Monday, August 22, 2016

Summer flavors

We're more than halfway through August and my end-of-summer anxiety is in full swing. As much as I love the fall season, I hate the end of summer because it means that in just a few very short months, winter will be upon us and I loathe winter. Shorter days? Longer nights? No, thank you. Ugh, I'm getting Seasonal Affective Disorder just THINKING about it.

I checked the sunrise/sunset times for this week and the sun is setting almost 15 minutes earlier than it did last week and I like, CANNOT.

Where has the time gone? Where did summer go? I'm racking my brain and can't for the life of me remember any summery things I've done over the past three months. Did I squander it? Did I even have a s'more? Was I too busy with things I can't even remember doing?

Time moves way, way too fast. I know everyone says that, but everyone says it for a reason: THERE IS NO TIME. THERE'S NEVER ANY TIME.

I gotta wash my hair. There I don't have time to study. I'll never get into Stanford. I'll let everyone down!

Sorry, I'm in full Jessy Spano mode right now.

Does anyone else suffer from panic attacks at the end of summer? Just me? Okay. Cool.

I guess you can say I did one pretty summery thing this summer: I made my own ice cream. The only thing more summery than making your own ice cream is going to sleepaway camp, but I'm too old and creepy tired to do that. So I had to settle with making my own frozen treats.

I spent this past weekend toiling over a pinewood bucket and churned cream I made with fresh milk from the cows in my pasture. (Translation: I mixed whipping cream with condensed milk and shoved it in the freezer for several hours.)

Several people shared a recipe for something called Unicorn Ice Cream and after the third or fourth time I saw it posted on Facebook, I decided to try it. It only requires a few ingredients and minimal effort, so it's a lazy girl's dream come true!

And sprinkles. It calls for a buttload of sprinkles.

There are a different Unicorn Ice Cream recipes out there, but here's the one I used. I only modified it slightly by using heavy whipped cream (more milk fat = sturdier cream) and an eyeball's worth of vanilla extract (any "eyeball's worth" is a unit of measurement I made up because I eyeball most ingredients). Plus, I didn't have the required gel food coloring and just used, I guess you'd call it, "regular" food coloring.



I won't bore you with details. All you need to know is that this is magical and you must make it. It tastes like the creamiest, smoothest vanilla ice cream you've ever had in your life.

The rainbow swirls and star sprinkles are so precious, you'll give yourself a headache from being near it. It seriously looks like it was made from My Little Ponies and the sound of children's laughter.

Again it needs repeating: You must make this.

My head is already spinning with endless flavor combinations to try. Fresh fruit? Yeah! Chocolate and peanut butter? Um, yeah! Oreo cookies? YES. Coffee? Yes indeedy!

The added benefit of making rainbow pastel ice cream: It makes for some pretty pictures!





Unfortunately my darling husband is on the Paleo diet, and I had to take one for the team and consume all of this ice cream by myself so he wouldn't be tempted. I am such a good spouse.

Before I sign off and watch another episode of Shameless before bed (we're on season 4!), I had to give you all one other update.

Remember the rug that I cancelled three times, bought, and then exchanged for something different in the end anyway? Remember how I blogged about it twice? Well, new development:

We love the rug (5th time's a charm!) and I think it compliments our decor really well. But I made the mistake of saying I liked it out loud and jinxed the whole thing because the very next day, after not even having it a full week, Joey barfed on it.

I couldn't even be mad. I had it coming.


Gosh, Courtney. Get a pedicure.

Monday, August 08, 2016

Coffee date


If you and I were getting together for coffee, I'd probably be late. Because I'm always late. I'd probably text you and say "I'm just 5 minutes away!" when really, I'm more like 10 minutes away because I'm a jerk and have horrible time management skills.

We'd probably meet at Starbucks because as much I appreciate our local mom n' pop coffee houses, Starbucks is familiar and it's the closet thing to my house.

Since it's now August and unbearably hot (how about that humidity?), I'd forgo the coffee and order a grande Iced Black Tea Lemonade.

When you ask me what I've been up to I'd give you the blanket answer of "not much" because I never know how detailed to be with my life. I'm just like you: I work all week and when all of my obligations are said and done, I try to squeeze in some fun.

We went to the fair with some friends. Clayton and I attended a wine festival. My mom and I made a day of getting our hair done and eating sushi. I met a girlfriend for cocktails. I met another girlfriend of lunch. I went to the comedy club a few times. I binge-watched Shameless on Netflix. I had game nights with my in-laws. I met my dad and sister in Indy on a few occasions to race go-karts and golf. Summer softball ended a few weeks ago and the fall league starts this week.

Then I'll casually ask if you watch Shameless because I'm obsessed with it and want to talk about it with someone. HOW ABOUT THEM GALLAGHERS? Is your favorite character Shelia, too?


I'd also ask if you're watching the Olympics because I definitely am. The summer Olympics are my favorite and I DVR swimming, beach volleyball, and women's gymnastics. Surprisingly I got into men's diving this year because I find the idea of trying to perfectly mirror someone else's body movements while free-falling fascinating. One time Clayton and I sneezed at the same time. That's kind of the same thing, right?

You're a good friend and would ask me about how my legs/back/veins/general lower body are doing and I would tell you that all things considered, I'm doing okay. I'll be having outpatient surgery hopefully sometime in September because the results of my ultrasound showed that I have a condition called venous insufficiency which basically means that the valves in my veins don't close properly and instead of my blood being pushed back up towards my heart, some of it pools in my legs. This could cause the heaviness, ankle swelling, and the sudden and unwelcome appearance of varicose veins.

I'm both anxious and excited about the procedure. Anxious because I've only been put under one time in my life and I'm a major space cadet on anesthesia. (When my wisdom teeth were removed I asked the nurse to show me my extracted teeth and when she obliged, I yelled at her and said, "That's disgusting! Why would you show me that!?") Plus, the procedure does not sound pleasant (I prefer to NOT have wires shoved in my ankle and fished all the way up my groin.) On the other hand, I'm really excited to see if this will help with my running and the vain part of me is tired of seeing well, my veins.

I have to wear my stockings another few weeks and then we can contact my insurance company about getting pre-certified for the procedure.

Speaking of my compressing stockings, all of my "fun" socks (I use the term loosely) were in the laundry so I had to wear my flesh-colored stockings on a run last week. I looked like Mrs. Doubtfire. I had to fight the urge to exclaim "Hellooooooooooooooo!" as I made my way down the street.

I'm still on the fence about training for the Monumental Half Marathon or just sticking with the 5k. I think I'll have a better idea once the weather starts to cool down and after surgery.

I'd ask you how your summer vacations went or if you had anything fun planned for the fall. Since we went to New York City over spring break, we decided to save our pennies for an overseas trip next year and stick around town this summer. But we did score a great deal on airfare and will be heading to the Grand Canyon this fall with Dan and Emily. I can't even tell you how excited I am for hiking and experiencing something new and amazing with some of our favorite people. I will pack literally nothing except yoga capris and running shorts.

I'll also be heading to Las Vegas in September and Dallas in October (both for extended work trips). Plus, I'm flying back to Pittsburgh tomorrow. I used to fly like once every 10 years, but I've already flown 9 times in 2016. It's kind of crazy!

Can you believe I've been at this job for a year already? Yup, an entire year this month. I can honestly say that this past year has been one of the most challenging for me, but I can also say that it's been one of the best. I'm very grateful for where I am and for the things I've gotten to experience in my short time with the company. I look forward to going to work every day and feel very proud of the work I do and of the people I work with. I know that not everyone can say that and it's not something I take for granted. Whew! One year down. And I'm still just getting my feet wet!

Clayton and I have been busy with smallish home improvements. We seriously kicked around the idea of redoing our kitchen floor because all of the oak in that area makes it look like we're living in a log cabin and I can hear the floor squeak from the other side of the house. We brought home a ton of samples and even got an estimate, but after leaning how astronomically expensive it is to install new flooring, we decided that we're perfectly happy with creaky laminate.

And remember that rug I ordered and cancelled three different times a few weeks ago? It finally came in the mail and I already took it back and exchanged it for something else.

Why? Because I am ridiculous.

You and I certainly won't discuss politics ... unless it's to speculate when we think Darrel Hammond will guest start on SNL as potential first man Bill Clinton.

Once all of the superficial talk is over, we'll get real with each other and talk about what's on our hearts and minds. I want to know how you're really doing and offer support and a listening ear for anything you want to share. I care about you. I know we're both really busy, but I'm always here when you need to talk.

When it's time to part ways and say goodbye for the afternoon, I'll lean in for an awkward hug because every time I connect with another human being, I feel like I need to seal it with a hug. You've come to expect (and hopefully appreciate) that and not back away. Then I'll feel embarrassed because as much as I love real talk, it makes me feel deeply uncomfortable and I never know how to just be like, "Well, bye!"

Well, bye!

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

The Diet

Let’s talk about food. *A collective cheer rises from my captivated reading audience.* 

Specifically, let’s talk about diets. *My once captivated reading audience quietly starts putting on their jackets and backing towards the exit.*

I’m not a huge fan of diets for a few reasons:
1.) I have a history of restrictive eating and my up and down relationship with food doesn’t lend itself to dieting.
2.) I’ve had personal success by just making sure I eat a generally healthy diet (i.e. choosing healthy foods more often than not).
3.) I eat cake at least once a week and I’ve yet to find a diet that says, “Day 5: Eat all the cake you want. Eat cake until you throw up.”

If other people want to try Atkins, Whole 30, etc.—more power to you! Do what makes you happy and healthy. It’s just not for me.

That being said, Clayton is doing the Paleo diet and I love it ... for him.

I love it because Clayton has put a lot of time and research into the diet (i.e. the science of why it works) and he really knows his stuff. He could easily tell you that while the diet encourages lots of fresh fruits and veggies, legumes are not on the Paleo list. Why? I don’t know, I forgot. But he can tell you!

Clayton decided to try the Paleo diet not only as a way to maybe shed a few pounds (that’s just been a happy side effect), but to see if clean eating could clear up some of the sinus issues he’s been quite literally suffering with for YEARS. My husband is a 7-day a week pill popper and if he forgets his Claritin D for just one day, he can’t breathe and has to sleep on the couch because he tosses and turns all night.

Paleo is simple (enough): Lots of meat, fruits, and veggies. Nothing processed. No refined sugars. No dairy. No bread. No alcohol (basically no to any of the things that could actually make America great again). Just eat like a caveman.

In short: You can’t eat any of the things your wife loves and she would be a total jerk for buying it and keeping it in the house when you’re trying to be good.

What would surely result in an immediate and tragic end for ME has proven to be quite successful for Clayton. He has so much willpower! I’m honestly insanely jealous of his resolve. He allows himself one cheat day a week (because … pizza), but every other day of the week he’s a Paleo rock star. Whereas I think not eating an entire bag of Twizzlers in one sitting is an accomplishment. 

Even though I’m not choosing the Paleo diet for myself, I’m trying champion his decision by getting on board for Paleo-friendly dinners. He and I are on our own for breakfast and lunch (the times of day when I get to eat all of the cheese and all the grains and all the peanut butter), but I’ve agreed to be a willing participant for supper.

Mostly.

This is a chicken, asparagus, and sweet potato skillet I made last week. Normally I would dissolve a bouillon cube or add some kind of sauce, but in an effort to stay compliant, I simmered everything in organic free range chicken broth. (When we were grocery shopping last week I had the sudden realization that we’re now “those” people.)


Right after this picture was taken, I doused my plate in soy sauce. Why? Because I’m like, 65% committed to this.

I also tried my hand at some kind of Paleo chicken, broccoli, and mushroom concoction, but it looked like cow cud and was mostly flavorless (aside from the heaping spoonful of nutmeg I added). We won’t be making that one again.

Honestly, the best Paleo meals have been simple plates of grilled meat and veggies. I used to eat steak once or twice a year, but now we’re having it every week. My iron levels are on the low side of normal, so I think my body will be pleased.



Our Paleo meals don’t take any extra prep time, but they do take some extra ingredients and we had a slight spike in our grocery bill. I now sauté everything in either olive or coconut oil, and we have this thing in our pantry called almond butter that tastes like crushed almonds and disappointment.


For the most part, Paleo meals aren’t too far off from how we normally cook. We never really cook with butter. Neither of us loves pasta. We always have steamed veggies. It’s just the absence of the ungodly amounts of cheese I use in most recipes.

And that’s the real reason why I can’t fully subscribe to this diet with Clayton: CHEESE.

And ice cream.

And cookies.

And toast.

And bagels.

And cereal.

And for the love of all things sacred and holy, FROSTING.

Watching Clayton do the Paleo diet is really shining a light on how bad of a sweet tooth I have. I consider myself to be a pretty healthy eater who never turns down a vegetable, but getting a fun-sized Snickers bar this week was an embarrassingly euphoric experience for me. I didn't realize how much I loved junk food until I stopped bringing it into the house. 

But hey, my hubby has a sweet tooth as well and he is royally committed to finding a treat option that fits the Paleo guidelines and doesn’t taste like cardboard. We invited Dan and Emily over a few weeks ago for burgers and sweet potato fries (bunless burgers for Clayton) and he whipped up a pan of Paleo brownies for dessert. The brownies were made from overly ripe bananas, that damn almond butter, and raw organic cocoa powder (rolls eyes). But they were fabulous! So fudgey!

I don’t know how long Clayton will do the Paleo diet and really, I don’t care. That’s up for him to decide and I support him either way. If anything, he’s giving himself some really fantastic tools to make better food choices for the rest of his life. I can’t say enough how proud I am of his dedication. He dragged me out of bed early on a Saturday to go to the Farmer’s Market because he wanted grass fed beef and free range eggs. The man who struggles to wake up before 10am on the weekends woke ME up. 

And his energy levels have been so good that HE RUNS now. I’ve been begging him to run with me for the past 6 years, but it was always too painful for him. Now he’s out there running laps like a champ. (It figures that he would start busting out the miles right as I'm riding the running struggle bus. I’m not bitter or anything. Not really, anyway. I love my husband. The turd.)


If you have a favorite Paleo recipe that actually tastes like more than random whole foods thrown together, please let me know!

Monday, July 18, 2016

Taking a break

I ordered a rug and cancelled that same rug three different times this weekend. I’m not sure what Clayton means when he says I’m “indecisive” and that I’m “annoying”.

I just want things to be done right the first time. I’m notorious for changing my mind so in order to prevent myself from getting the rug and eventually changing my mind and ultimately buying something else, I changed my mind like 50 times upfront. You know, to save myself the hassle later. Surely this makes sense to someone, right?

Clayton already thinks that I’m going to change the name of our child before it gets to preschool. I wanted to be mad when he said it, but he’s probably right.

But this rug is like, a cool brown and most of our stuff is warm brown and I’m not sure if it will go together and I hate the fact that I obsess over color tones to the point that I made a tiny 3'x3' rug a major life decision. And it’s not even an exciting color; it’s BROWN. I was positive that the explosive popularity of the color “greige” would make my life easier because hey, it can be cool or warm! But it just made everything WORSE. Now my home décor is having a major identity crisis.

I decided to take an entire week off of running and strenuous exercise, so in case you can’t tell, I’m trying to focus my energy on something else … like rugs.

^^At least I'm not getting a rug made from the butt of a skunk. A skunk butt rug. 

See, I attempted to run on Sunday morning and it was disastrous, yet again. Since I'm to the point where I can no longer tell if this kind of disappointment makes me feel incredibly sad or incredibly angry, I prescribed myself some mandatory rest. I’m taking the next week to reset and hopefully recharge my batteries, limiting myself to only walking and light core strength to continue protect my back. How I feel after this week will be the barometer for whether or not I’ll sign up for the Monumental Marathon in November.

You have no idea how upsetting it is to admit that I might not do my favorite race. Every runner has a favorite race, one that they consider “theirs” and the Monumental Marathon is mine. I seriously can’t even stomach it. If push comes to shove, I’ll at least sign up for the 5k and hobble my way through the course because I can’t miss it.

I think my biggest fear is that nothing will change, even after a week of rest. I’m fearful that my best running is behind me. Yes, I know that sounds dramatic, but if you had the same past 8 months I've had, you'd be worried about it, too.

Regardless, I don’t wanna be a Debbie Downer today. I get a full week of extra rest and the excuse to put my feet up.

But boy was I in a MOOD on Friday afternoon, so I asked Clayton to take a sunset walk with me along Lake Monroe. Watching the sun slide behind the trees dotting the lake was both refreshing and relaxing. I grew up in a city with large lakes (and several other lakes nearby) and sitting by the water is one of my very favorite things.




After our evening stroll, we went for ice cream and I ordered a sundae with a giant dinosaur sugar cookie sticking out of the top because I’m five. It's the small things that brighten your day, am I right?

Then I woke up this morning to the sound of wind whipping against the side of the house. As I walked on the treadmill (why yes, I will get up early to exercise if I only have to walk), I could barely hear the news over the gusts of wind blowing outside. A massive storm was rolling in and I was EXCITED.

I love gray clouds. I love storms. Even though I got completely soaked running into the building from the parking lot (despite having an umbrella), I felt hopeful. Though slightly inconvenient when driving in to work, I felt like like this morning’s downpour was God’s way of telling me that it was all going to be okay.

It may be stormy, but it’ll pass.

^^That was a metaphor. Did you get it?

No really, did you get it?

Friday, July 15, 2016

My summer fashion statement


This week was one of those weeks where I felt like if someone just looked at me funny, I was going to burst into tears.

Work was rough and then my vulnerability was only magnified when I went to my appointment at the vein clinic on Monday.

Let me back up for a sec: Ya’ll know I’ve been struggling with these hamstring/back issues since November and blah blah blah. Well, one thing that no medical professional has been able to explain to me is why my legs feel so HEAVY when I run. My energy for cross-training is off the charts (and I actually look forward to those more than my running workouts right now), but when I try to run, it’s like trying to wade through a pool of marshmallow fluff.

It could be the heat. It could be my stride. It could be a mental barrier.

It could be lots of things.

BUT, the symptom that’s most concerning is the appearance of bright green veins on my legs that literally popped up overnight. Two decent sized veins are now visible on one of my shins and on a few on the backs of my knees. I'm not sure what the situation is with the veins on the back of my legs since it’s an area of my body I don't see (or would want to see) every day. But I know for a fact these little squiggly veins on my shin are a brand new development.

Heavy legs. Big, meaty veins. I wanted to talk to someone about it.

The vein doctor doesn’t know what caused it. Could be fat loss (I wish). Could be from weight lifting. Could be from hormones.

It could be a lot of things.

BUT, in order to get insurance to kick in for yet another ultrasound (I seriously don’t know how many times I told the folks at the vein clinic that my GP ordered an ultrasound in February to check for blood clots) and subsequent treatment, we have to prove that non-invasive methods won’t fix the problem.

Enter the ever-sexy, always fashionable COMPRESSION STOCKINGS.

They don’t even have the dignity to refer to them as socks.

They're STOCKINGS.

I think I just aged 40 years with a single prescription.

Rx COMPRESSION STOCKINGS.

I’m already embarrassed to wear shorts because I think my legs are disgusting from these veins, but now I REALLY can’t wear shorts because I’ll be rocking compression STOCKINGS for the next 6 weeks.

It’s the middle of July.

I think laughing about it is seriously the only thing that’s keeping me from crying.

This year has been rough, man. 30 has not been kind to me.

The vein doctor led me to believe that this particular health store sold several colors and styles and had the very best to offer in the world of fashionable compression stockings.

False. The health store had only black, white, or tan. And guess what? The only color they had in stock and in my size was nude. 

But I did have my choice of the ever-alluring sheer or the very mysterious opaque.

When I was getting measured for my special prescription stockings, I felt the need to apologize for the girth of my calves (I feel like I need to forever apologize for my body, as if saying something about my insecurities upfront will magically protect me from any possible judgement. Like, if I say it first then they can't hurt me. Which is hilarious because no one thinks or cares about my body as much as I do.) So as you can imagine, my compression stocking size is size large. "Ya know, it's not enough that I have to wearing compression stockings in the first place, so please give me the biggest ones you have."

Doing everything I could to maintain some semblance of my former self-esteem, I made a plea with the customer service rep to please, pretty please give me a third pair that I can run and workout in without looking like an idiot (because who wants to see me sweating in tan thigh-high stockings? Everyone. No one.). Surely my insurance company will take pity on me and cover the cost.

Thank goodness for prescription athletic compression SOCKS (yes, actual socks). They had a small display with several pairs of compression running socks and THANK HEAVENS they had one more pair in my size. In hot pink. But the color didn’t bother me. They could have been covered in swastikas and gang signs for all I cared. Just getting an actual pair of socks was a welcome reprieve.

Three pairs of compression socks for $200.

Merry Christmas, everyone.