random thoughts

It is a true summer day; bright, blue, and warm 🙂

I have had a good work at the office but left early in the afternoon as I was trying to find a solution to an idea. I must apply for new projects to get interest in them and then lead them to completion. I am traditionally good about this, but the two ideas that I was brewing lately seem to be done by others, which necessitates me to find new ideas.

Finding new ideas is not the problem, but finding an idea that others will find interesting is. I realize that this is bothering me more than before and I feel at that point again where I just want to quit this line of work and do something that is more interesting, challenging, and awarding. Where I can feel great about my performance, abilities, and work. Enough is enough, is that not?

I am making an application this week. If it comes through I will be interested in making the interview and learning about myself (Will I really want this job? Will I really be willing to leave my job and life here?) and this job. I believe I can do it really well, but the question is whether or not there will be others who can make it better than me, or whether or not the human resources personnel or whoever is going to screen the applications will find me good enough for this position. All these possibilities make me feel fuzzy, but I will go ahead and make this application anyhow because I want to. Also because I can.

🙂

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My appetite is quite big nowadays, especially today. All I want to do is to eat, especially ice cream. I also want to eat pasta but goodness, if I eat it I sure will gain a pound or two (mostly water retention of course, but…). I think I crave for carbs to feel good…

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One of my aims for the summer was to reduce the consumption of canned food, especially those that I munched on in the office. I have done good so far and reduced my purchase and consumption of canned fish, yet now I feel hungry at the office, and need to bring food from home everyday. I purchased a plastic container (BPA-free) yesterday to put food in and carry it in my purse (it is large enough), and today I have had some veggies and tofu as the lunch. It was great but not enough to curb my appetite. Tomorrow I am bringing in some veggies and canned bean, and I am laughing at myself knowing what an ironic thing that is to be consuming canned food again..

I have serious concerns about this – will I really be able to eat well at the office?

I guess what I need is to plan a little bit better. Obviously the status quo is not optimum and I must refine and revise it. The objective of reducing the exposure to canned food is a good one. Finding alternatives to canned food, on the other hand, is a challenge. What can I bring in? I think cheese and hard boiled eggs as well as meatballs are great options; hard boiled eggs are awesome, I love them, but then I cannot keep eating them everyday. I have concerns re; cheese and if I can make my own cheese then I can have it, but the chances are slim to have this everyday. Meatballs are versatile alternatives and all I have to do is to prepare and cook them at the weekends (see how lazy i can get?). Also, sandwiches. If I must eat bean, the better option is to cook them myself from dry beans. I think this is what I can focus on this weekend.

And I think I should increase my purchase of veggies so that I can supplement the protein source with them.

Sigh…. So much to figure out. All in order to eat better and healthier! 🙂

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my baking adventures and excitement in life

I have written a couple of days ago; excitement is a lovely thing 🙂

I have been thinking since then that that is actually very true and I seem to like excitement (planning, thinking, reading or writing about future plans, whether it is my budget and savings, or currently, my baking adventures).

I like this kind of excitement because honestly I am too stressed to enjoy my life. My mood is pretty much dependent on how the work goes and what hurdles we face. This gotta change and I gotta find a balance in my life between work-related emotions and life-related emotions. Eventually I am hoping that they will balance and when one of them sinks, the other can still keep my mood at a healthy level. That is why it is important for me to find things that will excite me. Who knows what it will be next day, but nowadays it is baking. I

I am planning to bake yet another bread tomorrow with baking powder based on a recipe I found on the net. I hope that this time I can do this as I really am not interested in buying another store-baked bread.

While at the beginning of my baking saga, I was only interested in yeast and how it works, I later got determined to bake my own bread all the time, dwelled into other recipes (such as tea biscuits), and now I can see that I am actually getting interested in dishes where oven is involved.

Not sure why that is but I am kind of thinking;

First, my subconscious mind. For years I have been saying “I cannot cook. I do not like cooking.”. Now the term is different (baking) and I believe that is why I am not negatively reacting to it and I in fact am okay with preparing food by baking.

Second, the availability of all kinds of recipes on the internet makes it easy and convenient to select and try dishes/bread.

Third, I am really in love with yeast and how it works, even though I have failed brutally once I was trying to bake bread/baguette. Baking powder is also interesting for me – improvising with these two is an interesting adventure, with lots of learning and all.

Fourth, baking enables me. I can bake for myself and I can bake for others. This morning for example, instead of buying something to eat with my coffee, I opted to bring in my own biscuit and enjoy it with my coffee at the cafe. Yesterday, I baked for a social. These are new abilities in me and I like this feeling.

Fifty, there is an excitement in planning to bake, choose a recipe to try, shop for ingredients, and actually try it. Considering the fact that baking does not require anything expensive and can be done at the comfort of my home, I am extra excited.

Sixth, I am eating better. Well, maybe not the tea biscuits 🙂 but the bread I made and the zucchini dish I tried today are healthier than what I would otherwise eat. I will never try those store made breads full of who knows what. Less chemicals to consume and more confidence in what I am eating. And any veggie that stays in my fridge while relentlessly waiting me to cook, can now be included in an oven dish or a veggie bread. I can trick myself eating more veggies by baking – I am excited about this.

Seventh, making use of what I have and not wasting food/veggies.

Do I have to say more?

🙂

I wish you to have such excitements in your life that make you healthier, happier, learning, and excited about life.

weekly budget check

A good week in terms of spending and saving.

I was meaning to spend more, especially for food. I am not eating well and if I must dine out, that is what it should be. Perhaps next week, I will do this now that I have accumulated quite a bit of funds in the “fun funds” category.

A couple of regrets I have had are to take the cab this morning (i could not wait 10 min for the bus….sigh…) and some fast food I ate a couple of days ago. Dully noted.

Anyways; this weeks breakdown is as follows:

weekly allowance expenses (grocery, eating out, and transportation): $74.5

funds left from the allowance for the “fun funds” account: $120 – $74.5 = $45.5

total fun funds: $168.5

savings from the would-be-expenses (expenses I was tempted to do, but did not such as cab, or discounts): $128

 

My plan for next week is to buy interesting and tasty food so that I can cook and eat at home (I am 100% sure that this is way better for my health than eating out). As a matter of fact, I cooked this evening  pasta, which had carrots, green cabbage, minced beef, and onion as veggies in it. This is the most veggies I have eaten in a while. Even though I believe pasta is not good for me (too much carbs), the fact that I had the motivation to cook and eat this dish, and I consumed a variety of veggies, was priceless.

cheers!

 

limiting the food waste; first blanching and pickling adventure :)

Seeing veggies go bad in my fridge makes me sad. That usually is the case with the herbs, such as parsley and cilantro, which go bad quite easily. I am getting more and more warmer to the idea of frozen food.

In my recent visit to Athens, one of the things I have done was to check a grocery store (I love it – you can find out many different things, which is always a delight for me). I particularly remember how well the frozen veggie section was; okra, spinach, beans, and others; the veggies looked real and fresh. Nothing like what I do see in my store here; frozen, discoloured, and full of little pieces of ice.).

To take this at my hand and to start keeping my veggies fresh and un-wasted, I decided to look for info on the internet (for example, this site) and talked to my mom.

I tried dicing and freezing my onions in the freezer. That is great as I use onion a lot and sometimes buy more than I can consume. I am now checking my onions time to time to pick those which seems like going bad; I chopped them up and put in my freezer last week for the first time and used some for cooking this week – it works! :).

I also learned about blanching. I tried it today with carrots and zucchini. Honestly I do not think it will work with zucchini as it is a moist veggie, but I thought I would give it a try; it is better than wasting them. I am also very hopeful about the carrots.

This is the process I followed:

  1. wash, peel, and trim the ends of carrots
  2. cut in to pieces as you wish: I had cut them in rounds as well as vertically; the latter one I love in meat meals and the round ones can be used in soups or meals. I am also planning to try mashing them up later.
  3. Boil them in water for 2 minutes. I added a little bit of salt as they say it help with keeping the colour.
  4. Immediately take the veggies and place into ice-water until they become cold (2-4 minutes). This step is supposed to stop the cooking process. I think I needed more ice in my case. next time I will put less water and more ice. TIP: blanched carrots taste and smells so good; please give it a try 🙂 I ate a couple of them – it was irresistible 🙂
  5. drain well, place in freezer bags, remove the access liquid and all the air as much as you can, label with preparation date, and place into the freezer.
round or circle cut carrots :)
round or circle cut carrots 🙂
vertical cuts; great for meat meals :)
vertical cuts; great for meat meals 🙂
they are so nicely boiling :) the bubbles made me joyful :)
they are so nicely boiling 🙂 the bubbles made me joyful 🙂
I think I needed more ice :( well, next time :)
I think I needed more ice 😦 well, next time 🙂
look at the brighter color of these lovely carrots after blanching! :) I had read somewhere, exposure to heat does this to carrot and it is supposed to be good for our body :)
look at the brighter color of these lovely carrots after blanching! 🙂 I had read somewhere, exposure to heat does this to carrot and it is supposed to be good for our body 🙂
frezzer bags are ready and labeled (at the bottom; not shown here). I am not hopeful about the zucchini but let's see how it goes :)
frezzer bags are ready and labeled (at the bottom; not shown here). I am not hopeful about the zucchini but let’s see how it goes 🙂

I also got a recipe for cabbage pickle from mom; I do not think I did follow exactly as she said, but here it is:

  1. wash and dice the cabbage (I used half a head)
  2. peel and grate 5 – 6 garlic; mix with the cabbage
  3. add 1 table spoon of chili pepper and mix; I love my pickles hot but you can adjust it as you please
  4. place the mix in jars; fill 1/3 of the jars with vinegar (I used apple vinegar)
  5. in a bowl, mix 2 table spoon of salt, 1/2 table spoon of sugar, and water; mix well. I have a feeling that I needed more salt, but then I would not like too much of salt so I am not sure how this will go.
  6. add this mixture to the jar till it is filled. My mom recommended putting something on top as a “weight”, like a small plate or something, to keep the cabbages immersed in the liquid. I did not have anything that small so I could not, but if you have place it on top prior to closing the lit. Close the lit and set aside. My mom says they will be ready for consumption in a week 🙂
I am sure it will not taste like my mom's, but not bad for the first trial :)
I am sure it will not taste like my mom’s, but not bad for the first trial 🙂

I am so excited! Not bad for a girl who does not like to cook 🙂

I am determined to do whatever I can do eliminate food waste from my life – cannot wait to try others! 🙂

cheers

healthy-life style journal – analysis of the eating habits – August 31, 2015

The simple truth is that there are so many details that I need to be thinking all at the same time (work, house, my life-style and relationships) that my mind, whether I like it or not, prioritizes to work on specific issues and targets. And you can also relate, since I have a limited capacity of mental work, depth, or hours to focus on things during the day, these two reasons, as expected, factors in delayed tasks and unfixed issues.

Well, while there is nothing much I can do to increase my mental limits or the hours in a day, there is one thing I am capable of doing (at least time to time): it is to focus on one thing, examine and clarify the issue, reflect on ways to tackle it, design a strategy to take steps, and monitor the outcome after each steps. This “plan” is well implemented if it is clear, set, and remembered (sadly if I fail to remember my plan, it is usually one thing that sends all my efforts in to the garbage).

That is why I like to write, draw, flow-chart, or simply discuss with others my plans; it focuses me, helps me to reflect in more detail, clarifies my mind, and most importantly, makes me remember it.

You are probably aware of all of these based on your experience or education; I simply need to write them so that I focus, design, and remember my plan – so bear with me when I tell you the very well-known story of planning.

Anyways, now that I have the motivation to finally take care of the long-waiting issues, namely healthy-eating and exercise, I need not only a plan, but also something that reminds me about them each day. That is why I am opening the “healthy-life style journal” page, where I will record my daily efforts, accomplishments, weight loss (if ever – grrrr), or struggles and frustrations.

So, what is my plan for healthy eating? I have been thinking about the pattern of my diet that I think is useful in designing my new, healthier diet:

1. Canned food: I noticed that I eat too much canned food (canned beans, chickpeas, lentils, and fish). Too much of a something cannot be good (in this case the exposure and possible contamination of the food with the can chemicals). Second, since they present themselves as affordable and easy meals, I prefer them but that also keeps me away from making an effort to cook and eat a variety of foods. So from today on, I implement a shopping freeze for canned food.

2. Wheat-products: I know what does not agree with my body and makes me gain weight or accumulate water in my body: bread, bagel, or any other wheat products that are conveniently sold in cafes or stores. From today on, I eliminate bagels and others from my diet and limit my bread consumption to one bread/week.

3. Cheese: if consumed in small amounts over time, cheese is very likable. Yet, I happen to eat the entire block in two days if I can. Thus, from today on I limit cheese consumption to 50 grs/a day maximum.

4. White rice and pasta: Nope; they make me bloated and eat more and more. I hardly eat both of these, so I am in good track.

5. Sweets: I do not have a sweet-tooth; thus sweets are not a problem for me (the majority of the time).

6. Candy, chocolate, ice cream, soft drinks, chips etc: I am lucky in the sense that I only occasionally consume these.

7. Meat and chicken: I am not a big meat eater; yet I kind of think that the lack of adequate levels of protein food in my diet may be contributing to my weight gain. So, I decided to eat more of these.

8. Veggies and fruits: I usually consume a limited variety of veggies and more so of the fruits; I think I am malnutritioning and thus need to bring in diversity to the food I am having.

9. Eating pattern: I usually do not have breakfast (except the weekends), light or no lunch, and multiple dinners in the evening. It is not surprising that I am having multiple dinners; one of the dietitians had said long time ago that such an eating style would starve the body during the day and prompt the body to eat a lot later to compensate for all the calories that are missed earlier in the day. So, I gotta start having breakfast like any other person, prepare and pack (or buy) my lunch, and bring snacks to my office. I also need to cook at home nutritious meals.

Now, time to plan.

to be continued

joy journal – May 24, 2015

1. A truly exciting and blissful day; it was sunny (although windy too) and energizing. I am grateful for every moment of this day.

2. I am grateful for not sleeping in late. I got up around 9 am, which is great. At first it did not feel so exciting, since the breakfast place does not open till 10am, but eventually I made it to 10 am and then the rest of the day was long and full of things to do!

3. I am grateful for the breakfast and the chats I have had with the staff. They are young bright people who are just going thru school and part-time job at the same time. It is kind of difficult; I remember my own years. but they seem to do both just well and are incredibly nice people to interact with.

4. I am grateful for shopping and getting shocked by the receipt!! It was not too much, but then it was.. I liked the fact that I reacted negatively to spending that much today. This tells me that I am really in the “conscious spending” mode and I am very happy with that. I am extra grateful that I left one item prior to checking out.

5. I am grateful for buying the glues my sister wanted for so long. I am also grateful for the shea butter hand cream I bought for myself; it smells good and feels very smooth. It was above my budget but I bought it anyways to treat myself. Conscious spending does not mean I need to constrain myself to the degree that I cannot enjoy my own money, especially for something that is good for my body.

6. I am grateful for the healthy lunch and dinner I have had today. yes I have eaten bread too (which I am trying to cut), but at least I have also eaten veggies, either raw or canned.

7. I am grateful for spending time in the yard, getting mesmerized and fascinated by the young trees, checking the seeded areas for growth, and removing some dandelion out. I could sit whole day out, breathing fresh air, listening to the trees and birds, and feeling the sun warming my bones. I am lucky I am to have a yard and I am very thankful for that.

8. I am grateful for walking twice today; first while going to the store to purchase stuff and then in the afternoon. The nice thing about nice weather is the energy and wish to be outside it gives. I could not help myself but put the shoes on and went out. walked to another grocery store maybe 10 min away. Since last year I have not been there – it is a relatively small store but the fresh produce is fantastic. I did only buy a pack of chocolate-biscuit I was craving for and enjoyed it while walking back to home.

9. I am grateful for having an upbeat, relaxing, and energizing weekend. This weekend was truly a blessing. My mood is high and I am looking forward to a productive work week ahead of me.

10. I am grateful for TV and the movies I have watched this weekend.

11. I am grateful for having the love in my heart to give to the trees, the plants, and anything else in my yard.

12. I am grateful for speaking with my family and my best friend today; their support is always useful, sincere, and strong.

13. I am grateful for deciding to take a longer route starting yesterday to walk from office to home in the afternoon. The change of scenery should feel good and it will give my body a better exercise.

14. I am grateful for all the food I have at home. My pantry and fridge has more than enough food to let me go through the week.

15. I am grateful for the blogs I have read today – I learn so much about gardening, budgeting, and crafting. Learning and curiosity are the sources of excitement 🙂

16. I am grateful for being relaxed, positive, and grateful today.

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