Celebrating Victories

We’ve got to celebrate our victories, right?

I made a deal with Jordan that if I could finish 5 Zuzka Light workouts per week for a month then I could get some new hair extensions and what do you know? I finished the deal today and I can officially get started on my next dreadlock extensions!! 🙂

If you don’t already know who Zuzka Light is, she’s a super intense YouTube fitness trainer. She specializes in short intense workouts…. emphasis on the INTENSE. Completing my goal was super challenging. It really was. However, it does feel great to just push yourself to exhaustion for a short time and then have the rest of your day ahead of you knowing that you’ve completed the workout.

Sometimes, it seems like 15 minutes couldn’t possibly make much of an impact in your fitness, but I think this is the workout program that I’ve been looking for forever! After just 4 weeks of 15-30 minute workouts I’m noticing a huge improvement in my fitness level. It really is nice to feel some ab muscles under there! Jordan even says that my butt looks perkier and my posture has improved. I’m even doing real, full push ups instead of the modified knee push ups. They are small victories, but victories nonetheless!

In the past when I’ve been committed to a workout program, I’ve tried to do it “Biggest Loser” style and workout for many hours in a day. It produced good calorie burning results, but it just wasn’t something that I could sustain. Plus, I ended up with some repetitive stress injuries in the process. After just a month of doing these short, intense workouts, I genuinely feel like my knees are doing better than they have in a long time because I’ve been strengthening all my leg muscles.

I definitely don’t want to stop now that I feel like I’m just getting going. Who would have thought that I’d enjoy the feeling of being completely wiped out after a workout? Now, I’m on to my next goal and reward! I want to keep this train a-rollin!

Take a good look, this is what victory looks like.

4 week zuzka challenge

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Tofu Hot Wings + Vegan Ranch Dip

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You should really try out this recipe for Tofu Hot wings. You really should. I know that in the past you’ve taken one look at tofu and thought that you’d rather jump off a building than submit yourself to that kind of torture. Okay, maybe you didn’t have such extreme feelings on the subject of tofu, but if you’re anything like me, tofu is the kind of thing that you wouldn’t touch with a 10 foot pole. At least that used to be the case for me.

Until I tried some well-prepared Szechuan tofu at a restaurant in Seattle on a whim, I didn’t know about the potential that tofu has. But it was also extremely clear from eating that meal that tofu isn’t something that you can just throw in a pot with some seasonings and get a great result every time. There’s definitely much more care involved in the process, and I’ve wanted to get to the bottom of the tofu mystery ever since.

However, more than once I bought blocks of tofu with the best of intentions of vegan master-chefery, only to let them eventually spoil. Every time I’d open that fridge door, I’d see that tofu staring at me: reminding me that I had no clue what I was doing and that I’d probably do it wrong anyway.  After I repeated that cycle a few times, I figured that my heart wasn’t ready for this undertaking and I stopped wasting my money on tofu I wouldn’t use.

Flash forward a year later, and I’ve thrown caution to the wind. I made a successful Tofu Scramble and then loved its addition to Miso Soup.  Having had some preliminary success with just throwing my tofu in the pan and hoping for the best, I felt ready for more of a challenge. Of course at the end of it all, I really didn’t have anything to fear in the first place. It’s so weird how you can psych yourself out from something silly like trying to cook with tofu. Although I had to make a few little tweaks to the recipe and my techniques for it to turn out perfect, it tasted great on the first attempt as well.

I’m so happy that I found Stephanie Weaver’s Vegan Hot Wings Recipe at reciperenovator.com. The few changes I made to her recipe make it exactly to my satisfaction, but this chick obviously knew what she was talking about. Now, I don’t have to fantasize about reliving the old days when I used to love eating a whole order of hot wings to myself. I can make my delectable vegan swap instead.
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Tofu Hot Wings

16 ounces of the firmest tofu you can find, pressed

Marinade:
1/2 cup tapatio (other thin hot sauces=OK)
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1/4 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp cumin

Shake ‘n’ Bake:
1/4 cup flour
1 tbsp nutritional yeast
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder

Ranch Dressing:
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup almond milk
2 oz. vegan cream cheese
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp dried dill weed
1 tsp dried parsley
1/2 tsp dried chives
1/2 tsp black pepper

Directions:
To save on a little time, you can buy tofu that has already been pressed. I tried this out for my first attempt and the pressed tofu that I purchased from the Asian market turned out great. I was able to make and eat everything on the same day. However, on my second attempt I pressed out the super-firm tofu wrapped in a towel under a 3-high stack of college textbooks overnight and I liked that result slightly better. The texture of the tofu was really about the same as the pre-pressed version, but my overnight pressed version had some really-cool-kinda-rough-looking-smashed edges that made for a more interesting shape.

For the best results, I’d definitely press the tofu myself the night before and I’d prepare the Ranch Dip the night before as well. Prepare the Ranch Dip by blending all the ingredients together. I found that allowing that extra day for those spices to really settle in the dressing transformed it into something that was much better than your average dairy ranch dip. Then in the morning, you can shape the tofu into the pieces you’ll want and get them marinating.

For shaping the individual pieces themselves,  I cut the length of the pressed tofu block in half and then each half into 6 pieces. For the less gnarly looking inside pieces, I took out my vegetable peeler and shaved off the corners for a smoother look. The end look was totally worth the extra effort by the way.

I pricked my tofu with a fork in multiple directions and coated it in the entire marinade. There’s no need to separate a portion of the marinade out for later; that will just create more of a mess to clean up. Just prepare the marinade directly into a Tupperware or whatever you’re going to use to marinate these little tofu guys and let them soak up that awesome flavor for at least 4 hours.

Then you turn on the oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with wax paper. Spray it with a thin layer of cooking spray to prevent sticking. Do a little shake ‘n’ bake to fully coat the tofu with the Shake ‘n’ Bake mixture and arrange them on the baking sheet. You’ll just want to put those suckers in the oven for 15 minutes, then flip them over and bake another 10. Once they’ve cooked a little on each side, dip these little tofu guys back into the marinade, getting them fully coated, and cook for another 5-10 minutes. They’ll come out as crispy hot little tofu tenders.

Serve immediately with that Ranch Dip you prepared last night. These Tofu Hot Wings do not mess around. They are HOT (in the best possible way in my professional opinion), so cooling down with come crisp celery and fresh strawberries is the perfect complement to this fantastic tofu concoction.

I hope you love them as much as I did!
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Grocery Shopping on a Saturday Night + Watching My Hair Grow

Have I mentioned that  I really dislike working the 1-10 shift?

Getting off from work that late is rough for me. Mostly because at least part of the week I have to be in bed early enough so that Jordan can be up to get ready for his 9am class. Also, I just wish I had evenings off so I could make more plans with people. Most people aren’t able to make plans at 10am because they work normal day shifts. And then not seeing people during the evenings keeps me in this perpetual state of hermit-ness.

Tonight, when I got off work, I made my way to Safeway to grab a few things. Well, it was supposed to be a few things, which is why I didn’t get a cart and instead just kept grabbing the things I needed. Until the things I needed just kept growing to the point that I had ridiculous armfuls of groceries, including a ten pound bag of potatoes I might add. I barely made it to the check out only to find out that their credit card machines were broken. So I asked the checker to hold my stuff while I went to the atm.

And of course, I didn’t want to take on the ATM fees, so I drove down the street to my bank. When I got there, I found out the ATM was closed. Great. So, I decided that it would be worth not having to pay for the ATM at Safeway to start all over at WinCo. Sadly, the line at WinCo was soooo long. But, on the bright side, my order at Safeway was going to be just over $30, while my order at WinCo ended up being just over $20. And what do you know, their card machines worked.

An hour and a half after I started my journey to grab a few things at the store, I made my way home with my $20 worth of groceries. The part that really gets me though is that I can’t stop thinking that I should have gone back into Safeway or called them to let them know I wasn’t returning for those groceries. I have this nagging guilt over it that I felt I needed to get it off my chest. I’m sorry to the employees that I made put all my groceries back on the shelves. I’m sorry that I said I’d be right back, but didn’t even bother to let you know I’d changed my mind. Alright, I feel a bit better now.

Moral of the story: Just shop at WinCo in the first place.

03-08-14-3The dreads are about to turn 6 months now. I’m trying to embrace a slightly more natural way of keeping them for now and they’re starting to feel like they’re turning into real dreadlocks. I do wish they would grow a bit faster though. I guess hair will only grow so fast. I’ll probably be in a constant state of complaining about the length of my hair for the next year or two then.

I can’t help it. I love the dreads, even if they’re not in their full glory yet. Jordan’s not as much of a fan though. He keeps trying to get me to comb them out. I’ve made it 6 months so far, so we’ll see how stubborn I can be! History has shown though that I can be a bit impulsive about my hair. We shall see, we shall see.

And yes, this is how mundane my life is. Grocery shopping on a Saturday night and watching my dreads grow.

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Mendelssohn for the Soul

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This gorgeous tune popped up on my Rachmaninov Radio station on Pandora today and the haunting melody really stuck with me. Lucky for me, I already had the music in my book of Mendelssohn’s Songs Without Words. I can play it anytime I want!

Today is a good day. 🙂

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Breville

POTD 02-18-14It’s beautiful, isn’t it? Perhaps it’s not exactly the model that I was wanting to purchase for my next juicer, but it’s definitely a step up. I’ve been feeling the juicing itch again and the motor on my other juicer is just on it’s last leg. Plus, it makes this god awful noise that I don’t think my neighbors would appreciate much. It was time.

The juice it makes is also much better and smoother than my Jack LaLanne Power Express juicer. All around, this is definitely a step up. I’m a happy lady.

 

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Happy Valentine’s Day!

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Happy Valentine’s Day!

According to the interweb, it seems like sexy food= appetizers. Perhaps it’s because those are the types of food that you can feed to each other. Jordan and I had a lovely romantic dinner that consisted of the best stuffed mushrooms ever and some tomato-basil bruschetta, with a little bubbly to drink, of course. For dessert, we had strawberries and homemade (vegan) fudge. To say the least, this was the perfect Valentine’s Day feast if you ask me.

I’ve made vegan stuffed mushrooms several times and never been quite satisfied with them. This attempt, because of some fresh new ideas, was absolutely heavenly. I don’t think I would change a thing. Here’s some before and after cooking food porn for ya.

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This was a first attempt at Vegan Fudge and it was also amazing. I’ll have to share the recipe soon…

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I think Valentine’s Day is my new favorite holiday. 🙂

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Getting Ready for Valentine’s

Getting Ready for Valentine's

 

I’m cookin’ up something special for Valentine’s this year… 🙂

Jordan and I have become the sort of people that aren’t really into holidays I suppose. that became apparent when we basically checked out of Christmas this year. With the uncertainty of my job and moving, it was just too much to really put on the whole Holiday show.

But I don’t want to be the kind of person who doesn’t celebrate anything! I can’t say that I’ve every been much of a Valentine’s Day person in previous years, but this year I feel like there is an opportunity in front of me to celebrate love and I want to take advantage of the occasion!

Hopefully, everything goes according to the plan!

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Playing Leap-Frog

Leap Frog Chores

Check out these lovely assorted magnets that adorn our fridge! They are accompanied by the not as lovely, hand written daily chore assignments.  Have we been nailing our daily chores? Unfortunately, no. Although we’re not dismal failures in keeping our apartment tidy, we’ve been looking for a little something to nudge us in the right direction.

Jordan came up with the idea to play leap-frog with the magnets. You’ll notice that the red magnets (my color, obviously) are on top, which means that I was the last person to do the chore. Jordan can wait as long as he likes to do the dishes, but the longer he waits, the more dishes he’ll be responsible for.  It seems like a good little incentive for us to get the chore done as soon as possible. We’ll see if it works for us!

It’s finally my weekend again! Yahoo! I really need a new schedule. I’ve been working 1pm-10pm since November and I’m not a fan. It was the only way for me to go from part-time to full-time at work, so taking it was a no-brainer. However, it has really been catching up to me. Especially since Jordan needs to be on a morning schedule. Sometimes it’s hard to feel like the part of the day I own is over at 1pm. I much prefer to get the work over with in the first part of the day with free evenings as a reward.

I shouldn’t complain though, I get to work from home and that is quite the luxury. On another positive note, I think the days are slowly starting to get longer. I noticed daylight up until my lunch hour today and really appreciated it. I guess I’m just not cut out for the Vampire lifestyle after all… sigh.

Well, I hope to get a bunch of work done on some projects this weekend and maybe watch some more of the Olympics? Thank goodness I have something to keep my attention for a bit now that football season is over!

 

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Well, that’s a nice rack!

POTD #2 Taco RackFound this beauty on Amazon last week. Jordan and I have really gotten addicted to using corn tortillas for our tacos and have been looking for a way to make them slightly healthier. They don’t seem to hold together if you don’t fry ’em up with oil, and then there’s a lot of paper towel waste that you get from layering between the fried up shells. We haven’t given this method a try yet, but it’s at least a fun addition to our kitchen. I really hope it works out!

It’s only significant because I work for Amazon Customer service, but this was my first ever late Prime shipment…. shudder. But considering the fact that I haven’t wanted to leave my house the past few days because of all the snow we’ve had, I suppose it’s acceptable. 🙂 Despite its mighty power, Amazon hasn’t yet figured out how to control the weather.  I’m sure it’s only a matter of time though.

Jordan and I have been absolutely addicted to reading lately. My mom recommended “The Black Prism” to us and after barely making it through all the exposition of the first half, we blazed through the remainder of it and are now half-way through the sequel. It’s  really fantastically exciting and totally worth all the set up. It’s been far too easy to put my other projects on the back burner so I can devote all my attention to this story.

It really is nice to get caught up in a good book. I hope to keep this trend going after we’re done with this one. It’s a nice way to end the day. Like the Ama-zombie that I am, I think I want to get going on Amazon’s 100 Books to Read in a Lifetime list next.

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Picture Of The Day #1 Miso Soup for Breakfast

#1- 02-10-2014

You know me, I’m always interested in starting a new project. A while back, Jordan and I took a picture every day and made a little journal entry to remember the moment. We started the project because life is precious and as our lives go on, it seems that we forget the little things. The fact is, a week from now I’m not going to remember exactly what I was doing or thinking today.

Not that every moment is worth remembering, but sometimes it’s sad to think about all the moments that are just lost forever. While sorting through our things during the move into our studio apartment, we ran across the little photo album that we kept from that project. It’s truly a glimpse into what our life was like then. After only a couple years later, seeing those pictures brought back those memories and it was special.

I started the project up again, but I’m really no good at printing out pictures and hand writing little journal entries. It never seems to get done. Perhaps in the coming days, I’ll pull out the recent pictures and post them for funsies, perhaps not. We shall see! However, I figured it would be appropriate to give it a try on the blog.

This is the Miso soup that I made this morning for breakfast/lunch. I didn’t do anything special to it, just followed the Basic Vegetarian Miso Soup recipe that I found from a Google search. It really is lovely though. The recipe makes 4 servings, but I’m having the whole thing for my breakfast and lunch. In total, it’s about 450 calories so I figure that’s a pretty good start to my day. The last time I made this recipe, I LOVED the leftovers. Tofu really does take on the flavor of what it’s cooked in, and the tofu from next day Miso Soup was delicious.

I managed to drag my butt to the gym this morning and feel pretty good about that. I seem to have better days when I work out a little. I guess man wasn’t meant to sit in a chair all day, every day huh? While at the gym, I watched a  couple of Amazon Originals pilots on Amazon Prime. I REALLY loved “Mozart in the Jungle”. It’s about time they made a decent show about the life of a classical musician! I hope they order a full season!

 

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