a real-person meal plan

Here’s my actual meal plan for this week:

Friday (last night): Rotisserie Chicken + Salad (from a tub) w/ chopped cucumber and radish with homemade ranch dressing + strawberries and cherries.

Saturday: Bolognese sauce from America’s Test Kitchen *& spaghetti + Salad (from the tub) w/ chopped cucumber and radish with the same batch of ranch dressing

*(I will be making a double-batch and freezing half of it. This recipe takes 4 hours to make but it’s my favorite thing pretty much ever and has ruined meat sauce for me at most restaurants…)

Sunday: Chicken Parmesan (trying this keto recipe for the first time- no idea if it will be good or if it will work at all, fingers crossed) + steamed broccoli *using spaghetti sauce from Saturday’s recipe to top the chicken parm

Monday: Gazpacho w/ a cheese plate. The internet tells me a cheese plate is an acceptable summer dinner plan so I’m going with it. Ours will be salami, cheddar, havarti (I will be cutting presliced slices into 4’s) roasted almonds and ciabatta bread

Tuesday: Garlic-Lemon Tilapia (trying this recipe) + salad (from the tub and dressing if there is any left- otherwise we’ll use olive oil/vinegar)

Wednesday: Chicken (trying this recipe- don’t know how it will be) + brussel sprouts with bacon

Thursday: (or another day we’ll swap out) We’ll probably be out on a day trip so dinner will be out.

 

And here’s my commentary:

I’m putting my commentary AFTER my content because I’ve been so frustrated sifting through recipes on the internet and having to wade through all their pop-up ads and stories about their dogs just to get to the ingredients list. I’ve toyed with the idea of actually printing out recipes like it was the early 2000’s- it’s gotten that bad.

This meal plan above took me like 2 hours. I don’t feel good admitting that. I get so frustrated with how much time and mental energy it requires to come up with meal plans every week. My husband’s on keto so everything I do has to at least have a no-carb option (he’s eating a bowl of the sauce w/ cheese for the bolognese night…).  Keto eliminates most casseroles, all pasta dishes, and most soup (he can’t eat carrots… or beans… it’s ridiculous). We get very bored with the same thing over and over again. I’ve been especially frustrated with cooking large amounts of meat just to have them be kind of bland and dry and then we have to eat them for leftovers later? We get so bored we end up getting take-out instead and that defeats the entire purpose of meal planning.

What I’d really love is a place where actual people- not chefs or food-bloggers or whatever- post their actual meal plans. I’ve looked for this on the internet, and of course, the chefs and food bloggers and whatever have optimized themselves to be at the top of search results for “meal plans by actual people” so I just get more food bloggers. But pretty much EVERYONE meal plans… you ALL have to eat something and you have been succeeding in feeding yourself somehow. I want to know how you do it- especially if you’re very happy with how you’re doing it.

So I’m throwing up a Facebook page. I’m keeping that wording because that’s all the energy I have at the moment: Actual Meal Plans that Actual People Use. Please join it and share your knowledge with us. You can always also post comments here.

 

 

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Day trip to Gardena / Torrance CA

I believe the Triple-T Teahouse in Gardena pays for Instagram ads… I think that’s how I encountered them… but I still think it’s impressive that I followed them just because I wanted to see more plates of noodles. OMG the noodles. I couldn’t take it anymore and I planned an entire day trip around these noodles. It was an excellent day trip so I’m doing a blog post about it. Triple-T, your Instagram marketing worked. Good job.

So first, we went to this memorial fountain for JFK which has been in Torrance since just after he died. Is it me or do you think maybe the designer might have had an issue w/ JFK’s politics?

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I mean… it’s a giant potty. That’s what my son said, anyway. It’s referred to on the internet as the “JFK Toilet Bowl Memorial.” Worthy of a detour, I must say. It’s at the corner of Cabrillo and Sartori Avenue in Torrance.

Next stop was the Southern California Live Steamers in Charles Wilson Park. I just happened to look up “stuff to do near Gardena” and was lucky enough to find that these teeny trains run on the first Sunday of the month from 11am-3pm (bingo!). They also run the 3rd Saturday of each month from 12-3pm, fyi. The park itself has a ton to do… batting cages and some kind of roller arena… a splash pad, a tree house structure and a pretty epic playground. And then there’s the trains:

It’s not the most comfortable ride in the world. If you have knee or back or balance problems, you should sit this one out. If you’re good on those though, you straddle the trains like they’re horses and enjoy the ride which is a good… 6-8 minutes? They ask for a $1.00 donation per person per ride which makes multiple rides very possible. We rode 3 times total. The crowd was minimal to nil which made the wait time bearable. We waited mostly for the trains to come back since you get such a generous ride. The tracks take you through a tunnel and little miniature houses / scenes in various states of repair and scale (like the tiny bed and breakfast covered in nasturtiums pictured below). The place was filled with wildflowers and butterflies- mostly under the cover of trees so you’re not out in the sun the whole time. It was lovely.

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The tracks go out farther into the park even but I guess, on this particular day, the tracks out of the garden had been damaged and weren’t being used.

We were hungry so it was time for noodles.

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When you’re short, the angel wings come out of your head… Anyway. The Triple-T Teahouse is in a little strip mall with a very convenient parking lot. The inside is made for Instagrammers (I’d already taken the bait…). We ordered soup (which came in a bowl bigger than my head) and the garlic shrimp noodles. We easily could have shared one of those things… each item was under $10. I got rose-flavored milk tea and let my son go nuts on a milkshake bc I wanted to see it in person. I mean look at that thing:

Epic. This place was worth the drive alone and I’m going back as soon as possible. The Triple-T is located at 15703 Crenshaw Blvd, Gardena, CA 90249.

I couldn’t possibly imagine cramming anything else into my stomach, but we drove to this anyway:

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I can’t tell you how the donuts are since we just came for the picture. It’s a jankier-looking version of Randy’s but fun nonetheless. The Donut King II is located at 15032 S Western Ave, Gardena, CA 90249. They’re cash only and they’re basically a stand- drive-thru/walk-up. I might do it if I have more time after noodles next time…

Oh what a fun day!

I eat all the rice first. Because I suck at maintenance.

A888E0DA-DA1E-47E7-8A3F-DC9FF7209D93.jpegReligious people love analogies. I remember some Mormons trying to tell me that if you nail a board to another board and only use one nail, the boards will swing round and round and won’t be stable- but if you add one more nail, the boards won’t move THEREFORE, you must have TWO religious books (the Bible and the Book of Mormon) to guide your life in order for your life to be stable or whatever. Because the logic of boards and nails is universally applicable to ALL THINGS EVER. I remember listening to a preacher saying that eating peanuts is boring but they give you protein and energy- and that READING THE BIBLE is like that sometimes too.

I was reminded recently of a warning I got from a speaker at a Christian retreat I attended during a summer off from college. “BEWARE,” he said, “Of people who eat only one thing off their plate at a time.” Like if the meal consists of pork chops, rice and broccoli, beware of the person who eats all the rice, then all the broccoli and then all the pork chops. The correct way to eat, he told us, was to vary your bites. HERE’S WHY: If you eat all of one thing at a time, you are probably a person who can only focus on one thing in your life at a time. You have to be all done with your housework before you can do your homework. You have to be all done with reading a book before you can walk your dog. You have to be done cleaning your shower before you can order a pizza. BEWARE of These People because they WILL DRAG YOU DOWN WITH THEM.

There’s a seed of truth in it though that’s true enough to make me remember it years and years later. I’ve written about this recently- I find myself just trying to get through whatever it is I’m in at the moment so I can finally do Something I Want To Do. I think everyone struggles with keeping up all the things. #worklifebalance is a buzzword (buzzphrase?). I feel like I’m particularly bad at “keeping things up” and maintenance of anything in general- housework, paperwork, car maintenance, dental maintenance, friendship maintenance, craft maintenance, houseplant maintenance, blog maintenance- and it comes down to this eating one thing on my plate at a time. I’m the person that guy was warning you about. It’s also something I kind of actually do… I actually eat all my mashed potatoes before moving on to the salmon or whatever. I’m really bad at leaving something undone and then remembering to come back to it.

I listened to this podcast of Emma Cline (author of The Girls which I’ve read and recommend) reading and then discussing “The Metal Bowl” by Miranda July (which you should stop everything and read/watch/listen to everything she’s ever done, please). And leave it to MJ to put into words exactly how it is:

“I find this whole experience—life—gratuitously slow and drawn out. See it crawl, second by fucking second. If I’m a workaholic, it’s only because I hate work so much that I’m trying to finish it, all of it, once and for all. So I can just ride out the rest of my life in some kind of internal trance state. Not a coma but, like, a step above that.”

So I felt validated by having my hero describe my condition, but I don’t think it’s a way to live. I remember being called out by this religious guy, but I don’t remember if he offered any advice to help people who are These People. He probably didn’t. He wasn’t one of These People, apparently. Or he was one of These People and he was filled with self-hate. Equally possible. Self-hatred is a common symptom of fundamentalism.

Are you particularly good at maintenance? Is this a personality trait? Is it something you’ve cultivated? Have you converted from being one of These People to being someone who can actually keep up some things (or anythings…?)? How did you do it?  Or is this a universal problem? Does Everyone struggle with life maintenance? Please tell me in the comments!!

P.S. Dinner tonight is this recipe which is on our regular rotation:

 

channel your inner therapist

I’ve been doing this writing exercise off-and-on for the past two weeks and it’s been incredibly helpful- so I’m sharing it.

Like most of the awesome things I find on the internet, I got it from Joy the Baker’s “Let it Be Sunday” post. She linked to this article which outlines the writing exercise. I’m not going to go into the whole thing bc you can read it yourself, but in case you don’t want to go read it yourself, here it is in a nutshell: You make three columns. In the first one, you write down something you’re telling yourself that you suspect might be nightmare-fuel anxiety talking (I label this column “cray cray”- you can do something less judgmental). In the second column, you check your cray cray thoughts against a list of common “cognitive distortions” and identify which ones you’re doing. Then, in the third column, you reframe your crazy talk into something much more rational. Like the article says, it takes about 5 minutes. What’s great though, is that for me, it has a generalizing effect. I find myself checking the crazy talk, identifying cognitive distortions and reframing my thoughts all in my head- no writing supplies needed.

And “cognitive distortions,” in a nutshell, are common thought patterns people get into which are not productive and lead to anxiety/depression/frustration. The ones I’m usually guilty of are black/white or polarized thinking, overgeneralization or my continual parade of shoulds. I’m picturing this now as a parade of people with protest signs that all start with “You should…” like “You should stay off Facebook” and “You should read more” and “You should keep up with the dishes better” and “You should smile more” (I seriously caught myself thinking that this week- like I mansplained my effing self, really????).

The article has a good list of 10 cognitive distortions- but if you google “cognitive distortions,” you’ll find other versions of the list… or bigger lists (do we need any more? I don’t know if the list of 50 is helpful, guys).

Here’s a picture of my journal from just now making myself be okay without having to do “something productive” every single moment of my spring break:

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I loovveee how simple it is- and that you can do it any time you have paper, pen and a list of cognitive distortions… Do they make a pocket-chart version of those? Perhaps a cross-stitch sampler pattern? Maybe I’ve finally found my Etsy niche……..

Note to myself: You will never have “the time”

This is a note to myself for when I am going to inevitably wish that it was 4pm, that it was the weekend, that it was spring break, that it was summer break or that it was some other time that it’s not right at this moment.

You are stressed out when you’re on vacation too. You are unsure of what is the best way to use your time at all times- regardless of what your current obligations are. Absolutely everything is temporary. You will regret not being present for the moment you’re currently living.

So- it’s unnecessary to wait for that “free” time to be present. That time will never come. There is always something occupying the time. It’s unnecessary to wait for permission- to wait until all your “work” is done- to take care of yourself, to take a deep breath, to get enough sleep, to find joy in things, to be kind, to take time for your passions, to write something on your blog, to read for pleasure, to clean your workspace, to call your friends- to do all those things you’re putting off for “when you have time.” That time will never come. There is always something occupying the time.

Here’s a picture of a contemplative fountain at the Hsi Lai Temple we visited today:

9549F82E-93E2-47A4-89E3-5355D497737AAt the moment this picture was taken, I was worried my son was going to disturb the praying women that walked up next to us… On the drive home, I decided I need to write more.

What to expect when you go to Lancaster to see the poppies.

You should go visit the Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve right now. With the rest of Los Angeles, okay, but you should still go.

There will be lots of people. They will all be taking Instagram pictures. They will fill up the entire parking lot and cause traffic. It will still be worth it to go. This was something to kick off the bucket list.

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Here’s my son looking at a butterfly (out of frame). Yes- there were butterflies AND poppies.

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The photographic challenge becomes trying to avoid getting other people in your shot.

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This is my poppy face.

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BC look! It’s the poppies that are all over the promotional materials for California!

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More selfies!

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More poppies!

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More selfies!!

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An all-around excellent St. Patrick’s Day. I’ve officially broken up with winter. We’re not a a thing anymore. #checkyalater

P.S. Lots of people got out of their cars and walked/sat among the poppies outside of the reserve (so they wouldn’t be fined). Don’t be those people. I might be a tool and go on a road trip for instagram pictures- but I’m not going to trample poppies to do it. Stay on the trails, yo.

P.P.S. I would also recommend writing out directions because you might not get reception (you def won’t if you have T-Mobile) in the middle of nowhere. Also bring water.

You are making your cold 1000x worse

Do you know who Sylvia Boorstein is? I didn’t know who she was until I found her book “Happiness is an Inside Job” on a mark-down table at Powell’s City of Books when I was looking for a cheap way to chill TF out I guess. Sylvia Boorstein is the wise Jewish-Buddhist grandmother you never had. She was the gateway for me to mindfulness, meditation and how to stop making a Big Deal out of everything.

Anyway- she has a story she tells in The Courage to Be Happy (which you can purchase on Amazon on audio-CASSETTE – what even IS that?) about her teacher, Sharon Salzberg, reminding her at the end of their meetings, “Sylvia, be happy.” I was so thrilled to find Sharon Salzberg has a collection of guided meditations available on the Insight Timer app (and do you have that? What are you DOING? And PLEASE don’t say you’re paying for Headspace or Calm or any other app you have to pay for. Stop it. You’re being silly.). Anyway- Sharon Salzberg has a loving kindness meditation which is magical anyway, but it was so cool to hear her say “be happy” over and over again.

OK- so- here’s the whole point. Sharon Salzberg has been doing a month-long meditation challenge and she’s invited those doing it to blog about it on her blogging platform. But I forgot my password. And the password recovery thing sends me an email which links me back to the “forgot your password” page which sends me an email which links me back to the “forgot your password page” which- you get the point. I emailed the support team asking them if it was part of the mindfulness challenge LOL. They didn’t respond.

SO I’m blogging about it on MY blog. The most useful thing I’ve learned is how to interrupt my reactions to discomfort. She has a meditation which asks you to consider your physical sensations. I have a cold like everybody has right now and I’m tired like I always am. And the thing is, I feel woozy and headachy which is bad enough, but what I also do is assign a ton of meaning to these feelings. I feel bad that I feel bad, but I feel worse about how I’m going to feel later- like later when I have to concentrate, or when I have to be enthusiastic about stuff in front of students or tomorrow when I have to work another full day or on the weekend when I’m supposed to be doing another set of things I have to do. I start to resent all the stuff I have to do when I’m sick and just want to lay down for a month… So this physical discomfort I have is made 1000x more powerful by all the thoughts and emotions that I attach to it.  She’s given me a tool to interrupt that thought process.

And perhaps you have a cold and are making it 1000x worse like me. So listen to this meditation I’m linking to again. For free! You don’t need to suffer more as a result of your suffering. So stop it. You’re being silly.

 

In loving memory of a 1998 Toyota Camry

Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to celebrate the life of this black 1998 Toyota Camry that I owned for 14 years of its 21-year life.

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My dad got it from my uncle- supplemented with the money I made working at the summer camp Sarah Silverman grew up at in New Hampshire right after I graduated from college. I needed a car to get to the teaching job I would start that fall- 2005. My dad and I drove it to Southern California where it lived happily ever after.

Well almost happily ever after… I had to replace the whole front half of the car after I rear-ended somebody on the 101 12 years ago. Um and I got that pretty dent by running into a building…

I learned how to work a car in my dad’s Jeep Cherokee in Portland- but I learned how to drive in LA in this car. I learned how to pass semi-trucks (maybe while screaming out loud…) and how to work my way around multiple lanes of traffic and eventually… how to parallel park… although I still go to great lengths to avoid doing so…

It leaked miserably and unrelentingly when it rained. In the days after the rain, it steamed up and smelled like broccoli. The passenger door wouldn’t open from the outside. I had to wedge something into the release switch thingy to get the gas cap to open. The air conditioning was busted a long time ago. It had a slight moth infestation. The driver-side mirror had been knocked off by a semi (and then the trucking company denied it happened and I couldn’t afford to have it fixed). The cd player only worked if you kept pushing the cd back into it over and over again and it finally gave in. I was told to replace the struts about 10 years ago and never did. Oh but it got me from A to B for fourteen years and no car payments.

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On Valentine’s Day, the engine shut off while I was attempting the 60 minute commute to Eagle Rock and, miraculously, I had enough momentum to get to the side of the road. The mechanic said it needed a new engine and didn’t recommend that I put the money into it.

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Kars 4 Kids will be putting it out of its misery officially.

In lieu of flowers, please get yourself a nice car wash and possibly, a sparkly license plate frame.

Happy trails, my little car. Rest in pieces.

 

P.S. Here’s an article about Camrys from the 90’s written 4 years ago that you might enjoy: https://www.theonion.com/toyota-recalls-1993-camry-due-to-fact-that-owners-reall-1819577805

Witticisms in Waste Canvas

Let’s forget all of the things that are happening in the government and government-funded jobs you and I may be working for- and LET’S GO ON AN INTERNET ADVENTURE!

I have to say that I feel a bit incomplete now that my JT portrait cross stitch is done and I’ve been struggling to find another project that’s anywhere near as exciting. I might have found it. I remember a classmate of mine in 8th grade cross-stitching a cat face onto a purple sweatshirt. I want to cross stitch something into a purple sweatshirt. I have figured out at least one brand name of cross stitch kits from the 80’s-90’s that are still very much available on Etsy and Ebay and I wanted to share with you my favorites.

Which one should I pick??

all the malls

I mean I don’t know about you, but I absolutely need a lace-collared T-shirt with a goose overwhelmed about all the malls she has to choose from. Remember malls?

Let’s continue the goose theme:

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FRENCH GEESE!!! LES GIS!! With an adult RIBBON DETAIL! How do I choose? OH MY GOD.

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A CLOWN ON PURPOSE!!!!!!

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Shhhhh I’m already getting started on my husband’s Christmas present for next year.

 

kitty love

I might just go with the cat. It’s what you’re expecting, isn’t it?

teddy love

BUT WHO CAN RESIST TEDDY BEARS IN THE SHAPES OF LETTERS?????? NO ONE!!!

And then I found this:

witticisms in waste canvas

I wasn’t old enough to wear things that said “I don’t know if life is passing me by or trying to run me over” back when these were popular. My time has finally come.

And OH GOD- type in “WASTE CANVAS” into eBay and see you next week because you will find some amazing, incredible things to be stitched on clothing to be worn by actual people. I mean OH my god. I might have found my true purpose in life.

WHICH ONE SHOULD I START WITH, THO? HELP, INTERNET!!! WHERE’S THE CAPS LOCK ON A CHROMEBOOK???