11 December 2010

TODO: Day 1

My list of things to do today:
  1. Cloth Diaper 101 Class
  2. Work on Pacifichem presentation for 1 hour
  3. Spend 15 minutes unpacking
  4. Write blog post
The Cloth Diaper 101 Class was amazing and has me really excited about cloth diapering our child.  Spencer went with me and is also on board :)  We even started our stash:
  • 1 bum genius 4.0 one-size pocket diaper + 2 inserts
  • 2 FuzziBunz one-size pocket diapers + 4 inserts
  • 1 flip cover + organic insert
  • 18 disposable flip inserts
Do any of you cloth diaper and have any suggestions for us newbies?

I'm alive!

I know it's been a long time since I posted, but I promise I'm alive!  A lot has happened since May.  First of all, I'm pregnant with our first child, due March 2011.  We are really excited, but have also been dealing with a lot of stress.  In August I took my comprehensive exams, but I failed 2 of them and it's taken a while to figure out the next course of action.  A few months later, Spencer lost his job.  Shortly thereafter, I was diagnosed with depression.  Oh, and we've moved!  Because of all this, I've decided to take next semester off from school to focus on myself.

This week my therapist gave me some homework.  Part of what's perpetuating my depression is the extremely high expectations I have of myself.  Each morning, he wants me to write down a list of things to accomplish that day.  My only goal is to complete those items.  I'm supposed to start with about four items and evaluate from there.  If I can't get four things done, the next day I'm only supposed to write down three things to do, etc.  Even if I only have one thing on my list for the day, if I accomplish it, I'm supposed to be proud of myself, and not dwell on what else I could have, should have, done that day.  That will be hard for me.

I'm going to try to post my lists here on my blog and comment on how I feel about my progress.  Feel free to play along!

21 May 2010

Recipe: Chicken Pad Thai

One of the things I used to love to make before I was married was Pad Thai, but I had never made it from scratch. Here was my first attempt, which turned out rather well.  We didn't have any limes, so the lime zest and juice were left out. I also tend to skip the garnishes in recipes, so we didn't use any cilantro, either. Overall, this recipe was a hit, and my husband even reheated some for lunch the next day.

Changes for next time: I would decrease the amount of chile sauce; it was a tad spicy with a whole tablespoon.  I also want to experiment with incorporating the egg into the dish.  I thought it was weird to just sprinkle it on top.

Source: Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book
Serves: 4

8 oz. rice noodles
1/4 c. salted peanuts, finely chopped
1/2 tsp. grated lime peel
3 tbsp. fish sauce
2 tbsp. fresh lime juice
2 tbsp. packed brown sugar
4 1/2 tsp. rice vinegar
1 tbsp. Asian chile sauce with garlic
3 tbsp. cooking oil (we used vegetable oil)
1 lb. skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut into bite-size strips (we used chicken tenderloins)
1 tbsp. finely chopped garlic (we find using a hand grater is easier and faster)
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 c. fresh bean sprouts
1/3 c. sliced green onion (approx. 3)
2 tbsp. snipped fresh cilantro

Place noodles in a large bowl. Add enough hot water to cover them; let stand for 10-15 minutes. Drain well.
For peanut topping, combine peanuts and lime peel. Set aside.

Combine fish sauce, lime juice, brown sugar, rice vinegar, and chile sauce. Stir until smooth. Set aside.

In a 12-in nonstick skillet, heat 1 tbsp. cooking oil over medium-high heat. Add chicken and garlic. Cook and stir for 6 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Transfer to a bowl.

Add egg to the hot skillet and cook for 30 seconds. Turn egg with spatula and cook for 30-60 seconds until set. Remove egg from skillet, chop, and set aside.

In same skillet, heat remaining 2 tbsp. cooking oil over high heat for 30 seconds. Add drained noodles and sprouts; stir-fry for 2 minutes.

Add fish sauce mixture and chicken. Cook for 1-2 minutes until heated through.

To serve, sprinkle each serving of noodle mixture with egg, peanut topping, green onion, and cilantro.


16 May 2010

P90 Cardio/Abs Day 2

Somehow we made it through our workout yesterday, but both of us found it so difficult!  My body just wasn't cooperating.  I think it's because we took Friday off to spend some time with friends and didn't eat the healthiest things (read: pizza).  But we survived and tomorrow it will be easier, right?

13 May 2010

P90 Cadio/Abs

Last night we did our first night of P90 Cardio/Abs.  It wasn't that bad, but I learned that I'm really bad at yoga.  Does the instructor really think I can do planks and pushups after yesterday's strength training?  Oh, and the yoga dog must be Episcopalian.

12 May 2010


About a week ago my husband, frustrated with my poor self-esteem, ordered the Power 90 workout series.  The package arrived yesterday and we started our 90 day journey to fitness!  We took "before" pictures, but I want to wait until I have some comparison photos before I post them.  The first day was a strength training workout.  I think I had an easier time than my husband, but only because I was using free weights while he was struggling with a resistance band.  It will get easier as we get familiar with the routines.  I am surprised that my chest and arms are a little sore this morning, but it makes me happy.  I am really proud of myself this morning and am a little nervous about what the cardio/abs video may hold for this evening.  I think we are going to wait until next week to use the accompanying meal plan.  I looked at it last night and am honestly not that excited about it.  Hopefully we'll still see results even if we don't follow the meal plan!

Have you used the P90 system?  What are your favorite workouts?

04 May 2010


Today I participated in a Graduate Student Boot Camp hosted by my university's library.  It was an intensive, productive, information-filled day.  Sessions covered Graduate School requirements for theses and dissertations, methods for searching article databases, RefWorks, writing center resources, plagiarism and copyright, and career center resources.

They also provided snacks and lunch...and I had a revelation.  I looked at the ingredients list of the granola bar they provided and new it provided high fructose corn syrup and other sugars, but I ate it anyways.  Who knows what the catered lunch (BBQ, vegetarian baked beans, hummus) really contained.  I should have skipped the meat and ate vegetarian, but I didn't.  I also drank sweet tea and ate two cookies.  The kicker was later that afternoon I was dying of thirst, and instead of making the effort to find a water fountain to refill my own water bottle, I was lazy and took one of the bottled waters (OMG!!) that was provided.  I hate the taste of bottled water; I always have.  And because it left a funny taste in my mouth, I ate two more cookies, which only made me thirsty again.  But I stopped the cycle there.

I'm not writing all of this because I want pity for my poor eating choices today.  The point is that this food made me fell "off", which just reinforced that I've been making good choices by eliminating high fructose corn syrup (and corn syrup), all-purpose flour, and other things I can't remember right now.  My body is adapting to real food!

This is a major step for me, and I refuse to beat myself up and apologize for my eating today.  Tomorrow is a new day and I will do better :)

03 May 2010

Weekly Meal Plan

Last night we had a few friends over to celebrate me completing all the course requirements for my PhD.  We made hamburgers and baked french fries from scratch, which turned out extremely well.  Check out what we'll be eating for dinner the rest of the week:

Monday: My mom's recipe for lentil soup

Tuesday: Chicken Marsala and spaghetti

Wednesday: Out to eat for Cinco de Mayo!

Thursday: Greek Cod with corn-on-the-cob and rice

Friday: Frozen pizza

Saturday and Sunday we'll be on my first backpacking trip, but we haven't decided what we're going to eat yet.  My husband wants to do prepared meal packs you buy at sporting goods stores, but I'm convinced there's a healthier, cheaper, better way.  We'll see who wins.

We will also be making strawberry ice cream with my new Kitchen Aid ice cream maker attachment. We had planned to have that ready last night for our guests, but didn't read the recipe all the way through before we started (you'd think I'd have learned that lesson by now), and it wouldn't have been done until about 3am. So we had grain-free brownies instead. Check back for my review later this week!

I'm doing my best to remain gradually make better eating choices.  So, what's a healthy meal choice at a Mexican restaurant?  I was thinking fajitas, but I don't really like peppers and onions in that quantity.  Any other thoughts? 

What do your dinner plans look like this week?

02 May 2010

I'm Back!

I'm sorry for seemingly falling off the face of the earth.  I was struggling through my last week of classes and then final exams, but on Wednesday, I turned in my last final ever!  I even did a little happy dance after I pressed the send button.  I've now completed all of the classes for my Ph.D. degree, so it's just research and seminars from here on out.  My goal is to graduate by the end of 2011.  That's ambitious, but I'm hoping I can do it.  I'm ready to live a real life!

I'm already really enjoying all the "extra" time I have.  I diligently went to the gym on Thursday and Saturday, and hope to be able to continue going to the gym three times a week and doing yoga, pilates, or another workout video at home at least twice a week.  I feel like I've finally managed to catch up and climb back onto the healthy lifestyle bandwagon!

I've also been reading a lot of new blogs lately regarding real food and gluten-free diets.  I plan on taking baby steps to encorporate some of the ideas I've read about into my life, even though I want to jump in head-first and do it all at once!  I know that I will crash and burn and feel like a failure if I do that though, so I'm going to try and restrain myself.

10 April 2010


The last couple of weeks have not been good for me.  I have many things to be thankful for in life, so many blessings, and yet I've been...sad.  Sad is the only word I can think of to describe how I feel.  I wouldn't say that I feel depressed, but does depression have a distinct feeling?  I don't know.

My healthy living habits have gone down the tubes.  My husband and I ate vegetarian meals for all of Holy Week, which was great.  I used to be a (flexible) vegetarian before we got married, and I felt very empowered returning to those eating habits.  But then Easter came.  Against my better judgement, we bought three small bags of candy because I had a coupon.  The very next day we received two medium-sized boxes filled with candy and other Easter goodies form my mother-in-law.  While that was a very nice gesture (and I certainly don't want to come across as ungrateful), I made my husband take 90% of it to work.  I have sucky self-control.  I also decided to make a carrot cake from scratch as part of Easter dinner.  Next year maybe I'll remember to make cupcakes instead to help with portion control and so that it's easier for my  husband to take the "left-overs" to work.

After that, it has been downhill.  I'm totally stressed out with going to school full time as a Ph.D. candidate, working part time, being overinvolved in church, and trying to keep up with my wifely duties, spiritual life, and general adult responsibilities.  As a result, I can't stop eating, I've had not time to go to the gym, I've gained weight, my skin looks like I"m going through puberty, and I feel fat.

But I'm not going to give up.  I'm going to re-establish my healthy living habits one at a time until I'm back on track.  I have a pretty good chance at having an abstract accepted for a conference this December in Hawaii (how sweet is that?!!!).  I want to be back to my pre-wedding size by then, which means losing approximately 20 pounds.  If I can do it by our second wedding anniversary in July, even better.  Besides, I pledged to lose 19 pounds for the Pound for Pound Challenge.

To end on a happy note, I made it through Sam's Club at 4:30pm without eating any samples.  Also, I've been medically cleared to start running again, so I've entered a give-away at Shut Up and Run! for some new running gear.  If I don't win, I might get some cheap new running clothes at Target for some motivation.

Question of the day:  What's your favorite workout gear?

08 April 2010


Can you imagine your life without polymers?  They are all around us: clothing made from synthetic fibers, styrofoam cups, Fiberglas boats, plastic bags, polymer-based paints, silicone heart valves, Teflon-coated cookware, and much, much more!  Did you know that these materials didn't even exist until after World War II?  Before then, the construction and manufacturing industry relied on steel, glass, wood, stone, brick, and concrete and the raw materials for clothing and other fabrics were cotton, wool, and jute (burlap).

While polymers have revolutionized several industries, particulary the biomedical field, they are also are the basis of all the plastic in our lives.

I was a Chemistry major in undergrad and in my polymer chemistry class, we learned about the history of polymer chemistry, polymer synthesis and reactions, thermodynamics and kinetics of polymerization, polymer characterization and testing, and polymer uses.  On the last day of class, we even made marshmallow guns out of PVC piping and had a marshmallow war.

Unfortunately, the lack of biodegradability and other environmental harm caused by this branch of chemistry was never discussed.  The minimial exposure I got was because one of my undergraduate research projects was supposed to be on the leaching of bisphenol-A (BPA) from plastic baby bottles.  I say "supposed to be" because I never got to do the project.  The instrument I needed (a gas-chromatography mass spectrometer if you care) broke when I needed it and couldn't be repaired in a timely manner, so I had to change projects.  That was a couple of years before the media picked up the whole issue.

I'm still researching how the plastics industry, among other things, impacts this wonderful earth we live on.  For more information on the environmental impacts of plastic, Beth Terry at Fake Plastic Fish has a wealth of infomation and suggestions for "living life with less plastic".  Also, check out the Spring Cleaning Carnival: Get the Plastics Out at Kitchen Stewardship.

There are also several great give-aways you can sign up for this week:
Stainless Steel Airtight Containers by Life Without Plastic at Kitchen Stewardship
Stainless Steel 11oz Infant Bottle by Pura at Fake Plastic Fish

19 March 2010

Fess Up Friday: Kitchen Disaster

Every Friday, New Life on a Homestead hosts the Fess Up Friday blog event, where bloggers can "write up a short post confessing that less than perfect housekeeping secret you’ve been sweeping under the rug."  This week's focus is on kitchen disasters.

This one time (at band camp -- just kidding) I tried to make my own foccacia for panini sandwiches.  In the process, I set off the fire alarm THREE TIMES!  My poor cats (and probably poor neighbors)!  I blame it on the recipe directions the first time and on my own stupidity the second time.  Note to self: corn meal burns in the oven very easily.  I haven't attempted the recipe again; maybe it's time for a second shot.

17 March 2010


I keep sabotaging myself.  Why?  I don't know.  I stepped on the scale yesterday morning to see that I had lost 3.5 pounds.  So what did I bring home for dinner?  Pizza.  And what did I drink with that pizza?  A beer.  I also had ice cream while watching The Biggest Loser.

Please tell me I'm not the only one who does this.  How do I stop they cycle?

12 March 2010

Eating Habits

I started this week off really well with eating and exercise, but these last two days I have made some really bad eating choices.  I'm using self.com to track my eating, exercise, etc.  I've tracked my eating before by keeping my own food journal, but have never been concerned with calories.  I never realized how much (or little) I was eating!  Very insightful.  I'm not going to beat myself up over the choices I've made this week, but focus on making those sorts of decisions less often.

On a site note, I'm trying to train for a triathalon.  Since I can't run, I'm using an elliptical, unless my doctor tells me that's out, too.  Swimming is harder for me.  My normal gym doesn't have an inside pool and it's still to cold to swim outside.  Plus, it's a really dinky pool.  The university has a pool, but open swim hours aren't that convenient and I talk myself out of going there frequently.  There has to be a better solution. 

11 March 2010

Recipe: Homemade Bread Bowls and Cream of Broccoli-Cheese Soup

You know those bread bowls you can get at some restaurants that hold soup?  I've been addicted to them ever since undergrad, when one of the places in the food court started carrying them.  So I was really excited when I was able to adapt two separate recipes to make my own at home!

Pizza Dough
From: Baking Illustrated

1/2 cup warm water (about 100 degrees)
2 1/4 tsp instant yeast
1 1/4 cup water, room temperature
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
4 cups (22 oz) bread flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
  1. Measure 1/2 cup warm water at about 100 degrees into a 2-cup measuring cup.  Sprinkle the yeast over the water and let it stand until swollen, about 5 minutes.  Add enough room-temperature water to equal 1 3/4 cups and then add the oil.
  2. The food processor is the easiest place to make pizza dough.  Plse the four and salt to combine them.  Then pour the liquid ingredients through the feed tube while continuing to pulse.
  3. Once the dough comes together, process it until it is smooth and elastic, about 30 seconds.
  4. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and shape it into a smooth, round ball.
  5. Place the kneaded dough in a deep oiled bowl and cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap.
  6. After the dough has double in size (about 2 hours), deflate it by pressing down on it with your fist.  Divide into 4 equal portions and shape each into a smooth, round ball.
  7. Cover dough balls with a damp cloth and let relax for at least 10 minutes, but no longer than 30 minutes. 
Crispy Bread Bowls
Adapted from: The Pampered Chef Soups, Stews & Chilis
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Place dough cut-side down on baking stone and press lightly.
  2. Brush dough with olive oil.  Bake 21-23 minutes or until golden brown.
  3. To serve, slice off top of each bread round.  Carefully remove centers to form bowls.  Place on plates and ladle soup into bowls.

These freeze really nicely. Wrap leftover bread bowls in aluminum foil and store in a plastic bag in the freezer. When ready to use, pop bread bowls, still in the aluminum foil, directly onto the middle shelf of the oven until warmed through.

Cream of Broccoli-Cheese Soup
From: Better Homes & Gardens The New Cookbook

4 cups fresh or frozen chopped brocoli
1 1/2 cups chicken broth or vegetable stock
1 tbsp butter or margerine
1 tbsp all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp lemon-pepper seasoning
1/4 tsp salt
black pepper
1 cup milk, half-and-half, or light cream
1/2 cup shredded American cheese
  1. In a large saucepan cook broccoli, covered, in a large amount of boiling water for 8-10 minutes or until tender.  Drain well.  Set aside 1 cup cooked broccoli.
  2. In a food processor, combine the remaining broccoli and 3/4 cup of the broth.  Cover and process about 1 minute or until smooth.  Set aside.
  3. In same saucepan, melt butter.  Stir in flour, seasoning, salt, and a dash of black pepper.  Add milk all at once.  Cook and stir until slightly thickened and bubbly.  Cook and stir 1 minute more.
  4. Stir in the reserved cooked broccoli, shredded cheese, and remaining broth.  Cook and stir until heated through.  If necessary, stir in additional milk to reach desired consistency.  If desired, season to taste with additional salt and black pepper.
This was a huge hit and we will definitely make it again!  Here's what it looked like all put together:

05 March 2010

Creating Your Own Worm Bin

Yesterday I received the worms for my worm bin and, after charging the batteries to my husband's drill, quickly set to work preparing their new home!

I ordered 500 worms (approximately 1lb.) from Uncle Jim's Worm Farm.  They looked like this when they arrived:

Not very exicing, I know.  I decided to build my worm bin out of two 10 gallon rubbermaid tubs:

The first step was to drill 24 evenly spaced holes in the bottom of each bin using a 1/4-inch drill bit.  These holes will allow the "worm tea" to drain and the worms to move between bins.

Then, I tool a 1/16-inch drill bit to drill air holes along the top edge of each bin and across one lid.

That's pretty much it for preparing the worm bins.  Next I had to prepare bedding for the worms.  I used both paper from my shredder (i.e., old bills and credit card offers) and newspaper that was cut into 1-inch strips.  I soaked all the paper in water, wrung it out really well, then distributed it among one of the bins.  All in all, I had about an inch of shredded paper at the bottom of the bin and maybe three inches or so of newspaper on top of that.

Finally, it was time to introduce the worms to their new home!  Inside the shipping box was a cloth bag containing the worms and some of their native soil

All I had to do was dump the worms and soil out of the bag and onto the moist bedding I had prepared.  I then cut a piece of carboard to cover the bedding and moistened it before putting it on top of the worms.

All that was left to do was assemble the completed worm bin.  The bin containing the bedding and worms was nestled into the other bin.  I used four empty aluminum cans (yay for repurposing!) to prop up these two bins on the second lid, which will catch any "worm tea."  Here's what the final set-up looked like inside my laundry room:

Tonight I'll probably add my first few food scraps, burrying them in the bedding on one side of the top bin.

Do you have a composting set-up?  If so, I'd love to hear how it's going or any tips from fellow vermicomposters.

04 March 2010


The worms for my long awaited vermicomposting bin have finally arrived!  I'm in the process of finishing their bin, but both batteries for my husband's drill are dead, so I have to wait for one of them to charge before I can continue.  Pictures and further explanation will follow!

P.S.  I'm way too excited about this.

21 February 2010

Financial Strength

I'm reading Get Financially Naked: How to Talk Money With Your Honey by Manisha Thakor and Sharon Kedar.  In the first part of the book, they ask the reader to respond to one question --"When I live my life from a position of financial strength, I will...."  I'm curious how people respond to this question.  Here's my response, what's yours?

When I live my life from a position of financial strengh, I will...
  • feel confident about my career choice;
  • not worry about future expenses (mortgage, college tuition, medical bills, etc.);
  • live in an environmentally sustainable way; and
  • be able to help others in need.
I may add on to this later, but I think that's a solid statement for now.

16 February 2010

Valentine's Day

My husband and I had a wonderful weekend.  First of all, we finally got some snow!!  It has been torturing us to hear how the DC Metro area has almost 6 feet of snow when we had nothing.  Unfortunately, it all melted within 24 hours, but it was nice while it lasted.  I'm still holding out for some more, though!

On Saturday night, we went to a local non-profit theatre to see their production of Macbeth.  I know, really romantic.  But, we both loved it.  I hadn't read that play since middle school and my husband had never read it.  I still have a hard time understand Shakespearian language sometimes, but seeing it acted out obviously helps tremendously.  We're looking forward to seeing other productions there in the future.  Yay for local theatre!

On Sunday after we returned home from church, we snuggled on the couch to watch the Olympics before getting all dressed up for dinner.  We went to the Melting Pot and had a fabulous time!  There was a set 5-course menu (read - way too much food) that was amazing.  They also took our picture and gave us a magnet frame for it along with those refridgerator words.  I also got to take home the yellow rose that was on our table.

We returned home to watch more of the Olympics before I passed out at 9 or 10pm.

How was your Valentine's Day?

01 February 2010

The future

Last week my 6 year old laptop decided to finally bite the dust.  Although it was inconvenient timing, I was able to transfer all of "My Documents" to an external hard drive.  I've ordered a new laptop that I am really excited about, an Acer Aspire Timeline.  It is considered a lightweight laptop and has an 8 hour battery life!  It's supposed to be arriving today, so I'm on pins and needles waiting for the UPS truck to show up!

In other news, we're not even a month into the new school semester and I am very behind, maining on reading.  Is it really possible to keep up with all the readings professors assign?  I'm starting to think not.

I'm taking a course titled "Preparing for the Professoriate", which has caused me to really think about what direction I want to take my life (and my husband's) when I graduate with my Ph.D.  We've been doing some tough thinking, but the answer is never clear as day.  One thing we are really concerned about is when will we start a family?  If I decide on a tenure-track faculty position, I essentially wouldn't be able to take maternity leave for 6 years.  Six years!!!  So do we try and have a child while I'm still in school.  I know many people, including nearly all my family members, would advise against this, but my huband and I don't want to be nearly 40 before we start to have children.  It's all up in the air right now.  We have no concrete answers.

There was something else I was going to write about, but now I forget.  Oh, yes.  My husband and I have instituted a date night once a week as part of our New Year's resolutions.  Tonight, we are going to our favorite local pizza place and then bowling.  Another great thing to look forward to!

Okay, enough procrastinating, more reading...

25 January 2010


I wrote this limerick with a few classmates about our potential new career path.  Can you guess what it is?

Enless directions for our research to go
Countless students to encourage to grow
An eye for collaboration
A hobby to kill frustration
And the freedom to create our own flow

Yay for using the right side of my brain!