Tuesday, December 17, 2013


Abeyance [n.] (a bay ants)
  1. The suspension of activity

Today, my normal food regimen enters a state of abeyance as I being Day 1 of my 24-Day Challenge.  For 24 days, I'll cleanse my system, add good nutrients back in, and, most importantly, prove to myself that 24 days is a drop in the bucket when it comes to tackling a goal.  The curious thing is that the routine isn't that different than how I normally eat outside of my stress-induced love of pretzels, Chex cereal, and pizza. I eat 5 clean meals throughout the day. I abide by my macros (160 carbs, 140 protein, 40 fat).  I take vitamins.  The big difference now is that I'm cutting dairy (I'm sorry, Greek yogurt) and Lean Cuisine lunches, and adding in fiber and supplements.

I'll say it: it all comes down to the preparation.  I spent Saturday planning my meals for the first week and Sunday cooking, weighing, and bagging it all so my life can be that much easier.  In this journey, I've discovered and plain ol' made up some recipes that I thought was worthy of sharing.  Here's one of my favorites:

Vanilla Protein Pancakes

  • 1 banana
  • 2 scoops natural whey protein powder (I use True Athlete and 2 scoops = 1 serving)
  • 1 Tablespoon crushed walnuts
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 tea spoon pure vanilla extract*
  • Blend ingredients.  I use my hand blender and it works marvelously.
  • Pour batter in cooking spray covered pan, pre-heated on medium. I usually pour all of my batter in one pan for a mega pancake, but you can also make 9 or so dollar pancakes.
  • Flip pancakes when they start to bubble and sides stop shining.  Only cook on this side for 30-60 seconds to maintain moist texture.  These pancakes poof up like a souffle when you flip!
  • Flop onto a plate and enjoy!
* I have four or five versions of this baby with different additives, may it be lemon, cocoa powder, or even coconut. 

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Ode to Gina, and Graze

Gina and I go way back.  Back to January, when Graze opened up in the U.S. to a pilot group of snackers. 

I was searching for a subscription service to send as a gift to my best gal pal for her birthday and stumbled upon Graze – “we select the healthy foods that actually taste good and handpick your very own snack box, delivered wherever you like.   With a diabolical combination of boredom and gorging as my arch-nemesis in the food category, a weekly shipment of different healthy, portioned out snacks seemed like a risk I was willing to take.  Lo and behold, Graze was coming to the U.S. and, thanks to a special invitation code to their Facebook fans, I was in the VIP launch group.  And, might I add, thrilled about it?  I spent nearly an hour combing through the snack options, rating “tropical daiquiri” as LOVE and “wasapea” as TRASH before I received my first snack box.  When that first perfectly sized, simple yet adorable Graze box hit my mailstop (documented above), I was hooked.  The branding alone was perfection – clean, simple, natural, with wit!  The nutritional cards in each box were enough to make me smile wide and proud and prance off to share that joy on Twitter.  Those little punnets have been with me every week since that time.

Well, almost every week. That’s where Gina comes in.  Week six of operation “Get Kristen better snacks” began and no Graze box.  Week seven started and still no box.  The website said it was shipped, that my credit card was charged, but there I was, Graze’less.  Desperate and a little perturbed, I tweeted @GrazeUSA about my situation.  Fair Gina replied instantly, asking me to e-mail her so we could sort out details.  It was the most personalized customer care conversation I had ever had over e-mail or social media – I felt like I was speaking with a real person. While it became apparent it was all an USPS issue, she still credited me a free snack box.

Fast forward to this very week, when Graze ended the VIP launch and opened the gates to snacking paradise.  In preparation for my first 10k this weekend, I’ve been strict about my diet – don’t go crazy, don’t introduce new things, avoid acidic foods...like tomatoes.  But the last snack in my box was the tomato dipinetti  and I had to try it.  But if I just ate the grissinetti…

Fair Gina again appeared!  We e-mailed as before and grissinetti nutritional information was shared (as well as a mutual tomato sensitivity).  Despite an influx of new snackers to the service, customer care was just as good, just as responsive, and just as personal as it had been.  That’s hard to do. 

Graze, you have me, hook, line, and salsa fresca .

Oh, and give Gina a raise.

Sunday, August 28, 2011


Abrasion [noun] (uh brah zuhn)
  1. The process of wearing down or rubbing away by means of friction.

Irene has transformed into an abrasion on my soul.

I was set to settle into my Sunday, lounge and eat and read and (check work e-mails) and enjoy this day of rest the way I usually do.  I was set to fill up my tank with 5-cent off gas and maybe, just maybe take my car to get washed. I was set to let the hurricane-hype roll off my back like water on a hurricane-battered window. 

I bought extra batteries yesterday. 

Foolish, I know. I like to think of myself as fairly independent in my decision making – don’t wait for me to follow the trend, you’ll be waiting a long , long time – and yet, here I was on a Saturday, waiting in line with my mom at Lowe’s to buy a 10-pack of D batteries “just in case.”  Foolish is a kind way to describe my actions.

I’d like to blame herd mentality, media swarming, and well-over a week of consistent water cooler chatter about Irene and the Chaos She Will Bring.  Of course, even I can’t believe my actions are completely devoid of personal fault.  I was there, after all.  The aforementioned list of perpetrators succeeded in getting under my skin and festering in the one area that my reptilian brain loves to loathe: fear.  In the battle between fight and flight, the latter was never an option and former would be silly (“Hey, Irene! Put up your dukes, put ‘em up!!!”). 

But I could do something in between – something small and seemingly insignificant, but still something.   I could go out and prepare to power my radio in the event that we lose power.  I could do that. 

Still, the purchase was foolish.  I have batteries at home: AA, AAA, C… but no Ds and my radio needs Ds.  To be specific, that radio needs Ds.  I’m sure I could dig through the closet and find a radio that runs on AAAs in the event of an emergency, but I had it set in my mind that this large blue boombox with a broken CD player from ’99 needed to be powered.  It needed it. 

Or maybe I did.  Just in case. 

As I reflect on my jaunt to find portable power at Lowe’s, the wind is wailing and the trees (thankfully flexible and resilient) are swaying like dancers warming up.  The batteries are upstairs in the office cabinet and I have settled back into my Sunday, typing, lounging, and channel surfing for a good movie.

I suppose if a little bit of a foolish, impulsive, societal-pressure of an action can give me back my Sunday routine, it couldn’t have been that foolish.  Not really.  

Sunday, August 21, 2011


Contrite [adj] (kuhn triet)
  1. Deeply sorrowful and repentant for a wrong

Irish yogurt.  An unappreciated breakfast item.
I love yogurt.  Creamy. Tangy.  Smooth.  It's a constant companion in the form of a small, nourishing, dairy-laden snack.  The curious thing about yogurt is that no matter where I've been, it remains a simple, tasty treat that simultaneously reminds me of home and gives me a sense of where I am.

China?  Yak-milk yogurt – heavy-bodied, silky, sweet!

Home? Light and Fit – fruity, smooth, 80 calories! 

Ireland.  Er, yes, Ireland.  That does throw a wrench in my theory.  Irish yogurt proved to be a cross between sour cream and cream cheese.  Thick, rich, and sour with a distinctive aftertaste that can only be described as cloying.  The only saving grace of this breakfast item was that it came with granola to mix in.  Of course, the so-called fruit syrup at the bottom of the cup almost made the granola's pretense null and void. 

If that yogurt could speak, I have no doubt it would have been quite contrite.

Saturday, August 13, 2011


Soak [verb] (se ow keh)
  1. To make thoroughly wet or saturated by or as if by placing in liquid.
  2. To take in or accept mentally, especially eagerly and easily

It happened in a pub.

The musty booth was obtained.  The fish and chips were ordered.  The music was picking up.  The crowd soaked in Guinness from the inside out.  All was well.  And then the people in booth next to us – to my completely shock and horror - started talking to us.  Animatedly.  Interestedly.  Without pause.

My reaction: What the heck do you want? 

O'Shea's!  Packed with chatty tourist and locals alike.
In public, friendliness is a smile, a shared joke about poor service, a “don’t worry about it” if you have to move your chair for someone to walk by.  I believe that general concept is well understood in the States.  If not that exact wording, at least the sentiment of privacy even in crowded spaces.

Not here, not in the pubs of Ireland.

It happen almost every night.  In Dublin, in Doolin, and Westport, too.  Complete strangers would strike up a conversation with you out of the blue.  One moment you'd be sitting by the bar, nursing your diet Coke (okay, stop your judging), and listening to the music, and the next you've been swept up into a conversation by locals who you could have sworn were not there a moment ago.

I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t off-putting, that it didn’t make me feel uncomfortable and want to go back to my quiet, question-free room and lock the door.  The first time, I may have done just that.  But (and there's always a but when there's something to be learned), by the time I boarded the plane for Boston, I was more open to the giving people the benefit of the doubt.  Don't be mislead: Never did I turn into Sally Social  – that would have been devastating to my introvert credit.  However, in the end it seemed like people were motivated to ask questions at the bar because, well, they had a question.  Curiosity was the motivator most of the time.  A desire to show thankfulness another.  Or, my favorite, visible opportunity to show commonality – Obama did just leave Ireland the week before we arrived and it was a chance to talk about something we both understood.
The very first batch of Irish fish and chips. And mushy peas.

On that night in Dublin, with old men singing and fish and chips and our chatty booth mates,  I learned not only that mushy peas are really, really mushy, but also that our neighbors were all siblings, regulars to this pub, loved the piper (who was only 16!) to pieces, and had no idea where Vermont was in the States ("By Montreal.  Just in the States and with more confusion about health care.").  

And it all happened in a pub.

Sunday, August 7, 2011


Obdurate [adj] (ahb duhr uht)
  1. Hardened in feeling
  2. Resistant to persuasion

I'm completely obdurate on the issue and you cannot convince me otherwise:

Traveling is enjoyable. Sorting through travel photos is not.

I took over 600 photos on my trip to Ireland.  While that means I have over 600 memories captured in film, er -- zeros and ones (?),  it also means that I have over 600 memories to sort, label, compile, edit, delete, regret deleting, and share.  This kind of activity requires a fair amount of momentum, typically granted by the glow of the trip upon one's return.  I rode that wave - showed my family all 600, unedited images, posted two days worth of photo albums online with captions, set my desktop background as a vista from the Cliffs of Mohr.

And then Wednesday came around.

Wednesday was the day I went back to work.  Wednesday was the day I attacked 700 unanswered e-mails.  Wednesday was the day reality trumped memories.

To say the least, my wave of momentum evaporated.

Nonetheless, a loss of momentum isn't completely to blame.  There's also cognitive dissonance.  I look at a photo of our trip to the Joyce County Sheepdog demonstration - look at Sweep fly around, herding those sheep (or more likely, staring them down)!  I captured that moment, but know, from memory, that the better shot would have been of someone in our group petting Roy, another sheepdog.  The reality of what I have captured is countered by what I know I could have captured, if I'd only known.  Opportunity cost meets cognitive dissonance.

The trip itself was lovely: green, hot, sunny, energetic, filling.  I wouldn't trade the experience.  The need to sort through my photos?  Now that experience I'd trade.  Thank goodness for travel-mates that love to point, shoot, edit, and share.

Sunday, July 31, 2011


Assuage [verb] (uh sway)
  1. To make something unpleasant less severe

I've found that the only thing that can assuage the fear of penning a long, boring, obnoxious blog entry is to set out with the objective to do just that.  To write a long, boring, obnoxious blog entry, that is.  Prepare yourselves, dear friends.  This is going to be a dozy.

I (and a couple thousand others on this planet, thank goodness) have a tendency to avoid that which has the potential to be unpleasant.  Take, for example, physicals.  Or cocktail socials.  Or poorly constructed, asinine, yuppie accounts about my trip to the Emerald Isle.

... not that the last example has anything to do with the fact that I have not posted for months. No, not at all.   *CoughCough*

On the one hand, it's comforting to know that shying away from such galling occurrences is more natural than not.  "Walk into that lion's den?  No, thanks," screams the human psyche.  "I'd much rather walk around.  Or starve.  Or go play this great game of cornhole I just found!" 

On the other hand (because there is always another hand), it's just as disconcerting that we lean toward cowardice when given the option.  I decided to avoid my own blog for months in order to maintain a false sense of literary bravery and accomplishment around in my proverbial handbag.  "Lion's den?  What lion's den? Let's get back to that game of cornhole," my mind rifts.  While I may now be an expert cornhole player, what have I really gained?

If you said, "Nothing," you're far too pessimistic.  If you said, "A growing sense of impending doom," gold star for you!

Today, I set out to leave cowardice at the door.  While it hasn't reached the entryway just yet (it's peering around my couch, right now), I know that only way to push it out will be to try.  This attempt may not be noble or iconic or bold or, heck, even good, but it's something.  And something is a lot better than the nothing I've been putting out.

Here's to second, third, and fourth tries.