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Monthly Archives: October 2012

Five Tens and an Eight

What are five tens and an eight?

These are the hours dear Cave Hubby will soon be working…ten hours a day (don’t forget to add-in a total of three commuting hours each day) five days a week and eight hours on Saturday–possibly even six or seven tens if the work timeline continues to decrease by weeks at a time. Ugh.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not complaining. I grew up on a construction schedule, so I understand that in a profession where it is either feast or famine and the wait list for work is at least a year long, we need to embrace the work when it is present and persistent. However, we here in the Klien Street Cave REALLY love our #1 guy, so, when he leaves home at 5 o’clock AM and doesn’t return home until 7 o’clock PM, our time with him is at an absolute MINIMUM. (Here’s a big shout-out to single parents–you are all superheroes!). And, in a coming month with three “holidays” (Election Day, Veterans’ Day, and Thanksgiving), all of which CH was scheduled to have off (Thanksgiving might be the sole survivor of the timeline push), things are looking a little hectic and a little stressful, to say the least. And I know that when things get crazy, I need a sanity-saving self-care plan.

So, what’s a girl whose family’s health is her main concern to do during such stressful, time-crunched, and fairly solo-parenting times? Let me tell you…

1.  Be Flexible

First, foremost, and forever, let go of rigid expectations in your non-essential plans. Yes, we all have obligations for work and school; however, the plans that don’t pay your bills or impact your professionalism need not contribute to your stress load. The more fluid you are about embracing schedule changes, the less power you give them to be a source of unhealthy stress. And, as we all know, stress can lead to unwelcome illnesses, which will continue to mess with your schedule. So, don’t subject yourself or your family to the stress-sickness cycle. Take a deep breath and bend a little. After all, what is the big deal about going grocery shopping on Monday instead of your usual Sunday trip? What’s wrong with taking a rain check for date night or declining an invitation to a non-obligatory event? When you step back and look at the forest through your bright, health-colored glasses, Lovelies, the answer is absolutely nothing.

2. Be Prepared

I think I’ve said it a time or two (or fifty) here at Perfectly Paleo Sisters, but preparation is KEY. Search for some Paleo recipes–the web is absolutely ripe with them. Write down the ingredients you need. Get thee to a grocery store. Load your cart with good, clean Paleo eats. Get home and prepare them. Stack containers in the fridge for grab-and-go meals, snacks, and post-workout noshing. Put in the effort on one day to eat well for the rest of the week. You can do it, and your health, as well as the health of your family, will reflect your awesome health-creating efforts. Remember: being busy is not an excuse to eat poorly. Don’t get caught in that trap–your health is too important during stressful times to eat food that doesn’t fuel you properly.

3. Treat Yourself Kindly

We don’t accept rudeness, intolerance, snide remarks, and undue criticism from others, yet many of us accept it from ourselves. If you want to make it through stressful times with your health and your sanity in tact, you need to be kind. Forgive yourself the pile (mountain?) of laundry that has gone unfolded on the couch. It will be there tomorrow. Did you miss a workout? Why beat yourself up when there is a whole other day waiting for you in the morning? Did the washer overflow, the car break down, and the dog run away with the cat? (Well, I suppose in this case my advice would be to ring a sitter,  get some tequila, and lock yourself in a bubble bath STAT). But, in all seriousness, Hakuna Matata. Instead of reviewing your self-perceived short-comings at the end of the day, ask yourself if everyone in your family is healthy, happy, and well-cared for. If you can answer YES to that question, then you have, by the most important measures, succeeded brilliantly.

4. You Time

I used to think that alone time was selfish. Now, not so much. In fact, on days when I have not been able to fit-in a head-clearing run or workout, and I have been surrounded by others non-stop, I am not above taking a book into the bathroom and reading for twenty minutes under the guise of stomach distress. Luckily, everyone in my house respects the bathroom isolation move. And, you know what? I emerge from the bathroom much happier than when I first entered (which is probably why everyone keeps “believing” my routine). I’m not suggesting the bathroom ruse is for you, I’m just saying that everyone needs twenty minutes to enjoy something just for themselves every day. Make it happen. Even if that means getting comfy on the throne.

What advice can you add to the sanity-saving self-care list, Lovelies?

Wishing you all a wonderful week!

XO

Nikki

Getting out of the Way (a.k.a. Living the Good Life)

Lovelies, I am blessed. I know this. I married a wonderful man–you know, one of the world’s last chivalrous types–whom I don’t deserve, and together we are raising two healthy, happy, smart, inquisitive, fun-loving, and big-hearted children. You know that million dollar family description–high school sweetheart husband and wife, daughter, son, dog, house in the suburbs? Yeah, nauseatingly, it applies. (I want to puke over our stereotypicalness sometimes. It’s okay if you do, too. I get it.).

But, you know what? Sometimes, even though I know I am blessed beyond measure and despite all the outward appearances and inner value of my  life, I get down on myself. I criticize my efforts when things go astray, and then I criticize myself for criticizing myself…it’s a vicious cycle once I get started. I suspect that I’m not the only one who does this….am I?

For example, I thought I had this week under control until precisely 7 PM Monday. I had completed all 74 mid-term grades. I had sent-out emails to friends and family with information about my daughter’s upcoming karate tournament (her very first!); I had grocery shopped (under budget, too!) for a week of clean Paleo eats; I was about to cook for lunches and prep a bunch of goodies for my loves when, instead, I found myself taking our karate kid to the emergency room for x-rays of her ankle. (In case you didn’t know, it is impossible to cook whilst in the emergency room–please laugh, I was kidding). And, by the time we got home and arranged our sparring princess and her potentially fractured growth plate and entirely shattered tournament dreams into bed, it was impossible to cook without pulling an all-nighter. I’m pretty sure my inner nag reloaded her entire arsenal with all the ammunition from Monday night’s fiasco, because as I closed my eyes in an attempt to sleep for a few hours, she started right on queue…

You are such a bad mother! How could you have let your #1 girl hurt herself just days before her big tournament? Don’t you know how important it is to her? She’s going to be so disappointed if she can’t compete–all because YOU let her get hurt! Now you’re not cooking? What will you do in the morning with one on crutches and the other still going to school? What will you put in his lunchbox. [Gasp!] You won’t let him buy SCHOOL lunch, will you? What about your husband? He’s been doing so well. You’re screwing up his success now, too! You didn’t run tonight, did you? How come? If you were REALLY dedicated you would have been running laps around the hospital. You’re going to FAIL at your half marathon because you skipped a day! Those new jeans you just started wearing aren’t going to zip if you keep this slacking up! Nag, nag, naggity nag…

And, sadly, Lovelies, these are not even the worst things that I said to myself. Ouch.

I woke up Tuesday morning feeling like I’d been sucker-punched by Fortune and laughed at by Fate. I think, though, that the real problem is that I need to be nicer to me.

I certainly wouldn’t tolerate anyone else treating me this way, and it would absolutely kill me if ever my kids treated themselves so harshly.

So, in order to 1. be a better role model, 2. end the self-critical cycle, and 3. embrace the last of the Paleo rules with which I have yet to make friends (you know, the one that advises you to reduce the stress in your life, no matter the source), I’ve decided that today is the day I’ll stop being the source of my own stress. I’m making a concentrated effort to get out of my own way and allow myself to live the good life. After all, Annette Funicello had a point…

P.S. Yes, I know the little light-up heart guy at the top has a cigarette. I also know that cigarettes are not healthy or Paleo 😉 I am pretending that the cigarette is symbolic of life’s petty troubles going up in smoke. Pretend with me, please. Life’s more fun that way.

Rules Schmules…

I’m cranky and hungry today (probably b/c I’m celebrating a regular female cycle–32 days instead of 28, but, hey, for us PCOSers that’s like clockwork). And because of it, I’m feeling a little devilish. In fact, I feel like breaking the rules. (Okay, so that’s not too much different from every other day. Thanks for pointing that out, Lovelies). Anyway…a short story first.

Once upon a low carb diet in a tiny house near the woods, a very hungry and unhappy girl fell in love with Shakshuka. (Not sure what that is? Read up at Wikipedia. I promise it won’t take you but a moment). With every flavorful bite the girl smiled a little bigger and felt a little better. Her bland, repetitive diet would bother her no more now that she had the magic of Shakshuka in her recipe box. The End.

Okay, so that is a terrible story, and, obviously, the girl is me. The point is that through all the ups and downs of my dieting history, I’ve returned to this dish over and over again and made it many ways–adding in a little, taking out a little, etc. However, my long-standing favorite recipe (not 100% Paleo) for Shakshuka is from the Smitten Kitchen. Check it out! While you are there getting lost in the deliciousness, take a look at the volatile comment section. I’ll give you a minute…..

Welcome back!

Who knew, right!?!?!?!?!?!?  Such controversy over a simple dish of tomatoes, peppers, spices, and eggs!

Well, like I mentioned, I’m feeling rebellious today. So, instead of deciding where the dish came from and who deserves credit for the ingenious invention of this delicious eat, (because, in all honesty, I really don’t care where it came from as long as it winds up on my plate) I’m just going to celebrate its wonderfulness and make some!

Paleo purists, so that your opinions of me don’t change for the worse, please stop reading now (okay, at the end of the paragraph) and visit The Paleo Diet Lifestyle‘s site for their wonderful version of Shakshuka. You and your 100% commitment (which I truly admire) are more than welcome to return when I’m feeling better behaved. Today, sadly, is not that day.

Okay, that was my warning. If you’re a purist who is still reading, just know that you forfeit your right to leave finger-wagging comments and that I love you. XO

Deviant Shakshuka

There are no measurements. Go figure. (If you’ve ever cooked in my kitchen with me, you know what I mean!) Use the pics, my terrible descriptions, and ask questions if you need to. I promise, despite my mood, that I’ll be nice and answer them.

Heat a pan with olive oil and sauté diced onion, green bell pepper, zucchini, and mushrooms until they are done to your liking. Feel free to add-in whatever else you’d like, too. This is cooking, not science.

Add-in a can of San Marzano tomatoes to your sautéed veggies. Break-up the tomatoes with a spoon, your fingers (don’t burn yourself), or whatever instrument it takes, to get them to reduce down into a nice bubbly sauce. Be patient. This might take a little while. Add in the spices of your choice to your taste. (Wonderfully specific, I know.) I used cumin and turmeric and paprika. Lots of cumin.

Once you have the fragrant sauce of your dreams, make two wells and crack one egg into each. Actually, to be fair, this step goes more like this: Make a well, pick up an egg, make the same well, crack the egg, try to scrape some sauce out of the way as egg is falling into the pan. Repeat. Cover your entire pan with a lid and let the eggs poach to your preferred degree of yolk set.

Once your eggs are “set,” you have a choice. I am about to do the unthinkable for most Paleo purists. But, you know what? I don’t care. I RARELY do this, and darn it, I deserve to enjoy my favorite dish of all time. I am going to add an entire…

OUNCE (one WHOLE ounce!) of feta cheese to my Shaksuka. I’m letting it melt. MMMMMMMMMMM. Don’t hate. Don’t judge. Let me indulge, please.

I use basil to garnish; you can use parsley. Whatever makes your tastebuds sing!

Breakfast is served!
 

Thanks for letting me break the rules this morning, Lovelies. 100% tomorrow. Promise.

XO

Nikki

Octoberiffic

I love October. A lot.

In fact, October is my favorite month of the year. How can someone NOT love the slow slip into the colors of fall, the crunchy leaves underfoot, the chilly rains, the crisp air, the homemade apple & pumpkin butters, the warm-cinnamony candles, the cool nights spent snuggled-up by the chimnea, the long hikes and camp-outs with loved ones, the unlimited creativity of costume making, the haunted walking tours of my hometown, and the family traditions that grow bigger and better every year? I’m not quite sure, either, Lovelies. Seems pretty impossible not to have some sort of love for a month so grand.

However, aside from all of the wonderful gems of the fall season, October holds some pretty strong motivational power over me as well. You see, October is when the weather begins to significantly cool here in PA, and with cooler weather, my outdoor running really comes back into focus after a summer spent slogging away on the awful dreadmill. I have a love/hate relationship with our treadmill–as in I love it because it allows me to run through the misery that so many people worship as summer, but I hate the whole hamster-in-a-wheel-running-to-nowhere aspect. October breaks that cycle for me and allows me to once again enjoy the simplicity of putting one foot in front of the other in the magnificent environment I call home. The bevy of trails near my house come alive with busy squirrels; fallen leaves crunch underfoot; the sunshine is warm, but the air is cool; and with the abundant and diverse deciduous tree-life, the colors make every trail run feel like I’m running through a painted masterpiece. Not a bad way to usher-in a new half marathon goal of a sub 2:30 finish at November 4th’s D & L Heritage Half Marathon! (Which, if you are a fall runner lover, I HIGHLY recommend).

Amazing scenery for all 13.1 miles!

Not only am I motivated to get my sneakers moving in the great outdoors,

but I’m also motivated to get my family moving out there, too!

My #1 girl and I kicked-off October a couple days early by running the Celtic Classic 5K in Bethlehem. She’s a real live wire, so we took off at break-neck speed (she’s eight, mind you) before we settled into a comfy 12:30 pace. We were doing great until we accidentally missed the turn-around for 5k runners and followed a few 10k runners for an extra half-mile before we turned and made our way back to the finish line. According to my phone’s running app, we did 4.2 miles in 50:49. I think my girl might have some more races in her future!

We’re also adventurers by nature. Fall hasn’t been fully experienced by our family unless there have been a few fall hikes. With our proximity to Hawk Mountain, The Pinnacle and Pulpit Rock, The Delaware Water Gap, The Appalachian Trail, Hickory Run State Park, Jacobsburg State Park, and South Mountain, being an active family is easy. But, more importantly, being an active family not only keeps us healthy, it keeps us close. Some of our fondest memories have been made on the various trails surrounding our home. I sometimes think that our kids will one day tell their own children that they spent more time wandering around the woods with us than they did at home!

(I’ve spared my family the embarrassment of all the more “candid” in-the-woods photos. Though we love to laugh at them, they are best saved for the time when Chris and I will get to show them to first girlfriends and boyfriends, much to the horror of our children.)

The last item on my list of reasons why October motivates me, is the most important. October motivates me to resist stagnation–in all things: work, education, parenting, romance, marriage, health, fitness, life in general. How does it do that, you wonder? Well, Chris and I will celebrate eleven years of marriage this month, and every October we strive to do one new thing together. It isn’t something we really discussed starting, rather it is an organic tradition that has grown with us as we have grown in marriage. (We weren’t very good at being married at first, Lovelies. But, no worries, after lots of practice, we’re terrific at it now). Much like a new coat of paint freshens up a room, a new experience lets us take a break from the craziness of work, parenting, schedules, etc. and see each other with fresh eyes. And, I am happy to say that this year, as we enjoy a picnic and private vow renewal with our children at Hickory Run followed by an adults’ only evening at a local amusement park’s Halloween Haunt Night, we will be the healthiest we have ever been together (and we’ve been best friends since 1994) thanks to our shared Paleo journey.

So, tell me, Lovelies.

What about Fall motivates YOU?

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