Paleo Plan: The first few days

So, apparently I still know how to log in here.

I needed a place to write up my thoughts about trying out Paleo Plan, and this seemed like as good a place as any.

Intuitively, I like the idea of the “paleo” diet (though I’m not a huge fan of its adherents). An emphasis on whole foods, with a side effect of being lower carb by default (and not to hard to make totally low carb) seems like something that should work for me. Nerd 2 and I gave “going paleo” a try for a couple of months last year but couldn’t stick with it, non-paleo foods are just so much easier. And so very _there_, you know? I also felt a fair bit of guilt over foisting such a drastic lifestyle change on Nerd 2 when I had no reason to believe that it would do any good.

Anyways, between trainings and deployment, Nerd 2 is going to be out of the picture for the vast majority of 2014. In addition, 2014 is looking to be a crazy year for me what with working a new job, graduating school, bar exam, then (hopefully) working an even more stressful new job and all. I tend to be a bit control freaky in the kitchen, but I think that this year is not such a bad time let go a little, and have someone else tell me what to do.

Enter Paleo Plan. The basic idea is that for $10/month, they will prepare paleo friendly meal plans for 2 adults, cross-indexed to a shopping list and their recipe database. Essentially taking the thought out of meal planning, but still allowing me the actual cooking time that I enjoy.  They have a 14 day trial period, and I figured I’d test it out while Nerd 2 is away on his first stint.

Shopping

Right now, it’s Tuesday of my first week. I went shopping last Saturday. The shopping list was _long_. Even with trying (to some extent) to size things down for 1 person and taking into account the staples that I already have around the house, it was the fullest my shopping cart had been in a long time. I probably spend 20 minutes in the produce section getting everything together. The checkout lady even complimented my “healthy eating”. All told, I spent about $136 at Cub Foods to get most of the items on the list. I needed to make another detour to Mississippi Market for tapioca flour for another $5ish. This is a pretty high grocery bill for me (especially considering that Nerd 2 isn’t eating off of this), but the plan is structured to cover breakfast and lunch and will hopefully help me kill off my nasty skyway lunch habit.

Recipes

The recipes (which are all available for free on their site here) have been hit and miss so far. They seem like they were either written by someone who doesn’t have a lot of cooking technique, or someone who does have a lot of cooking knowledge but isn’t good at writing recipes. That being said, they are simple enough to improve on the fly if you have a bit of a clue about working in the kitchen.

For example, let’s take the Teriyaki Chicken that I made last night (that was supposed to be Monday night’s meal, but I have switched some meals around in order to better plan for freezing and thawing and ripening based on a Saturday shopping day — that’s something that I wish the Plan did better by default). First, I am not sure what universe there is that this recipe counts as Teriyaki Chicken. Pineapple? Really? If it had been called Hawaiian Chicken, I could have believed that.  Next, the cooking order seemed a little broken: cooking onions at the same time as _all_ the chicken? It seemed like a recipe for overcrowding the pan and getting disappointing caramelization.  Instead, I browned the chicken in batches, then sweated the onions some before adding the rest of the veggies and returning the chicken – pretty standard stir-fry technique. The recipe is also desperately lacking in spices – if I make it again, I’ll be liberally adding garlic/ginger, but as it was I just ended up dousing heavily with sriracha after it was finished (sriracha has a fair bit of sugar, but for the 80/20 paleo that I’m trying to achieve here it’s just fine).

The Gingery Broccoli Beef was similarly underwhelming. Which is pretty hilarious if you look at the comments on the recipe complaining about how “spicy” it is. Sigh.

On the other hand, these Pumpkin Flatbreads were pretty amazingly good. Entirely worth making an extra trip for the tapioca flour, and they solve a standard breakfast time problem for me — I tend to eat breakfast on the go, and for that I usually need something wrapped in something. So tortillas or lefse or bread or other non-paleo things end up sneaking in right first thing in the morning which just throws the whole day off. They are pretty carby, but I’m not trying to go into ketosis or anything here so I’ll take it.

So, after the first few days, it seems to be going OK. I’m not blown away (except by the flatbreads), and I’m going to need to insert my brain into things more than I had hoped (but hopefully it’s just things like reordering the meals on the schedule, upping the spice level, and tinkering with technique). I’ll definitely ride this out through the 14 day trial, and maybe pay for one month while Nerd 2 is around.

i like my coffee like i like my sofas: covered in hexapuffs?

I’ll admit to being charmed by the concept of the Beekeeper’s Quilt that is kind of taking the knitting world by storm right now.

Copyright Tiny Owl Knits

Copyright Tiny Owl Knits

Pretty soon, Ravelry will be swarmed by them. They do look pretty sweet. I wouldn’t want to get stung by the pain of sewing all the pieces together however, so I’m staying very far away from even thinking about starting this sticky project.

Copyright Tiny Owl Knits

copyright Tiny Owl Knits

But what I did want to share is the amazing mind that is Tiny Owl Knits, the mastermind behind this pattern. If you think that this blanket is batshit…. wait until you meet the designer:

the beekeeper’s quilt from tinyowlknits on Vimeo.

today’s emotional deck* rollercoaster?

Finding out that a mistake that caused the team to mix 10 extra bags of concrete (at a cost of ~$30), will actually save over $150 in hardware and lumber (as opposed to involving the use of a something called a “demo saw”, or digging up and repouring sixteen 48″ footings).

*I might have mentioned that I’m building a deck, if I ever updated this blog anymore.

Still Alive — 101 Things Update

Days Remaining: 775
Things accomplished: 7/101

(note to self — pick up the pace)

Here are the things that I’ve finished since the last time I updated:

  • 28. Brew a cider
    • My first cider (probably technically a cyser) was 5 gallons of cider from Pine Tree Apple Orchard, 1 lb honey, 1 lb brown sugar and 1 packet Lalvin champagne yeast. It was a huge hit at the New Year’s Eve party, and the keg was killed shortly after that, making me sad that I didn’t have another one brewing.
  • 50. Can things, eat them the following winter
    • 12 half pints of salsa (Spicy Tomato Salsa from this book)
    • 6 pints of tomato sauce
    • I’m about halfway through using up the salsa and the tomato sauce. The half-pint jars were definitely the way to go for the salsa (it’s a single serving which is pretty awesome), tomato sauce should probably go in quart jars next year.
  • 75. Paint the basement living room
    • Technically, the doors still need painting, but the room got debuted at New Years and is generally usable, so I’m happy.
  • 73. Buy a new tv or projector

Things in Progress:

  • 7. Build emergency fund to 6 months (70%)
    • getting back on track with this, but I will admit that I’ve been letting myself dip into this fund for non-emergencies more than I should.
  • 11. Read Gravity’s Rainbow
    • I started on this over Christmas break but had to put it down when school started again — probably a mistake. I’ll try to pick it up again after finals.
  • 54. Learn to make 3 different salsas (1/3)
    • Spicy Tomato Salsa

Want to see the whole list? Click here!

on getting “womaned”

Dear Cigar Store employee,

I get it it. You work in a specialty retail store. I go to those sometimes. While I wouldn’t say that you sell anything cheap, you’ve got a range of products that appeal from the casual devotee to the types of people that are referred to in movies about Las Vegas as large marine mammals.

I get that I don’t fit the demographic of those latter, most profitable customers. Hell, I’m probably too ignorant of what goes into the products that you sell to even fit into the former category. But here’s the thing, I had something to celebrate this week. And I wanted a damn cigar.

I could have grabbed something from the “humidor” box at any of a dozen “TOBACCO” stores that I drive my everyday, but as someone who tries to have an appreciation for those things in life that can be appreciated, I wanted better. And I was willing to pay for quality, and for good service and the benefit of your years of experience to help me find the one thing that was right for me.

Obviously, I wasn’t there to spend hundreds of dollars with you. But, I didn’t want to waste your time. I walked in your (smelly) door, intending to make a purchase. I hadn’t done too much research, but I’d put some thought into what I like (I’m a chocolate, malty beer, and fatty steak kind of girl), and how I thought the cigar that I might end up liking would pair with such things. And you’d know that, if you had been willing to spend more than 30 seconds making the sale yesterday.

You know, maybe that $9 number that you pulled off the top shelf and handed to me without asking anything about my tastes will, in fact, be the ultimate cigar experience for me (I’ll admit it, it smells yummy). But would it have hurt you to explain why you thought I would like it? Or tell me something about the product? Or how it compares to others that you have in stock — I was willing to spend more, after all?

So, the good news is, you made your (under $10) sale. I think you’ve guessed the bad news by now. As a girl with tastes that admittedly tend to run more “masculine”, I’m pretty used to dealing with employees who might have a bias against me before I open my mouth. But the trick with all those “boy” stores that I love and keep going back to? Their employees don’t treat me like I don’t belong there. They offer help if it looks like I need it, they listen when I have questions or ideas that I want to run by them, and they realize that I’m a good customer who wants to learn from them, even as she buys from them.  Sure, they might treat women like idiots sometimes…but only the ones who deserve it. The upshot is that those little $10 purchases that I might have started out with? Have lead to hundreds, if not thousands of dollars in purchases over the years, plus positive recommendations to my friends.

CSE, this could have been a wonderful friendship, you could have been a contender. Seriously, I’m sure that there will be a time in my life when I do need/want to drop some serious money on high-end tobacco products. But it won’t be with you guys.

p.s. on second thought… maybe it’s because I’m blackCanadian?

101 things update

It’s been a little while, so why don’t we catch up with what I’ve been up to?

Total Things Finished: 3/101
Days remaining: 926
To see the whole list with progress, click here.

New finished things:

  • 20. Buy new windows laptop for school
    • Picked up a Toshiba Satellite T235 before classes started, it’s working out really well so far.
  • 43. Cure/smoke my own bacon
    • Holy crap… so good.
    • I picked up a 10lb pork belly from Osseo Meats this weekend, and today I started curing three 3lb slabs:
      • Basic Dry Cure (from Charcuturie)
      • Basic + Maple Syrup
      • Basic + Garlic, Bay Leaves, and Juniper Berries

Bacon!
Things in Progress:

  • 28. Brew a cider
    • 5 gallons of cider from Pine Tree Apple Orchard, 1 lb honey, 1 lb brown sugar and 1 packet Lalvin champagne yeast have been making friends in my basement since 9/19/10
  • 50. Can things, eat them the following winter
    • 12 half pints of salsa (Spicy Tomato Salsa from this book)
    • 6 pints of tomato sauce

Tomato Sauce

  • 73. Buy a new tv or projector
    • I discovered that my hand-me-down 40″ finally died (after 18 years of service in two countries).  I’m currently investigating different brands/technologies.
  • 3 . Save 3/4 of the way to a new car (0.125%)
    • The urgency of this one got lessened, due to the arrival of Upgrayedd in August, but I still like the idea of having a car’s worth of money to blow when I finish my JD.

and my fingernails are still dirty

I’ve never really had much luck with root vegetables (I distrust vegetables when I can’t see the important part growing), but yesterday I dug up, cleaned, and hung about 70 or so bells of garlic, so maybe my luck is changing?

Garlic

Some of the bells were smaller than I might have liked (especially the ones that I didn’t bother to re-cut the scapes on — scapes grow back… who knew?!), and I’m annoyed that I can’t find the notebook in which I carefully noted which of the three varieties that I bought from Territorial Seeds last fall were planted where.  But, all in all, I’m pretty happy with this little experiment.

Full Harvest

For now at least — I’m still a little paranoid about the drying process.

my three songs

It must say something about how badly I need this weekend to start that I can’t get any of these songs out of my head…

Har Mar Superstar – Tall Boy (Crack it open with me)

LMFAO – Shots (I still blame you for this, Willis)

Electric Six – Improper Dance (now with bonus Techno Viking!)

the concise edition

Not that I want to turn this blog into a place where I constantly whine about school, but I’d just like to state that I just ordered 2/3rds of my textbooks for first semester. They cost me $460, and it took a freaking spreadsheet to sort out which editions of which books go with which courses and are actually available on Amazon.

I guess I realize now how spoiled I was in grad school where the program admin just bought all our textbooks for us. (I still love you Kim!)

Anyways… here are six paper cranes, because it wouldn’t do to be behind after less than a week now, would it?

Cranes 006

one hundred and one

I wasn’t planning on starting with this 101 things to do in 1001 days so soon, but I found myself with a fair bit of free time this weekend and the motivation to get started on some of the things here, so I guess I’d better start today — otherwise I’d need to come up with more things.

What follows is a list of 101 things that I intend to accomplish by April 14th, 2013, 1001 days from now.  Why? I’ve realized of late that I need more practice in setting good goals (simple, measurable, achievable, results-oriented, and timely) and this seemed like a good way to think about what I really want to do with the next 2.7 or so years of my life — besides working to pay the bills, and furthering my education.

To be honest, this is a pretty ambitious list, given what my free time is going to look like soon.  So, I’m entering this project with permission to decide that I don’t have to do every last thing.  This is just a list of some things that are important to me, right now.

Legend: Italics means the thing is in progress, strikethrough means it’s done.

Adulthood

  • 1 .   Reevaluate homeowners insurance
    • I’ve never really done a proper inventory of all of the valuable things I owned to make sure they are properly covered, in the event that something horrible happens.  I also didn’t modify the insured value of the house when I got the windows replaced.
  • 2.    Get re-certified in CPR
    • The Red Cross just started sending me reminders.
  • 3 .   Save 3/4 of the way to a new car (0.006%)
    • This will go faster, once #7 below is finished
  • 4.    Get engaged
    • So gross.
  • 5.    Make a will
  • 6.    Make a living will
  • 7.    Build emergency fund to 6 months (60%)
  • 8 .   Talk to a financial planner
  • 9 .   Donate 1 gallon of blood   (0/8 pints)
  • 10.   Get my US and Canadian credit reports/scores
    • I haven’t really cared about my credit score since I bought the house. The US one should be pretty immaculate (I have much better credit habits now than 5-6 years ago), but  I should probably at least make sure there isn’t anything negative/inaccurate on there.

Culture

  • 11.    Read Gravity’s Rainbow
  • 12 .   Read Akira
  • 13.    Watch Breakfast at Tiffany’s
  • 14 .   Learn Rush’s music
    • Sometimes, I feel like a bad Canadian because I pretty much only knows the songs that are in Rock Band.
  • 15 .   Watch the Evil Dead series
    • It’s my secret nerd shame that I haven’t actually _seen_ any of these movies.  I know what a boom-stick is though.
  • 16.    Visit the Minnesota Institute of Arts

Education

  • 17.    Finish my Master’s degree
    • I pretty much only have to come up with a topic for, and then actually write, a mini-thesis. I’m thinking that I might try to convince my advisor to let me do something that will mesh well with my legal education – like an examination of the current legal climate for intellectual property, or the like.
  • 18.    Participate in Law Review contest
    • This is a little bit of insanity that happens immediately after exams in first year.  I wish I could skip it, but being on Law Review will be extremely important for my job prospects come 2014.
  • 19.    Finish 2L year
    • At a part time pace, this should take me about 2.5 years.
  • 20.    Buy new windows laptop for school

    • Technically, I bought one yesterday, but I’m not sure if I like it enough to keep it, yet.
  • 21 .   Create a viable study space/sanctuary

Health and Fitness

  • 22.    Get below 220lbs
  • 23.    Do 100 pushups
  • 24.    Do yoga 5 times
    • Basically, the idea is to decide if I like it.  Other people seem to like it, so…
  • 25.    Ride my bicycle to work and back
  • 26.    Find an exercise program/schedule that is compatible with work and school

Homebrewing

  • 27.    Enter the MN State Fair home brew competition
    • Mainly to get impartial feedback on my beers, so I can gain more confidence.
  • 28.    Brew a cider
  • 29.    Brew an all grain beer
  • 30.    Design better homebrew labels
  • 31.    Become BJCP certified
    • Again, this is more about increasing my confidence in the quality of my home brew. Also, it is a good excuse to drink more beer.
  • 32.    Convert both keggles
    • I obtained a couple of commercial beer kegs that Joe & Missy didn’t want in their house anymore, and, with Nerd 2’s help, I’m converting them into the most awesome brew kettle/mash tun pair possible (examples).  Today, I learned to use a plasma cutter to cut the lids off.

Crafts

  • 33.    Enter a sweater at the state fair
  • 34.    Sew/make and awesome costume for Halloween or Con
  • 35.    Dye yarn at home
  • 36.    Weave something
  • 37.    Take a beading class
  • 38.    Finish 7 sweaters or shawls (0/7)
    • I’ve got yarn for far more than that, I just lack time.
  • 39.    Design and publish a knitting pattern
  • 40.    Knit the Great American Afghan
  • 41.     Determine the amount of yarn I can knit in 1 year
  • 42.    Reduce yarn stash to < 3 years worth

Food & Liquor

  • 43.    Cure/smoke my own bacon
    • I picked up a 10lb pork belly from Osseo Meats this weekend, and today I started curing three 3lb slabs:
      • Basic Dry Cure (from Charcuturie)
      • Basic + Maple Syrup
      • Basic + Garlic, Bay Leaves, and Juniper Berries
  • 44.    Make a list of 10 favourite cocktails, memorize how to make them (0/10)
  • 45.    Make simple syrup, make something with it.
  • 46.    Make sour mix, make something with it
  • 47.    Make puff-puffs
    • A yummy Nigerian fry-bread variant
  • 48.    Learn to appreciate scotch and whisk(e)y
    • It’s just distilled beer — why don’t I like it?
  • 49.    Start my basic methods cookbook – 20 “recipes”
    • I like being able to throw recipes together using very simple guidelines. I figure other people might enjoy the same.
  • 50.    Can things, eat them the following winter
  • 51.    Decorate (and serve to other people!) cupcakes that I’m not ashamed of
  • 52 .   Decorate (and serve to other people!) a cake that I’m not ashamed of
  • 53.    Make hummus from raw garbanzos
    • The fact that I did this today is what is forcing me to edit/post this list now.
  • 54.    Learn to make 3 different salsas
  • 55.    Find a decent recipe for coleslaw
  • 56.    Make kumbocha
  • 57.    Make 10 pan sauces, at least one without followinga recipe (1/10)
    • they don’t have to be different, I just want to learn the process

Motorcyle

  • 58.    Learn to change the oil on my motorcycle
  • 59.    Install frame sliders on my motorcycle
  • 60.    Take a 200 mile ride on my motorcycle
  • 61.     Take a 400 mile ride on my motorcycle

Miscellaneous Hobbies

  • 62.    Make a firework that both leaves the ground and explodes (and is a pretty colour)
    • This is probably the most dangerous, illegal, and fun item on this list.
  • 63.    Buy a bass guitar
  • 64.    Learn to play bass guitar
    • I need a better definition of “done” for this one, I’m thinking it will be something along the lines of learning the bass line to Tank! (the Cowboy Bebop Theme) and a couple of other good bass songs of my choosing.
  • 65.    Find a geocache
  • 66.    Learn to weld

House

  • 67.    Clear off soffits in kitchen, destash or reorganize the stuff that’s up there
  • 68.    Develop a spice organization system
  • 69.    Organize digital music – ID3 tags, album art, playlists
  • 70.    Rearrange living room
    • I have a plan, but it involves moving a 55 gallon fish tank, and a 40″ CRT TV from the late 80s.  This is not something to be undertaken lightly.
  • 71.    Organize library
  • 72.    Build a deck
  • 73.    Buy a new tv or projector
  • 74.    Finish the basement bathroom
  • 75.    Paint the basement living room
  • 76.    Fix landscaping in front of the house
  • 77.    Revive dead front lawn
  • 78.    Take 5 pictures worthy of framing and hanging up on my wall
  • 79.    Buy a new office chair
  • 80.    Deal with the basketcase  in the garage
    • Left behind by my ex, apparently it’s most of the pieces to a late seventies Harley Sportster.

Random

  • 81.    Fold 1000 paper cranes (0/1000)
    • Yes, I get a day off

Social

  • 82.    Host a LAN party
  • 83.    Host a movie night
  • 84.    Host a dinner party
  • 85.    Throw a surprise party for someone

Tech/Geeky

  • 86.    Publish a smartphone app
  • 87.   143 blog posts (average of one per week) (0/143)
  • 88.   Learn basic strategies to not suck at Starcraft 2 or another RTS
  • 89.    Set up media/file server PC
  • 90.    Improve my graphic design and web tech skills enough to design a custom theme for the blog
  • 91.    Write a 101 things widget for wordpress
  • 92.    Attend a technical user group meeting
  • 93.    Sell/Donate Toshiba Satellite

Travel

  • 94.    Go to Japan
    • Given that Nerd 2 and I are both in school now, this is probably ambitious.  It might end up being planned as a mutual graduation present.
  • 95.    Go backpacking
  • 96.    Visit 3 national parks
  • 97.    Visit Lake Itasca
  • 98.    Visit the BWCA

Work

  • 99.    Read The Now Habit and Getting Things Done
  • 100.    Make an intentional job switch within my software engineering career
  • 101.    Write honest feedback for the person who needs feedback written

Acknowledgments: Thanks to Dan for introducing me to the idea, and Jenni and Wendy for taking the idea and running with it.  I’m pretty sure that I’ve got lots of stuff on here that was inspired by (if not stolen whole-cloth) from their lists.