2.19.2015

Year of the Goat / Sheep: 2015 Theme and Goals

Happy Chinese New Year! I am not sure if it is year of the Goat, or year of the Sheep because they seem to be simular enough that the internet can not tell for certain which year it is. But here are a few things about this coming year:
  • The Chinese word yáng refers both to goats and sheep, with shānyáng specifically goats and miányáng sheep. In English, the sign may be called either. The interpretation of sheep or goat depends on culture. In Vietnamese, the sign is mui, which is unambiguously goat. In Japan, on the other hand, the sign is hitsuji, sheep; while in Korea and Mongolia the sign is also sheep or ram. http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goat_(zodiac)
  • The Year of the Sheep follows a tumultous Year of the Horse, and heralds a more calm atmosphere. Combined with the evergreen and renewal characteristics of Wood, the Sheep's creativity will be unleashed. If last year was the Horse's year to gallop and take off, this year will be the year for contemplating and appreciating what has already been accomplished, to think about bringing goodness to others, to take a deep breath and calmly look at what's ahead. A steady path, generosity, and keeping the peace are this year's mantra. http://www.china-family-adventure.com/year-of-the-sheep.html#.VOIZuYE76rU
But before we get to the Year of the Goat / Sheep, let look at my goals from last year.....
Last year was Year of the Horse. My theme was Surrounded by Inspiration. It was a good theme. I found there were lots of things around me that inspired me and it helped me to find the positive in a lot of things. It looked like I only had three goals last year and they were:
  1. Slow and steady weight loss
  2. Keep learning Italian
  3. Save a specific amount of money for a rainy day
1. Slow and steady weight loss.

I did not meet this goal. It is sad looking at it now because I was doing pretty well with my weight loss and then, about a week after writing the goals for the year last year, I injured my foot gardening and couldn't run for six months. In those six months I slowly added a few pounds and then I went to Italy where I ate a lot of food and then I went to Hawaii and felt like I gained ten pounds there. I went from being at my "starting to date T weight" from sixteen years ago to "eating crow weight" when I had that bet with my Dad. And then I was on sabbatical in the Fall and when I went to get all my work clothes ready for the spring semester, half of them didn't fit anymore.

So, didn't make that goal. But one good thing about this very public journal called a blog, is that it was easy for me to see the things I was doing when I was losing weight and feeling good. I was exercising (which I always do, I even walked and biked when I had my foot injury) and I was eating mostly clean and paleo. Bread and sugar blow me up like a balloon and I was not eating that food. I was packing food for work and making good choices. The food choices I made in Italy and Hawaii where not good choices... I mean, when is cake for breakfast for three days in a row a good choice...

2. Keep learning Italian.

I did meet this goal! I took Italian 3 in the spring and then traveled to Italy in the Summer and used my Italian there. The Middle Sister speaks Italian much better than I do, but I was able to get by. In the Fall I continued to practice once a week with my classmate and this spring the Italian 4 class didn't work with my schedule, but I am still practicing once a week. Check that one off my list!

3. Save a specific amount of money for a rainy day.

I did not meet this goal either. There is a saying, "a goal without a plan is just a dream", and that is what this goal was. I never made a plan of how much money I wanted to save and how I was going to do that. Unexpected trips cleaned out the rainy day fund, and no set plan kept the fund empty after that. This was one of those, I should do this goals, but I never did. Another strike on this one.
The Year of the Horse taught me I need to be better with my goals. I mean, I like checking them off my list and I need to complete them to do that! So now..... the Year of the Goat / Sheep.....

Drum roll please.

This year's theme is LOOK GREAT NAKED!

Yep.

Look great naked. Not my original. The Middle Sister and I read an article in a magazine years ago that was titled "Look Great Naked". It talked about skin care, healthy foods for the body, and exercise. All things that help you look great naked. I guess this could also be "feel good in your skin" because it is really about pampering and taking extra good care of myself, but the "Look Great Naked" brought up all of that and made me remember when the Middle Sister and I made ourselves a priority in our own lives. Something that doesn't happen often enough unfortunately.
Goals:
  • 95% Paleo eating. I am old enough to realize what is good and what is bad for me. It is time to make good choices at least 95% of the time with what I eat.
  • Start an Etsy shop. I want to start an Etsy shop to sell my photographs and to sell some of the vintage items I have from family members who have moved on from this world. For years I have had boxes of purses and such as well as scarves, hats, jewelry, and a coat from these family members and after making sure all family parties have taken the items they wanted, I decided to let these remaining items find new homes through Etsy. I love Etsy and use it all the time and think it is a good place for these items to find new homes. Because they are awesome, but how many vintage straw handbags does one girl sharing 600 square feet with her husband and Samson Thegreycat really need? Not five....
  • Organize my desk. T and I built a desk in our bedroom and I find myself using it a lot more than I thought I would. It is a his and hers desk where we each have our own side and our own storage cubes above the desk. It is an Ikea Hack, but I am embarrassed to blog about it because my storage cubes are a mess. And the drawers are still unorganized. And piles of mail have made there way onto our big printer. It is not something I want to do, but it is something I need to do, so organize my desk has made the list this year.
Weekly Goals:
  • Exercise. Six days a week
  • Water. Half body weight in ounces daily.
  • Run. 15-20 miles each week.
  • Read. Average of one book a week.
  • Personal Spa Day. At least one a week.
Things I want to do this year:
  • Explore Little Saigon and eat at five or more restaurants there.
  • Visit five new art galleries or museums.
  • Go to Concert in the Park at least five times this summer.
  • Roller skate the Huntington Beach boardwalk.
  • Do five new hikes in Orange County.
And there we have it. Last year was not the greatest in terms of goals and this year I tried again with some new goals and a fun theme. In addition I have weekly goals that I try to complete 95% of the time and some things I want to do this year. I was conservative on my numbers because I really do want to be able to meet my goals and five was sounding like a good number.

Look for some future posts about the Look Great Naked theme that will talk about skin treatments from around the world, exercise reviews and ideas, and of course, amazing foods to help us look great from the inside out.

I hope you all have a great Year of the Goat / Sheep and wish you luck in this new year!

Cheers,
-elizabeth 

2.16.2015

Searching for a signature dish

A signature dish.  That thing people think of when you go to potlucks.  The meal you make when guest come over.  The signature dish people associate you with.

Yeah.  I don't have one.  

I think the realization has come to me slowly over the last few weeks.  The Little Sister is cooking through some cookbooks and mentioned she couldn't think of her signature dish and when I thought about it, neither could I.  Then I was thinking of inviting someone from work over for dinner and I thought, "What will I cook?".

See? No signature dish.

And while not having a signature dish means you are kind of free as a cook, it also means you don't have that stand-by to use when you need it.  So I thought I should start looking for a signature dish.

This is not to say I haven't had signature dishes in the past.  And those dishes kind of go with certain events.
  • Camping in the Airstream in winter or cold weather - Barefoot Contessa Chicken Chili.
  • Picnic - Crunchy Garlic Chicken (served cold)
  • Holiday - Spinach, Avocado, and Pomegranate Salad (similar to THIS)
  • Quick dip- Goat cheese, garlic, and roasted red peppers
  • FANCY appetizer - Roasted garlic, caramelized red onion, and goat cheese dip.
  • The cold weather WOW dish - Cook's Illustrated Cassoulet with crusty bread and a simple salad 
  • My current meal - grilled skirt steak with chimichurri, baked sweet potatoes, and asparagus
Not a bad list actually.  And my mouth started to water when I was thinking about these.....  But I guess the thing is that I have changed a lot of what I eat and most of these dishes are just not doing it for me anymore.  I realized that I do best following what is considered a Paleo food plan.  Meat, vegetables, fruit.  Works for me! And with that in mind, I need to find some new signature dishes.

Currently I am feeling inspired by asian food and flavors.  And seafood.   With our crazy spring like weather (it's February) I have found myself looking to see if wild salmon has started showing up and thinking about lemongrass and scallops....

I think I will develop a list of signature dishes and that they will be seasonal, and event oriented, and this list will be more inline with the way I am eating now.  I will share my search on the blog and let me know if you have any suggestions for my signature dish!

2.14.2015

Happy Valentine's Day


Happy Valentine's Day!  Not a holiday I celebrate truthfully, but the neighbor deer was dressed up and I found out a completely different neighbor added the heart necklace!  Love was flowing in the hood and I hope it flows into your V-day as well.

2.02.2015

Huntington Beach Half Marathon 2015

Nothing like a half marathon to have you sleep all the way through SuperBowl only to see the last 43 seconds of the game.

I am not sure what motivated me, but on January 1st I signed up to run the Huntington Beach Half Marathon on SuperBowl Sunday.  The weather was amazing and me and 20,000 of my close running buddies (strangers) thought it was a good idea!  Thanks to T, the Little Sister, and Dad and Jan for cheering me on and driving me home.

My time for this half was 3:02:52 (my slowest ever), but I think that leaves room for improvement and I think I am going to run this half marathon every year!  

Here are some photos from the day.  The second half are compliments of the Little Sister.





And now some photos from the Little Sister:



Me crossing the finish line.

And then walking (very slowly) to the car.  My legs hurt, but just because they were sore and tired.  No injuries so far (knock on wood)!

And this was my favorite photo from the race!

So the good news is I set a goal and achieved it.  The bad news is that I have now set that goal for each year and I want to improve my time.  Well, I guess it is a love / hate goal.....Because who really LOVES running?  Not any of my new 20,000 running buddies...