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February 4, 2014

Freddy Forever

Freddy is a stinky little doggy who likes to sleep on top of the sheets, curled up by my tummy, thereby pinning me between him and the Dude for the entire night and yielding me nary an inch to move in either direction. He has terrible breath and crazy eyes when I'm eating peanut butter and sometimes he actually tries to lick my face off.

But he's so cute. So so so sosososososo SOOOOOOOOOOO cute. I wanted to stare into his little face forever and always, so I commissioned my friend Jo to paint his portrait for posterity.

It is literally the best thing I have ever laid eyes on.  Jo deserves the Congressional Medal of Honor and three Peabody Awards. She has now opened her own Etsy shop called Dapper Pet Portraits to immortalize other furry creatures near and far. If you're in need of a gift for the Person Who Has Everything Except a Watercolor of Their Beloved Pet, look no further.

February 2, 2014

The "Do I Really Want to Do This" Cleanse: Week 1

This has been a really weird week due to factors that have nothing to do with the cleanse. It's been incredibly stressful for reasons both personal and professional, but with very excellent highlights.  Namely, my left hand and a swath of my back have achieved worldwide fame.

Exhibit A

Exhibit B: Look for the wedding photo, which is fifth from the top. I'm the chick in teal sandwiched between the other chick in teal holding a bouquet and the woman in a red top.

If you want I can sign my autograph with my famous left hand.


I started this post on Saturday morning, and had written a really cocky paragraph about how easy this cleanse was and how few cravings I'd had.  You'll notice I deleted it. Because it was a lie.

The work week had been relatively easy, but that was largely because I was too distracted with many looming and terrifying deadlines to develop a good craving for anything. The weekend, during which I had large expanses of time in which ruminate upon the mouth-feel of a really good crusty baguette, has been harder. I want a spaghetti sandwich. I want beer ice cream. Is there something cleanse-worthy I can chew on? Because crunchy and mushy are fine and they certainly have their place, but I miss chewy.

That said, I did notice an increased and sustained energy level last week. I wasn't having a mid-afternoon crash followed by a pounding headache, which was de rigueur after a typical sandwich lunch and a few stops at the office candy bowl. And I feel incredibly morally superior about this change in diet after watching Food, Inc. last night, which is not nothing.

This is what we ate last week:

Veggie Stir Fry with Tofu and Brown Rice

I subbed snap peas for the bok choy and added red pepper flakes to the tofu. It had lots of nice textures and flavors going on.

Warm Lentil and Potato Salad

Smitten Kitchen will never steer you wrong. Ever. This is so tangy and flavorful and wonderful. It's getting a spot in the Canon.

Roasted Cauliflower and Mushroom Quinoa Salad

I skipped the cheese crumbles (because obviously) and the walnuts (because I didn't have any), and this guy was fairly boring and disappointing. 

Fake Chocolate Frosty

1 c. unsweetened almond milk
1 frozen banana
1Tbs cocoa powder
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp chia seeds

This concoction is saving my life by quelling my ever-present chocolate craving.

Goop Smoothie

January 26, 2014

The "Do I Really Want to Do This" Cleanse

I don't really do diets. The closest I've come is to ditch grains and legumes for the week of Passover, which always feels like Such Torture. So when Matt came home from a yoga class at our gym saying he wanted to join in on the three-week cleanse they were doing my response was, "have fun."

In the end, being a supportive spouse won out, and now we're both on this journey to achieve spiritual enlightenment and cleanse our souls as we cleanse our bodies free of toxins and free radicals. Or whatever. (I know he's really just in this so he has a bikini body before we go to Belize in March, vain bastard.)

Yesterday was the first of 21 days during which gluten, animal products, processed sugars, caffeine, or alcohol shan't pass betwixt our lips. The latter two are pretty easy for me-- I never developed a taste for caffeine, and I'm a social drinker at most. I do love my gluten though. And my yogurt and eggs. And oh, do I ever love sweet treats. You know I love my sweet treats. You probably love my sweet treats, too.

Unlike a juice "cleanse" (which seems more like a starvation fast to me), the point is not deprivation but rather eating better as a whole. Below are some recipes that are going to see me through.


One of my standard breakfast options (cleanse or no) is a smoothie consisting of a cup or so of almond milk, a handful of spinach, a banana, a spoonful of almond butter and a few shakes of cinnamon. It's pretty delish as far as green smoothies go. I'm also going to be making many bowlfuls of warming quinoa flakes with some pomegranate seeds and chia in the vortex-y days ahead.

What I'm missing: my other standard breakfast option of Grape Nuts and kefir.


 I've been making salads that consist of:
-A few handfuls of arugula
-Half an heirloom tomato, diced
-Half an avocado, diced
-Half a can of black beans
-1/2 tsp minced garlic
-1 Tbs chia seeds
-1 Tbs sunflower seeds
-Olive oil and balsamic vinegar to dress

What I'm missing: the ease of being able to grab a sandwich if I didn't have it together enough to make my lunch. I love sandwiches as a category of food in general.


The MIL made this excellent Squash, Red Lentil, and Chickpea stew when we were over there for New Years. As long as you omit the chicken it fits within the cleanse like a champ. The flavors are complex and the lentils are extremely filling.

What I'm missing: Egg sandwiches. Chicken. Pasta. Cheese. EVERYTHING. *sniffle*

Do you have any vegan, gluten-free, and sugar-free recipes you love? I've been collecting a few on one of my pinboards. I'd love to have more. Especially if they somehow involve chocolate.

January 6, 2014

How to survive life on Mars

It's, like, really cold here in sweet home Minnesota. Colder than a witch's chesticles. Colder than an icicle frozen inside of snowdrift inside of the Grinch's heart pre-Whoville. Colder, apparently, than Mars.

Much of the state is closed today in response to these -50F windchills, including, thank Moses, my office, giving me the time to write a little guide to braving these frigid temps.

Step 1: Stop washing your hair.

Ain't nobody got the time for taking their feathers from wet to dry in weather like this. You'll probably catch cold/pneumonia/plague if you even try. If you need to be seen in public and you care about not looking like a sewer rat, you're going to need some dry shampoo. I've used a few different spray kinds, like Suave (turns my hair gray!), Dove (don't like the smell!), bumble+bumble (it's like brown spray paint!), and wasn't impressed. A Buzzfeed article led me to this potion from Brooklyn man store Fellow Barber. It's a bit messier since it's a powder, but it actually gives my hair the volume and clean appearance the other guys were promising. And the bergamot scent is quite pleasing!

Step 2: Take a detox bath. 

Just because you aren't washing your hairs doesn't mean you should let the rest of you get rank. Draw yourself a steaming hot bath and add a half cup baking soda, a cup of Epsom salts, and a few sprinkles of an essential oil (I like lavender). Stew for 20 minutes. You'll emerge relaxed and quite warm.

I don't know how much I really buy the "detox" aspect of the bath, but hey. Worth a shot.

Step 3: Slather coconut oil all over yourself. 

Coconut oil is so hot right now. Yesterday I told the mister I was going to rub it all over my face and see what happened. Here's what happened:

-It removed my makeup
-It left my skin very shiny and moist, which is better than dull and dry
-I smelled like a Mounds bar

This morning I put it on my chapped lips after reading this article, and it has totally relieved my Alligator Lip Syndrome.

Step 4: Warm your innards.

I discovered this hibiscus tea/ginger-clementine simple syrup concoction last winter. It produces a beverage that is both sweet and tart, and it's the prettiest color you ever did see. If you're local, you can get hibiscus tea at TeaSource. Or you could come over. I have it stockpiled.

Step 5: Put on your Katniss cowl.

You are sooooo sick of me talking about my damn Katniss cowl/huntress vest. I know. BUT LOOK AT IT IT'S SO COOL! AND I MADE IT! I MADE SOMETHING COOL! It's perfect for wearing on top of your shirt when you need extra warmth but don't want extra bulk under your arms. It's perfect for wearing under your coat. I love it the best.

Step 5: If you must go outside, get serious about it.

The MIL gave me this Patagonia down coat for Chrismukkah. It is like walking around in a sleeping bag. Highly recommended.

These Sorel Joan of Artic boots have made tromping out of doors as close to a pleasure as it could be. Before I got my sleeping bag coat, my feet were often the warmest part of my body.

Step 6: Don't even try to care what you look like.

When you're on Mars, it's better to be bundled than babely.

Stay warm out thar!