Tuesday, December 31, 2013

I Will Deliver

p: i wrote a song for you.

m: are you going to sing me this song?

p: yes!

p: but you might not get it.

p: because you might not know the parts.

m: okay.

p: so do you know there's a band called depeche mode?

m: yes.

p: and do you know that there's grocery shopping service called peapod?

m: yes.

p: okay!

p: personal...

p: peapod...

m: haha!

New Years Eve

new years eve

You know what I say, nothing like New Years Eve to put the finishing touch on your Xmas tree.

I do know that New Year's properly has an apostrophe. But it bothers me, so I don't put it in.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

But Youuu Still Catch My Eye

p: well, i've had enough of this song.

m: what song is that?

p: laaast christmas, i gave you my heart

p: the very next day, you gave it awaaay

m: that isn't very nice.

m: you can't regift a heart.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Boxing Day


three ninjas  popcorn

Santa brought Odie ...a batlef! And also three little ninjas. And popcorn for Bow and Goatse.

Boy I have been ON POINT since the solstice trying to get everything to happen for Winterval so far, erev winterval dinner, the tree, almost eight presents, getting back on track with cooking practices, and then Christmas was unusually social for me, delivering food to Nipps and Babe, such a relief to see them gingerly walking and talking, gingerly, but walking and talking, and then to Sparty and Hoosier's for Friendmas.

So it's great to a) not be working on Boxing Day, and b) not have a plan at all, well, later on I'll be leading a nice and easy eighty percent practice just to keep my arms and legs moving over break. Did I mention that it's league break? It's league break. This past blog break and this league break have been the least break-y breaks ever, but they've still been good. I think I'm getting good at squeezing in little breaks, or contrast breaks. Like today I'm pinballing from random task to whatever task seems at hand and it's just what the doctor ordered, like it's a break from having a direction. And, a slo-mo pinball. Who has not even had breakfast yet.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Xmas Day
 christmas clafouti

xmas day breakfast

Roasted tomato and goat cheese clafoutis with bacon, water, and coffee

Eight Presents

helmet toe stopsspices my space cadetstissue tees eosbats and supes fuzzy socks

It's been such a busy Advent, I didn't start on the eight presents until this week and only managed seven before TIME PLEASE. Oh well don't cry for me Argentina, as you can see, I am being like the person who lines up at the 15 items or less checkout because seven yogurts counts as one item, right?

  1. S-One Lifer helmet - The snap on my hockey helmet broke again, so I ended the hockey helmet experiment. My conclusion: hockey helmets are okay. They're not perfect for derby. I love my new helmet, it's the S-One Lifer and they fit you for your basic size and then let you try on the shell with different-sized front, back, and top liners for a custom fit. Because I wear a bandana, I have a L shell with L liners, sort of boring, but it fits good. Review TK, but there's not much more to say than that!
  2. Bloc and Bounce toe stops - No, I did not need two pairs of toe stops. I couldn't decide! As you can see, the Bounces have bounced out of their box and are on my skates as we speak. Reviews TK!
  3. Spices - I originally wasn't going to count this as one of the eight, but why not. When I lived in Madison, I discovered Penzey's and now I get my spices from The Spice House, which is the same family, and which is a quick trip on the North Avenue bus to Wells. The price is surprisingly cheap for the really high quality, the only expensive thing was the vanilla, which was (ulp) $15.99, but everything else was around $4 for a 4 oz bag. What gets you is waiting to get your spices measured out, it doesn't even help to close your eyes because you can still smell everything. On the savory side I got cumin, coriander, and chili powder for my carne asada and carnita, plus thyme for chicken soup, it turns out the that sweetie man likes my chicken soup, so I will make him that all winter. On the sweet side I meant to just get cinnamon and nutmeg, but I also got ginger—for sprinkling on pears before roasting, yes?—and also cinnamon sticks and bay leaves for my mulled wines and ciders, tch, I should have gotten whole cloves, too. And whenever I go to the spice store, I get the sweetie man a little bag of candied ginger because he likes them.
  4. Space cadets - Odie and his pals are just holding this space here.
  5. Tissue tees - Biggie spied these out at Target, I was looking for the exact same Xhiliration tissue tees that I bought ...ten years ago. These are close enough, tissue is the salient feature. Nice underlayer for work outfits. I wanted black, charcoal grey, and navy; they had black, heather gray, and white. Mehhh, should I have gotten white? Except for playing as a Fury, I don't think I ever wear white. I'm toying with the idea of getting white and dying them navy, and dying the heather gray charcoal.
  6. Eos lip balm - Eeee! I have wanted one of these for a while. I may not wear a lot of white, but I make up for it in orange! Everything orange!
  7. Bats and Supes long sleeved thermal t-shirts - Total impulse purchase while waiting in line at Old Navy.
  8. Fuzzy socks - Now that I work three days a week, I needed a couple more pairs of black fuzzy socks to satisfy my formula (n x 2) + 2 equals eight total. But, Old Navy was sold out of black fuzzy socks. They had cheetah print though, haha, okay.

What I really meant to do with this year's eight presents was to work on the list of fashion items that I really need, well, I managed the tissue tees and the fuzzy socks, but not the sweaters or, gah, new sweatpants. I had two pairs of Old Navy sweatpants in hand, men's size M, but they were a little tight in the thighs, jeebus I have big legs, so I went back and tried on L and those fit my thighs but I couldn't pull the drawstring tight enough to make the waist fit at all. Then I found a pair of XL ladies sweatpants at American Eagle that fit all right, but ladies colors, meh, so that was that, errgh my old sweatpants are sooo bad...

Eight Presents 2013: Where Are They Now?

So insanely busy at the end of last year, updating this slipped through the cracks!

  1. Still wear this for biking.
  2. I didn't end up liking the bounces, the blocs I loved. Retired now, though.
  3. I think these all got used up. I will need more vanilla soon.
  4. Aw, this was before Kevin.
  5. Clutch wardrobe players.
  6. This one melted, but I have three others.
  7. Love.
  8. I wear these, but honestly I would prefer them in black and they don't make black anymore? Why not :(

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Xmas Eve
 chinese takeout

xmas eve

Hot and sour soup, potstickers, mongolian beef with rice, extra rice, and fortune cookies.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Black Banana Fritters

banana fritters

Just for funsies, I made banana fritters. I had most of a bunch of bananas that I bought for the bout last week, and of course they bruised in transit and of course I am a banana princess... which doesn't sound quite right, but onward, I can only eat perfectly yellow bananas. So I've had these four bananas blackening on the counter all week, I know I'm not doing smoothies again until June probably and you know I'm not going to bake, viz., banana bread. So I'm sorry to say, I'm not above throwing out food. I don't force myself to eat things. Just out of curiosity though, I googled "how to use up bananas" and let me tell you something, if you're going to write an article called 17 Delicious Ways to Use Up Old Bananas, I feel like you shouldn't come at me with banana bread and smoothies, I already knew about those! And let's talk about this three layer caramel banana cake, man, I am the person who just watched as the life force drained out of four perfectly good bananas, do I look like I have the get up and go to assemble a cake that needs three cake pans to come together? But then again I'm given to understand that this is how other people feel about me and my li'l ol' blog, which is why I'm always saying YMMV and really mean it.

Also that banana "soft serve" is gross.

Oh right, but, I was intrigued by these banana fritters. Something that could use up all your old bananas, that you could whip together without too much fuss or too many additional ingredients. I mean, meh, it uses flour, so I wouldn't eat these every day. I pretty much stuck to the linked recipe, except I think bananas are sweet enough so I left out the added sugar, yup, YMMV. I've been using up this bag of cake flour so I used that, but otherwise all purpose flour. And I'm using up this vegetable oil and after that's gone, I'm going to use coconut oil for frying and that would probably be reeeally good for this.

Also this is a pretty scalable recipe, per banana: a dash of nutmeg and cinnamon, a drop of vanilla, a pinch of salt, and 1/4 cup flour. Probably you could just eyeball it all. And actually 1-2 bananas is a more edible amount, four bananas makes twelve fritters and they're so rich I could only put down two.

4 black bananas
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp vanilla
dash of salt
1 cup flour

Mash bananas with a fork or potato masher, and stir in spices and flour.

Heat enough oil to cover the bottom of a heavy pan over medium high heat. Same as with mung bean pancakes, I put a drop of batter in the oil and when it sizzles, the oil is hot enough.

Drop large spoonfuls of batter into the hot oil and pat to flatten them a bit, fry for a couple minutes on each side, and remove to paper towels to drain.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Winter Solstice
 put up tree

winter day

On Winter Solstice we put up the tree, here is Odie on the business end of the tree where his Xmas mittens await Santa's blessings. I did apparently already make a tree skirt last year, hand-beaded even, though in typical fashion it doesn't quite work in the real world like it did in my head, not enough coverage, so I borrowed a lace slip from myself that I might permanently sew on as an underskirt. The owls that I made from toilet paper tubes perch precariously on the branches, I see that I left myself a note to hot glue tiny clothespins on them for feet. Hyeah. Or just keep knocking them off the branches and rescuing them for the next ten days. I'm also supposed to make a snowy owl angel, I'm going to need a bigger tube...

Friday, December 20, 2013

Erev Winterval
 mung bean pancakes with rice and kimchee

erev winterval

Wiiintervaaaaal is here... happiness and cheer...

I managed to squeeze in Erev Winterval dinner between work and the draft party that I'm leaving for in a minute, so it goes. It's always different: sometimes I have friends over, sometimes it's just me and the sweetie man, sometimes I just say forget it. I didn't want to say forget it this year, though. It feels important.

First, we light the first candle. I haven't made my tea light holder yet, so it goes in a jelly jar like I've always done.

I wasn't feeling like potato pancakes with sour cream and applesauce this year, I figure fried is the salient point. Also: it's my holiday, I do what I want. So I went with mung bean pancakes with rice and kimchee. Which is so easy if you'll stoop to bought kimchee, which I gladly will.

1 cup dried mung beans
1 egg
1 bunch green onions

The morning of, put the mung beans in a bowl with just enough water to cover. Or if you forget this part, call the sweetie man from work and instruct him to do so.

When you get home, first, put on the rice or you will be annoyed that you forgot.

Now take a look at the beans, they will have plumped up and absorbed most of the water. Empty all of it into a food processor and puree until coarsely ground.

Lightly beat the egg in a mixing bowl and add the puree to the egg, and stir them together.

Thinly slice the green onions and stir them into the puree. You can put all sorts of things here, thinly sliced kimchee and shredded zucchini are two of my other favorites.

Heat enough oil to cover the bottom of a heavy pan over medium high heat. I drop a tiny bit of puree into the oil and when that sizzles, the oil's ready. Drop large spoonfuls of puree into the hot oil and pat to flatten them a bit, fry for a couple minutes on each side, and remove to paper towels to drain.

Serve with rice and kimchee, and soy sauce on the side.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

State of the Break
 fall 2013

Blog break is the bessssst. Because your mind, or my mind, is like an assembly line that rolls stuff by you to deal with, and if you don't keep up dealing with stuff as it rolls out, then stuff starts to pile up and and actually I think that makes more stuff roll out faster. So okay, for blogging there's two kinds of stuff, ideas for stuff that you want to write about, and holes that you have to fill with stuff, and honestly you would think you could just stuff the ideas into the holes, but somehow the ideas and the holes just end up in a giant heap on the floor. Or they form a whirlwind of flying monkeys in your head, that also happens. So one way to deal with all that in one fell swoop is to say, Okay, I've decided what I'm going to have on the blog from Dec 1-20 is NOTHING, which means all the holes labeled Dec 1-20 get thrown right out, and all the ideas can go into this box labeled BE QUIET, and then you can deal with whatever's left.

Which was a lot, it's been a very busy break! I mean, I'm just generally busier than I've ever been, out of the house five nights of the week, and during the holidays there are so many invitations and Winterval things to do, and our season opener squeezed in for good measure, so also street teaming, aaand Black & Blue Ball. All of which is, already, behind us. I might have told you this already but, here's my thing: time marches at the same steady pace, no matter what. So you might have an insane week with your hair on fire coming up, but it's going to last just that, a week, and then it'll be behind you. Not that insanity can't follow you all year round, which is another thing to work on. Anyway. I got through it all and the only ball I dropped was Riley's breakfast with Santa, which I was sad about. I guess that's the other thing, you'll get through but maybe not with all the balls that you started with.

slouching to winterval

And Winterval is coming, like, tomorrow, I still haven't made my tea light holder or gotten any of the eight presents. I have until Xmas to get those, though. I have my client and scrimmage tonight, work tomorrow, and there's a draft party tomorrow night—yerk!—and thennn I have SIX DAYS OFF because my boss decided that it didn't make sense for people to come in Monday and then not on Tuesday and Wednesday, woot, that is logic that I can live with.

Actually I'm going to be on an extended break remix through Winterval, just posts about Winterval, not getting back to business yet.

Monday, December 16, 2013

HIIT The Deck!
 six week plyos bootcamp starting 1/7

For folks in the Chicago area:

Come jump with me, come jump, let's jump awaaaay! I have a new toy, a plyo box! That I finally moved into the studio at Tsubo, I've only owned it a year. Terrible story, it was sitting in our front room for months and then I explained to the sweetie man with giant hand gestures how I wanted him to cut apart the coffee cart and put it back together so the plyo box would tuck under and I could pull it out and jump in the kitchen. Which amazingly, he did, the plyo box tucked perfectly underneath and wasn't seen for seven months. Now it lives at Tsubo, let's jump on it!

I think we will also jump rope, yes? I have a really sweet speed rope that you can borrow, but you may want to BYOJR if you're much taller or shorter than 5'4" and honestly a jump rope is one of the best fitness investments you can make, you can get a cheapie like this one from Target and it'll do you fine for this class or here's a bunch from Rogue Fitness, I think I have the SR-3S; you want a speed rope if you want to do double unders, I think. Which I cannot, yet. Yet!

Aaand, let's do this deck style. The deck is a deck of cards, you assign an exercise for each suit, and by "you," I mean I assign them, mwahaha, well, you already know one is going to be box jumps and one is going to be jump rope, that leaves two ::tents fingers:: shuffle and deal, the suit tells you what and the number tells you how many, jacks are eleven, queens are twelve, kings are thirteen, and aces are high. Woot!

This will be a four to six week one-hour session from 7:00-8:00pm starting Tuesday, January 7 through February 11 at Tsubo. Four to six weeks means, you purchase a four week session for $40. Use all four, and you get your fifth session free. Use all five in a row, and your sixth session is also free, boom.

This is how I do because, especially with plyos but really with anything, a) consistency will yield results, and b) there is such a thing as decision fatigue, so you can decide ONCE that you're going to do plyos for the next six weeks, and then after you get your ass kicked the first session, you don't have to re-decide whether this was a good idea. It is a good idea!

Seriously especially for you skaters, plyos is where it's at. Plyos is, first of all, movement, you have to be able to organize your parts to move them the way you want first, if you want them to move the way you want fast, okay second, speed, which means third, fitness, both cardiovascular and muscular, and if you must care about such things, okay fine, all of this adds up to fat burning. And you know what, it'll make you a better dancer, what's with this disaffected swaying back and forth that kids do, can we dance with some pop and enthusiasm, yes please!

Holla at me at allapoppy (at) gmail (dot) com for signup details—first come, first serve up to eight.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Bout Day Breakfast
 TF vs XX

slow cooked steel cut oats, apples sauteed in butter and nutmeg, toasted pecans, and almond milk, and butter coffee

Slow cooked steel cut oats, apples sauteed in butter and nutmeg, toasted pecans, and almond milk, and butter coffee

More bout day breakfasts!

Friday, November 29, 2013

Winterval Advent

HATS ONIt's not Winterval yet, Winterval is coming and there's things that I need to get ready for that:

  • HATS ON, check -->
  • get tea lights
  • make tea light holder out of the tree limb that the sweetie man found in the alley for me
  • do something about all the junk piled up on the console table so I can put up the tree
  • make a snowy owl tree topper?
  • make a tree skirt?
  • figure out what eight presents I want and get them
  • get presents for nephew and niece

The sweetie man has to:

  • get me a present
He doesn't get a present. He says he doesn't want presents!

Oh I should:

  • get a present for Odie

Odie will probably want to get presents for Bow and for his goat whom he has innocently named Goatse. Bow is his dog, though by now he's figured out that Bow is a stuffed bun.


Everything that you wanted to know about Winterval but were afraid to ask!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving Day Breakfast

baked eggs in sweet potato and turkey meatball sausages, coffee, water, internet

Haha, frankenbreakfast! Eggs baked in sweet potato, topped with butter and feta, and turkey meatball sausages, coffee, water, internet.

State of the Blog
 fall 2013



Actually what the fox is saying, Poppy, you used to go on blog break at the end of every season, why did you stop doing that?

Idk fox, I think I went on break at the beginning of the summer? Remember I was thinking about taking a whole summer break, and I ended up not? Then I hit the wall at the beginning of August and went dark for four weeks, that was like an early fall break. Then I was going pretty solid September almost through October and then dark for two weeks. I guess I thought I would start taking breaks more organically, more where they occurred naturally. Idk if I like it, though. It's making me a little demented, like the walls keep moving in and out.

wa-pa-pa-pa-pa-pa-powHow did you get to be such a piece of work?

Idk, fox. Idk.

It's okay. Everybody's a piece of work.


You can haz break.

I appreciate that. It's been a busy year, right? Boy you know, I just read this sentence "There are only five Mondays left and then it's Christmas," WTF 2013 where'd you go. You were standing right here just a second ago.

No, there are only four Mondays left and then it's Christmas!

I know, I read it last week.

Time marches on.

You ain't a-woofin'.

So you're going on break?

Yeah. Because of time. Time, man, time is without form, and void, and you have to divide the light from the darkness and the waters from the waters, or else how are you going to make sense out of things? I mean, I feel very hopeful about this. I feel like things are on the verge of making sense.

hatee-hatee-hatee-hoAnd you know, break. I really believe in break, I'm actually proud of how I believe in break. So I'm gonna go on break and when I get back the first thing I'm going to talk about is how my break went, and it's going to be called State of the Break.

Okay, sleepy now, let's go to bed.

The tail is the best, is it not?

Oh and, the fox also says, HAPPY THANKSGIVING, and tomorrow starts Winterval Advent so you can read about that if you want, and we're thinking about how much we want to post about that.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Peanut Butter Pears with Sliced Almonds

sliced almonds on peanut butter pears

Greek yogurt has been my go-to post-workout protein for over a year, and all of a sudden I hit the wall with it. So I changed it up, I put nuts for protein and fruit for carbs.

I mean, the simplest thing to eat is a piece of fruit and a palmful of nuts, aagh, we used to get bags and bags of Superior raw almonds and cashews from Jewel, and now they only carry Jewel almonds. Don't make me go to Trader Joe's, by which I mean don't make me ask the sweetie man go to Trader Joe's! I only send him there if it's really important, like for the microwaveable rice and for grassfed butter. Maybe Stanley's has a better nut selection, and also we're getting a Mariano's on Elston and Ashland and that's uber exciting.

But also, nut butters are fun. Hey I finally weaned myself off Jif, thanks to Heidi. Now I eat I think Smucker's natural peanut butter, it's good. And you know how people make ants on a log, only celery tastes like ass? I'll put my highly expensive peanut butter on some pear slices, you do what you want. And since pear slices already taste good, I don't think I need to drag raisins into this. But, how about sliced almonds. And since it all tastes good, I don't think it needs a cute name and we can just call it peanut butter pears with sliced almonds.

I kind of also want to try to make pecan butter, Jewel does have raw pecans but maybe that's just for Thanksgiving. Pecan butter's supposed to be easier than making almond butter. I know you can just get almond butter, but it makes me mad.

All this is good, but it's getting to be snowsuit weather so I might jump ahead to winter and roasted apples and also roasted pears, I also have recipes for roasted peaches and roasted plums, but I'm less likely to eat peaches and plums in winter and also not likely to roast anything in summer, so those two don't get eaten much, too bad, they're good. Maybe if I ever get a grill, I can grill peaches and plums in the summer.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Baked Chicken and Roasted Eggplant, Butternut Squash, and Grape Tomatoes

baked chicken with roasted eggplants, butternut squash, and grape tomatoes

AHHHHH this is so good. I mean, baked chicken and creamed vegetable soup is good. But I feel like this looks nicer, and also poached eggs in veg puree is coming up for winter breakfast and veg puree is almost the same as creamed veg soup. Annnd this is so good.

Lately I have been getting four chicken thighs to a package, which makes four lunches. More chicken would fit on my baking sheet, but then I'd have to do two sheets of vegetables?

chicken thighs
a large eggplant
a butternut squash
a container of grape tomatoes

Heat oven to 400 degrees.

Debone the chicken thighs using a very sharp, small knife, I use my four-inch paring knife that I steel before using. Which you're always supposed to do before you use a knife and I might start doing, it makes the edge so much sharper. Then all you do is run the knife next to the bone, just follow the bone, really more like you're drawing where the bone is and not at all like you're trying to hack through. You can save the bones for stock, if you want. I throw them into a ziploc bag that I keep in the freezer and when the bag is full, will make stock.

Sprinkle the cut side of the meat with a little salt and pepper. I suppose if I were a fancy person, here's where I could spread some pesto or cheese. But, I'm not that fancy.

Arrange the pieces on the baking sheet, tucking the skin under the meat. Don't bother with aluminum foil. Also don't bother trimming the skin or if you do, scatter the extra pieces of skin on the baking sheet.

Bake for 30 minutes, turning the sheet around halfway through if your oven is uneven.

While the chicken is baking, cut the eggplant and squash into largish pieces. Peel the squash, obviously. I want to try this with delicata squash because no peeling there.


Take the chicken pieces out of the pan and set them aside, and see there's a lot of fat left in the pan.

Which I'm going to roast the vegetables in, so turn the oven up to 500 degrees. Arrange the vegetables on the baking sheet, hopefully it all fits! Especially make sure to swipe the eggplant, both sides, through the chicken fat. If your chicken didn't render enough fat, you can make it up with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and roast for 30 minutes, again turning the sheet around halfway through if your oven is uneven.

I filled four jars with vegetables and four jars with a chicken thigh apiece, that's three work lunches plus one. Normally I would eat one serving right away, but I spoiled my appetite snacking on roasted eggplant right off the pan.

Other things I'm thinking that could be roasted: root vegetables, cruciferous vegetables, mushrooms.

At work I slice the chicken thigh crosswise and put the slices in a bowl, empty the jar of vegetables next to the chicken, and reheat in the microwave. Or you could slice the chicken before it goes in the jars, then everything's presliced and ready to eat.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Poached Eggs Shakshuka with Zucchini
 also good with summer squash or eggplant

poached eggs shakshuka with zucchini

Without further ado, here is egg shakshuka alla Poppy with zucchini added to stretch it out to four servings, one to eat right away, and three to put away in jars for work.

I alternate between hungarian hots and jalapenos and rotate between zucchini, summer squash, and eggplant on my grocery orders, which makes for different combinations, e.g., zucchini and hungarian hots, summer squash and jalapenos, eggplant and hungarian hots, zucchini and jalapeno WHAT. Super exciting, I know.

olive oil
3 hungarian hot peppers
   or jalapeno peppers
1 onion
2 zucchini
   or summer squash
   or eggplant
5 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon paprika
1 large can tomatoes

Heat oil in a saute pan over low heat. Dice the peppers, onions, and zucchini, adding them to the pan as they're diced and turning up the heat as more vegetables are added to the pan. Stir occasionally. Add garlic, cumin, and paprika, turn up the heat to medium high if it isn't already and saute until all is golden, about two more minutes.

Fish out the tomatoes from the can and run a knife through them to roughly chop, and add the chopped tomatoes and any liquid to the pan. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until thickened slightly, about 15 minutes.

(I did ask myself, why get canned whole tomatoes just to chop them, when you can just get canned crushed tomatoes, and found that canned crushed tomatoes are not as ...whole-tasting as whole tomatoes. Like, they're thicker-tasting. So I like whole tomatoes even though the above is kind of a mess, YMMV. Smitten Kitchen has you crush the tomatoes with your fingers in a bowl, but I have a fairly serious block about dirtying an extra bowl when the cutting board is already out. I did try freestyle crushing the tomatoes, man, those things squirt far.)

At this point I cook two eggs to eat right away, I crack two eggs in a corner of the pan and let them cook covered for five minutes. Then I fish them out and spoon a little more sauce over them, I've diced an avocado and top the eggs with that and some feta.

The rest of the sauce gets put into jars for work breakfasts:

tomato zucchini shakshuka jars

At work, I empty a jar of sauce into a covered Pyrex bowl and microwave it for 2 minutes on high. Remember last year I couldn't quite get poached eggs right in the microwave? First, Ruth tipped me off about the covered Pyrex bowl. Then I figured out, I was making wells in the sauce for the eggs to cook in and that's not how they do. The way to do it is to crack the eggs on top of the sauce, cover the bowl, and then they cook right up in 2-3 minutes depending on your microwave and how done you like your eggs. Top with diced avocado and feta.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Fall Dinner Audition
 meat, greens, and sweet potatoes

turkey meatballs, collard greens, and sweet potato

I think, though, that I'm set for life with spacefood. I think. Shout out, though, to quinoa gratins, which was very good spacefood and still a good vegetarian (not vegan) option. Maybe I will go back to them now and again, but I'm basically planning to rotate carne asada or carnitas with korean ground beef, chinese ground pork, or turkey meatballs for protein, and Trader Joe's microwaveable rice with baked sweet potatoes for starch, plus always sauteed kale or turnip or collard greens for greens. So far I've done:

  • carne and rice
  • ground meat, greens, and rice
  • and now ground meat, greens, and sweet potato
  • and in winter it'll be carne, greens, and sweet potato
Which is a pretty darn good constant to have in my diet. Maybe new variations will pop in, like I've added—or really, recategorized—turkey meatballs this fall, and boy turkey meatballs are delish with greens and sweet potato.

ETA: As it happens, I have a cold and this has been my most successful cold yet in terms of getting pretty chop chop through denial, anger, bargaining, and depression, and practicing acceptance, i.e., staying home from Monday practice and my Tuesday client and when I wasn't back to sorts after two days, which no known science would have led me to expect, also my Wednesday client. But anyway, the point. Is three dinners in a row at home, I'm like this is what I eat?? Almost every day??? I mention this as a pretty good example of your mileage may vary. Even I only love spacefood for how it functions in my life when I have thirty minutes to get something down that's delicious and nutritious relative to whatever I'm rushing off to do that evening, and if I had the whole evening ahead at home, and indeed a string of evenings at home, I'd be auditioning a lot more dinners.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Black Tea with Chocolate and Apple
 orange is also good

black tea, chocolate, and apple

So remember when I doing the food combos and Doctor Oz said dark chocolate and apple and I was like, what! Well, that was stupid of me. Dark chocolate and apple is amazing, you just have to know how.

black tea
dark chocolate
an apple
   or an orange

So okay, the key is the order you eat these in: first, sip of tea to warm your mouth. The first sip is not the most important, but it becomes important in the second round. Next, bite of chocolate that melts in your mouth. Then, bite of apple with the taste of chocolate still in your mouth. Okay now second round, sip of tea. Which warms your mouth after the cold fruit. And so on.

See if you eat the chocolate after the fruit, it turns waxy because your mouth is cold.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Fall Lunch Audition
 baked chicken and creamed vegetable soup

Okay so, I completely thought I was going to start right back up with turkey meatballs, I loved turkey meatballs last fall, but it was so weird, I just could not get next to that for lunch; this is the difference a year makes, last fall I hadn't started yet with meat, greens, and rice and now that's real right spacefood to me. And I finally figured out that turkey meatballs taste like dinner to me. Fine, turkey meatballs can be dinner. I still need something for lunch, though.

While I was racking my brain for lunch options, I was eating eggs shakshuka for lunch and coffee with blueberry muffin for breakfast. Which I was super fine with, sometimes that's how it goes down. I don't believe in feeling guilty about anything, well, murder would be bad, but not anything food. Like I really dislike the notion of no-guilt food, because that should be all food. You eat what you eat, and what happens happens. If you want to know what a month of blueberry muffins does for you, well, if you're pretty lean, your thin layer of fat plumps right back up and there's something to be said about being able to see that direct connection. Like I know that this muffin top was literally made from muffins. It just is what it is, it's been a long blueberry muffin moment that too shall pass. I'm about experiencing it while it lasts, is what I'm saying. And then the next moment.

Anyway I went back to the drawing board, back to the idea of chicken and vegetable for lunch, and I picked this baked chicken and creamed vegetable soup combo out of the vaults, boy this soup goes way back.

baked chicken and creamed carrot soup

Which was all well and good as pictured, but there were some problems with this for work lunches. I tried to tell myself that it would be fine eating baked chicken with my fingers at my desk, but I'm just not fine with that. I mean, I'm at the reception desk. Then also, I'm not about to separately reheat a piece of chicken and a bowl of soup, naturally I'm going to drop the piece of chicken in the bowl of soup and nuke two birds with one stone. Which means there's me fishing the piece of chicken out of my soup and then eating it with my fingers.

And you may be wondering, you can't just use a fork and knife? Like in the picture? And the answer is, I can't get all the meat off the bone with just a fork. And I can't leave meat on the bone, I'm hungry!

Actually do you want to hear a terrible story, I guess when I was around eight, my mom started paying me a quarter not to eat with my fingers, so I'm pretty much making twenty five cents per meal, which is a lot when you're eight and also was a lot in the 70s, when I was eight, so here I am, making serious bank, and my mom's like, ha well I'm not paying you just to eat your food and stopped the quarters, and then I'm like, ha well guess I'm going back to eating with my fingers. Though I totally get what I deserve two weeks later when my sister sells me on the idea that we should pool all our coins and evenly divide them, so she gets half my quarters and I get half her pennies and nickels.

Okay so, there's this new fried chicken restaurant in Avondale that I really wanted to try until I found out that their fried chicken is boneless, aahh, I really want to be open minded, but fried chicken to me has the bone in. And you eat it with your fingers. Weirdly that simultaneously demotivated me from wanting to try that fried chicken and at the same time, which is what simultaneously means, inspired me to try deboning this baked chicken. I initially resisted the idea because the beauty of this baked chicken is that it couldn't be easier, did I want to add a fussy deboning step? I debone my slow chicken and chicken stew, but that's after cooking and the meat just falls off the bone. I finally sternly told myself that deboning chicken is a skill and not inherently fussy, and stop conflating difficult with I don't know how.

So where I'm at now is, I debone the chicken before baking and then slice the boneless chicken before reheating in the soup.

baked chicken in creamed carrot soup

Ehh aesthetically I still object to this a little bit, the chicken still looks sort of creature from the deep rising out of the soup like that. But, it is really delicious. So I keep eating it. But I also have some other ideas.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Fall Breakfast Audition
 eggs shakshuka

I think I was scheduled to get back to egg bites, but idk. I like egg bites a lot, but I don't feel like them just yet. And you know how recipes come in epidemics, shakshukas have been popping up and that looked like something I would eat. Like you could bring the sauce to work in a jar, crack in the eggs, and cook them in the microwave. I only had limited success last winter poaching eggs in the microwave, but I've been meaning to try it again since Ruth posted hers on her facebook.

So I went with il miglior fabbro a.k.a. Smitten Kitchen and gadzooks that was delicious.

poached eggs shakshuka

Here it is the whole nine yards with chopped parsley and feta, and I also topped it with avocado. Really, really good, you only need a sprinkle of feta for flavor and the parsley adds a nice grassy note. Except I am not going to be chopping fresh parsley every day for breakfast, so will omit.

I cooked two eggs in the sauce like the recipe calls for and scooped them out to eat, and then ladled the remaining sauce into jars.

tomato shakshuka jars

Which was only two jars worth, I suppose there would be three jars if I didn't eat any and put it all away for work but that's not how I do. So I just need to stretch it a bit and zucchini, summer squash, and eggplant would be the usual suspects.

Now that I'm thinking, I think there was some tomfoolery around making turkey meatballs for lunch and not having room in the oven for egg bites and turkey meatballs at the same time, and that led me to eggs shakshuka and I'm glad it did. Even though I eventually decided against turkey meatballs and also against cooking more than one meal at a time, to be continued.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Drink Green Tea with Apple Cider Vinegar

drink green tea with apple cider vinegar

Welp, that looks like pee. Some things do.

Let's get right started, I heard about this from Hoosier and thought I'd give it a try. I like it!

This replaces my green tea and lemon habit, and is even easier because there's no lemon to cut up, just a big ol' bottle of Bragg Apple Cider Vinegar. It says 1-2 tsp vinegar in 8 oz water on the Bragg bottle, which is what I started with, then upped it to 1 Tbsp vinegar in 12 oz water. I threw in the green tea bag just so I wouldn't lose those antioxidants, and found that it also mellows out the vinegar taste. Then I needed all the 12 oz mason jars for chicken and soup, so I went back to the 8 oz Bonne Maman jars but stuck with the 1 Tbsp vinegar. Fin.

I mean, why apple cider vinegar? Said the girl who clearly does not know that Fin means the end. Hoosier said it would make me smarter. Otherwise I'm interested in apple cider vinegar's antibiotic and anti-inflammatory properties, and it's also supposed to help digestion. And it honestly tastes good to me, remember how Ma sends Carrie with a jug of ginger vinegar water to Pa and Laura and it's so super delicious? Though Sparty says it tastes like dyeing Easter eggs in her mouth, so your mileage may vary.

green tea
hot water
1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar

Pretty easy, I drop a tea bag into a Bonne Maman jelly jar, pour over whatever hot water is on the stove from the sweetie man's evening tea, and measure a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar. Put the lid on the jar and put the jar on my nightstand where it sits and steeps overnight.

When I wake up, I drink the tea.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Fall Food Chart

So you know, I've had in mind this admittedly demented project to devise One Food Chart To Rule Them All for most of the life of this blog, and I'm starting to see how maybe this isn't going to work. Because I remember thinking last fall that my plan was coming together and I really liked last fall's food plan, I should have been able to pick that right back up and run with that. But, no. Last fall's food plan doesn't work for this fall mostly for life reasons (more work, more play, less time for cooking or more to the point less energy for cooking), and it's like what Mo said about pants: thighs aren't made for pants, pants are made for thighs. Lives aren't made for food charts, food charts are made for lives.

Also I never did come up with an early fall food chart, it's been such a struggle, I figured I'd just shoot for having a fall food chart in place after champs. And well, man's reach should exceed his grasp or what's a heaven for. Is how that went.

Here's what I have so far:

  • Morning Drink - green tea with apple cider vinegar
  • Breakfast - eggs and vegetable - eggs shakshuka with avocado
  • Lunch - chicken and vegetable - I took a couple recipes out of the vaults, baked chicken and creamed vegetable soup, still experimenting though
  • Afternoon Snack - black tea and chocolate - actually I am way about black tea, chocolate, and fruit IN THAT ORDER
  • Dinner - meat, vegetable, and sweet potato, or fish and vegetable - still korean ground beef or chinese ground pork or also turkey meatballs, sauteed kale, but with baked sweet potatoes instead of rice for VARIETY, and on nights I don't work out, which are only two so I'm not going to fit in three fish dinners, salmon and broccoli, fish lechos with mayo, avocado, and tomato, and also sushi and edamame that the sweetie man can pick up at the Jewel
  • Workout Drink - tart cherry coconut water
  • Post Workout Snack - fruits and nuts - I hit the wall with greek yogurt and switched to nuts for protein

But anyway the main thing is that I fairly significantly changed my cooking practices, where I cook one meal for the week per practice, so four practices total. So shakshuka for the week on Sunday, chicken and soup on Tuesday, meat, greens, and sweet potatoes on Thursday, and baked fruit on Saturday. Summer was so easy, I find that I don't have the patience for a long cooking practice. I still haven't run through all of them, so I will be doing that and talking about that coming up.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Fall Fitness Chart

morning morning morning morning morning morning morning
evening evening evening evening evening evening evening

I am over the moon over this chart. Yes, I said over the moon about a chart.

First of all, is this not wholedaytastic. Either very low intensity activity morning and afternoon, or balanced between low intensity and no activity. I have that high intensity Saturday afternoon, that's me lifting Nora's weights. That's the pearl earring of mornings and afternoons; that's a short duration, high intensity workout. Evenings I just about have a 3/2/2 high-low, actually slightly on the low side for the first time ever. Leading Sunday referee practice and training my Tuesday client are nice and low, Monday practice and Thursday scrimmage are high, and the pearl earring of evenings is Wednesday when I run and do ab work with Kris. I'm on the fence whether or not to count it as one of my high intensity workouts. For now I'm saying it's a long duration, low intensity workout, it's a seven mile bike, thirty minute interval run with Kris, then stretches and ab work, oh and a seven mile bike back. I started Kris running about six weeks ago, much to her trepidation. And kind of to my trepidation, I hate running. I forget why I thought it would be a good idea but it totally was, Kris and I facebook each other now looking forward to our run. The other week we got rained out and we were sooo disappointed, we did jumping jacks and ab work instead but it wasn't as good. Ha, this ab work. Trixxxie started the Fury on a thirty day ab challenge; you might have gathered that I'm not the hugest fan of horizontal ab work, least of all crunches. But, team. And I will say this, a year and a half of sympathetically engaging my abs along with my clients' vertical ::fist pump:: ab work and I actually have the core strength to get something out of these silly exercises. I super analyze them for form, I put in my own rest days, and it's actually been a decent program.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Fall Chart

morning morning morning morning morning morning morning
evening evening evening evening evening evening evening

Yeyyy, finally fall. Post champs. Preseason.

A full, balanced life. WORK three days a week. HOME four days a week, I have retooled my cooking practices into four smaller practices, cleaning as clean can, and grocery and laundry subsumed under cooking and cleaning. PLAY six days a week, but balanced as you will see in tomorrow's fitness chart. Still holding at four blocks of PASTIME, I guess that's how it's gonna be. I sort of forcibly sit myself on the couch on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons to ensure that I have enough energy to train my Tuesday evening client and for Thursday evening scrimmage, which starts this week; sometimes I nap, sometimes I watch television, sometimes I blog. Not gonna lie, by Friday I'm on fumes and usually just want salmon and broccoli dinner and television on the couch. We don't have a dining room or a dining room table, I don't know if I've ever told you that? We eat on the couch watching television, which is supposedly against the rules. Meh, other people's rules. Anyway the only thing about Fridays is that Juanna has a monthly thing on Fridays that I looove the idea of, just leaving the house was not a possibility for the first one, actually I was minding the kids for the second one, and I hauled myself on my bike and got to the third one. Ate half a fried chicken, drank a beer, talked to people, and even talked to people I didn't know. So some Fridays I might go out, and anyway going out on Saturdays is actually less imaginable. I started Nora on heavy weights and I figured as long as the weights were out, I might as well lift them. Let me tell you, Nora is strong. I can't lift as much as Nora, and I'm not an unstrong person. I'll tell you more about that later but the upshot is that when you do that heavy work, your body just wants to zzzzz, speaking of sleep. Sleep is zzzzzero problem for me. Or well, the only problem is waking up in the middle of the night because my body hurts. Or well also, waking up in the middle of the night because I'm hungry.

Early fall was a little bit static-y and it's because I have more signal coming in, like I said, an uptick in work, an uptick in training, and actually a little downtick in derby but that still leaves a lot. It took a bit to adjust and figure out where everything could go, and so we bid a fond farewell to sacred Tuesday taco nights. That means I'm down from three to two free nights, the rule used to be I had one night to stay in, one night to see people, and one night to switch; and now there's less to play with. Or less to pastime with, I should say. I still need that one night to stay in, alone time is not negotiable for me. So that leaves one night, and I'm sort of glossing over maybe alone time with boyfriend should be non-negotiable. Which would leave no nights.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Champs Day Breakfast!

fried eggs, roasted eggplant, and creamed carrot soup

Fried eggs, roasted eggplant, creamed carrot soup, and water.

LOOK at my breakfast! Two-thirds of the way there, the idea is to bake the eggs IN the eggplant. But this is a baby eggplant and I didn't think the egg would fit, and this is the only food left in the house and I couldn't risk it. TK!

Oh and, the first third was earlier this week I made avo veg hash with eggplant and hungarian hot pepper and that was extremely good.

Egresssions #98-101

98. Trying this with my coco popcorn! Via Joy the Baker.
99. Shanna has a buttercream that I would try with this. Via Food52.
100! Riley said egg on pizza was good. Via Smitten Kitchen.
101. I want to know somebody who wants to make this. Via Food52.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

How I'm Actually Doing On Those Sleep Habits
 fall 2013

how i'm actually doing on those sleep habits

White are active, yellow are in development, grey are on hold...

Good Sleep Habits
 extended remix

good sleep habits checklist

I already boiled down the three key bedtime habits that have been working to get me to sleep, but then I thought of a lot of other good habits, some that I have down and some that I don't. One day I will get all these little ducks in a row.

In general

Sleep well to live well and live well to sleep well, good life habits are also good sleep habits.

1. Hydration.

I drink 8 oz green tea with apple cider vinegar (new!) first thing in the morning, 16 oz water with breakfast, lunch, and dinner, 8 oz black tea with chocolate in the middle of the afternoon, between 16 and 32 oz cococherry2o when working out, and 8 oz herbal tea before bed. That's like what, over a gallon of fluid—not including the workout drink, and not including the cup of coffee I drink after breakfast—and none of it sweetened, by the way.

2. Nutrition.

My general rule is protein and vegetable for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, specifically eggs and vegetables for breakfast, chicken and vegetables for lunch, fish and vegetables for dinner or a protein, a green, and a grain for dinner before workouts, chocolate and fruit for afternoon snack, and I switched to fruits and nuts (TFFY!) after workouts.

3. Exercise.

I go with a whole day philosophy or strategy of very low intensity activity mornings and afternoons, and three high, two low, and two no activity evenings for the week.

4. Meditation.

I don't have a regular meditation practice, unless you count words and maybe that does count. I'd like to make this a habit, this would be for stress reduction.

Before bedtime

Then there's stuff you should do, or not do, to set yourself up for bedtime:

5. Stop caffeinating six hours before bedtime.

That means 6:00 PM is my cutoff point, I used to be pretty bad about drinking cokes with dinner for worst results. Having regular hydration habits, see above, has pretty much pushed cokes off the table. I do usually have a cup of coffee between breakfast and lunch, but the last caffeine I have is black tea around three or four in the afternoon. I drink water with dinner, and mint or ginger tea after my workout. Tart cherry juice is also a decent bedtime drink, the sleep doctor told me that it raises your melatonin levels.

You know what I'm not sure about is alcohol. I feel like evening is when you'd drink alcohol, and alcohol is a depressant and can help you fall asleep, or you know, pass out, but it also interrupts sleep. So I think little or no alcohol for best results, no matter when. I do like a drink in the evening now and again. Not trying to justify that, actually I'm sticking a bookmark here if I'm looking for something later that could be improved on.

6. Stop eating three hours before bedtime.

Actually first of all, the flip side of this is Eat something three hours before bedtime. On the one hand you don't want to be full when you sleep, but on the other hand you don't want to be empty and hungry. Low blood sugar actually wakes me up, or keeps me from falling asleep.

Apart from that, welp, I play this sport where evenings is when you can get everybody together. And not just evenings, late evenings. I get home from late practice at 11:30 PM and I have to eat after practice, so that's this out the window. Again not justifying, it is what it is and it's an area for improvement after I'm done with derby. As Dawn says, all pluses, minuses, and choices.

7. Stop exercising three hours before bedtime.

Again, see above. In my post derby life, three hours before bedtime would put my cutoff at 9:00 PM; that'll be totally doable and desirable for me. Partly because I've never been a morning person and partly because of going on five years of derby, I actively prefer evenings for workouts. And also, I actively prefer workouts for evenings—i.e., working out is what I like to do in the evening. But I'm totally down with being done by nine, or eight-thirty I guess so I have time to eat.

8. Actually get in bed eight or even a little more than eight hours before you have to wake up.

If you want to get eight hours of sleep, you could start by actually being in the bed. Like I said, I shoot for being in bed between ten and midnight.

At bedtime

These I covered at the beginning of the week:

9. Straighten the sheets.

When I say that I make the bed when I get up, I mean that I turn down the sheets to air them out. So when I'm go to bed, I straighten and smooth them out and turn them up.

10. Turn down the temperature.

Studies show that the optimal temperature for sleep is 65°F, I definitely sleep better in a cold room. In summer, I turn on the A/C before bed. In winter, the thermostat is programmed to be colder after midnight. Which also gets me to go to bed, incidentally.

11. Turn down the lights.

This is the money habit, I also learned this from the sleep doctor for my last sleep study: darkness triggers melatonin production, and melatonin triggers sleep. When I did that overnight, I was in the throes of my worst sleep habits and a little bit panicky about having my laptop taken away at bedtime. But the doctor said it was fine, I could just dim the brightness which she measured with a meter; we took it down to like two bars, which seems like it wouldn't be light enough to see. But your eyes adjust and you can see fine, and it's absolute and not relative brightness that matters for melatonin production—so, best of both worlds. When I go to bed, I turn off the room light and turn down the brightness on my laptop and am pretty reliably asleep within thirty minutes.

12. Turn down your brain.

The one sleep tip that you always hear that I take issue with is, only sleep and sex in the bedroom. Because you can pry my laptop out of my cold dead hands, or less cliched as the brovaries girl (Claire) put it with devastating accuracy:

When was the last time I went to bed without Netflix drowning out the voices in my head? Not the crazy-people ones. My own internal monologue has been drowned out because I need to fall asleep RIGHT NOW.
I mean, what is only sleep and sex in the bedroom about. I think it's about not bringing work and stress into the bedroom, right? So as long as it's not work or stress, there could be other soporific things in the bedroom. I'm getting better, but my thoughts are still mostly of the work and stress variety. This is why I need to meditate. In the meantime if television pushes my thoughts out of the bedroom so I can sleep, then television gets to be in the bedroom. My laptop is what I watch television on. Before the sweetie man moved in, the laptop got to be in the bed.

Anyway. I just don't want to blindly follow anything, I want examine things for what they're actually about. And I think it's about not cranking up your brain in the bedroom, and in fact that means some television stays out. Definitely no Game of Thrones. Like when you have a concussion you're not supposed to watch television, and then when you do get to watch television it's supposed to be something you've already seen. Something that your brain doesn't have to work for, that's the kind of television I watch at bedtime. I have seen the first ten minutes of eight seasons of CSI: Miami by now. It was the best when Netflix would only play one episode at a time and the worst when they would continuously advance from one episode to the next, it's sort of okay now that they only automatically advance through two episodes and then you have to push a button. Which I don't, because I'm asleep and then it stays dark and quiet for the rest of the night. Up until then I have the sound way down, so I don't get woken up if somebody gets shot or screams. I'd love to make the switch to brainwave symphonies, maybe I will try that again this winter.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Get Eight Hours of Good Sleep
 define good sleep

So this is what I have so far: good sleep habits --> good sleep --> good life stuff.

I like putting things into tables:

* straighten the sheets
* turn down the temp
* turn down the lights
is what?* health
* fitness
* performance
* body composition

I feel like sleep is emotional, right? Especially if you have insomnia. Also if you're Asian, you're always going to feel like you could do better. Also, SMART goals. So I felt like I needed a somewhat standardized scale to measure my results, and this is what I came up with:

  • first, sleep quantity, just what it says on the tin, I'm going for eight hours of sleep.
  • and next, sleep quality, I'm going for good sleep, well actually, I'm okay with not bad sleep, see below.

Eight hours of sleep, more or less

I feel like I always have to put it on the table that I'm an organism that needs to spend a third of its existence asleep, and furthermore, another third when I'm awake at rest, and that leaves just a third to do work so I'd better make the most of it.

But also I think that sleep, like weight, fluctuates, so this is eight hours with tolerances. I'm okay with six hours on the low end and ten hours on the high end. Now that I've tuned up my sleep habits, I get eight usually, ten sometimes, and six every now and again. I'm satisfied with this, I'd go back to the drawing board if I felt like I was hanging out too much on the high or low ends. I do a quick checkup if I'm over ten or under six on a given night— that's only been once or twice, though.

Good sleep, or close enough

Okay so, what is good sleep? I thought this over and decided that the following needed to be present:

  • undelayed
  • uninterrupted
  • deep
  • with dreams
  • wake up rested

Extra bonus points for:

  • good dreams
  • waking up with a sense of well being

I mapped it out on the Munt scale:

  • 5 - good - undelayed uninterrupted deep sleep, good dreams, wake up rested with sense of well being
  • 4 - not bad - undelayed uninterrupted deep sleep, dreams, wake up rested
  • 3 - not half bad - undelayed interrupted or delayed uninterrupted deep sleep, dreams, wake up rested
  • 2 - not good - delayed interrupted deep sleep, dreams, wake up tired
  • 1 - bad - delayed interrupted light sleep, no dreams, wake up tired with sense of dread

Here it is color coded!

sleepqual scale

I'm satisfied if my sleep is not bad, and stoked if it's good now and again. I don't know if I should aim higher? It's usually not bad, and sometimes not half bad; it's almost never delayed now that I've figured out about turning the lights down, but now and again it still gets interrupted. Maybe I can tune some things up to take care of that, then maybe I can try to figure out how not to dream about people who've been dead redying, gah. Though you know what I don't dream about anymore, school, thank god for that.

I track sleep quantity and quality in the first two columns of my SNIKT! chart, maybe I will show you that soon.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Get Eight Hours of Good Sleep

I think I've said that in a working habit, the cue is the routine is the reward. The cue beomes part of the routine, the routine becomes its own reward. That's how it works; when a habit gets to be self-reinforcing, that's when it gets to be habit.

A good example of this is the only non-food habit I've had for most of the year, make the bed and wash the dishes, the first thing I do when I get out of bed (the cue) is make the bed and wash the dishes (the routine) and then I feel good that I made the bed and washed the dishes (the reward). But there are also tangible rewards to making the bed and washing the dishes: straightened sheets to sleep in, clean dishes to eat off of, clean kitchen to not lose my mind in.

Or for my food habits, say breakfast, at breakfast time (the cue) I eat eggs and vegetables (the routine) and then I feel good that I ate eggs and vegetables for breakfast. But it's also rewarding that eggs and vegetables taste good, and also that eggs and vegetables are good for you, protein builds your muscles, vegetables repair your muscles, and also not eating starch so much is less stress and less excess on your body.

So when I'm talking about sleep, I'm saying that at bedtime (the cue) I straighten the sheets, turn down the temperature, and turn down the light, and... well, I don't lay in bed feeling good that I straightened the sheets and turned down the temperature (actually even in winter, I have the thermostat programmed ten degrees lower at night) and the lights, I lay in bed falling asleep. Perhaps I will get to the part when all this is self-reinforcing, when I'm as confident that sheets/temperature/light gets me sleep as tautologically as washing a dish gets me a washed dish. When falling asleep is as transparent as washing a dish, will that happen? For now let's presume that good sleep habits get you good sleep, then what, good sleep gets you what. Ha actually, here's where I just feel good that I got good sleep, who could ask for more. But there is more, better sleep gets you better health, better fitness, better performance, better body composition, and if I can't convince you not to care about weight loss, fine, it gets you weight loss.

I think I've said that my least favorite saying is I'll sleep when I'm dead, ahhh sleep is not for when you're dead. You're alive when you sleep, you know, not not alive. You don't sleep less so you can live more, you're still alive the same amount just with less sleep. You sleep better so you live better, and possibly longer. Just saying, it's so much healthier to think of sleep as included with life and of life as including sleep. I know it's shocking that we seem to be designed to spend a third of our lives asleep, but I do believe this is one of those instances where you should have the serenity to accept what cannot be changed, followed by the curiosity to play with what you can do as designed.

I really stress sleep to my clients and really to anybody who will ask me for the time (not really, I will just tell you the time), but perhaps in a vague and woolly fashion, and I've been meaning to write about sleep forever and ever to pick it all apart, so that's what this week is: picked-apart sleep.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Get Eight Hours of Good Sleep

get eight hours of good sleep

I have a couple of tweaks to my food habits, but enough about food. Let's talk about sleep.

This goal was tricky to word, I generally write behavior- and not results-based goals; that's why I'm talking about habits, right? For example for food, I certainly wouldn't write a weight goal or even a body fat percentage goal or any sort of internal or external body measurement goal. I mean, none of these things are urgent for me. If they're urgent for you, it might be a cart of a different color; but the horse should still be in front of the cart for best results. And why am I like this, I mean not with the metaphors. Why am I pooh-pooh about results, is that not science. Yeah it's science, it's math, it's just not as simple math as some would have you believe, which I used to believe, 1 lb equals 3500 calories so do the math and so forth. Maybe watching Numb3rs did it to me, but honestly what is the likelihood that the amazingness of the human body can be expressed in an equation that was covered in high school algebra. I think that there probably is an equation that expresses it, but you have to be Charlie Eppes to write it out and the rest of us get our results out of a black box totally not or not totally under our control. What you can come up with more handily are behaviors, these here habits. Though truth be told, habits also sort of come out of a black box. Really who's in total control of their behaviors, but this is where I make my stand. I will say that sometimes habits work out, and sometimes they don't, and sometimes I know why, and sometimes I don't. But anyway Get Eight Hours of Good Sleep is a result far from wholly under my control, but it is the desideratum and I wanted it out there.

I guess that's as much to say that I have a desideratum with regard to sleep, but not really with regard to food. Maybe because my food habits have gotten results. That's probably why, because that connection has been proven to my satisfaction. Whereas sleep is still witchery to me.

Welp, you have to start somewhere! Where witchery leaves off and science picks up is with trial and error. If you haven't been trying because you want to avoid erring, you're doing it wrong! If anything, you want to run straight at error if only for elimination purposes. Error gives you something to correct from, error gives you something to work with.

I started, actually, with an elaborate bedtime routine where I flossed and brushed my teeth, washed and put retinol cream on my face, prepped my tea and straightened the sheets, turned on the air conditioner—this was in summer, which if you remember was a doozy—and turned down the lights, and then I did this actually pretty nice bedtime yoga routine to some brainwave symphonies, all of which is hilarious to me now, because eventually I figured out the one key:

* turn down the lights

Well also, in summer the air conditioner has to be on, I can't sleep when it's hot. And maybe also straighten the sheets, I wake up if I get tangled in the sheets in the middle of the night.

Not like brushing your teeth isn't a good thing to do, but that's about not getting cavities. I sleep fine with unbrushed teeth. And washing my face is about not getting pimples and putting on retinol cream is about not getting wrinkles, because I'm at that age where I'm worry about both, and prepping my tea is about having my tea to drink when I wake up. And doing bedtime yoga to brainwave symphonies is super nice but not necessary. I thought for a while that's what was working and was doing it religiously, and then I realized it was just the one key that unlocked the door and the rest of the keys were just for show, and promptly lost my religion like Stannis Baratheon.

The Cue

The cue is bedtime, which on play nights is after I've eaten my snack and chillaxed on the internet for a little bit, and on pastime nights is when my bones start to feel weird—does anybody know what I'm talking about, like they feel those rainsticks with the stuff trickling inside, ghghghghgh.

Also there's some simple math around the actual time that I go to bed, I want to get at least eight hours of sleep and generally have to be out of bed by 8:00 AM. So it's not going to work out if I don't go to bed until two, right? I'm in bed no later than midnight as a rule, and anywhere between ten and midnight as a preference. It minimally takes me thirty minutes to fall asleep, and sometimes my recovery requirements actually do call for sleeping solidly for nine and a half hours.

The Routine

So I'm supposed to do all of the above, except the bedtime yoga and brainwave symphonies I've given up on. Though maybe the brainwave symphonies would help me stay asleep, which is still a problem intermittently. How much of it gets done honestly depends on how much patience I have left, and often it's not a lot. In triage order, it goes: 1a) lights and temp down, and 1b) sheets straightened, those two always and almost always get done, 2) tea prepped, almost always, and then it falls off pretty badly to 3a) teeth brushed, 3b) and flossed, 4) face washed, and 5) wrinkle prevention. I guess for this habit we are really only talking about 1) which is decently established and 2-5) still need to be set up separately.

The Reward

I am sleeping more, and a lot better, than I was, like, around May and June. And perhaps I will have a few more things to say about sleeping more and better TK.

Status: ACTIVE