I Thought a Spider Tried to Kill Me. Actually, I Have Shingles and I’m Obviously Dying.

That’s pretty much my story. I woke up last week with an itchy itchy bug bite. No. Set of bug bites.

bug bites or shingles

Except I don’t really get bug bites. Ever. I mean, not mosquito bites anyways. Spiders regularly try to kill me. Death bugs hunt me in my sleep. One time, I got eaten alive by something in the sandbox that made me super sick and taught me never to go near the sandbox (also, that’s where I see the leprechaun. He tells me to burn things).

So maybe I do get bug bites. But not mosquito bites like normal people. I’m lucky like that.

Anyways, hypochondriac that I am, I ask Brian if maybe I have scabies. He’s all, “No, Chrissy. It’s a fucking spider bite. Stop being crazy.”

So then, I tell Brian, “A spider tried to kill me.”

He shook his head and said, “I know.”

I asked him what he was going to do about it, but he didn’t want to go spider hunting. I don’t know what I was expecting; he didn’t even want to go Pokemon hunting with me.

And then Dr. Mom looks at it, and she’s all, “That’s shingles.”

And then my aunt looks at it, and she’s all, “It’s definitely a staph infection.”

I’m sure if my dad were there, he would have told me to put some Windex on it.

Mom looks at it the next day, “No, maybe it’s not shingles. Maybe a spider did try to kill you.”

When the itchy itchy bug bite hadn’t gone away in 4 days, Brian started Googling shingles. And comparing pictures of shingles to my back. And then Dr. Google convinced him that I needed to go to the doctor. Which is usually when I go see her.

So yesterday I made my way into the doc’s office, where I told her I come from a long line of hypochondriacs (I often tell her stupid shit like, “I’m dying” and “I’m a hypochondriac.” Quite frankly, I’m not sure why she puts up with me).

She took one look at my backdomen and told me it was shingles, and proceeded to explain everything the internet already told Brian and me the night before. I nodded appreciatively and made her think she wasn’t totally wasting her time on me, and then she told me that it’s only contagious to people who haven’t had chicken pox and somehow come in contact with the itty bitty rash under my bra line. So basically, I have to take giant pills, use the topical steroid from that one time I burned my ass and keep my shirt on. Done and done.

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

There’s Nothing More Tasteless Than Eating Disorder Jokes at a Bridal Show

When you think of a bridal show, you may have visions of creative photographers, wedding gown experts, travel gurus, brilliant bakers, and entertainment professionals settled at their respective booths, vying for the attention of every bride, bridesmaid, and mother of the bride in a 60-mile radius. And quite likely, you’ll expect this event to culminate with a parade of elegant men, women, and children in a bridal fashion show designed to elicit the oohs and ahhs of those aforementioned brides and their entourages.

What you don’t expect, I’d gather, is for a barrage of demeaning, disgusting, and downright offensive commentary from the fashion show emcee.

Last weekend, I attended my second bridal show in preparation for my upcoming nuptials. This time, I was accompanied by one of my amazing bridesmaids at The Windy City Wedding Show at the Embassy Suites in Naperville, where we made appointments for dress fittings, gathered ideas, and spoke with other potential vendors. It all went as expected. Until the fashion show portion of the afternoon.

As the lights dimmed, we were greeted by a man who claims on his entertainment company’s website to “know exactly how to make your special event, extraordinary.”

Extraordinary, indeed.

If this fashion show were an audition for my business, Keith Christopher (KC) KoKoruz of Keith Christopher Entertainment would have lost my bid the moment he opened his mouth. As the audience, which consisted of a female majority, awaited the show, Mr. KoKoruz asked for a round of applause.

When the audience didn’t offer enough enthusiasm to suit his liking, he made the following commentary:

“We’ve got some insecure and unattractive models back there. They’re going to need some more applause before they come out here. [If you don’t clap louder,] we’re going to have eating disorders up the wazoo.”

Not only were disparaging remarks made about the models in the show, but also this emcee tastelessly made light of eating disorders to a room full of women, many of whom had probably started some sort of diet regimen to fit society’s standards of a beautiful bride.

When did it become okay to crack jokes about eating disorders?

I’ll give you a hint: It didn’t.

I left that show fuming. Pissed at the man who spoke the words. Angry at the wedding show company that supports this sort of commentary. Irritated with the women who clapped after his speech. Mad at the world. Disappointed in myself.

Not one woman in the room, myself included, stood up and said anything to this man. I was ready to start asking him questions immediately after the show, but I could sense my companion was uncomfortable with this idea, and opted, instead, to email* Keith KoKoruza, who also owns Windy City Wedding Show and several other businesses tailored to Chicago-area brides.

In both a blog post comment and a Facebook comment, Mr. KoKoruza apologized for his insensitive and uncouth remarks, but his double apology came wrapped with excuses and exceptions. Anything but genuine remorse.

He was very confident that his humor was used successfully throughout the show though I found him crass and chauvinistic. But, to each their own. Humor is absolutely a personal thing. There’s a line, though, between crass and class. I assumed when I registered for a professional bridal show, though, I’d be receiving the class end of the stick.

KoKoruza also insists that his jokes about the models are funny because they’re his friends. “They are also some of the most secure and confident people I have ever met which is what made the joke so ironic,” he rebutted.

Unfortunately, KC doesn’t seem to understand that people who appear confident are not always as secure with themselves as they seem. Many people have close friends and family members struggling in secret with their eating disorders. On the outside, they look happy, fearless, and well-adjusted. On the inside, they are fighting a demon every day of their lives.

Eating disorders are lifelong mental illnesses. You don’t recover from an eating disorder. You don’t wake up one day and decide, I’m not going to starve myself anymore or I’m done puking up every meal I eat and then it’s over. You wake up every day and decide, I’m going to focus on taking care of my body today. I will fight my disease, and today, I will win this battle. Every day is a battle. Every meal is a battle. Some battles are easier to win than others. And some are harder.

But what those struggling with eating disorders don’t need is some man, who may or may not struggle with his own eating disorder (I won’t be so brazen as to assume he doesn’t), making jokes about it as if it doesn’t matter. As if it’s not real. As if every model behind those curtains wasn’t insecure. He doesn’t know.

But what he should know is the complete disregard for propriety he displayed to the audience at this wedding show in order to gain a few cheap laughs. It’s a shame there is no one to hold this emcee accountable because what KC KoKoruz said was unacceptable.

What would you have said or done if you had been at the show? How would you have reacted? 

*While Mr. KoKoruza did not respond to my initial email sent the day of the bridal show (apparently, it was lost in the system), he did see and respond to my Facebook message.  His response arrived in the form of a comment here and on Facebook, which you can view below.

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Because I Need to Take Care of Myself

I’ve been thinking about self-care a lot lately. I haven’t been taking proper care of myself. Brian likes to joke that he feels responsible for making sure I’m well cared for, and I joke that it’s because my parents gave up that responsibility when he walked into my life. In reality, I need to make sure that I’m doing everything in my power to actually take care of my mind and body. Because when one part of me isn’t working right, the rest follows suit.

I participated in an Influencer Activation Program on behalf of Influence-Central for Massage Envy. I received compensation as a thank you for creating this content. As usual, the thoughts, opinions, and beliefs expressed in this post are wholly my own.

With the last week and a half off work, I’ve been focusing more on me and what I need. As a gregarious lady, I need vastly different things in my life than my introverted boyfriend. I’m at my happiest when I’m surrounded by people that make me smile, laugh, love or some combination of the three in a comfortable setting. Basically, I consider myself to be an introverted extrovert so I want to be in a place I know and feel welcome, but I recharge through the energy of people. In short – Party at my house, people!

Just kidding. Sort of. Self-maintenance, for me, involves a combination of activities that allow my physical and emotional well-being to thrive. This is how I do:

In your busy life, you need to make sure you're taking time for yourself. Try one of these 5 ways to promote self-care in your own life.

Yoga – physical and emotional

My practice is a safe space to meditate, relax, and breath. Not only does it help me move my body physically and stretch muscles to encourage activity without injury (well…I try anyways), but it also calms my thoughts, minimizes my anxiety and makes me a more positive person. I need yoga in my life. It gives me confidence, strength, peace. It gives me a sense of control. This is something I’ve been missing for a few months, since returning to my normal from my back injury, and I know I need to regain my yoga time. I’m starting back up again, and can’t tell you how excited I am to do so.

Yoga is part of my self-care routine.

Writing – emotional

Who needs a therapist when you can write all your crazy out in a story or blog post? When I’m anxious or depressed or just can’t seem to sleep, writing is my go-to version of insta-therapy. I can sit down with a notebook or in front of a computer screen and pour my heart out through words. In my previous role, I was writing so much dull marketing content, that I was slacking on writing for me, a mistake I won’t be making again.

Writing and painting my nails are both therapeutic exercises for me

Writing and painting my nails are both therapeutic exercises for me, which leads me to the next part of my self-care

Painting my nails – emotional and physical

Yeah, yeah…I know what you’re thinking. Chrissy, that can’t possibly be part of your self-care routine. And yet, here it is. When I can occupy my mind doing something that requires physical concentration, I can often think better, focus more thoroughly, and listen more intently. I paint my nails when I’m binge watching TV or having a conversation with Brian, because I’m more apt to pay attention without distraction. Also, when my nails look nice, I feel better about myself. It’s something I can pride myself in, and I take that as a necessary part of caring for myself and my body.

Socialization – emotional

While I can’t get behind the idea of forced socialization (something that happens when you feel obligated to join a group for a social outing – typically a work or organization obligation when you don’t love your peers), I love being with my people. It is an unfortunate circumstance that some of my writer friends are scattered around the world, but I’m also super lucky to have a lot of fabulous friends right in my backyard.

Just me and a bunch of awesome ginger writers. No big deal

Just me and a bunch of awesome ginger writers. No big deal (except that it’s totally a big deal).

In addition to interacting with my peer groups through parties, dinners, and board gaming, I find myself soaking up the brilliance and silliness in Facebook groups with writers I adore, I attend conferences and meet those writers face to face, and I recently met up with one of my new favorite people to talk, snack, and write.

Massage – physical

Monthly massage is one of the most important things that I do for myself. I’ve been a member of Massage Envy since the summer of 2007 when I was a catering manager who was consistently spraining her ankle and pulling muscles. For a few months, I saw whatever therapists were available, but the day I met Craig, everything changed. He asked if I had a preferred therapist, and I shrugged. His response is burned into my memory, ‘Well, let’s see if we can change that.”

Eight and a half years later, I feel like I’m cheating on Craig when I visit another therapist (which he,  encourages when he’s unavailable). When I hurt my back this summer, I made several extra visits to Massage Envy in addition to my regular monthly massage (sometimes with Craig, who only works Monday through Friday, and sometimes at another location with my secondary therapist who works weekends).

 

Massage is not some fluffy thing I do as a luxury for myself, it’s a necessary part of my Total Body Care.

Because I am active.

Because I spend 8-10 hours a day sitting in front of a computer.

Because I fall down, trip over chains, walk into poles.

Because I hurt myself.

Because I still feel injuries from more than a decade ago whenever the weather changes.

Because I care about my mental and physical health.

Because it makes my body feel healthier.

I am an advocate for taking care of yourself, your body, and your mind.

What is your because moment? What do you do to take care of your emotional and physical well-being? Do you take the time out to get regular massages? What activities do you participate in that make you you?

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Where’d You Get Those Crazy Ass Yoga Pants?

For the last several months, you’ve seen me prancing around Instagram, blog conferences, and, let’s be completely honest here, real life in the most amazing (or obnoxious) pants known to man. And for the most part, I’m pretty sure you love them as much as I do. Many people have asked where I find my yoga pants (which are really just my daily drivers, because I work in a surprisingly lax office that lets me wear tie-dye and bright patterns). I’m not a fashionista by any stretch of the imagination, but I am real…and I’ll give you the DL on my yoga-wear obsession.
$30/$60 Sale
My personal preference is to wear cotton yoga pants, as they stretch nicely and fit comfortably without digging. I’m also a huge advocate for the fold-over waistband so that I can 1. smooth out the area from my waist to my hips without some horrible elastic waistband creating more rolls and wrinkles and 2. not have a horrible elastic waistband digging into my belly.

I have spent the last 8 months on the hunt for the best plus-size yoga pants around. These are my favorites.

And to be completely fair and transparent, I’m going to tell you my pants size. I wear anywhere from an 18 to a 22.

The OG Pants (Victoria’s Secret Most Loved Yoga Pant – size large)

My go-to leggings, yoga pants, and shorts have always been Victoria's Secret. They also double as dress pants.

Green top – Victoria’s Secret, White top – Soybu, Swimsuit – Swimsuits for All, Sports Bra – Bare Necessities

I have to start with a shout out for the Most Loved Yoga Pant from Victoria’s Secret. I have them in legging, cropped legging, capri, and short version. To say I live in yoga pants is an understatement. I wear them under skirts and dresses or on their own. The fold-over waistband is amazing (I always unfold that waist band up to my waist). I wear a size large. I’ve tried the extra large pants, and they’re not tight enough for holding my shit in if you get my drift. Pro-tip: If you’re going to keep the waist unfolded, opt for the non-sequined versions.

Tie-Dye Dream (Shining Shakti – Classic Pant – size large)

I love the colors and designs of Shining Shakti yoga pants and leg warmers.

Shorts – Victoria’s Secret, Swimsuit – Swimsuits for All, Tee – Victoria’s Secret PINK, White tank – Soybu

My first pair  of funky yoga pants came from Shining Shakti, a retailer based out of the Chicago suburbs. The website is shut down, but you can still find a few rogue pairs here and there (like on yogadirect and Etsy). My yogi girlfriend is BFFs with the former owner and told me I absolutely HAD to try them. I was skeptical because…size. She promised they were super stretchy, much like my beloved VS pants. I discovered they went up to size XL, and was ecstatic, fearing they would be ridiculously tight. When the owner saw a photo of my yoga-ing on Instagram, she told my pal I should start with a large. I did, and went back for 3 more pairs plus two pairs of leg warmers to spruce up my VS pants.

Banana Pants and Other Fan Faves (Couture Tee – Fold-Over Flare and Legging – size extra large)

I am obsessed with Design Your Own Yoga Pants by Tristan Christopher - I seriously wear these Couture Tees yoga pants everywhere. (1)

Teal cami and black tee – Torrid

I ordered a surprise pack of these magical pants and was not disappointed. The Etsy shop by Tristan Christopher takes several months to make, dye, and ship your pants, but once they arrive, you’ll be thrilled with the product. The were definitely worth the wait. Not only will it be exciting the day your pants arrive, but you’ll also have the added joy of surprise designs! If you give them your measurements, the designers will guarantee a perfect fit, so I highly recommend you do that. They recommended an extra large, and the pants fit me exactly as I wanted them to. The surprise pack also goes up to a size XXXL, so girls of any size can rock these amazing pants.

I've been a Fabletics subscriber since March, and I'm really enjoying the sports bras, shirts and yoga pants.

Salar fold-over capri and sports bra – Fabletics, Green tee – VS PINK and Lima capri – Fabletics, Black cami – Torrid and Salar capri – Fabletics,   Yellow backless tee, sports bra, and Salar crop –  Fabletics, Black tee – Torrid and Salar fold-over capri – Fabletics

 

Pants with matchy matchy sports bras and tanks (Fabletics –  Salar Capri Fold-Over and Ayni Sports Bra – size XXL)

I’m a Fabletics junkie (that link is for a referral that earns me $10 if you sign up and is not an affiliate link). I used to max out the sizes here, and sometimes it was hard to catch the XXL before they were sold out or waitlisted, but now they go up to 3X and are oh so comfortable!. But when I catch the ones I want, I love them. These aren’t cotton, but they’re still pretty comfortable. I’ve tried some of the other pants, but my fave is the Salar fold-over. The sports bras are ideal for me (racerbacks tug on my neck and shoulders thanks to my boobs, so I prefer sports bras that have different strap options).

 

You will occasionally see me don other colorful pants from other brands, but I don’t fully stand by those brands just yet. These three are my tried-and-true lower body besties. They hug me on the daily. These are the ones that I would recommend to you. If you want a complete list of the brands that haven’t worked out for me or that I’m still trying out, you can send me an e-mail and I’ll hook you up with the rest of my legging and yoga pant finds.

No one asked me or paid me to write about my love of yoga pants. Some of the links are referral or affiliate links so if you click through, I may earn points or money to buy more yoga pants. Oh and keep this blog running smoothly.

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

How to Drunk Yoga in 12 Easy Steps

So you know how sometimes I do things so you don’t have to? This is one of those times. So please. Kids. Don’t try this at home.

Yoga is fun. Yoga is fucking awesome. Yoga is one of my new favorite things to do. Sometimes, I think in my head at night well, I can yoga or I can write, but I can’t do both.

As evident by my recent posting schedule, you can see where my head has been. And last night after happy hour (that ran well over an hour) was no exception. The thing is…Drunk Chrissy wanted to yoga AND write. And she had a brilliant fucking plan. That went something like this.

How to drunk yogaHow to drunk yoga

Step 1: Drink expensive beer and eat $2 tacos. The beer/beverage choice is up for discussion, so really, pick your preferred poison.

Step 2: (which is really like 10 steps in one, but it doesn’t really matter how you get home, as long as you’re not driving) Go home.

Step 3: Make a snack. You can’t be expected to be brilliant without your hungry drunk brain cleared.

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Step 4: Decide that you’re going to try amazing feats of yoga. You have no fear. (No, really. DON’T. TRY. THIS. AT HOME).

Step 5: Find your unsuspecting victim. I mean photographer. I mean boyfriend. Tell him you have a genius plan and you require his services. When he tells you that shoveling your massive driveway is more important than yoga pictures, pout just a little.

Step 6: Have another snack. If your first snack was salty, opt for something sweet, now. If you like.

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Step 7: Lay down on your mat and flop into a position that takes way more work when you’re sober. Twice.

image

This is a position called plow pose. It’s a real pose. And it’s usually a lot harder for me.

 

image

This is my attempt at shoulder stand. Apparently you’re supposed to do this before plow…I did it after.

 

Step 8: Lay back down and watch the room spin just a little.

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Step 9: Decide it’s time for headstand and race to the hallway that allows you to do it.

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Step 10: Get your inversion on. I prefer headstand…one, because I discovered this week that I can do it and two because it doesn’t wreak havoc on my wrists.

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I walked up the wall. It was fun.

I walked up the wall. It was fun.

Step 11: Collapse into the room spins.

image

Step 12: Go to bed, drunky.

See, that wasn’t so hard? Still best not to do this. I probably could have hurt myself.

What stupid shenanigans do you get into after a few beers? What yoga poses are you proud of or excited to try?

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Practicing Self-Compassion After an Eating Disorder

WARNING: This post may contain triggers for and about eating disorders. I had intended to write about yoga, but this post molded into something completely different.
1000Voices
Today, 1000 voices around the world are speaking and writing about compassion. This movement isn’t intended to change the world, but maybe…just maybe..it might. You can follow the movement by checking out the hashtag #1000Speak or by reading posts on the 1000 Voices for Compassion Link Up.

Compassion. What a beautiful and complicated word. Want to complicate it even more? Direct it at yourself.

Compassion. What a beautiful andI’ve had a love-hate relationship with my body since I was a little girl. I was the chubby girl. Bullied for my weight. I’ve had a love-hate relationship with my body since I was a little girl. I was the chubby girl. Bullied for my weight. Awkward. Quiet around my peers, but social around adults. Bigger than everyone else my age, but told I was beautiful by adults. Constantly informed that “I had a woman’s body.”

Chubby middle school pic

When I was in high school, I thought I was fat. I went on Weight Watchers for the first of MANY times. I lost between five and ten pounds. I would kill to weigh that much now.

Pink Princess

In college, I went back on Weight Watchers with my best friend. I lost about thirty pounds. I would kill to weigh that much now.

College party shirts

Over the years, my weight fluctuated as much as Oprah’s. Since I was 14 years old, my range has extended nearly 100 pounds. And sometimes, it was because of healthy things I did…and sometimes, it was not.

I guess it started in college when I was binge drinking. In college, I drank a lot. And I almost always threw up after drinking. When I felt sick, I’d preemptively puke. It seemed okay because everyone puked when they drank. And a lot of times, it wasn’t even preemptive…it just happened. I would drink to excess nearly every weekend.

And then it transitioned into something more.

At the end of and after college, I threw up. A lot. And it was no longer just because I was drinking. I purged daily for long periods of time. Some days it was more than once. Sometimes, after every meal. And after every snack. Between meals. Between dinner and dessert. I could go weeks or months without doing it. I didn’t believe I had a problem. And then one day, I would eat too much or not fit into a shirt the way I wanted to…and start again. I didn’t consider myself a bulimic. Because I was still fat. And I could stop whenever I wanted to.

Business suit

I would be eating something. And thinking about how full I was getting or how my stomach hurt just a little…and then I would think, well…just go throw up. And then I would. I started eating things that would be easier to un-digest. I preferred to eat out where I could purge in a public restroom rather than at home.  I would pull my hair back and take my shirt off before crouching over the porcelain god. I blamed itchy contacts for my red eyes after going to the bathroom. I carried gum and breath mints everywhere. I was strategic. But I still didn’t think I had a problem.

When my mom asked me about it, a couple years after it started…she was very blunt. “Are you bulimic?” She had seen remnants in the bathroom on a regular basis. The evidence was pretty stacked against me.

Chrissy at a wedding rehearsal

By then, I knew I had a problem. I had even admitted it to one of my friends. A friend I knew wouldn’t judge me…and a friend I knew wouldn’t take action. And she didn’t. But she would talk to me about it. And try to support me as best as she could. I responded to my mom in the only way I thought could be more evasive than point-blank lying. I told her I was just drinking too much. I wasn’t lying. I definitely drank A LOT. But I was still lying. To her…and probably to myself.

Self-Compassion After an Eating Disorder

I didn’t have compassion for myself. I didn’t respect my body. One of the clearest memories through all of this was the control that I felt. It wasn’t feeling skinny or the satisfaction of eating whatever I wanted. It was control. I would stand in front of the mirror, suck in my stomach and think, I can control this. But I didn’t love my body. Not with everything I was putting it through.

Feeling skinny

I remember telling another very good friend. Another friend who I knew wouldn’t judge me…but he would try in his own way to help me. And he definitely did. At dinner, he’d ask me why I was going to the bathroom at a restaurant. And eventually, just knowing that he had his eyes on me and could confront me held me back. When I was out with that group of friends, I would only go to the bathroom when I needed to pee, and I’d be fast about it. I puked less and less.

Somewhere along the way I stopped for good.

I wish I could tell you what made me stop. I wish I could tell you the moment that I took control of my urges and changed the control from puking to not puking. But I can’t. And it’s not just because I decided to stop one day and magically did. I know I could have benefited from professional help.

The funny thing is…as I was trying to find old pictures for this post…I couldn’t find one where I thought I was REALLY fat. But at the time…I thought I was huge. I know that I’m bigger now than I have ever been. And while I will continue to try healthy routes of diet and exercise, I’m becoming more comfortable with myself. I’m respecting and loving my body. Even when trolls on the internet think I’m fat. Or ugly. Or stupid. Or worthless. I am none of those. I am beautiful. And by respecting myself and my body, I can better show compassion toward others.

When we have compassion for someone, we sympathize. We empathize. We express concern. We show love. We sometimes pity. We worry. We care. We think. We share in the experiences of others. Compassion is difficult.

When we have compassion for ourselves, we have to dig deep to truly understand our minds and our bodies. We learn to respect what we can and cannot do. We strive to achieve. We exist.

curvy yoga
I recently started practicing yoga again. And I can’t tell you how much the support on Instagram and Facebook has meant to me. I’ve been participating in yoga challenges, and posting yoga pictures daily. Not only is it keeping me accountable, but I’m able to channel that same control I once had over my body into a new venture. Instead of controlling what goes in and out of my body, I can control how I move my body. And I can challenge myself while respecting my limitations and understanding that I am beautiful. Regardless of my size. Or whether society thinks I should take a picture of myself in a sports bra.

curvy yogaHow do you practice self-compassion? Have you suffered from an eating disorder? How have you handled body issues for yourself?

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Random Food Staples Always in our Kitchen

Normal people have a regular supply of certain foods always in stock. You know, things like mustard, ketchup, chicken breasts, American or cheddar cheese, pickles, Ritz crackers, olive oil…Sure we have some of these things in our fridge and pantry from time to time. Some of these normal foods even remain as staples in our home. But more often than not, my “must-have” food items are a little surprise quirky. I mean, you know we always have 5-10 different types of cheese hanging around in the cheese drawer. And for Brian, we ALWAYS have to have a back-up to the back-up of pico de gallo and tortilla chips. And the twelve different types of hot sauce…You can never have too much hot sauce. But these are some of my other favorite foodie treats.

Cheese drawer

This is the cheese drawer. Yes. I use cheese paper. It’s the best thing ever.

 

Arugula

Boring plain old lettuce is for chumps. Spinach? Chumps. I use arugula as a substitute for lettuce AND spinach. It’s flavorful. Green. Chock full of healthy. It’s amazing. I buy the Rocket Salad from Trader Joe’s, at $1.99 a bag, but you can find arugula in most grocery stores. TIP: If it starts to get wilty, cook it up in some  pasta or soup. You don’t need the perfect fresh arugula, and then you’re not wasting delicious $1.99/bag lettuce. At 0 Points Plus, it’s a great hearty side to any meal.

Pine nuts (Pignolias)

The nutty answer to almost everything. They’re a little lower in fat content that some other nuts, and you still get that nutty flavor that you’re looking for. Plus, a little goes a long way. Again, I buy mine from TJ’s.

Truffle Oil

I’ve used several different brands of truffle oil, and I like some of the more inexpensive oils better than the pricier options. I recommend taste testing some of the cheaper ones to start, just to see whether you’re a fan of the truffle aroma, or not…this one’s an acquired taste, a lot like me. So you’ll either love it or hate it.

Now go mix all three of the previously mentioned items together for an amazing salad of JOY. If you’re doing Weight Watchers, this little salad is 3 Points Plus for 2 cups of arugula, 1/2 oz pine nuts and 1 tsp truffle oil. Sprinkle a little salt and pepper and you’re ready to go… Just saying. And if you’re not on weight watchers, add parmesan cheese. Oh hell, even if you are…it’s worth the extra points.

Tarragon

Tarragon

I have a friend who gets me spices for Christmas every year. She’s got a sweet hookup and we’re Polish…so we like deals. I think this conversation pretty much speaks for itself. She actually gave me saffron one year and dared me to make something with it. I threw it in one of my “throw shit in a pan and hope it works out” recipes. It worked.

Speaking of which…that leads me to…

Smoked paprika

Forget regular paprika. This smoky sister to the standard spice brings out ALL the FLAVORS. So much delicious in EVERYTHING. Yumm-o. I use it on meat a lot (chicken, pork, lamb, beef – makes no difference to me). And in my chili. And sometimes on  veggies.

There are definitely more random food items, but I figured I’d start you off small. If you haven’t tried these beautiful creations, go forth and get the fuck on it. Because they’ll make you happy.

Hot sauce

This is a portion of our hot sauce/hot peppers. We also have a variety of salsas and pico de gallo. We don’t fuck around with spicy.

What are some of the strange things you always have in your fridge/cabinets? Are any of my choices on your list? What’s your favorite herb or spice?

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

EASY Toaster Oven Lunch Plan – Spicy Baked Tilapia and Truffle Goat Cheese Sub

You guys know I love me some Gorton’s Seafood, right?

Easy, fast, and delicious fishy goodness. Perfect when you’re forced to cook seafood for one…or when you go to your parents house to cook a meal for everyone except your boyfriend because he hates seafood…

Well, I recently discovered that these delightful little Simply Bakes are PERFECT for lunches at work (if you have access to a toaster oven or full-size oven – which we have both). I decided I’d pack everything I need for a tasty little tilapia sammy. I wanted it to be simple and flavorful. I had a French baguette waiting to be used, so I sliced a sandwich size chunk and bagged that for work. Then I grabbed a toaster oven sized panto put the Simply bakes bag in. I knew I had tiny packets of Tabasco sauce at my desk, and figured cheese was a necessity in this venture. When I left for work that morning,  I grabbed the baguette, the fish from the freezer and Trader Joe’s truffle goat cheese from the fridge, threw them in the bag with the pan and jetted to the train.

Spicy Baked Tilapia and Truffle Goat Cheese Sub at Work

Spicy Tilapia and Truffle Goat Cheese Sub

Ingredients

  • 1 Gorton’s Seafood Simply Bakes Tilapia fillet (if you only have access to a microwave, you can use the Gorton’s Grilled Tilapia, but it won’t be as saucy)
  • 6-inch French baguette
  • 1-2 oz truffle goat cheese
  • Tabasco sauce to taste

Process

  1. Preheat toaster oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. Put the fish in the toaster oven for 20-25 minutes
  3. Remove fish and let stand in bag
  4. Toast the baguette
  5. Spread goat cheese on one side of the toasted bread
  6. Flake the fish over the cheese
  7. Drizzle sauce from the bag into the sandwich
  8. Top it all off with a healthy spray of Tabasco
  9. Devour

This healthy(ish) and delicious recipe is a result of working with my friends at Gorton’s. This month, they’ve partnered with SparkPeople to focus on realistic resolutions. Now, you’ve all seen my 2015 resolutions, and I wasn’t kidding. I’m not doing anything to lose weight this month. But I couldn’t just send you to a site without checking it out. That’s not my style. So, I signed up for an account and set my SparkPeople goals to maintain my current weight. I decided that I would check out the Realistic Resolutions 30-Day Challenge, and I’m really glad I did. SparkPeople offers a great tracking tool and community for you to get started on your weight loss (or maintenance routine). The challenge has 30 daily tasks, all of which are pretty simple changes to make if you’re interested in getting started on a healthy journey.

The Giveaway

In addition to leading you to The SparkPeople and sharing my new favorite lunch recipe, I’m hosting a delightful little giveaway for some goodies. All you need to do is comment below with your favorite seafood recipe or dish.

One lucky winner will receive:

While you’re playing the giveaway game, you can enter the Gorton’s Eat Smarter Sweepstakes to win $5,000 or one of many daily prizes.

This giveaway has ended.

Blog Friends, what’s your favorite seafood dish?

This post is brought to you by my friends at Gorton’s. I was not paid to write nice things, but I did receive free products in order to give you my honest opinion. You can get social with Gorton’s and like/follow them on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram using the hashtag #RealisticResolution.

Gorton's Blogger Giveaway
Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Things I Discovered While Eating Healthier (Plus Pocketful of Quirky Grace DietBet Results)

As y’all know, I started the DietBet a month ago. I knew that it was scheduled to end just days after my birthday, and still I signed up. After several years of slight drops, but mostly raises, in weight, I wasn’t sure I would ever feel that drive to lose a few pounds. I’m comfortable in my own skin. Do I wish that jeans were more comfortable and that I could fit into my skinny girl dresses? Of course…but do I also think that I look awesome in the clothes I have now? Yep. Because sometimes the right plus size clothes can make a girl feel just right.

But somehow, I was finally ready to start dropping the pounds. And DietBet provided just the right amount of motivation: Money. But not just like…losing money…the opportunity to WIN money. I signed up for two DietBets: The 30 day bet with Joules and Kari and a 6 month bet with 800-ish other people.

I’m in this thing for the long haul kids.

I started fast and furious, dropping weight like nobody’s business. It was awesome. Then I tapered off right before my birthday… And it was a rough patch to get back on track. The last several days have been a serious effort to lose that last pound…we’ll find out soon enough if I made it or did not. Even if I didn’t make it, the group of 31 players lost over 200 pounds! That’s a pretty sweet deal if you asked me.

So before I share my weight loss victory or not, I thought I’d share a few things I learned during the start of this long journey.

Healthy eating tips and tricks that make it just a little bit easier

  • Zucchini, when sliced thin and grilled to a dark crisp, tastes like toasted marshmallows. (You heard it from me first.) Now I get why my dad always called it nature’s candy.
  • If you put enough delicious on a salad, you won’t need dressing.  (And no, I didn’t use bacon or salt.) I’ll show you sometime. 😀
  • This one surprised me the most: The less of the bad stuff you eat (salt, refined sugars, heavy carbs), the less hungry you get. On the days that I ate mostly fruits, veggies, cheese and proteins, I ate less without feeling hungry. Eye-opener.

So, did I win the DietBet? Yep. Im down 10.5 pounds in a month. It was hard work, especially with the birthday celebrations this past weekend, but I made it. The goal is to keep chugging along (probably at a slower pace than this one-month kickoff, but I’m super excited for the next 5 months) and lose several more pounds.

I dont notice the weight loss as much in my stomach as I do in my face, but it’s all got to come off eventually!
image

Thanks for the support, kids!

And congrats to all of the Pocketful of Quirky Grace betters, because more than 200 pounds is no small feat!

Would you try a DietBet? Does it seem like a motivator that would work for you? What healthy eating tips do you have for me?

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Dr. Travis Stork, Will You Marry Me? Errr… My Interview With The Doctor…

So…I wanted to make a video reenacting the interview with Dr. McDreamy, as performed by Brian…but he said no. Or I didn’t ask him and dreamed it all up in my head. One of those.

Instead, I’ll give you the highlights. And the interview. And pictures. Because that’s what I do.

Also, I suppose I should restart by telling you what the hell I’m talking about.

At BlogHer (oh yes. That again. You thought I was done…silly humans blog friends) I was offered the opportunity to interview delicious respectable celebrity doctor, Dr. Travis Stork of The Doctors. Some of you may know him from The Bachelor in Paris (I’m not going to lie, I don’t actually watch reality TV but I can see why they chose him as The Bachelor. He’s pretty. Smart.)

I began the day by sitting in on the first half of his panel about health and wellness, presented by Simply Saline (the very kind sponsors who offered me the opportunity to interview Dr. Stork). During this time, much like a high school student completing their homework for 6th hour in 1st hour, I wrote up my questions for the interview scheduled for that afternoon. The following is what resulted (None of these are direct quotes…there is some author interpretation/liberties).

I did tell him I was a humor blogger…and that things would be a little more..well me…hopefully he’s cool with my…memory.

Me: In your panel, which I only saw half of before I snuck out to explore the expo floor  you spoke about the importance of prevention. How can someone with a penchant for falling down, sprains, etc prevent injuries?

Dr. Stork: Footwear. What kind of shoes are you wearing?

Me: My shoes rock. They have arch support and everything!

Dr. Stork: Even those can catch and make you trip. You’ve got to watch where you’re walking. Railings are there for a reason.  They joke about people not being able to walk and chew gum at the same time? That’s almost true. You’ve got to focus.

Me: My mom says that to me all the time. She loves you by the way. She wanted me to marry you.

Dr. Stork: Ignoring the last comment Aw well, tell your mom I say hi. Also, clothing. If you wear loose clothing, you can get caught up in it and that can make you fall.

Me: So you’re saying I should wear tighter clothes?

Dr. Stork: laughs Yeah, I guess so.

Me:  When it comes to cuts, burns, and other kitchen injuries, what are some fast responses that can help minimize the injuries?

Dr. Stork: Cool water for both. It will soothe a burn and clean a cut. Most importantly, though, pay attention when you’re cooking.

Me: What are your thoughts on wheelie sneaks?

Dr. Stork: On what?

Me: Wheelie. Sneaks. You know? Sneakers with wheels on the bottom?

Dr. Stork: Oh like the kids shoes?

Me: And grown ups…

Dr. Stork: For you?!? Didn’t you just mention you fall down a lot?

Me: Maybe. giggle (This is where I casually touched his chest. Like it wasn’t planned or anything. Yes, that’s right. I touched his chest. Sorry Brian. )

Dr. Stork: Well I guess focusing is the biggest thing. And practice. And wearing a helmet.

Me: I practice at the grocery store, while holding onto the cart.

Dr. Stork: That doesn’t sound like the best idea for you…

Me: My mom says the same thing.

Dr. Stork: OK, I’ll make a deal with you. You can use the wheelie sneaks if you PROMISE to wear a helmet. You can tell your mom, when you fall down and hurt yourself, but don’t get a head injury, that I said it was okay and I’m the reason that you’re alive.

Me: Hmmm…

Dr. Stork: I’m serious. If I see you in the grocery store, you better be wearing a helmet.

Me: If you see me in the grocery store and say hi, I will ALWAYS wear a helmet.

Dr. Stork: Deal.

Me: Okay. SO I asked my readers for suggestions on what to ask you…and the questions they came up with were so inappropriate I couldn’t even say them out loud to you.

Dr. Stork: laughing I plead the fifth!

Me: Don’t worry, this is the only one I could share (THANKS A LOT YOU GUYS!) What pushed you into being a celebrity doctor?

Dr. Stork: I was at a bar after work, the network sat down with us, bought some drinks. A month later I was in Paris.

Me: Alrighty then.

The lady in charge: Time’s up.

Me: Two more questions!

The lady in charge: FAST.

Me: Trick question: Is there such a thing as too much cheese?

Dr. Stork: No?

Me: Good answer (You hear that?! A doctor said cheese is good for me!) Favorite unhealthy snack. Go.

Dr. Stork: Cheese. I mean brownies.

Then he hugged me.

Dr. Travis Stork Humor Interview

Aren’t we the cutest couple ever?

So there you have it kids. He told me to pay attention and focus…apparently that’s how it’s done.

How’d I do in my first serious journalist interview with someone moderately famous? At least this time I didn’t make a complete ass of myself (unlike that one time with Jenny Lawson). Right? Right.

I was not compensated to write this post. I was given a goodie bag of products and granted the time to interview Dr. Stork.

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!