Day 1 – Back in the saddle

I did it! ♥

I didn’t do it perfectly but I did what I set out to do today – eat light, not consume sugar, meat, or heavy carbs, and start my journey out strong.  I am rounding my day out with finishing one of my last real estate courses online, feeding my two favorite Rottie pups a tasty dinner, and mellowing in the fact that I kept my promises to myself today.  I accomplished all this while having a very stressful day at work, filled with clenched fists, a furrowed brow that occupied my forehead for the majority of the day, and a strong desire to quit by way of eating chocolate with my co-workers (it is post-Halloween season in our workplace after all).  But in the end, I didn’t quit on myself and for that I am proud.

I have found that the key is truly taking it one day at a time.  Anyone can do anything for one day of their life so I chose to focus on that.  I vow to do right by my body for just today.  Tomorrow doesn’t exist and I can’t erase the heavy mistakes of my past so I chose not to dwell on them.  I chose not to defeat myself based on prior transgressions.  By focusing on today, and today only, I can simplify my existence and tackle the present.  Whatever you do, focus only on today and by tomorrow, the process will have begun and success will be your new reality.

So for today, I won.  I conquered what I set out to do and tomorrow I will wake up and do it again.  Just for that one day, and that one day after that.  Until what I have vowed to create has taken on a life of its own and I find myself a changed woman, one day at a time.

I have to do this

Not to take away any of the seriousness of my feelings but, and I quote my all-time, favorite movie Dumb & Dumber when I say, “I am sick and tired of being sick and tired.”  No words have rang more true than those do right now.  November 5th, 2019.  Los Angeles, California, United States of America.  I am thirty-five years old and happily married.  I have a solid, stable career that, while it may be frustrating at times (let’s be honest, whose career isn’t?), provides for a wonderful life.  It didn’t come easily and I have earned every moment of it.  Irregardless of that, I am pursuing yet another professional advancement for myself.  Rooted in a genuine interest in real estate, I am mere moments away from finishing my third and final required course in pursuit of my California salesperson license in real estate.

After tackling and completing my Bachelor’s degree this past Spring, I am proud of myself for striving for my real estate license and happy on the inside that this new pursuit is almost complete.  Once my classes are done, I will get fingerprinted (which is then run through the FBI database to ensure I am not a murderous, raping thief), identify if I want to be signed on with a broker from the beginning, and provide the details behind my college-age DUI arrest.  While I regard it as one of the lowest and most shameful moments in my life thus far, it certainly pushed me to learn and make significant behavioral and mental changes.  If not for my DUI, I may not be where I am today and, for that, I am oddly thankful.

Needless to say, I have been busy during the past year.  Just prior to my return to college in the Fall of 2018, I had my fifth knee surgery in July.  And just prior to that surgery, I had gotten into the best shape of my life.  What started out as a weight-loss challenge among co-workers, turned into a breakthrough journey of personal triumph.  For years I had wanted it and last Summer I finally got it;  ‘it’ being a substantial weight loss and, more importantly, the best version of me.  I became disciplined, focused and inspiring to myself.  I forged a path on my own, creating a meal plan, a rhythm, and an entirely new life.  I lost 22 pounds and I gained a renewed vision of happiness, sexiness, and joy in achieving my goals.

And then I threw it all away.  Not right away and not all at once but, maybe even worse, I tossed it out slowly.  I went back to my old ways of doing things, I gave up my focus and all of the positive, self-taught lessons went with it.  I quit on myself, despite telling myself so many times that I wouldn’t, not anymore.  It angers and saddens me because we should be our own biggest supporters in life – after all, we only have one body and one life.  Such an easy principle, yet it is outrageously difficult to abide by.

So here I am, on November 5th, 2019, weighing more than I would like to.  Here I am, putting it all out there – on the scale, on the blog, and off my conscious.  I know that I found my motivation before and I will muster it up again.  I also know that I developed a plan that worked.  If I am able to implement my plan again, I will once again prove that I am strong and capable of anything.  I will also prove that my plan works and if it works for me, it just might work for you.  But before I get ahead of myself, let me officially kick off my journey once more.

I will weigh in tomorrow morning and many mornings after that.  I will follow my diet, track my intake, make wise choices and keep pushing forward.  I will invest in myself and, in turn, I will invest in my relationship, my family, my job, my friends, and my future, because by being the best version of me, I am able to give that best version to all of those that I touch.  By loving me and continuing to improve my existence, I will be better equipped to love those around me (that means you Hugo).

So, I leave you with my excitement and fear, as well as my will to succeed.  I will take it one day at a time and keep you updated along the way.  Trust and believe that I will succeed – we only have one life to live and one body to live it in so why not make ’em the best we can.

P.S.:  Sorry for the long hiatus.  Pray for rain in California, success on my journey, and more frequent posts to boot!

Love & nourishment

I am sure you have gathered that Hugo is nothing short of a fantastic, near -perfect husband by now and you wouldn’t not be wrong in that assessment.  I only say ‘near-perfect’ because we are all human and none of us are perfect; should one come close though, it would be my Hugo.  Throughout the past fifteen years together, he has only grown more loving, thoughtful and caring, about both my wants and needs.  One of my recent ‘wants’ has been an easy transition into vegetarianism and thankfully Hugo has also embraced this lifestyle change with open and willing arms.

Because he loves to cook (and I love to eat), Hugo has been making some delicious, meat-free meals for his love bug (yes, that’s me).  I decided it would be nice to share some of those recipes here, in hopes of bringing a little more vegetarian love into your home this weekend.

A few weeks ago, Hugo made Chef John’s Mushroom Burgers and they were to die for.  Pan fry and pair them with some sliced avocado, sauteed onions, melted cheese and a toasted brioche bun and you have yourself one of the best and healthiest burger options possible.

After basking in mushroom burger-goodness for three solid days, Hugo decided to make Bon Appetit’s version of Ratatouille Pasta.  This perfect blend of late Summer veggies transform into a decadent and satisfying dish, unlike any other veggie pasta meal we have had.

My hope in sharing these recipes is that someone, or a few someones, out there, in the great big world, will find some joy and healthy nourishment out of food that is both good for the body and our struggling planet.  Just this week, one of the largest headlines concerns the fact that the Amazon rain forest is burning down, due to farmers clearing land to raise cattle.  While we all know growing food and raising animals require cleared pastures and fields, it is disturbing and sad to see our of our most bio-diverse areas, that is responsible for producing 20% of the world’s oxygen, disappearing at an alarming rate.

If not for your health, or the animal welfare aspect, of choosing to be vegetarian, maybe, just maybe, do it for our planet.  We are all in this together and if we don’t start making decisions as individuals for the greater good, we are all going to be royally fucked.

 

Pumpkin Ice Cream to die for…and awaiting the results of Cinnamon Sugar Apple Cake

Spending a warm, Saturday afternoon making use of two leftover apples in our fridge.  We are watching Anchorman on TV as the Cinnamon Sugar Apple Cake from Pinch of Yum has twenty-five minutes left on the timer.  It smells amazing so I will advise of the results shortly ♥

Earlier this week, in celebration of my visiting Mom, I made Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream from Chef Nick Holcomb on the Food Network website.  Hugo, Mom and I ate several servings (a day) of this delicious recipe and I am happy to report this just might be the best ice cream I have ever had.  I used Pacific Foods Organic Pumpkin Puree, rather than fresh pumpkin, and it turned out beyond perfect.  Not only did it check the ‘festive’ box, in honor of Halloween this week, but it hit a delicious, perfectly spiced note in our hearts.

Although my Dad doesn’t make too many super sweet desserts anymore, after developing type II diabetes and drastically altering his diet, I carry on his love of cooking, baking and preparing food for the ones you love with your bare hands.  I love the process of baking, love the sweet smells emanating from the kitchen through the entire house and love even more the feeling of making Hugo’s belly full and pleased.  And that is all sure to be accomplished just as soon as this apple cake comes out of the oven.

Glowing skin

One of my favorite daily rituals (that sometimes occurs several times a day) is washing my face and caring for my skin.  My process begins with removing my makeup, if it happens to be the end of a long work day, by way of a cleaning towel or makeup remover.  Then, I scrub my face with whatever cleanser I happen to have in my rotation that month.  I tend to buy different cleaners, from either Origins, Whole Foods or Amazon, but they always fall under the same category of being chemical-free and possessing as many organic ingredients as possible.  I am always sure to thoroughly read the ingredients on every label, as well as the fine print.  This is an important step that I feel a lot of women tend to overlook since they may be more concerned with a desired outcome, such as anti-aging or acne, than what is actually in the product.  My philosophy has always been to value the quality of skin products just as highly as you value the quality of the food going into your mouth.  After all, your skin is your largest organ so it should be treated with love and respect.

After cleaning, I pat my skin dry and sometimes (yes, only sometimes), I use a light toner to remove excess dirt and grimy makeup residue.  Then it’s on to my favorite part – moisturizing!  I can’t tell you how many times, especially in recent years, I have found myself yelling to Hugo in the house about how much I am enjoying applying moisturizer to my face and neck (I will get back to the importance of moisturizing your neck in a minute).  There’s just something so enjoyable about cleansing and properly moisturizing a clean face that brings joy to my heart ♥  It makes me feel refreshed and beautiful – who couldn’t ask for a better way to start or end every day.

Keeping up with my healthy skin regimen really improves my glow and overall complexion.  Over the past month, several women that I work with have told me that my skin is glowing and it looks beautiful.  It feels really nice to be told that and I normally attribute my clear skin to what I am eating (organic, balanced diet) and my skincare regimen.  But tonight it occurred to me, I have been doing one other little thing that I completely forgot about – using argan oil mixed in with my moisturizer.

I bought a little bottle of organic argan oil about six months ago, after hearing about its beneficial applications for skin, hair and nails.  At times I will rub a few drops in my palms and finger-comb it through my hair, rub it over my eyebrows and massage the rest into my hands and fingernail beds.  It feels nice but it makes you look as if you have super oily, un-showered hair.  That’s normally alright though because I will just do it right before bed and then wake up to shower it out.

Since I have had this same bottle of argan oil hanging around on the bathroom counter for months, slowly chipping away at it, I decided to start mixing it with my tried-and-true Alba hawaiian facial moisturizer.  Hugo and I have been using that face cream for years and it is truly fabulous – lightweight, clean and refreshing.  Now, I cranked it up a notch with a few drops of argan oil and the results have been noticeable to those around me.

Final note – always moisturize your neck!  I will never forget reading a short article years ago about the importance for women, and men for that matter, to always give love to their neck skin throughout their lives.  Point being that we tend to give a lot of attention to our face in general, eye area and crows feet, and mouth and smile lines, yet the neck sometimes get forgotten.  Then, in later years, there may be a stark contrast between the face and neck skin.  I am firmly committed to always thoroughly moisturizing my neck and I am sure to remind Hugo that one day in the future, when I am a svelte seventy-five year old vixen, my neck will be flawless to match!

Pound cake for Tootie

I picked up the remains of Kaiser today and brought him home.  His ashes, tucked safely away in a little wooden box, sat quietly on my front seat – one last car ride together as I sobbed uncontrollably.  When Hugo came home from an early morning fishing trip, we hugged and sobbed once more together.  Prior to his arrival, I set the bag from the vet, containing Kaiser and his clay paw print, down on the rug in our living room right where he used to lay.  This spot was loved by Kaiser, where he routinely lied down and flipped over onto his back, by gripping the side of the couch with his strong paw and leveraging his body weight to flop over into his most favorite, comfortable position.  Anyways, call me a little crazy, but it felt right to set him down there for a few minutes.  Nala came over and smelled the bag intently – she knew it was her old pal.  He had come home.

For some reason, I wanted to do a little baking this afternoon, almost as a final gift for Kaiser to celebrate how much we loved him.  I am not sure if that makes sense and quite frankly, I don’t really care.  We had leftover buttermilk that didn’t have a use to us, after Hugo bought it for cast-iron pan cornbread last week (absolutely delicious).  A quick Google search produced this gem of a recipe – Buttermilk Pound Cake.  I sliced some strawberries and dusted our slices with powdered sugar.  Hugo and I ate two fat pieces each and didn’t have one guilty feeling between us.  We cheers’ed with our fork and spoon, as a nod to our beloved Tootie (Kaiser’s silly nickname), and I gave Nala a tiny morsel so she could partake in the happy moment.  We decided that the pound cake satisfied our dinner void and called it a night.

Doing a little cooking in between tears

In between fighting the nauseous feeling in my belly and the ball in my throat, I made this yummy Herbed Gnocchi and Mushrooms recipe from The Kitchn last night (no, that is not a typo).  I know that intro didn’t sound very appetizing but believe me, that meal tastes better than I have felt over the past few days.

Hugo and I are venturing out to the beach tomorrow morning, for some sun and relaxation with Nala despite the sad events of the past week.  I am really looking forward to it.  Especially after the somber afternoon I just had.  I had a lengthy conversation with our gardener Jose, who is a staple in our small neck of the woods.  Jose has cared for the livestock, and the ranches they live on, in our corner of the canyon for many years, meaning he knows everyone’s story.  We are currently putting in some fresh new grass in our backyard citrus garden so he stopped by the house around 4pm today to drop off the organic topsoil and grass seed.  We stood in the shade of the house, within feet of my husband’s sleeping bass boat, and discussed the sadness in the air.  I told him about Kaiser.  He nodded and paused, acknowledging exactly what I was saying and feeling with his limited English.  He didn’t have to say much but yet I knew that he completely understood.

We had discussed Kaiser’s health last week, as Kaiser greeted Jose through the fence.  Jose has always been scared of our Rottweilers, based solely on his overwhelming fear of dogs in general, however, last week was different.  I don’t know if it was because Kaiser’s energy was deteriorating but there was a calm sense of understanding for the first time between the two.  Kaiser wasn’t flipping out at him through the fence and Jose wasn’t retreating in fear.  The three of us just stood and talked, enjoying the company and sunshine.

During the rest of my afternoon chat with Jose, we also talked about my ailing neighbor Mark as well as two additional cancer diagnoses in the surrounding hillsides and subsequent deaths.  It was sad, depressing and maddening.  Illnesses are far too common and devastating to everyone they touch.  I concluded the exchange by reminding my friend to count his blessings.  I am not sure if he understood what I said exactly but he felt my energy.

As I am sitting here solo on a Saturday night, as my husband works a sixteen hour shift, a Clear The Shelters show was on TV.  I just watched a few light-hearted videos of rescue animals, some of which were from The Dodo and all of which distracted me from the melancholy in the air.  Check out their videos, hopefully they will warm your heart as they did mine.