I am Interested in Beets.

I’ve only had them once or twice, and I don’t think I liked them, but the concept of a vegetable that can be eaten in both sweet an savory dishes, and one that can literally dye your insides, intrigues me.  I’ll probably try to find something to do with beets in the near future.

Tonight, we made “mashed cauliflower,” an old Weight Watchers trick that the paleo folks have resurrected as a substitute for mashed potatoes.  I was nonplussed…they definitely don’t taste enough like mashed potatoes to fool you, but they weren’t horrible once we added some Irish butter, sour cream, and cheddar cheese.  I don’t know if I’ll do it again, but it was a good low-carb side dish to the teriyaki marinated chicken breasts that Joey baked for us.

I’ve made it to the ninth lifestyle change in my book on adrenal fatigue…here are my thoughts thus far:

  • although I know it’s best to do, I’m always amazed at how much better I feel when we’re eating whole, real foods and not processed/packaged/takeout stuff.
  • I SUCK at sleeping 8 hours.  Being in bed by 9:30 seems like a punishment.  I’m not sure how I’m going to make peace with that.
  • I’m upset by the author’s flippancy toward antidepressants.  She lumps them in a chapter together with caffeine, sugar and–no, I’m not kidding–COCAINE.  Seriously.  I find it funny that she qualifies her passage on the benefits of upping one’s salt intake with the typical safety statement:  “please follow doctor’s instructions if you have been advised to limit your sodium intake.”  But when it comes to antidepressants, she recommends weaning off of them across the board, without any kind of medical qualifying statement or “follow your doctor’s instruction” safety net.  It’s irresponsible.  For those of us who have an actual issue with brain chemistry, meditating and sleeping just ain’t gonna cut it.

I had Joey go out and buy some of this stuff for me, per the author’s recommendation:

I took two this evening.  We’ll see how they work.

My Adrenals are Worn Out and Dried Up…

I really don’t know whether to be hopeful that the second half of the year will be better than the first or not.  After two months of the severe mood swings and general depression/hopelessness, I’m starting to fee at home being in a funk.  At this point, I’m not sure I’d even know what to do if I did feel normal.  One of the girls I work with last week commented that she couldn’t believe that I was feeling the way I am.  I asked her what she expected me to do?  It’s not like I can cease to function at my job…I’ve got to keep doing a good job at work.  It’s not like the world is going to quit spinning on my account.  I tried to explain to her how I do my best to get through the workday and then I’m basically nonfunctional once I get home.  It mystified her.  I guess that’s a good thing.

Anyway, I’ve been reading Tired of Being Tired, a book about adrenal fatigue and burnout (Amazon Link–not an affiliate link).  According to their test, I’m at the point of “losing it,” which is just a category away from burnout.  After you assess your own level of burnout, the author (an MD) offers ten lifestyle changes that will help your adrenal glands recover and function normally again.  Her theory is that our increasingly fast-paced lifestyles take a toll on our adrenal glands that, historically, would have been limited to immediate physical threat (read:  being chased by a large predator).  While I’m usually leery of “Lose Weight and Feel GREAT” books, this one caught my eye because part of my anxiety diagnosis is PTSD and the fact that I’m constantly functioning in fight-or-flight mode.  My adrenals have been totally shot for quite some time, and while I’m a huge fan of prescription treatment for mental health issues, I also look for every holistic and natural method to help the meds do their job.

Nothing that I’ve read thus far as been earth-shattering; I do think it’s interesting that the author promotes a low-carbohydrate diet.  While she doesn’t promote a paleo- or primal-type diet, she does recommend that those at the highest levels of adrenal fatigue/burnout stick right around 65 grams of carbs per day (three meals and 2-3 snacks).  Surprisingly, she also recommends that those at highest level of burnout not engage in any incredibly strenuous exercise program (so, my plans to start Insanity again are on hold for a little while), but to engage in moderate activity every day.  In light of that, I’m going to develop a routine on the Wii that matches her recommendations and stick with that every day.

The toughest parts?  8 hours of sleep and giving up caffeine:(.  I really suck at getting enough sleep.  It is what it is.  I don’t like going to bed (mostly because, these days, I just really don’t want it to be “tomorrow,” and I seem to have this twisted belief that, if I stay up as late as possible, then it’ll stay “today”), but I have to get up at 5:30 every day, to head into an extremely high-stress environment, for which I really should have had a full night’s sleep.  So, bleh.  And I love my caffeine:(…at least she says that I shouldn’t go cold-turkey and can wean down.

Anyway, I’ll keep updating you about what I’m learning and how it’s going.  I did manage to make a meal plan for the week and we got some groceries today (Joey’ll have to get the rest tomorrow), so this week will be much better in terms of real, balanced meals.  I’ll let you know about the rest.

Also, please send prayers and good thoughts out for my friend Phil.  He was supposed to have surgery to remove the cancer (on the pancreas) this past Thursday, but a pre-op CAT scan revealed some changes and now they’re not exactly sure how they’re going to be able to tackle the treatment/surgery.  He means so much to me…he changed my life seven years ago, and I don’t know where I’d be without him.

Phil’s on my right.  I totally stole this picture from my church’s website, and when I went back today to find it so I could link to the source, they’ve started updating the website and I can’t find it anymore, so if you visit FBCIT.org and find some pictures, it’ll probably be in there somewhere.

How the Heck Did I Not Know About Pocky???

For real…how did I not know about this stuff?  Holy crap, it’s good.  Joey felt the need to satisfy his nerd-jones and looked it up on Wikipedia (because the Pocky website has no English…), and apparently “Men’s Pocky” just means that it’s made with bittersweet chocolate.  This box had two little packages in it with a serving each of these tiny, chocolate dipped pretzelly sticks of magical happiness.  One serving is pretty low fat/calorie/carb.  As such, Pocky will be making a repeat appearance in Chez Weaver.

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My other piece of food inspiration comes from Deb of Smoothie Girl Eats, Too.  I’d never read her blog before, but I’d heard about her Protein Muffin recipe on a couple of my favorite blogs.  Any time someone promises me a muffin the size of my hand that is low calorie/carb and full of healthy fats, I’m game.  Add the convenience factor of microwave cooking, which requires precious little effort on my behalf, and you can bet on my making it.

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RUN, don’t walk, to your fridge right now.  Make this.  I’m not going to duplicate her recipe here, because I want you to go to her site and read about this.  However, I’ll tell you the substitutions I made:

  • subbed 1 tbsp brown rice protein powder for the cocoa powder
  • subbed peanut flour for the coconut flour
  • subbed applesauce for the pumpkin
  • used 1 egg instead of 2 whites
  • used Stevia as my sweetener of choice
  • added 1 tbsp chocolate chips

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I microwaved it in an egg drop soup container, so the resulting muffin looked like a pint-sized (literally, because egg drop soup containers are 16 oz) personal cake!!  Last night, I topped mine and Joey’s muffins with some Justin’s Chocolate Hazelnut Butter (1/2 a pack each).  Guys, the possibilities with this recipe are endless…I’m seeing red velvet muffins, carrot cake muffins, pumpkin pie muffins….

Oh, and to put your mind at ease, we don’t have any Kleenex at the house, so the roll of TP is for runny noses only.

Tonight, we’re going over to Joey’s parents’ house to cook dinner for Mother’s Day.  On the menu?  teriyaki steak, chicken, and shrimp kabobs with pineapple fried rice.  I’ll let you know how it turns out.

Insane in the Membrane!!

Man, I am losing my freaking mind.  To make a long story short, I’m switching from one antianxiety medication to another, from Cymbalta to Wellbutrin, and it’s proving to be one of the most difficult things I’ve been through in my life.  If I had ANY idea that Cymbalta would be this difficult to stop, I would never have gone on it.  My insurance doesn’t cover as much of the cost this year, and it’s going up $200 (and was already costing me $400 a year).  Per their website, it may cause dizziness, nausea, and headaches.  They fail to mention brain “jolts,” extreme depression and rage, and paranoia.  And the DTs can last up to two months. I’m just a little over two weeks off (and that was after weaning myself back), and the thought of six more weeks of feeling like I’m absolutely going insane terrifies me.  And the even worse part is that I can’t just take off work and get over it. I’m having to go to a job in which I deal with people in a high-stress environment, and I’m having to resist the urge to rip someone’s face off when they annoy me.  Add to that feeling like crying at the drop of a hat, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster.  However, I am surviving and I have an incredibly patient husband and friends and family who understand and are helping cheer me up.  So, all in all, despite this mess, I’m still pretty freaking blessed too:)

So, this past week on Good Eats, Alton Brown did a show on Asian noodles which included a recipe using something that’s intrigued me for years now:  rice paper.  His Thai Shrimp Spring Rolls looked amazing on the show, and the rice paper looked pretty easy to work with as well, so I figured it was worth a shot.  I sent Joey to Grand Asia Market in Stallings, and he came back with lots of cool stuff:

like this adorable coffee mug with a kitten peering over the side.  He’s done his best to cheer me up during this time, and bringing me something that combines two of my favorite things (kitties and coffee) was a WIN.  He also came back with rice paper, though.  I substituted tofu for the shrimp…mostly because I don’t like the texture of shrimp unless it’s tiny and fried (make my fish fillet diamond-shaped, please!).  I drained and pressed my tofu, and then julienned about a quarter of the block.  Here’s what I ended up with:

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Check out the source link (the image isn’t mine, obviously, or it would be blurry with poor lighting) too, because it goes to another recipe for spring rolls.  Mine weren’t that pretty, but hopefully they will be the next time.  What a fantastic meal…it was light, but dense enough that it was filling.  Alton’s recipe says it makes enough for twelve rolls, but mine only made 8.  I also didn’t have any bibb lettuce to wrap them in, and I’ll definitely add that the next time because they were really gummy.  My favorite part was the dipping sauce, though. I’m making that sauce for anything asian that I make at home.  People, make these rolls.  Like, right now. 

Hopefully I’ll be able to make it through tomorrow without ripping anyone’s face off.  We always go to the antique show at Metrolina Expo on the first Saturday of the month, but we didn’t get to go today because of an incredibly irritating, hipster-em0-DB “rock fest” for the next generation of people who think they’re unique for having an all-day concert.  There’s nothing new under the sun, kids.  You’re not that special.  Anyway, we’re going to try to go back tomorrow…hopefully we can buy some stuff and offer the dealers some support since they were undoubtedly pissed at their customer base being turned away on their biggest business day.  /rant is over.

Off to watch more Good Eats.  I wish Alton Brown was my zany uncle.

Monthly Update, I Guess…

Check this out:

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I saw it at Metrolina Expo last weekend….I texted the picture to Joey and he told me to buy it.  So, I did.  It looks better on my wrist anyway:)

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It’s been quite a month here in Chez Weaver.  I’ve deferred my graduation until summer to give me more time to put in a good effort on my remaining class and have another two months after that for my thesis.  That has helped immensely with the stress, but couple that with some work stress that I probably shouldn’t blog about, and it’s been a month of aggravation and futility.  I’m working through it, but for some reason or another, I’m finding it to be more difficult than I have in the past few years.  I’m going to wait until school is done to make sure it’s not just my life circumstances before I start reevaluating my meds, though.

We’re taking a “staycation” this weekend…skipped church today and haven’t gone anywhere and done much.  Yesterday, we did visit the new Grand Asia Market in Stallings, and it was really cool.  They’ve got a restaurant, sushi bar, and bakery and a full grocery store…there was so much stuff I’d never seen before!  Also, their spices are really cheap, so I think we’ll go there from now on to get our spices and some produce.  And, there was like FIFTY kinds of tofu.  AWESOME.  Love me some tofu.  Mostly, though, we’ve relaxed, watched some tv, and worked on school stuff.  I got one of my novels for my thesis re-read yesterday, and I plan to go back through all of the research articles I have on it today.  But right now, I’m having coffee and chilling on the couch with the windows open getting ready to watch Ice Spiders on Syfy:)

I’ve been eating Primally for the past week, and I’ve already lost 8 pounds.  I forgot how easy it is and how much I enjoy it.  Since I’m on the fence as to where I lie on the spectrum concerning the Christian view of the Creation versus Evolution debate, I’m not necessarily married to the Paleo Diet…there will always be room for cheese in my book;).  However, I’ve been impressed by the simultaneous ease of the lifestyle and inventiveness that it inspires with food.  This morning, I made “Primal Panckes” with eggs, almond flour, cinnamon and vanilla.  Topped with warmed strawberries and hand-whipped cream, and you’ve got some tasty goodness for sure. 

Other things I’ve noticed in the past week:

  1. I’ve had a headache (part of what they describe as the “carb flu,’ I think.
  2. However, I’ve had more energy and greater focus.
  3. Much to Joey’s pleasure, I’ve had less gass.
  4. However, my poop has been like rocks (I need more green veggies, methinks)
  5. Sweetened things are waaaay too sweet to me.  I had Joey put 1/2 a pack of Truvia in my coffee this morning, and he’s already done two “warm ups” for me without adding any sweetener.  It was too sweet to begin with.
  6. I’m less hungry in general
  7. I have a better sense of when I am actually hungry as opposed to when I’m simply wanting to eat.

Also, I’m on a self-imposed “Facebook Hiatus.”  I’d been thinking about it for the last three weeks or so, and my friend Shannon posted yesterday that she was doing it.  We texted back and forth about it for most of the day, and I decided to go ahead and do it also.  I’d actually considered deactivating my account entirely, but I’m not ready to take that step yet (I’ve reunited both with my best friend from third grade and my best friend from sixth grade, so I do think there’s a use in Facebook).  However, it can take over your life.  Joey and I are also going back to “dumb phones” next week and getting rid of our data plan (for unrelated reasons), and I’m actually excited about it.  I never thought I would be…but I’m sick of hearing the notification indicator going off, honestly.  Texting with my close friends is good enough for me.

So, there you have it folks.  I’m hoping to blog more often…I miss it…and I think I’m starting to figure out how to navigate these next few months.

Secrets of Successful Thesis Writing

I promised myself that I could blog as a reward for rewriting my introduction of my prospectus.  I don’t know how I’m going to bribe myself to get the rest done.  However, I will say, now that I have part of the rewrite under my belt, I am feeling much better.  I’ve also spent two hours or so corresponding with my advisor, and she has been really helpful, so the chances that I’ll spend tonight sobbing about anything/everything like I did yesterday are much lower.  It’s amazing to me how much being overwhelmed about this project can affect my ability to handle anything at all.  That and being home alone because Joey is on a trip with the guys (note to any freako pervs who may read this and want to break in:  I will shoot you dead.  And you can believe that).  I’m doing better with the solitude today, though.  It’s funny to me that, even though I enjoy and value time spent by myself, I don’t really like being alone all that much.  I can remember being a kid at home and crying all by myself when my parents went somewhere and I was home alone.  I wasn’t scared or anything, I just liked having them around.

I am getting more done without Joey here, though, so this is a blessing for me.  And, since he’s gone, Shelli is having to settle for second best and is currently sleeping on the couch with me.  I love this.  However, I am a slow coffee-drinker and have a bladder the size of a hamster, so I’m currently sitting here with lukewarm coffee and an intense need to pee.  Ah, the price we pay for the happiness of our fur-babies.

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Here’s what the other half of my immediate surroundings looks like.  Except now, there’s an empty tupperware container that had sliced deli ham in it.  Lunch of champions, folks…coffee and sliced ham.

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I’m totally amazed at the writing process for this prospectus.  I cannot begin to imagine what the next few months hold in the actual thesis-writing process.  I can tell you a couple of things I’ve learned thus far, though:

  1. Your first draft sucks.  Expect it.  Send it in, get criticism, pick out a few sentences that work, and then scrap the rest.
  2. Research *anything* that you think might have to do with your topic…not just about the novels you’re discussing.  In addition to the three novels I’m working on, I’ve ended up researching mental illness among Latino communities, mental illness and feminism, feminism in Caribbean literature…you name it.
  3. Think of your research as a pot of spaghetti; do a ton of it, and toss it at the wall to see what sticks.
  4. Ask, ask, ask, ask questions.  Dialogue with your advisor…about lots of things, not just the paper at hand.  This is a lot harder if you’re doing DE, but it’s worthwhile.
  5. Cut some slack in other areas of life.  I had to beg off on a slumber party last night that I was looking forward to.  I didn’t want to do it, but a peaceful evening at home spent sobbing about life and this paper, followed by a good night’s sleep left me refreshed and prepared to take on this paper this morning.  Some times you’ve got to be okay with letting things go.

OK, back to it.  Enjoy your Saturday!

2011: A New Year!

Today is going to be a good day!  It’s MLK day, so I’ve got the day off, and the morning is being spent like this:

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I can never pass up a Shellikins on the lap; it’s a rarity for me, since she usually wants to be on Joey all the time.  So, it dawned on me that, because things were so crappy, I’d neglected to post the resolutions I finally came up with for the year.  Here we go!

  1. Further My Education; (1) Graduate, (2) complete PhD applications
  2. Improve my health, fitness, and weight.  (1) reduce takeout to once a week, and make it last two meals if possible.  (2) Plan meals one week in advance. (3) eat mostly paleo and reduce refined carbs, (4) incorporate exercise every day!
  3. Lead a more peaceful life/reduce stress:  (1) Yoga at least once a week, (2) read Bible and pray every day, (3) have one fun outing with Joey every week, (4) establish morning and evening routines, both for myself and with Shelli, (5) incorporate 15 minutes of cleaning the house per day.
  4. Be a better friend/more thoughtful person
  5. Tighten back up financially, (1) the aforementioned reduction in takeout, (2), meal planning (getting our grocery/toiletries budget back down to $50 per week)

In an effort to improve both #2 and #5, we bought a Wii with the Wii Fit Plus package!  It was a bit of a steep up-front cost, yes, but when we did the math, we’ll save about $300 over the year over our memberships to our gym, which just isn’t convenient to us and doesn’t really fit our schedules.  I prefer to workout in the morning, but to do that, I have to get there at 5 am, right when the gym opens.  As much as I’d like to, I just can’t get myself up at 4:40 to be ready to leave at 4:45.  However, I can get up at 4:55 to do thirty minutes in the morning before I get in the shower!  Or even get up at 5 to do 30 minutes since it won’t really hurt to be five minutes later.

Here’s our home-screen:

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Initial thoughts:

  1. I do not appreciate that the little voice goes “Oooh!” when I step on the balance board/scale.
  2. It hurt to see my BMI and have the little voice tell me I’m obese and to imitiately change my Mii (avatar) into the chubby girl you see above.
  3. It’s TOTALLY awesome that you can enter your pet!  Shelli is just under 8 pounds, by the way, which is very healthy for her, so we’re not trying to change her weight with it.  However, she did NOT appreciate being held so that we could get her weight.  She got pretty pissed.
  4. It’s FUN!  It’s really nice to have something to work toward, and the games are great for a workout.  When I played it at my friend Katie’s house over the weekend, I was really sore the next day from the workout that I got…but it doesn’t usually feel like exercise because it’s a game.  Good stuff!

In other news, my prospectus draft has been submitted and I’ve gotten feedback, so the next step is revision and resubmittal, and then hopefully it’ll be good enough for submission to my committee for the meeting.  I’m feeling positive about it now rather than overwhelmed and my advisor is very involved in my progress, so I don’t feel nearly as lost.  Middle Eastern Lit has been interesting so far; I’ve read The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid, which was thought provoking and made me uncomfortable with my own thoughts/beliefs and assumptions.  That’s the sign of a good book, my friends; confronting uncomfortable realities isn’t a bad thing.  Too many people shy away from it.

That’s all; Maury is about to come on!

Recipe, Cat-Quirks, Smelly Office Fish, Insanity, and Panini

First, check out my Crockpot Taco Soup Recipe!

I’m all about easy recipes.  I tossed the stuff in the crock pot on Tuesday, let it go all day, and we had a super-easy dinner when we got home.  Can’t beat that.

Check out Her Highness getting the spa treatment from Daddy:

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Shelli-quirk factoid:  she doesn’t really like to be combed, but she LOVES to be brushed (which does nothing to remove hair).  What you can’t see in the pic is the brush in the floor that she’s rubbing her head on; it’s a bribe tool…she lets us comb her as long as she can roll around on the brush, and then when she gets irritated with the comb, she gets brushed as a reward.  Cats are weird.  But wonderful:).

So, someone brought fish into the office today for lunch.  Talk about breaking one of the foundational rules for maintaining harmony among coworkers.  If you’re going to funk up the office, expect to be talked about.  And Office Karma will get you.  I’m certain of that.

I was forced to take desperate measures to maintain my productivity…

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After an amazingly deadly Insanity workout, we noshed on chicken-and-feta paninis on na’an.  I used a skillet as the weight.  I did wipe off the bottom first so we didn’t ingest skeevy incinerated-burner-dirt.  The sandwich was awesome.

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I ate it with some cucumbers.  I turned in my paper.  And so commences the night of MST3K and The Smoking Gun Presents:  World’s Dumbest.  Peace out.

Feeling Seasonal…

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Isn’t this absolutely gorgeous?  One of our sales guys sent this to us last week, just because he appreciates what we do and loves us.  It doesn’t get a lot better than knowing that the job we do is really appreciated.  He’s also one of the sweetest sales guys that we have.  That totally made our day on Thursday!  Also, Edible Arrangements uses kale as their filler, so I got a crap-ton of kale to take home (mostly because I was the only one who really knows what it is).  And, for those of you wondering what anchors the sticks, it’s a head of iceberg lettuce.  Joey and I both had a laugh over that.

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Last weekend, we went hiking at Crowder’s Mountain.  After a four-mile hike, we were both in a lot of pain; they gravel the entire hiking trail (how stupid is that??), making said trail extremely unpleasant for those in Vibrams.  The huge rock parts where we had to navigate through were great for the Vibrams, but the majority of the trail was gravelled and left us nearly in tears by the time we got back to the car:(.

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Here’s a blue-tailed skink that came out to see us while we were hiking.  He was really cute and very brave not to run away with as close as I got for that picture!  We saw several of them on the trail.

I haven’t been posting very much for a while; I go through seasons like that.  I used to feel really guilty for it, but I don’t have that many readers, and it seems that the ones I do have are dedicated enough to keep checking in.  I love you guys.  School started the week we got back from Gatlinburg, and I’ve been trying to get back in the groove.  It’s difficult, especially when I didn’t take a summer class this time, so I really didn’t do anything over the summer.  I’ve also got to get my thesis started this semester so that I can graduate in May.  I can’t believe that I’m already in my last two semesters of the program.  Now, I’m seriously considering the possibility of PhD studies.  I really don’t want this school thing to end…although I don’t really know how I’d do it since I don’t think I could keep working.

I love fall.  It’s still in the ninties here, but just knowing that fall is right around the corner is cause for joy.  I’m so sick of the hot weather, and, while I don’t really like it getting dark early, I do love the crisp, cold air of winter and the sweaters that go along with it.

Running has met a setback.  I’m really not in good enough health to progress as quickly as I’d have liked, and that has been difficult.  I want progress right now, as most people do.  But I’ve got to lose some weight before I can handle the impact on my joints.  That’s pretty disappointing.  I’ve never dealt with this before in my life, and I hate it.  But, that means, I need to do something about it, and I am working on that.

The switch to East Campus has been particularly difficult for me, and I didn’t think it would be.  I have been so homesick for familiarity, for a place where I know most of the people and they know me, and it’s been difficult to try to get settled in with a bunch of “strangers” (should read:  potential friends).

That’s all for now:)

Scenic Drive, Cade’s Cove, and Good Eatin’

Greetings from another morning at the Smoky Bear Campground!  I’m the only one up yet today.  I woke up at about 6:50 and tried to convince myself that I didn’t need to pee but it wasn’t working, so I went ahead and got up and showered and everything.  They’ve got a really clean bath house, and every time I’ve been up there to shower, I’ve been all by myself, so that’s nice.  Anyway, on to yesterday’s events:

We ate breakfast at Flapjacks (no photo, sorry…the seating was extremely awkward and the four women next to us didn’t seem too thrilled to be in such close quarters as we did, so I didn’t want to totally weird them out by taking pictures of my food).  I had the “Healthy Egg Breakfast,” which was two Egg Beaters, two multigrain pancakes, and a banana.  The banana was still green and tart (my favorite!)…but it was amusing that even the healthy breakfast came with this HUGE glob of butter on the side.  I took a tiny bit for my pancakes and then did my best to move everything on my plate as far away from it as possible.  They had good coffee, though.

After a detour to the Gatlinburg Welcome Center to get some info (I also met this woman in the gift shop whose ring tone was the theme to The Golden Girls.  Totally awesome.  She said that there are four of them and each of them kind of reminds the others of one of the characters and they all have the same ringtone.  What a trip), we hit the road for the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to visit Cade’s Cove, where there was a scenic drive with lots of spots to stop.  Here’s a shot from the first overlook:

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We also stopped along the river and the boys and Shannon climbed out on some rocks to get pics of the waterfall, but I was too afraid to navigate the rocks in my Adidas flops, so I stayed at the top and watched them. 

The Scenic Loop at Cade’s Cove is 11 miles and it’s only 20 MPH all the way through.  There are also ten or so sites to stop at that, I’m sure if we’d gotten the booklet at their welcome center, would have had great historical significance.  The boys got more shots, but I got this one of an ooooold cabin.  See the little bird’s nest up in the corner of the window?  The whole place was empty, but you could walk through all the rooms and see how they lived.  The fireplace had been ripped out, but you could see where it was.  Pretty amazing.  We also stopped at several old churches and cemeteries. 

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We saw a coyote, four bears, TONS of wild turkeys, and lots of deer, too.  Joey got some pics of the coyote and deer, and James hung out the window and got lots of pics, so I’m sure I’ll have plenty to share once we get them all downloaded.

This is James and Shannon out on the rocks…Wordpress put the pics out of order and is being pissy right now, so excuse the out-of-order stories;).  There were lots of people tubing in the river, which we never could make sense of since there are so many really shallow and rocky spots.   There were also LOTS of women who felt the need to show loooots of flesh.

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This was another shot from the overlook.  Beautiful view!

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It POURED on us during the last part of the ride, so bad that we really couldn’t see much, so we headed back to the camper to make “lunch” (in quotes because we didn’t eat lunch until 5 and dinner until 10).  James grilled chicken thighs, Joey did diced potatoes in the skillet, and Shannon warmed some green beans (and I did the dishes afterward, so don’t say I’m lazy, Mom;) ).  James did an AWESOME job on the chicken and Joey on the potatoes as well…added a little BBQ sauce and we were in heaven.  No pic.  I’m growing very forgetful here on this trip about food pics, although I’m hoping it’s a sign of my relaxation.

Dinner was also pic-less, but not for lack of want.  See below:

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:).  Love campfire.  I roasted a Hebrew National hotdog over the fire until it was well-charred (like, I couldn’t really tell if it was done or not anyway because it was dark and Shannon finally said, “Melanie, the end is pretty black…”).  I had it with a few BBQ chips.  We sat out by the fire until 1 in the morning, and then hit the sack.

This is the best kind of vacation ever.  There’s really not much to do, we haven’t spent a ton of money (although horseback riding was a little expensive, but well worth it).  It’s also so wonderful to have friends with whom we can be totally ourselves, without having to be “on” all of the time.  If we talk, that’s great, but if we don’t, and we just sit in the car together or sit by the fire together, that’s great, too.  It’s been such a long time since I’ve had a chance to do this and just let things go.  Everyone needs this…we make our lives so busy, both intentionally (to mute our thoughts) and unintentionally (to try to please everyone around us).  We’re doing ourselves in.  The slower lifestyle is definitely the healthier one, and I’m going to take that to heart from now on.  My lifesyle has been unsustainable these past few years, and I’m going to stop that.

Well, I don’t know what’s on for today, but you can be sure I’ll photograph it and blog it tomorrow:). And a hummingbird just flew by as I was typing this….too bad I didn’t have any sugar water.  She was brave…probably would have landed on the table if I’d had it.  Good day, folks:).