I guess it’s fall (Whole30, Day 26)

September 26, 2013 at 1:19 pm

It’s still been super hot and humid here in Tampa Bay, so it sure doesn’t feel like it, but apparently Sunday was the first day of fall. So happy fall ya’ll! And just like every year, I would like to share my favorite piece about fall. It gives me the warm fuzzies every time I read it. Click on the following image to enjoy this delightful little essay yourself:

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I have actually started with a little bit of fall decorating…just a couple of things in the dining room. I’ll do a “fall décor” post after the first of October maybe, once I have more fall things out. We have our eye on a big grim reaper to hang from the front porch. In the meantime, I do have some new flowers in the living room.

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Chad brought these home from the grocery store on Saturday. He notices when my vases are empty.

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And then I took a bunch more photos of the living room even though I know I’ve already put quite a few on the blog. This room feels so comfortable to me. I love it.

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Most of these photos are not so great because I have been doing pretty much all of my photo-taking with my phone lately. These were all shot indoors with relatively low light and no flash. So not so great. But I can hardly be bothered with the camera lately.

So I took this series of photos…

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(and one more that I must have since deleted)…and Google+ automatically created this “auto awesome” panoramic:

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That is more what the room looks like to me (except the mantle is level and the floor lamp is not split down the middle). Like I said previously, I am obsessed with auto awesome. Look for an auto awesome GIF later in this post.

The boys received a tin full of muffins in the mail from Grandma Viv on Saturday. The note said, “Cody made these.”

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Cody did a pretty good job! Thanks Grandma. Excuse Cal’s hair…he had just gotten out of the pool.

Saturday night we got a babysitter and headed out to the beach for a friends’ 40th birthday party.

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We never turn down an invitation to go to a party at this beautiful location:

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It was a lovely night.

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“Papa” the puppy (a Spanish water dog) kind of stole the show at the party.

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I have disguised the birthday boy so as not to jeopardize his WitSec status:

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I will love these two forever…

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Good party, even without any alcohol for me.

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Sunday breakfast:

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Sweet Potato Hash Browns: Grate 1/2 a sweet potato. Chop 1/2 an onion. Mix both in a bowl with one egg, and about 2 teaspoons of coconut flour. Season with salt/pepper/whatever you like. Add the coconut flour slowly until the mixture will hold together in a patty. Sauté small patties in coconut oil until both sides are brown and crispy.

Early in the afternoon on Sunday I went over to my friend Crystal’s house for a Benefit Cosmetics Lash Bash party.

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Playing with make-up with a bunch of cool girls? Sign me up.

Crystal had so much delicious-looking food laid out for us.

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OMG. These were cocktail sausages wrapped in prosciutto and sprinkled with brown sugar, and blood orange chocolate truffles:

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Here’s what I ate at the party:

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Ah well. I ate lunch before I went, so I was fine.

Also laid out for us were goodie bags full of samples of fabulous Benefit Cosmetics, and other sample Benefit products for us to play with.

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We ate and chatted, and then got down to the business of beautification. We were told to come with “naked eyes” so that we could do them there.

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Before and after:

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Throughout the party I kept trying to get a photo of Tequila, Crystal’s chihuahua, but he wanted nothing to do with me.

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Got you anyway Tequila! (best name ever for a chihuahua)

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Thanks for inviting me Crystal! It was lots of fun.

When I got home I became obsessed with trying to get a good photo of my eyelashes with my cell phone. This resulted in many cross-eyed, wall-eyed, fish-eyed, and crazy-eyed photos.

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Chad found this whole spectacle highly amusing.

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After the Lash Bash party on Sunday afternoon, I picked up the boys and we ran all over north Pinellas County. We went to Old Navy to get hoodies for the boys and went into Barnes & Noble. Mack talked me into buying this book for him, although it is not for children and probably has inappropriate content.

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After our errands the boys and I went to Chipotle for dinner.

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This is probably my favorite Whole30 restaurant meal ever. It is a carnitas salad with salsa and guac (double meat).

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No sugar, no grains! The carnitas (pork) is the only meat at Chipotle that is not cooked in soybean oil. So good.

On Monday I volunteered at Mack’s school. Here’s my OOTVD (outfit of the volunteering day)..GIF alert:

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Yes, that’s a very summery dress. Whatever. It still feels like summer here. Plus, you are allowed to dress like this year round in Florida. So shut up.

Homework packet preparation:

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Lunch with the sweet potato:

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My lunch, after I got home:

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Kind of sad, but yummy. Those are Applegate Farms organic hot dogs. #NSNG and whole30 compliant! At this point I really needed to do some food prep. Since I was running around all day on Sunday I didn’t have time to do it over the weekend.

Monday dinner:

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Tuesday morning I cooked a pan-full of beef bacon from U.S. Wellness Meats.

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They have all kinds of high-quality meat products, but they are pretty pricey. They also have a seven pound minimum order, so when I did order from them I got a variety of items. I had never had beef bacon before. It’s very different from pork bacon, but not bad.

Tuesday breakfast:

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The boys seemed to like the beef bacon more than me, especially Mack. I still have half of a package to cook, but I don’t think I’ll be ordering it again. Give me pork bacon!

Tuesday night for dinner I made another recipe out of Melissa Joulwan’s book Well Fed.

Moroccan Meatballs:

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This was so amazingly delicious.

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I even had it for breakfast on Wednesday (yesterday):

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It rained and rained and rained on Tuesday and Wednesday. I thought the house might float away.

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Our pool overflowed on its lower side. That’s one continuous plain of water across the lower pool deck and the pool. It wasn’t threatening the house, though, which is a couple of feet above that. We are actually at a very high point in the county now and not in a flood zone at all, so the chances of our house ever flooding are pretty slim. Of course the whole county could be under water if “the big one” ever hits.

Last night, in my apparent quest to make everything in the Well Fed cookbook, I made “The Best Chicken You Will Ever Eat.”

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The recipe is here and that link includes the recipe for the delicious Moroccan dipping sauce that I drizzled over the chicken and my sweet potatoes.

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For the record, this was the second time in a week that my kids had Brussels sprouts and liked them (here I steamed them then sautéed them in a little bit of ghee with garlic salt). Winning.

Finally the sun came out this morning so Mack and Chewie and I walked to school.

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His school has a “walking school bus”.

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Love it. Other than having to cross two relatively busy streets, I am really growing to like our new walk-to-school route.

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Breakfast this morning included Moroccan meatballs once again and leftover Brussels sprouts.

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I know that my breakfasts are elaborate and beautiful. That’s why I love to photograph them. And eat them. I still have one serving of meatballs left and I’m going to kill them at lunch. That recipe is so good. We got a family dinner (not including Chad) and two breakfasts and two lunches for me out of it.

Now my stomach is growling. Need to go warm up some meatballs.

Cya.

p.s. Is it obvious that I have jumped on board the “No Sugar, No Grains” bandwagon big time? Here’s one reason why. This guy did a 21 day experiment eating 5,000 calories a day on a high fat, low carb diet. His weight stayed fairly stable and his waist got smaller! Now he’s doing to the same experiment on a low fat, high carb diet (eating many processed foods, very much like the SAD…fitting acronym for the Standard American Diet). He’s on day 9 and has gained over 7 pounds!

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I am following his experiment daily. So fascinating. Check out the Smash the Fat Facebook Page here to find out more. In January he plans to do the experiment with a high carb, low fat diet but eating only natural carbs and no processed foods.

Basically I feel like my world has been turned upside down with regards to nutrition knowledge since I did the Whole30 the first time. Fat is good. Grains are bad. Even whole grains. Sugar is the devil. It is inflammatory and inflammation is the root of all evil. As far as cholesterol goes, I’m being re-educated in that regard too thanks to Cholesterol Clarity by Jimmy Moore and The Great Cholesterol Myth by Sinatra and Bowden. The scales have fallen from my eyes.

Day 21, one week to go (ok, 9 days)

September 21, 2013 at 3:53 pm

I’ve been sailing along through this round of the Whole30. It has been so much easier than the first time I did it. I guess there is a learning curve. I definitely learned that preparation is key, so I have continued to do bulk cooking on the weekends and always making double recipes so there will be leftovers.

Here’s a few of the things I created to eat the past two weeks…

Roasted eggplant:

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Grilled a bunch of chicken thighs:

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Roasted spaghetti squash:

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Using Melissa Joulwan’s method it comes out al dente and not mushy. Perfect. Cut in half. Scoop out seeds and pulp. Save the seeds to roast. Place halves face down on a baking sheet lined with parchment. Sprinkle a couple tablespoons of water around the squash. Roast at 375 degrees for 30-40 minutes.

Pad Thai from the cookbook Well Fed by Melissa Joulwan, using the spaghetti squash and grilled chicken thighs:

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You can find the recipe on her blog here. The secret is the delicious Sunshine Sauce.

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The boys loved it and didn’t miss noodles. Maybe Cal only sort of loved it.

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I made collard greens wraps, stuffed with a salad I made with roasted eggplant, grilled chicken thighs, pecans, other veggies and homemade mayo dressing:

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I used some of the leftover spaghetti squash and mixed it with a homemade curry sauce:

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The spaghetti squash seeds, roasted with macadamia nut oil:

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A couple of breakfasts I photographed:

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A “hot plate” a la Melissa Joulwan and Well Fed, with a roasted golden beet.

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I have been using that cookbook a bunch this time around. Last time I used Paleo Comfort Food more. There are so many awesome recipes out there…an endless supply of other people’s culinary genius to exploit.

Roasted cinnamon/ginger delicata squash, based on the recipe here:

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Bacon/almond roasted Brussels sprouts, based on this recipe:

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Boy approved:

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I’ve become addicted to kombucha. I drink 1/2 a bottle every night. It is the substitute for the nightly ice cream thing that was happening all summer.

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Many of the veggies used in the above creations are from my bi-weekly Annie’s Organics Buying Club share. I haven’t been taking pictures of all my shares, but here is the last one:

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I have some ideas swirling around for what I’m going to make from some of this goodness. I love how the deliveries help to narrow down that nefarious question of what to make for dinner. It gives me a direction to go in. Got delicata squash? Find a recipe! And by the way that stuff is amazingly delicious. I think it is my favorite winter squash. Easy to cook. You can eat the skin. Tastes a little like sweet potato.

I’ve been thinking about the “after” this time. Last time I immediately took off for a girls’ weekend in Charleston after my whole30. It was a great weekend of fabulous food and cocktails. That was pretty much it for my clean eating. I never did get back on track.

This time I am planning to stick with a mostly #NSNG (no sugar, no grains) diet after my whole30. I am going to add back in dairy and beans judiciously, but really try to avoid added sugar and grains as much as possible. I WILL have the occasional cocktail or three. I’m going to do more research on more paleo-friendly cocktails and try to stick to those.

My friend Kate introduced me to the whole #NSNG movement, and I am IN. I just read the book by their spiritual leader:

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It was pretty good. What is even better is the testimonials by all of the #NSNG folks. It’s like the awesome testimonials from the Whole30 veterans, but regarding a lifestyle and not just a temporary challenge. It’s not that different than the Whole9 lifestyle.

Cooking and eating hasn’t occupied all of my time the past two weeks.

I went to a great Yelp Elite event at NOVA 535 Art Lounge. My friend Valarie was my date.

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This venue is only about a mile down the street from my house and I have driven by it tons of times. I never knew that behind that façade lay this beautiful space:

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NOVA 535 hosts amazing weddings and parties. I loved the upscale urban décor and artwork.

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Downstairs there is a huge banquet room and long bar.

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Upstairs is a VIP area and another smaller bar.

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Also upstairs is a large balcony overlooking the bamboo-lined courtyard.

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They have private spaces upstairs where a bridal party could get dressed or changed, and also have very lovely restrooms.

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The event was catered by ExecChef Catering, and according to Valarie everything was amazing. Here are some of the things that I couldn’t eat:

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There was also reportedly delicious lobster mac & cheese and what Valarie described as, “possibly the best crab cakes I have ever eaten.” Good for you.

They had a made-to-order stir-fry station set up…

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and the chef was nice enough to make me some stir-fried veggies that were whole30 compliant (no sauce).

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They were tasty and kept me from doing nothing but nurse a glass of water all night.

TapSnap was there taking photo-booth style photos.

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Their computer was pretty cool and you could edit the photo and add text or drag and drop props to the photo right there.

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They e-mail you the photo and were also printing them out that night for us.

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Awesome. Despite not being able to partake of all the amazing food, I still had fun socializing with my Yelp friends and Valarie. Thanks for being my date Val!

In the past couple of weeks (since Cal’s bus stop was finally changed to be closer to our new address) Mack, Chewie and I have gotten back into the routine of walking to school.

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On our walk the other day we witnessed a car crash. It was just a fender bender, but still scary to see.

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I am back to volunteering at Mack’s school once a week.

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Here’s one OOTVD (outfit of the volunteering day) GIF thanks to Google+.

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It creates these things even when I immediately delete all of the outtakes from my phone. And I always love them.

I finally drove out to the boon docks and got my Level 2 volunteer badge which I was approved for 10 months ago.

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Better late than never.

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We went to an open house at Cal’s school to meet all his teachers.

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I loved the ceiling in the art room.

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I drove out to the beach one day to meet up with my friend Amy and check out their new Treasure Island home. This is their back yard:

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Not too shabby, huh? We crossed the street to the beach…

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and had a nice long walk.

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I also went antiquing/thrifting with Amy a few days later:

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We got our irrigation system completely overhauled:

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We didn’t have a sprinkler system at our old house and have no experience with them. This one was in dire need of some maintenance. I don’t want anyone to have rage against the sprinkler because of me.

I sustained some bacon-related injuries:

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I went to a Depeche Mode concert with my friend Ali:

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We were in the grass at the amphitheater, but our tickets were free. That’s VIP enough for me. The concert was killer. Thank Ali!

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I had a long-overdue dentist appointment.

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The whole house-hunting, old home improvement, packing, house-selling, moving, new home improvement, unpacking, and decorating thing really threw me off the past six months. I’m overdue on all of my doctor appointments (dentist, OB/GYN, GP, Ophthalmologist). I hate the lecture you get because you are so overdue for a check-up, so I’m still procrastinating on those other doctors. Plus, I hate doctors. Sadly the boys are also overdue for doctor and dentist appointments, but I’m proud to say that at least I have called and scheduled them and Mack actually had his doctor’s check-up last week.

Mack got a new hoodie that has something to do with Minecraft.

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Gratuitous photo of Chewie for Angelika:

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Okay. That’s it. Caught up to today. Well, except for Part 4 of my “what I did on my summer break” series (August). I’m hoping to get that done before the end of September and then I really want to stay caught up. I’m tentatively planning a post-a-day marathon for October to really try to get back into the habit.

Cya.