Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 is Ending...

And I'm effin' thankful. Many unpleasant moments have occurred and I'm ready for a new year. First, I had to end some friendships at the beginning of the year, which was a tough but necessary decision. I also let some other friendships go by the wayside unintentionally. I basically decided to focus on the quality, not the quantity, of friendships this year. That said, I've grown closer to a select few of my friends and I love that. I am thankful for that opportunity. :) Then, family problems took over a good portion of my non-work life and I spent a significant amount of time by myself. That's unusual for me because I'm an extrovert, but I really needed time to sort through everything that was happening. The whole year wasn't total crap though. I don't want to sound that negative. I started working a lot more weekends, because I just needed to put my energy into something productive. I did manage to finish my last research project, so hopefully that manuscript can be submitted when I return to work next week. I think I'm going to stick to a 5 chapter format for my thesis - intro, 3 research chapters, conclusions & future directions. I need to run that by my boss, but I don't know if the 4th research chapter is worth the effort to finish since we've basically admitted that it's likely not going to be published. Why do more experiments to make a more complete story on something that will just languish in my dissertation? I'd rather spend the time getting the final manuscript accepted, writing, applying for jobs, and preparing for my defense. I really need to get a postdoc position. I've been drafting some emails over the last week that I can send out on Monday. I've got to expand my search beyond California just to be safe, but I really hope to end up on West Coast.

After being borderline underweight last year, I definitely packed on the pounds this year. I was trying to gain only muscle, but also gained some fat. Yuck. So I'll be returning to the gym (after a long 3 weeks off!) with the intention of eating less sweets (the reason for my fatness, since I basically quit drinking this year), running more, and lifting bigger weights. My goal is not necessarily weight loss, but fat loss. I don't mind a certain weight range if the body fat percentage is low. Time to shed that little bit of chunk! I guess that's my only real resolution for the year. I'd like to accomplish a few other things, but they're not really resolutions.

I'm also hoping to get some time off between finishing my PhD and starting a postdoc position, so I can spend some time with my family before relocating. I mean, how could you not want to spend time with these guys? My family wants me to move closer to home... I'm not really interested in moving back to the Tampa area right now, but there are small pharmaceutical companies that could be potential employers if I ever want to live in my hometown again.


Friday, December 30, 2011

Skinny Sisters

My sister and I are almost the same size for the first time in my life! She gained a lot of weight through her pregnancies, but has really improved her diet to lose the extra weight. She's even smaller than she was before her pregnancies. She has lost 115 lbs! Amazing! I'm really proud of her for focusing on eating healthier and being so active (chasing the kids around, you know). Disregard our very fake smiles in this photo, but my mom snapped it before we were really ready. She's on the right in the green sweater. :)


Thursday, December 29, 2011

Lunch Date with Mom

I adore my mom. She is my rock and I can't imagine my life without her. I love getting to spend time with her. Although I've been home for a bit, I did volunteer work before the funeral and felt crappy for a couple days after the funeral. We've only really been doing fun stuff this week. We went out for a lunch date on Tuesday at the Whole Foods in Tampa. She had a turkey sandwich and soup, whereas I had tofu tacos from the hot bar. The taco seasoning was similar to the seasoning from their seitan/tvp fajita casserole thing. I topped my tofu tacos with avocado spread (with lemon to prevent browning) and lettuce. I made a little side of wild rice with corn and black beans from the salad bar. No real veggies in this meal. Whoops. I also saw that there were donuts, but no new varieties, so I selected a chocolate raspberry cake slice and a giant carrot cake cupcake. The selection of vegan desserts was way better at this store than the one in Palm Beach Gardens.



We also bought some groceries - pizza crust, pizza sauce, sliced olives, Yves pepperoni, and Daiya cheese for pizza; Soy Whip for the fresh Plant City strawberries we bought at the produce stand; and some Field Roast sausages.



Wednesday, December 28, 2011


As usual, we started Christmas with a brunch for my grandpa's wife. She didn't cry, but she looked pretty darn close by the end of the meal. I felt bad for her, but we couldn't even cheer her up with gifts since we don't exchange gifts at brunch. My aunt who hosts these events is a vegetarian, so she tries to make the effort to include vegan items for me. She had the tofu and red potato with miso gravy dish for Thanksgiving. For Christmas, she had pumpkin waffles and roasted winter vegetables. Both recipes are from Vegan with a Vengeance. The waffles reminded me of the pumpkin donuts I made at Thanksgiving. Yum! For dinner, I had a Tofurky Roast, mashed potatoes, and sauteed zucchini and squash.


As a Christmas present, our goats had babies. Two were born last Wednesday (top photo) and one was born yesterday. The others were born a few months ago (bottom photo).



Friday, December 23, 2011

200th Post

This is my 200th post! I know I said that I'd be back after Christmas, but I finally have some time to post.

My grandfather (my dad's dad) died on the 10th from cancer. The doctors thought he had multiple types of cancer at the same time, not just one original tumor that had metastasized. His funeral was on the 15th. My dad had a really strained relationship with my grandpa, so the funeral was really upsetting to me. I don't want to go into this any further on this blog, but it was a really emotional day. While at the cemetery, my sister and I tried to find my great-grandma's grave (my dad's mom's mom). We couldn't find it, but it would have been nice to stop by her resting place.

I have some photos of Whole Foods goodies from one of my last trips before coming home. I have been doing some work from home, as well as recovering from a few days of flu. I feel pretty great today, so here are some photos!

Falafel, dolmas (stuffed grape leaves), and cream-filled donut.


Samosas - Indian potato and peas inside a fried dough pocket, just re-heat in the oven!


Pizza!! - pre-made Rustic Crust, Muir Glen pizza sauce, Sunergia soy feta, nutritional yeast, baby bella mushrooms (in brown paper bag), Kalamata olives, garlic, green bell pepper, onion, and cherry tomato halves


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Small Holiday Hiatus

I am going through a lot right now with my family, so I probably won't blog very much until after Christmas. My grandpa died last weekend and the funeral is on Thursday. I've got some other personal stuff to do and writing for work, so I'll be busy. Enjoy the holiday season, my few readers! :)

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Go Max Go candies

On a recent trip to Whole Foods, I was walking down the bulk aisle, which has sweet snacks on the other side of the aisle. Well, I'm a sweet snack kind of gal, so I couldn't help but look. I know that I totally shouldn't be buying sweets, given that I've put on a few extra pounds of fat this year than I had planned. Yes, I planned to gain weight this year. Mostly muscle, but I did pack on a few fat pounds that I didn't want.

Anyways, on the sweets aisle, I saw some of the Go Max Go candy bars. I've never tried any of their products before, but I've read great reviews. I was able to purchase the Jokerz, Twilight, Mahalo, and Buccaneer bars. They didn't have the new Snap or Cleo treats (maybe one day!). The Jokerz bar is like a Snickers, the Twilight bar is like a Milky Way, the Mahalo bar is like an Almond Joy, and the Buccaneer bar is like Three Musketeers. The Snap bar is like a Krackle bar and the Cleo treats are like Reese's cups.

I can't wait to enjoy these over my holiday break. I'm saving them as my stocking stuffer.


Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Two Pot Meal

I decided to keep it simple this weekend, because I was immersed in LSU football and The Host. Yes, nerd alert, I read the 619 page book in two days. I wanted to have some recipes to put on the stovetop and forget for a little bit. The prep work was pretty quick, so I threw everything in the pots for 40-60 mins and went back to my book. I chose the cranberry-cashew biyrani and eggplant-chickpea curry from Appetite for Reduction. I love Indian food, but these dishes could have used a pinch of cayenne pepper. I've also decided that I'm not a huge fan of eggplant. It just hasn't impressed me in the last several recipes I've tried it in. This made enough food for 3 dinners, so I will be happy to cook something new tomorrow.


Saturday, December 3, 2011

MacBook's back, alright!

Sorry, I couldn't resist the cheesy 90s boy-band reference. I couldn't help but chuckle. I was able to pick up my MacBook Pro on Friday morning! Sooo happy to have my computer back.

Anyways, I had my content meeting with my committee yesterday! I showed how I wanted to structure my PhD dissertation with my introduction, previous 2 papers, and current projects. I am aiming for 5 or 6 total chapters - an intro, my two circadian rhythm papers, and my current metabolic projects. I am currently studying 3 different metabolic genes, but only one gene is close to completion. That project should be submitted for publication by the end of the year hopefully. The other two genes are only about half way complete, so I would just like to tie up those projects for a nice chapter and maybe a paper. I don't really know what to do with those two genes... I survived the meeting and then celebrated by talking music and sports with hot dudes at Greg's birthday party. :)

Since I didn't want to do a ton of cooking this week leading up to the meeting, I made a pasta dish and a curry dish. This curry has lentils, red curry paste, coconut milk, zucchini, squash, green bell pepper, and onion over quinoa.