This past weekend was time for another brunch with my Women In Film mentoring group. We’ve been really good at meeting every other month and it’s now feeling like a part of my regular routine and I look forward to it. Like I’ve said before, these meetings have become much more social than business, but we still spend time supporting each other and giving advice when needed.
Our regular meeting place has become Rush St. and since that is pretty much my favorite brunch place I’m very happy to meet there. It’s pretty close to where all of us live (it’s so crazy how we were randomly placed in a group together and most of us live in the same neighborhood) and the food has always been great. So not only do I get to look forward to seeing these awesome women who have become my friends, I get to have a great meal too!
While I was excited to get to see everyone who could make this most recent meeting, it gave me time to reflect on what career things I could share with them at brunch. And the more I thought about it, the more I realized that the past 2 months have not been that focused on my career. I didn’t have much I could share with everyone and that got to me a bit.
At the time of our meeting, I still thought I needed to have surgery. So most of my updates to everyone was about surgery and the prep I’ve been doing to get ready for it. Since so many women in my group live right by my house, many of them offered to help me when I would have been recovering so we talked about that as well. I wish I had known that surgery had been cancelled by our meeting so I could have shared that news, but I did get to email them all as soon as I knew and everyone was pretty excited for me.
I did get to tell them about the steps I’ve been taking to be more involvedinSAG-AFTRA. And I told them how the elections are coming up again this summer and that I’m hoping that I’ll be elected as a delegate this year so I can attend the National Convention. Those are all really exciting things, but compared to what everyone else had as an update they were pretty low-key.
Since I believed that I was going to have surgery next week, I had booked out with my agents. I told them the dates I couldn’t work because of surgery and what I was thinking my recovery time would be. By booking out, they knew I couldn’t attend auditions or have booked work during that time. Now I’ve sent them an update letting them know I don’t need to book out, but there is a good chance I missed out on multiple auditions because we thought I wouldn’t be able to work. It’s frustrating, but there was no way to know that I wouldn’t have surgery so I can’t be too hard on myself.
After doing my 5K race (and getting almost no sleep that night), I was ready to be at my house the rest of the day and being pretty lazy. When I got home around 11am after the race, that’s pretty much exactly what I did. I showered and got into comfortable clothes and then pretty much didn’t move from my couch for several hours. But I did have to move eventually because one of my workout friends was having a birthday party that night!
I don’t get to see many of my Orangetheory friends outside of workouts. Even though I really enjoy hanging out with them at the workouts, we don’t always get to socialize outside of class. So when I get a chance to see someone in normal clothes, I totally take advantage of that! And since they don’t usually see me in something other than workout clothes with my hair in a top knot, I decided to make a bit more effort than normal in picking my outfit.
I don’t usually wear red, but the theme of the party was to wear something red and I found that belt on Amazon. The way I dressed was pretty different from what I’m used to, but I was feeling pretty confident and now I’m looking at ways to dress more like that more often!
I was a little nervous going to the party since the only person I would know there was the birthday girl. I’m a bit shy in situations like that and always feel so awkward going up to people I don’t know to join in on a conversation. But thankfully, my friend was awesome and was introducing me to a bunch of people that night. She knew that I didn’t know anyone else there and I appreciate the effort she made to make sure everyone was having fun and not feeling left out!
The party was held at a new bar called Neat. In full disclosure, the manager is the brother of a friend of mine (who I hadn’t met until that night), but I have to say that this is such an amazing bar! I don’t have a ton of bars that I love because so many bars in LA are either super fancy or are just too showy. I like being able to go somewhere and not stress too much about how I’m dressed or if I’m making a good impression on others. That’s one reason why I also love Bodega Wine Bar. But to find a bar like that is tough to find and it seems like when I find one they end up closing down.
But Neat was pretty awesome. There was a semi-private space in the back that was reserved for the birthday party that still was a part of the action. And in the main room most of the tables are on the edges of the room so there is a lot of space in the room that makes it not feel too crowded. There were a ton of people there, but since I didn’t have to keep going around chairs or tables it didn’t feel that bad.
And they do have a pretty epic drink menu too! I would have loved to have tried a drink or two, but I can’t really drink right now. But that didn’t matter since the staff at Neat was so cool. I talked to my friend’s brother and he asked me what sort of flavors I liked. I told him I liked citrus and then he got to work. I don’t know everything that he used in my drink, but there was some lime in it and before I knew it I had a custom non-alcoholic drink just for me!
It was so nice to have a festive drink at the party since it can feel a bit weird only ordering water at a bar. But I felt like I was included in the fun because I had a drink that I really liked! It was pretty tasty and reminded me a bit of a margarita. Even when I can drink again, I would totally consider getting this again because it was so nice and refreshing.
I really had a great time at the party, but I was getting pretty exhausted right after the birthday cake was brought out. I had been up so long that day and my legs were starting to feel a bit like cement. It’s not easy to wear heels a few hours after doing a 5K race! So I decided that it was time for me to go home and get some needed rest.
I’m so glad that I went to the party. Not only is it fun to get to see someone outside of Orangetheory and get to meet new friends, I got to check out a bar that I have a feeling I’ll be going to from now on. It’s always great to find new places in LA that I love because I do get stuck in ruts from time to time. But I busted out of that rut at this party and now I’m excited to get to go back to Neat again in the future!
After the incident my oven breaking, things got a little weird for me. The routine that I had been in for a while was stopped because I couldn’t do my meal planning the same way. I had been given multiple dates that my oven was supposed to be fixed where the repair people never showed up, so I stopped trying to plan things out. It just got frustrating getting food thinking I’d be able to make it, waiting hours for the repair guy to show up, and then having to go to the store to get something else to eat because I couldn’t cook what I had just bought.
Finally this week, after waiting more than a week to get my oven fixed someone came by. I’m grateful to have my oven back, but I’m a little annoyed that it took over a week for someone to come by for a repair that was completed in less than 10 minutes (I’m serious). I finally started to try to eat the foods that I couldn’t make because they needed to be cooked in the oven to get things back on track. I had been living off of a lot of microwaved meals while my oven was broken and I know they aren’t always the best choice for me. There are worst choices like getting delivery food, but the best stuff is usually things that I’m making in my oven.
When my meal planning stops like it did this time, it’s a bit tough for me to get back on pace. The way the meal planning was successful for me last month was to do all the planning and shopping one day and then just work through that food doing the week. And with the timing of the oven issue, it disrupted 2 meal planning weeks with last week and this week not being the way I wanted. And I’m struggling a bit to get back to it now.
I don’t want to sound like I’m putting things off until the weekend (that sounds like people who put off dieting or exercise until Monday or the next month). But I haven’t been able to take the time out to plan like I normally do or go to the store to get what I need. Fortunately, this week is almost done and I should be able to do my normal meal planning on Sunday like I like to.
With my food being thrown off, a few other things in my life got weird too. With work, I’m so used to having my lunch planned out in advance so it was easy to grab what I was going to eat in the middle of working (funny how it only took a month for this to feel normal to me). With the lack of meal planning, I was spending too much time thinking about food. And with thinking about food a lot, there were some not so great food days.
I’ve said this so many times before, but each time I have a setback like this I have to be grateful that I recognize it as a setback sooner rather than later. I can focus on getting things back to how they have been instead of waiting until I’m very uncomfortable or have gained back a ton of weight to do so. I can easily remember what I was doing a week or two ago that was working instead of struggling to remember what I was doing a month or a year ago.
I’m glad that I’ll be able to get things back quickly so I can focus on all the other things I need to focus on in my life. I can do some great meal planning for the week coming up so that all my other time can be focused on work, going to Orangetheory, having fun, and getting things ready for surgery. Time is much better spent on those things than trying to figure out what I want to eat for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
I feel like a broken record sharing a similar story over and over again. But I feel it’s important to do this. I don’t remember reading any bloggers who talked about the ups and downs and the random struggles that they had that set them back a few days. But when I talked to people, it seems like this is the norm. It’s especially the norm when you are recovering from an eating disorder. But people don’t seem to blog about it because it’s not interesting or attention getting. But it’s the truth and that’s exactly why I wanted to share it. Hopefully sharing my struggles will help someone else realize that things are hopeless and they can get back on track too.
I remember when I was little and hearing how adults felt like time went by so fast. I never understood it then since it seemed like each day would take forever (especially when it was a standardized testing day at school). But now it totally makes sense to me. Sometimes it feels like something wasn’t that long ago when it really was a few months ago. That’s what happened with my hangouts with my friend Rayshell.
We have been making an effort for a while to try to get together for happy hour every month every other month. We both have busy lives that seem to be on opposite schedules, so if we don’t make an effort to hang out a lot of time can slip by. Rayshell was recently on a trip and I had told her than when she got back we had to do a happy hour. But I didn’t realize then that the last time I had seen Rayshell was back in November! So much has changed in both of our lives since then so we quickly got to scheduling a time to meet for dinner.
We try to alternate if we meet on her side of town or my side of town, and Rayshell decided that it was her turn to come to my neighborhood (plus, her job is kind of toward where I live). I was trying to figure out a good place for us to meet that had a fun happy hour menu and I thought of Public School 310. I’ve been to Public School before, but only to the locationin the valley. It’s weird that I hadn’t been to the one near me before since it’s walking distance from my house. But somehow it just never happened. So this happy hour seemed like the perfect time to check it out!
Rayshell and I love a good happy hour menu, and this one seemed pretty amazing to us! The drinks were super cheap, but since I can’t drink right now I had to skip that. But Rayshell got a $5 beer that was huge! And we decided to each get one of the little plates and then split something too. I got the meatballs and we split the hummus.
The food was really good and it was all a great deal! Between the beer and the 3 plates, our dinner was under $25! That’s really cheap, even for happy hour! And with this being so close to my house I feel silly that I hadn’t been there before. It’s totally going on my list of great places in my neighborhood.
Besides having great food, it was great conversation. Like I said, it had been a while since I had seen Rayshell. We see each other’s posts on Facebook and text from time to time, so we were a bit caught up on each other’s lives. But it’s very different to catch up in person than it is online. And as we caught up, we both realized how much stuff had happened since we saw each other back in November!
Rayshell was telling me all about her trip, but she has also been working out at Orangetheory! She doesn’t work out at the same location as me since there is a location walking distance from her house (I’m jealous since I have to drive almost an hour home in rush hour traffic from the studio I go to). But she’s been going twice a week for a while so we wanted to talk workout stuff. I love that I have so many friends who work out so we can all talk about our workout wins and totally understand what the other person is talking about.
And even though Rayshell knows about my surgery next month, she wanted to hear about what was happening and what the plan is. I’m sure that hearing that I have a big tumor that will be taken out can be overwhelming for my friends. I don’t feel too worried about it because I’m not in pain and I feel very confident in my surgeon. But since nobody else knows that I’m not in pain and nobody else has met my surgeon, I can see why other people are worried about me. But I do want to make sure all of my friends know that I’m totally ok with everything that is happening so I’m more than happy to explain it all to them.
I also had to update Rayshell about getting a new car! It’s still a bit weird to me that I have a new car, but it is feeling more and more like mine and not like a rental or a temporary car. It helped a lot that I now have my personalized plates on it. I’ve had those plates on every car I’ve ever had and it makes it feel more like mine and not someone else’s. And it is really nice having a car that doesn’t have a bunch of things that I need to fix or that doesn’t want to play my podcasts from my phone. My old car was fine, but this one feels like such an upgrade. And while I wasn’t actively looking for a new car before, I know Rayshell knew all the issues I had with the old car so I think she’s pretty happy for me that I have something that works and doesn’t need thousands of dollars in repairs.
Our happy hour was pretty short because Rayshell had to deal with traffic to get home, but it was the perfect quick catchup for us. I know that she is hoping to come visit me when I’m in the hospital or when I’m recovering with my parents, so I’ll be seeing her again soon. And even though I might be in pain when we hang out then, I know that Rayshell is going to do what she can to make that still a fun hangout and feel like one of our regular happy hour adventures.
After writing the post yesterday, I felt extra motivated to get my butt back into gear. I don’t want to play the victim, and when I read my post after writing it that’s exactly what it felt like I was doing. I don’t need to be a victim and I have no plans on being one.
So I went back to the food plan that I created for this week and decided to figure out what I could do to shift things around so that I could still pretty much follow the plan. I needed to move some of the dinners to other days and shift around a few other meals, but it still seemed pretty reasonable to me and I figured I could get it to all work out for me.
So last night, I knew I would need to do some cooking. I’ve been making these really great muffins out of garbanzo beans that taste really decadent for breakfasts and lunches a lot and needed to bake those. And I also wanted to make meatloaf muffins to have for a few dinners. I decided to make the meatloaf first since I needed those for dinner and got to pre-heating my oven. While my oven was pre-heating, I mixed up all the ingredients for the meatloaf (with almost more veggies than meat) and got it into a muffin tray.
And then I tried to open my oven.
For some reason, my oven would only open on one side. The other side seemed stuck and I couldn’t open it no matter what. My oven doesn’t have a self-cleaning option so it wasn’t stuck because of that (which is what everything online seemed to say) and I couldn’t see it stuck on anything. And then, the oven door slipped and somehow one side fell off the hinges.
I’m glad I had turned off the oven before the door fell because it wasn’t too hot when it fell down. I tried with everything I had to get the door back on the hinges, but there was no way that it was going to go back. And with one side falling off like that, the oven was starting to tip over so I figured out how to get the door totally off the over and put it on the kitchen floor.
Fortunately, my neighbor let me use his oven to cook the meatloaf so that at least I didn’t have to throw all that out. He said I could bake the other things that I needed to too, but I didn’t want to worry too much about it and figured that hopefully my oven would be fixed soon enough.
My landlord came by to see if the oven could be fixed, but he doesn’t think it’s possible. I’m waiting for a call from another repair person to see if they are going to be able to fix it or if I’ll need to get a new oven. I’m not sure if I want a new oven because I finally have this one figured out (basically I need to set the temperature almost 100 degrees higher than I need it to be so it’s right). And hopefully I’ll find out within a day or two what will be happening.
I hate that when I get things back on track in my head, there is something that stops me. There are several things that I wanted to make this week that involve using my oven. And yes, I could probably go back to my neighbor to use his again, but I don’t want to inconvenience him. If my oven if fixed soon, it shouldn’t throw too much off. And again, I have rearranged my food plan to see what I can make and how I can get things to work out. I may need to make a grocery run to get a few other things that I know I can make in the microwave or on the stove, but I should be able to be ok.
And even though this isn’t a fun situation, I’m still trying to look on the positives. At least I rent and I don’t have to spend anything to get my oven fixed. My oven broke before I put my food in, because if it broke when the food was in there I’m pretty sure everything would have been burnt. And not having an oven isn’t that horrible. It’s a setback, but a super minor one compared to everything else I have dealt with. And hopefully soon, I’ll have a new oven that will work perfect to use for all the cooking I know I need to be doing!
As soon as I knew I’d need liver surgery, the first thing I thought about was wanting to lose weight before surgery. I know that at a lower weight the surgery will be easier and I’ll have a smoother recovery. Needing to be at a lower weight for surgery is why 11 years ago I did the RFO diet at UCLA. It was more important then because I was having joint surgery, but it is just as important now.
When I got sick, I dropped weight super fast. It was almost scary how fast it was going down and for a while I thought that trend would stick. In a matter of a week or so, I was down over 20 pounds. And even when I started to add more normal food into my diet, my weight seemed to be steady. I wasn’t necessarily losing weight, but I wasn’t gaining it either which I was expecting. And for a while, that was how it was and I thought it would be.
With the idea of surgery coming up, I had a number in mind that I wanted to get to in my weight loss. At the rate I had been losing weight, it was going to be a super easy goal. At the weight I was at, if I was losing 1-2 pounds a week it was a very possible goal. So I had no reason to expect that it would be an issue to get to the number I wanted to be at by April.
Now that I’m just over a month away from surgery, I’m not close to that number at all. In fact, I’ve gained a bit of weight back from that big weight loss back in the fall. It’s not a lot of the weight (only about 6 pounds), but it’s still so frustrating. I’m so mad at myself because I know this is my fault and that I have only made things more difficult on me and the surgery. I had no reason why this had to happen, but of course my eating disorder had other things in mind.
At this point, the number I had in mind is pretty much impossible unless I take unhealthy measures to lose weight. I will not do unhealthy things because I know they will backfire on me and I’m not willing to do that to myself. I can only try to do my best to get back on track and to be at the lowest weight I can safely get down to by surgery.
I’m trying to be hopefully that I can get closer to the number I had in mind than I am right now over the next few weeks. Realistically, I think the most I could safely lose would be 15 pounds. But I think that will be a stretch and difficult. I am doing what I can to keep my eating under control, but sometimes it feels like my food is the only thing that I can control in my life. And when I can control it how I want it to be, it’s not always the best choices. I’m trying to keep my health in my mind first over my eating disorder’s desires, but I don’t always win.
I’m lucky that my surgeon did not put pressure on me to lose weight before surgery. I know that I need to do it, but I don’t feel like he is expecting me to do so. Any weight loss I have will be a good thing and there is no feeling that I might be disappointing him with whatever the number will be on the scale when I weigh in before the surgery. I think if I had that pressure on me, I would be resorting more to unhealthy things and would probably still not lose as much as I should before surgery.
I really do want to buckle down and refocus for these next 5 weeks. I know that I can accomplish some really great things with my weight loss even if I do have the occasional setback. I don’t want to keep thinking of new goals to get to by surgery because I know that will be setting myself up to fail. Instead, I just want to make sure that whatever effort I am able to do that I feel good about it and know that I worked really hard to get to where I am.
I’m hopeful that I will probably have a decent weight loss after surgery because I’ll be on a restricted diet for a while. I don’t want to depend on that for weight loss because I know that it can be temporary. But it will be a nice time that I know the scale should be going in the right direction that will allow me to refocus my plan and to hopefully continue the momentum after I start to eat normal food again.
It’s so frustrating when I was doing so great for a while and then something happens that makes me feel like I’ve ruined all of my progress. I know that recognizing that I’m struggling is a sign that things are getting better because I am not allowing myself to ignore the fact that everything isn’t ok. I just wish that things were easier for me because I really do want to not have to worry about food like I am now. I want food thoughts to not dominate my mind. And I want my efforts to show physically instead of being hidden by the occasional destruction of my eating disorder.
I was just at Disneyland last week, but of course I wasn’t going to say no to going again this week! This trip had been planned for a bit because my friend Michelle and I wanted to see what they were doing for the AP Days at Disneyland and this seemed to be the only time we could go when the event was happening. But then they also announced all the Beauty and the Beast stuff at Disneyland so we added wanting to go to the pop up restaurant on our list and were very excited to have a fun Disney day!
When we got to the parks, we were pretty shocked about how crowded it was. It wasn’t spring break and there wasn’t a holiday so we didn’t know why everyone was at Disneyland. It wasn’t unbearably crowded, but it did surprise us. And since we knew the Beauty and the Beast pop up restaurant was a limited time thing, we were prepared to have to wait a while to get food when we were ready to eat.
But before eating, we had some stuff to do! We started with Hyperspace Mountain. I’m trying to get in a bunch of roller coasters before surgery since I know I won’t be able to ride them for a while after surgery. I’m planning at least one more Disney trip before surgery and I know I’ll be going on this again. And Michelle and I tried to do the pose from the Hamilton poster for the ride, but I turned a bit too much to the side so my arm got cut off. But Michelle looked awesome!
Our next stop was right next to Hyperspace Mountain at the old arcade building. That is where the AP Days event was being held. There were some art projects for kids, special merchandise that you could purchase, and phone charging stations. But the photo ops were what we decided to take advantage of!
There weren’t a ton of people inside of the event, so we were able to get through the photos pretty quickly. Then we went on a quick ride on Star Tours (another ride that I won’t be able to go on after surgery) before heading over to the Red Rose Tavern.
We had heard about the insane crowds there since everyone wants to experience it before it goes away (but there is no end date yet). We were prepared for the worst, but when we walked up it was pretty empty! And it was so cute inside. They decorated it to look like Gaston’s Tavern from the movie and there was a lot of stained glass all over.
We took a look at the menu when we walked inside, but since there was no line to order we just stood off to the side to look at the options. And once we knew what we wanted we were able to walk right up to place our orders.
Since we weren’t sure if either of us would be able to be back before this pop up ended, so we decided to order a few things and share them. From friends who have been there already, I heard that the chicken sandwich and poutine were really good so we ordered those plus the two desserts (lemon cake and “gray stuff”) that they had to split between us.
And it was all awesome! This was so much better than regular theme park food and we were both saying how we think they need to keep this permanently at Disneyland! It was a lot of food and we were both feeling pretty full after eating. But that was ok because we had a quick stop before going on any more rides that day.
Earlier in the day I saw that one of my Orangetheory coaches, Whitney, was at Disneyland that day too! She and I were texting and finally we were able to coordinate meeting up when we were done eating. We were on our way to the meeting spot, but while we were walking we happened to see the Gaston character walking around. He’s a character you don’t see that often and he wasn’t stopping for photos. So I ran in front of him and did a quick selfie as he was walking.
After that quick photo, we walked over to Indiana Jones where Whitney was waiting for us. We just hung out for a little bit while she was eating and it was a nice catch up!
Whitney was there with her family so she went off with them and Michelle and I went on a few more rides. We went to Indiana Jones (another one that will not be ok to ride after surgery) and Haunted Mansion before doing our last ride in that park.
Michelle and I have a year-long competition going with Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters. We have set rules for ourselves, but mainly we have to ride together and we are adding up all the points we get to see who has the most points at the end of the year. I’m winning right now, but that can change so quickly! For some reason, our ride photo left out Michelle’s score, but she got more than double the points I got.
We originally weren’t going to go over to California Adventure, but we ended up wanting to ride on Soarin’ so we headed over there after Buzz Lightyear. But on the way, we did some shopping. We weren’t looking for anything in particular, but I always like to see what is for sale at Disneyland. And about a year ago, I saw a set of dog bow ties that I loved but only came in small dog sizes. But this time, they had them in a large dog size!
I called my mom quickly and she confirmed Tucker’s neck size (these will either just fit perfectly or we will add a little extra velcro to make them fit) so I got them for him! Tucker doesn’t dress up too often, but I figured these could be cute for Halloween for him or just for fun outings. Plus, I love Disney stuff so I want the dog to have some too!
Our ride on Soarin’ was awesome (as always) and by the time we were done with the ride we were both pretty exhausted. I had a big workout before meeting Michelle and she had been working hard. And even though we were only at Disneyland for about 6 hours, it felt like a full day for us!
I’ve had a couple of back to back weeks with Disneyland days. I have another day planned for the beginning of April and that might be my last trip there before surgery. I’m glad that I’ve been able to go so much lately because I know I will miss it when I can’t be there. But for now, I’m just maximizing each day I have there!
I’ve been testing a few new recipes lately since I’m working on meal planning and cooking at home. I usually am trying one new dinner recipe each week or every other week. I’m trying to find simple recipes since I don’t want to have to buy a ton of ingredients that cost a lot of money or something that takes forever to cook. So my searches tend to be for pretty basic stuff. And sometimes, I need something to inspire me to find a new recipe.
A friend of mine had a loss recently and I wanted to do something nice for them. They are vegan so most of my guilty pleasure foods wouldn’t work for them so I did some searching for good vegan treats. So many of them had lots of ingredients that I don’t have or don’t use. It’s not worth it to buy something that will just be used in that one recipe (the problem I’ve had with cooking in the past) so I just kept searching for something easy to make. And finally I came across the perfect recipe!
I found a very basic recipe for vegan peanut butter fudge that pretty much only had ingredients that I already have! It was so easy and fast to make and so good that I know this will be something I will be making for lots of people in the future! And as I have before, whenever I find an awesome recipe I want to share it with you all!
1/2 cup natural nut butter (this was the only ingredient I had to buy because the only peanut butter I had in my house had honey which is not vegan)
2 tablespoons coconut oil, softened or melted
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
What to do:
Combine all ingredients and stir until combined
Pour into a container that is lined with parchment paper
Put container in freezer and freeze for 45 minutes
Take out of freezer, cut, and enjoy!
That’s it! It’s so simple that I can’t believe that I haven’t made this before! I actually have not been able to get the fudge to my friend yet (so they might be finding out that I made something for them by reading this blog), but I know that they will be a hit!
This isn’t necessarily the healthiest thing to eat, but it’s so much healthier than most desserts that I know how to make. And I’m sure this recipe is easy enough to switch things up so the basic recipe can be used for a bunch of different things. I was thinking that this could be a really good topping to the gluten-free brownies I know how to make. Those brownies are sometimes used as the base for triple layer brownies with brown butter frosting. But I think using this fudge as a frosting could really be amazing! I might have to try it out sometime.
Every time I try a new recipe, I’m so anxious that it’s not going to turn out ok. I had that happen a few weeks ago with a new soup recipe that I tried. I thought it was going to be amazing and I was so excited about it. And then I tried it and it was horrible. I tried to fix it but there was no saving the soup and it had to be thrown out. I felt awful doing that because it is a waste of food and money (and I did try to see if any of my neighbors wanted it), but I knew I couldn’t eat it.
Having a recipe go wrong was a blessing in disguise because it wasn’t the end of the world like I thought it would be. It was unfortunate, but nothing horrible happened because I made something that tasted horrible. I’m not as scared now as I was before that I will do something wrong. And more often than not, the recipes will turn out awesome (like this one did) and it will become something that I will want to keep making!
The trial and error in my kitchen continues each week. But I know that this vegan fudge is going to be something that I make over and over again.
The start of a new month brings the end to one monthly challenge and the beginning of another! Of course, I’ve kept doing almost all of my monthly challenges beyond the end of that month so it’s really not the end to anything this time. First, a quick recap on my February challenge.
My challenge for February was to work on weekly meal planning. This is something I’ve tried to do multiple times and I was hoping that this time things would finally stick for me. Meal planning is something I know I should do for both my health and budget, but it has never been easy for me. I’ve tried different methods of planning and nothing felt right for me. So this past month, I decided to give myself the month to test out different things and to see what I could come up with.
I started with trying a couple of meal planning apps. I was only trying the free ones because I didn’t want to pay something that I wasn’t sure I would like. I know that some people love the apps, but for me they just didn’t work. I couldn’t see things the way I wanted to and it felt like more work than it was worth. I really wanted an app to work because it seems to be what so many people like and have success with, but I can’t force myself to work with something that doesn’t work for me.
After that, I did various versions of writing down a list for the week. I’m still testing out a couple of options, but I’m finding that having this list system is going ok for me. I can work on the week’s list on Saturday or Sunday (whatever day I can go get groceries), see everything that I have for the week, and make a grocery list based on that. I’m not buying things that I don’t need, so I’m saving money. And I’m finding that if I can cook one night at home, that covers me for 3 meals and I can eat something home cooked most days.
I’m not 100% perfect with following my plan, but I’m doing much better than I expected. If nothing else, this has helped me get into a schedule with my food and I’m not having problems with not having something in the house for lunch or dinner. There is still room for improvement with this, but I would say this challenge is a success!
Moving on to March now. It was a struggle for me to think up a challenge for this month. I ended up doing some searching online for inspiration on what could be a good month-long challenge. There were so many good ideas, but many of them are similar to things I already do so it wouldn’t be enough of a challenge for me. But I kept gravitating toward some of the educational challenges so I decided to look more into those. And I finally found something that seems good to me.
For the month of March, I’m going to work on learning a new language every day. More specifically, I’m going to work on learning French every day. I’ve wanting to learn French before and I’ve tried it a few times (sound familiar?) but it’s never been a habit that I can stick with. But I know that doing something educational every day will be good for me and learning another language will be a tough challenge for me.
I’m planning on using the Duolingo app to do this, which is something I tried before. But now, I have reminders set up for me to work on this every day and I’m connecting it to my social media so I can have friends checking in on me. I’ve liked the app before, I just wasn’t consistent with it. But that was before I got really into my monthly challenges, so I’m hoping that the motivation will be with me this time and I can stick with it.
I don’t expect to be great at French within a month. I know that it will take so much longer than that to be able to learn another language. But in 30 days I can learn some basics and get into the habit of working on this. Maybe by the end of this year I can feel comfortable with how much I know. I don’t have any reason I need to know French right now, but I’ve got some motivation to learn it in the long run.
12 years ago, my mom and I went to France and Italy together. We had a great trip and have said that we wanted to go again. And if we go back, we’ve said that we’d like to go to Disneyland Paris. I know you don’t need to speak French to enjoy Disneyland Paris, but I think knowing it would be helpful and would make that trip even better. My mom and I don’t have any travel plans any time soon, but we know that we want to go back one day. And when that happens, hopefully I will be able to speak a little French and understand it as well.
I’m excited to see how a brainy challenge will go for me because many of the ones I’ve done before aren’t as much about learning new things. But I know I should be doing more things to keep learning every day, and this is a great way to add that to my daily habits!
I’ve written about the traditions that my birthday twin, Joanna, and I have been doing for a while. It’s tradition to go to Truxton’s for our birthday and then we started doing Cheesecake Factory around the holidays. But lately, we’ve changed our Cheesecake Factory dinner to be more of a half birthday thing. And since it was just our half birthday, we made an effort to do our dinner close to the right time.
We ended up going this past Monday after I had my screening. Joanna was actually at the screening the week before at my film festival, so she didn’t have to go to this screening. But the timing worked out really well between us to go to dinner after my screening so I was excited to get to discuss the screening with her. I was so nervous going into the screening and still feeling a little bit anxious after, so it was nice to know I would be able to talk it through with a friend to calm me down.
So many times when we go to Cheesecake Factory, it’s so crowded that we have to wait forever for a table. This time, I got there just before Joanna did and our table was ready a few minutes after she got there. For some reason, we always get seated outside on the patio (thank goodness they have heating lamps), and we were seated out there again!
I knew what I was going to order right away. I always get the same salad because it’s delicious! It also isn’t too massive (like many of the items there are) and the calorie count isn’t too bad since it’s on the skinny menu. But it is so good and a nice balance to getting cheesecake so it’s the perfect thing to order. I know that there are recipes to make this at home, but I like having this as something special that I get when I go to Cheesecake Factory.
Over dinner, Joanna and I did a bit of catching up. I had just seen her the week before so there weren’t a ton of new updates in our lives. We did discuss my surgery and Joanna was telling me about some awesome trips that she’s got coming up this year. And we also started to plan what we wanted to do for our birthday this year. We said we should do a combined birthday party since then we don’t have to worry about having parties at the same time. And we have a couple of ideas for what that party could be.
And of course, because politics and current events are unavoidable right now, we did discuss some of that. We pretty much are on the same side with everything, but there are a few things that we aren’t 100% together on. But we are able to have some really amazing and respectful debates and I know that I learn a lot from those. Most of the time, we do agree on everything. But when we get to play devil’s advocate regarding something we disagree on, it’s always interesting.
But as always in our Cheesecake Factory outings, the highlight for us wasn’t necessarily getting to hang out but getting cheesecake! I love getting to hang out with Joanna, but I know we both are thinking about what types of cheesecake we are going to get as soon as we plan our dinner. I learned recently that you can ask your server to cut the slice in half before bringing it to the table, so that made things so much easier for us. We each had a half slice of the red velvet cheesecake and a half slice of tiramisu cheesecake. It’s a lot of cheesecake, but it’s so good and worth being a big splurge!
Neither of us could finish our slices, but we enjoyed every single bite. It’s a treat for both of us and I know we both look forward to our cheesecake outing each year. It’s a good thing that we only do this once a year because it is such a splurge and we both probably go a bit overboard with the food. But it’s something nice that we do and great way for us to celebrate our half birthday!
6 more months to go before my next tradition with my birthday twin when we go out for our free birthday dinner!