefly.
6. Top half of each tortilla with broccoli mixture and a dollop of hummus.
7. Fold over and press down.
8. Toast in a dry nonstick pan for 3-4 mins on each side or until warm and crisp.
9. Drizzle Chipotle Sauce over quesadillas.

Tofu strips  & Chips (makes 2 servings)
15-oz extra-firm tofu drain
1 lemon (juice)
2 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
2 tbsp yellow mustard
1 tsp pure maple syrup
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
¼ tsp smoked paprika
¾ cup breadcrumbs
2 potatoes cut into fries

Tartar Sauce
2 tbsp mayo (or yogurt)
1 tbsp dill relish (or dill pickle)
1 tsp fresh lemon juice

To Make Tartar Sauce: Whisk all ingredients together until well combined.
Tofu strip Directions:
1. Press tofu and slice into 1-inch sticks.
2. Place tofu in dish
3. Whisk 2 tbsp lemon juice with 1 tbsp soy sauce and pour over tofu.
4. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour.
5. Preheat oven to 400F and line a baking sheet with parchment.
6. In a shallow bowl, mix mustard, 2 tbsp lemon juice, 1 tbsp soy sauce, maple syrup, vinegar and paprika together.
7. Place breadcrumbs in a shallow bowl.
8. Dip tofu in the marinade, then press into breadcrumbs, turning to coat.
9. Place breaded tofu on the baking sheet and bake 10 minutes. Gently flip and bake another 10 minutes, or until toasty.

To make “Chips”:
1. Soak fries in cold water 5-10 minutes.
2. Preheat oven to 425F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
3. Drain fries and shake excess water off.
4. Place in single layer with a little space between each fry and bake 10 minutes.
5. Flip and bake 5-15 minutes more, until puffed slightly, golden, and cooked.

Chili Sweet Slaw Wraps (makes 2 servings)
1 cooked sweet potatoes
2 flour tortillas
1/2 can black beans drain, rinse

Chipotle Slaw
3oz plain vegan yogurt
Chili powder
7-oz coleslaw mix

To Chipotle Slaw: Combine yogurt & chili powder. Taste and adjust. Toss with coleslaw mix until lightly but evenly coated.
Directions:
1. Mash sweet potatoes with a fork.
2. Sprinkle with a little chipotle powder for extra heat (optional).
3. Spread mashed potato on tortillas.
4. Top with beans, Slaw and guacamole.
5. Roll up and enjoy.

Easy vegan chili (makes 2 servings)
1 (15-ounce) can black beans
1 (15-ounce) can kidney beans 
1 (7-ounce) can diced tomatoes (with juice)
1 (7-ounce) can enchilada sauce (preferably green-chili style)
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
Combine all in saucepan. Heat & enjoy

Southwest Spaghetti Squash (makes 2 servings)
1 spaghetti squash
2 cups kale steamed
1 cup black beans (1/2 can from earlier this week)
hot sauce (i.e. Cholula) (optional)

Quick Queso
1 cup (8-oz) soy or almond milk
⅓ cup nutritional yeast
3 tbsp flour
1 tsp onion powder
½ tsp garlic powder
½ tsp ground cumin
¼ tsp paprika
¼ tsp chili powder
¼ cup salsa

To make Queso: Whisk milk through chili powder together in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring often. Once it thickens, stir in salsa.
To cook spaghetti squash: Stab squash with a fork and microwave 10-12 mins, or until fork- tender OR slice lengthwise, place in an oven- safe dish face down with 1-inch water. Bake for 30-45 mins at 400F. Remove seedy matter and use a fork to pull away the spaghetti strands.
Directions:
1. Warm Queso in a large pot over low.
2. Stir in cooked squash and use tongs to incorporate until lightly coated.
3. Fold in kale until softer.
4. Fold in black beans.
5. Serve drizzled with hot sauce.

Grocery List:
Cauliflower 1 head
Potatoes 6
garlic 1 head
broccoli 6 oz (1 cup)
spinach 16 oz (2 cups)
lemon 1
sweet potato 1
coleslaw mix 7oz
spaghetti squash 1
kale 16 oz (2 cups)
tofu extra firm 1
can white beans 1
soy/almond milk
flour tortilias 4
hummus 1
vegan yogurt plain 1
can adobo chili 3
panko breadcrumbs 8oz
relish (small- even swiping three or four packets from the food court would probably do)
can black beans 2
can kidney beans 1
can diced tomatoes 7oz
can enchilada sauce 7oz (green is better)

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Plan Feb 11-17

Thursday
Run 4
Yoga & meditation
Breakfast: bagel
Lunch: leftover Puerto Rican Peas
Dinner: Chickpea Stroganoff

Friday
Run 10
Yoga & meditation
Breakfast: bagel
Lunch: leftover Chickpea Stroganoff
Dinner: Enchilada Polenta bowl

Saturday
Undies race!
Yoga & meditation
Breakfast: bagel
Lunch: TBD
Dinner: Broccoli Cheese Rice

Sunday
Yoga & meditation
Breakfast: bagel
Lunch: Chinatown noodles
Dinner: leftovers

Monday
Walk
Yoga & meditation
Breakfast: Polenta Strawberry the
Lunch: leftover Chinatown Noodles
Dinner: Maple Peanut Soba Noodles

Tuesday
Run 4
Yoga & meditation
Breakfast: bagel
Lunch: leftover Maple Peanut Soba Noodles
Dinner: Mediterranean Flatbread

Wednesday
Walk
Yoga & meditation
Breakfast: Blueberry Mug cake
Lunch: leftover Mediterranean Flatbread
Dinner: "Chorizo" soup

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Plan February 4 - 10

Thursday
Run 9
Yoga & abs
Breakfast: bagel
Lunch: leftovers
Dinner: out

Friday
Run 5
Yoga & abs
Breakfast: sweet potato quesidilas
Lunch: out
Dinner: orange broccoli tofu

Saturday
Yoga & abs
Breakfast: strawberry shortcake polenta
Lunch: leftovers
Dinner: vegan pot pie

Sunday
Yoga & abs
Breakfast: vegan cinnamon rolls
Superbowl food: seitan buffalo wings,  vegan spinach artichoke dip in bread bowl, chips & salsa, veggies

Monday
Run 3
Yoga & abs
Breakfast: leftovers
Lunch: green smoothie
Dinner: falafel'd quiona

Tuesday
Run 4
Yoga & abs
Breakfast: bagel
Lunch: leftovers
Dinner: nacho burritos

Wednesday
Walk
Yoga & abs
Breakfast: leftovers
Lunch: green smoothie
Dinner: Puerto Rican rice

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Vegan meal plan for Mia #3

Variation of last week's plan, using your ingredients.

Thursday
Lunch: leftover pasta Dinner: cheezy taco bowl (see below)

Friday
Breakfast: garbanzo bean patty breakfast sandwich
Lunch: leftover cheezy taco bowl
Dinner: Mushroom Stroganoff (http://www.oneingredientchef.com/mushroom-stroganoff)

Saturday 
Breakfast: bagels & vegan cream cheese 
Lunch: leftover mushroom stroganoff 
Dinner: curried tofu avocado wraps (http://www.onegreenplanet.org/vegan-recipe/crispy-curry-tofu-wrap-with-homemade-tortillas-and-avocado-mayo/)

Sunday 
Breakfast: mango & pineapple 
Lunch: leftover curried tofu avocado wraps 
Dinner: cookbook club (wild rice gratin and spicy peanuts) (http://www.fullforkahead.com/2012/11/09/wild-rice-gratin-with-kale-caramelized-onions-baby-swiss/   http://betterwithcake.com/anytime/spicy-brittled-peanuts/)

Monday
Breakfast: Cinnamon Roll Mug Cake (See below)
Lunch: leftover cheezy taco bowl 
Dinner: crispy kung pao cauliflower (http://www.veganricha.com/2016/01/kung-pao-cauliflower.html)

Tuesday
Breakfast: Blueberry Breakfast bar
Lunch: leftover crispy kung pao cauliflower
Dinner: Chickpea Enchilada Wraps (see below)

Wednesday
Breakfast: Cinnamon Roll Mug Cake
Lunch: leftover chickpea enchilada wrap
Dinner: 8 minute black bean soup (http://www.oneingredientchef.com/black-bean-soup/)

Cheesy taco bowl (makes 2 servings)
1½ cups cooked brown rice
1½-3 tsp Taco Seasoning
½ cup prepared black beans
¼ cup salsa
hot sauce
Queso
1 cup (8-oz) soy or almond milk
⅓ cup nutritional yeast
3 tbsp flour
1 tsp onion powder
½ tsp garlic powder
¼ tsp chili powder
To make Queso: Whisk all ingredients together in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring often. Once it thickens slightly, set aside.
Directions:
1. Toss cooked rice with taco seasoning until it's lightly coated, or to taste.
2. Fold in beans.
3. Spoon into serving bowls and top with warm Queso and cool salsa. Alternatively mix salsa into Queso.
4. Drizzle with hot sauce and garnish with cilantro if desired.

Chickpea enchilada wraps (makes 2 servings)
1/2 can chickpeas
1 tsp low-sodium soy sauce
1 tbsp taco seasoning
1 cooked sweet potatoes
2 flour tortillas
1 cup shredded cabbage
1/2 cup enchilada sauce (freeze the rest)
Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 400F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Drain chickpeas but do not rinse.
3. In a mixing bowl, combine chickpeas with soy sauce and taco seasoning, stirring until evenly coated.
4. Place prepared chickpeas on your baking sheet and bake 20-25 minutes, or until golden and crispy but not hard.
5. Allow chickpeas to cool slightly, then mash with a fork until no whole beans are left but it's still chunky. Set aside.
6. In another bowl, mash cooked sweet potatoes with a fork or potato masher, adding a little Taco Seasoning if desired.
7. Spread mashed potatoes on each tortilla.
8. Top with mashed chickpeas, shredded cabbage and guacamole. (Alternatively, toss cabbage with guacamole for a slaw).
9. Drizzle enchilada sauce in wrap and roll- up OR roll-up and drizzle sauce over top.

Crispy Kung Pao Cauliflower
INGREDIENTS
For the Baked Crispy Cauliflower
¼ cup + 1 tbsp corn starch or other starch
¼ cup + 2 tbsp bread crumbs (use gluten-free crumbs to make gf)
¼ cup + 1 tbsp or more water
2 tsp soy sauce
¼ tsp salt
1 tsp oil
1 medium head of cauliflower, chopped into florets
For the Kung Pao sauce:
1 small jar hosin sauce
2 to 3 tbsp chopped cashews
INSTRUCTIONS
Chop up the cauliflower and keep aside. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Mix the cornstarch breadcrumbs, and the rest of the ingredients to make a batter. Let the batter sit for 10 seconds to thicken if it isn't thick. The cornstarch continues to thicken the batter, so as soon as it is a good not too watery consistency, start dipping the cauliflower in the batter, tap to drop excess and place on parchment lined baking sheet. If the batter thickens too much while working, add a tsp or more water and mix in and continue.
Bake for 30 minutes or longer until the florets are cooked through. Check with a toothpick/knife
Meanwhile heat the sauce. Add the nuts and mix for a few seconds, reduce heat to medium low and continue to cook 4 to 5 minutes. Stir occasionally.
Arrange the baked cauliflower in a shallow bowl in one layer. When ready to serve, Drizzle the sauce over each floret. Serve.
To store, store the baked cauliflower and sauce separately. Heat the sauce, pour over the florets. To serve with rice/cooked grains, double the sauce mix and bring to a boil to thicken, toss in the cauliflower and serve immediately over rice.

Cinnamon Roll Mug Cake
1/4 c flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
4 tbsp almond milk
1 tbsp honey or maple syrup
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp brown sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 banana

In a mug, stir all ingredients together except banana. Microwave for 1 min, 25 seconds. Slice banana, sprinkle a little additional cinnamon and top the mug cake and microwave for an additional 30 seconds.