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December 2014

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A Box of Sunshine!

During the time when Tony’s family was here after he passed away, I received a box of cheese from Cabot.  The tomato basil was a big hit, but I put the habanero one in my lunch meat drawer because I knew that it was going to be all mine.  When I was cleaning out the fridge over the weekend, I found it and knew it was going to be part of my breakfast.  I still had leftover beef tenderloin so I made open face breakfast sammies on a whole grain English muffin – typically habanero is even too spicy for me (I know!) but this cheese is amazeballs.  I actually used some broccoli slaw with my eggs and loved the added crunch to the sammie.

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I was so busy entering my bosses time for the month I was literally at my desk for hours and by the time I left for the gym at lunch, I’d only walked 700 steps!  I did my leg workout and ended up walking 2.25 miles – not bad!  Interestingly, there was only me and one other person at the gym at 12:30 in the afternoon.  Yep, my shirt says “Born to Be Wild!”

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I ended up making a stir fry out of our leftovers from our lettuce wraps the night before last.  I cooked up a whole carrot and zucchini, and added 3/4 cup of brown rice and it turned out really delicious.

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Around 3:30 I looked at my Fitbit and I was still only at around 7000 steps, so I told Hannah I was going back to the gym after work to get my steps in.  Wow, the place was packed at 5:10!   I ended up walking on a 5% incline for just under 50 minutes for a 5k.

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I got home by 6:30 and Hannah helped me get dinner ready.  Super easy – copycat Chipotle burrito bowls.  I just took a chicken breast and tossed it in a bit of olive oil, then rubbed on some taco seasoning mix and cooked that up while Hannah chopped up the veggies.

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Um, turns out Rummy likes to know if you are really done with your plate or not – and if, ya know, you had any leftovers, she’s be happy to take them!

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After dinner I realized I had never gotten the mail and outside my front door was another package for me.  When I opened it up, I saw that it was from my friend Karli and her Mom Kandy.  The card was so nice.   It said:  “Hope – It’s just one little word, but sometimes it means everything.  Wishing you brighter, better days ahead.”   She said that she and her Mom and all my friends at “beef” are all thinking of me during this time and to stay strong and savor all the happy memories.  Just.so.sweet.

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So with my second after work workout, I ended up with over 15,000 steps for the day!

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I think I’ll continue to do that a few times a week just to get some extra steps in – it’s not like I have to rush home to make Tony dinner.   We still had dinner at like 7:15 which isn’t too late at all.

So this New Years Eve is going to be a tad bit different.   Last year I worked my day job, got out early, but it wasn’t early enough to come home before heading out to the restaurant – I ended up going to the gym in between and did a 5k and ended up not getting home until 2:30 in the morning – up nearly 20 hours!  I sent this picture to Tony a few minutes before midnight last year.

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And when I got home Tony wasn’t feeling well, but he made me go to bed, but we ended up getting up early on New Years Day to go to the emergency room, and he ended up being in the hospital the first 8 days of 2014.  I look back now and wonder if that was the time that he started getting really sick, and I just never saw it as that – just another medical hiccup and we’d move on.  I can’t look back and think what if, should I have done anything different.  All I can say for sure is that Tony is still the love of my life, I miss him so much each day, but I just have to somehow embrace the future without him. 

So tonight?  We’ll be having a 3 year old spend the night.  Hannah’s best friend has a 3 year old and she and Jacob promised to watch him tonight, so he’ll be coming over later on today.  I think I need to go on Pinterest to get some crafty ideas – I know there is a way to make homemade play-doh – any other suggestions for a 3 year old boy other than watching movies??

Happy New Year to each and every one of you – my life is richer having you in it, and I am so thankful that so many of you have reached out to me to help me keep my head above water – I appreciate it more than you’ll ever know!  Hugs and Love!

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Hannah Got A Job!

So of course since Hannah and Jacob moved in with me, they had to quit their jobs in the city.  You see, I live in the “sticks.”   Like 55 miles NW of the city of Chicago.  When I lived in Oak Park, Chicago was in my backyard – now?  Not so much!

So the restaurant Hannah and I wanted to go to on Saturday night that was booked solid?  Well, we saw a coffee shop on the same street and Hannah took a picture of it, came home and Googled it, saw that they were hiring and submitted her resume Saturday night.  On Sunday while I was on my walk, they called and asked her to come in for an interview yesterday at 11.  When I didn’t hear from her for an hour, I pretty much knew she got the job.  And sure enough, she did.  Not only that, they hired her basically on the spot, had her fill out her HR paperwork, handed her an apron and said “do you want to stick around for a while and get a lay of the land?!” 

Before she knew it, she was helping customers at the front, winging their iPad register, making drinks, etc. – all by herself without any training while the other employee was in the back making food!  She’ll get her schedule later this week, but will most likely be working about 25 hours a week – best of all are the hours – 6 am to 6 pm is when this place is open.  When she worked at Panera the closing side work could take hours and sometimes she wasn’t even leaving work until 2 in the morning.  So proud of that girl!  She took this picture when we were making dinner last night and posted it on my Instagram page with a caption that read “Bizzy in the kitchen with my new barista!”   Thankfully the shot isn’t too low – I’d already taken my bra off for the evening.  Tia, I am sure you understand!

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I still have beef tenderloin leftover from Christmas and made a beef, egg white, baby spinach breakfast tostadas – I guess this could be considered  a low carb breakfast – each tostada only has 6 grams of carbs.

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The green stuff?  I am calling that a tomatillo creama.  I bought tomatillos over the weekend to make salsa.  The recipe I found online called for a pound of tomatillos, but I bought a pound and a half, and the directions said to cook the tomatillos at 475 for 30 minutes – I should have known better – by the time the timer went off, I was left with hardly any tomatillos at all!  So Hannah and I tweaked it – we added sour cream, cilantro, garlic and lime and it turned out really good.

I am starting back with my Bitesized Fitness strength routine.  Although I am not doing the one that you have to pay for – just the free one.  Yesterday was chest and holy cow can I feel it this morning!  This set took me about 20 minutes, then I walked 1.75 miles.

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On Sunday I made my refried bean soup with cilantro rice.  Jacob couldn’t believe how a bowl of soup could be so filling!  I added some of the tomatillo creama, and cilantro and a bit of Cabot cheese to the top of my dish.  So good on a chilly day.

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Work was really busy yesterday, which was nice because the day went by super fast.  After today I have Wednesday and Thursday off, but have to work again on Friday.  I’ll take a 3 day work week any time though!

I decided to make Asian lettuce wraps for dinner last night.  Before Jacob had met Hannah, he’d never even heard of lettuce wraps.   We followed this recipe, which was really good.  The only thing I did was added sriracha (duh) and we used bagged broccoli slaw, zucchini and water chestnuts for our veggies.

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Helen, guess what?  I get to eat dinner at the dining room table!  I know, shocking.   That used to drive me insane that Tony and I ate in front of the t.v. every.single.night.  The only time I could get him to eat at the dining room table, which is the only piece of furniture we bought brand new together, was when family came over.  I also reheated the leftover potstickers from Christmas eve on the side.  And you will note, in the tiny blue bowl – Hannah chopped green onions for her wraps.  And she bought an icky red onion for the burrito bowls we are making tonight.  I don’t know where I went wrong with that girl in her love of onions!

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It’s nice having help in the kitchen to clean up after dinner too!  After I did some computer work, I settled into my comfy chair with the electric blanket, and Rummy LOVES the heated blanket.

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I opened up the mail before dinner and my Aunt sent me a belated Christmas gift.  Just like I am my Mom’s favorite, pretty sure I am my Aunt’s favorite too!  I’ve needed a new mouse pad at work too – love it!

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So yesterday I zeroed out my scale, but not before jumping on it. 

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First off, lets disregard my half painted big toe, shall we?  So basically I maintained my weight these last 49 days and that’s been a Christmas miracle with everything that’s going on in my life right now.  The only thing I need to do now is get rid of the fricken Chex Mix in my house – it’s like crack to me!   But I have to say, I am proud of myself for not putting 10 pounds on these last several weeks – I am an emotional eater through and through, so I have to pat myself on the back for this.

I have some link love today.  First off is Nicole of Prevention RD.  Her 12 week maternity leave went by with the blink of the eye and she went back to work yesterday.  I love her recap of the first few months of being a Mom!   Look at how fricken cute her baby is!!  Those baby jeans are so cute!

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And Skippy wrote a wonderful post about Tony.  She and I have become very good friends off-line and I had to call her the Dad Tony died so she could hear it from me that he passed away and not on the internet.  We cried together on the phone that day, but she helped me keep it together, and I will be forever grateful to her for that.

I got all my steps in yesterday too!

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I have no idea if that’s my actual weight, but I don’t really care.  Still working out my 2015 goals, not sure what they’ll be yet.  For now, just trying to get up each day, and putting one foot in front of the other. 

Winter is finally settling in – we haven’t had any measureable snow yet this year, but right now its 6 degrees but with the wind chill it feels like –6.   I guess I’ll wear a coat today!

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Healthy Apple Ring Mock Buttermilk Pancakes

I had a few organizational goals that I wanted to get done over the long weekend.  One was to organize my clothes.  Since Hannah moved out I basically made her room my closet.  I had stuff in dressers, on shelves in her closet.  When Hannah and Jacob moved in, I basically just took all the clothes and threw them on the extra bed in my bedroom.  I kept my door shut for company for sure, because my bedroom looked like a trailer park for a few days.

My other goal was my back room – which is basically MY family room.  I did the MY in caps because Tony never really hung out in there.  My comfy chair that’s in there was too low for him to get in and out of, and since he had a laptop, there was no use for him to use the house computer.  I had SO many condolence cards, mail, just miscellaneous stuff back there that I called the back room my Shanty Town.  So I had to take care of those two problem areas, because the rest of the house was fine.

Of course, having Hannah home meant that I had someone who would keep me on task.  I started going through all the cards/letters/mail I had gotten so I could write a spreadsheet to eventually send thank you cards out.  In the process found $150 in cash, a $50 check, and a few gift cards I had forgotten about – thank you Mike and Cindy, David, and Julianne for your generosity!  It was just so hard to read what people wrote in the cards, and it still brought tears to my eyes over the weekend, but at least I have a start to send out my thank you cards.  Hannah and I plan on making something with all the cards we’ve gotten – we may have to check out Pinterest for that.

Um, Hannah also made me donate 210 COOKING MAGAZINES. Yep, you read that correctly.  When I tried to protest, she said “Mom, you can find anything in these magazines online, just donate them to the library!”  Okay – she’s completely right of course, and now that it’s been a couple days, I don’t even really notice that they aren’t taking up two shelves of my bookcase.

12.27 002 I basically spent about four hours cleaning this back room, organizing, putting bills in line for payment online – I couldn’t believe how much stuff I got done in just one afternoon.  I still hadn’t gone grocery shopping, so I suggested we go out for dinner.  Jacob wasn’t feeling great all weekend, so he stayed back and Hannah and I had a date night out!  Our first choice was the Onion Pub.  We got there at 6:00 – I was thinking we were completely early but there was already a good 45 minute wait for a two top and no room at the bar to sit and wait.

So Plan B!  A mere three minute drive from the first place.

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Everything looked so good – we’ve been here before.  I narrowed it down to two things, and at the last second said “the seven flavor chicken” – I saw the words “wok fried” and just assumed it was not breaded and cooked that it would come with some sort of stir fry veggies.  Nope.  I got “lightly” breaded chicken in a sweet sticky sauce – mind you, it was delicious, but just not what I had in mind – I had been without veggies for so long, but oh well!  Hannah’s was delicious – she does a sushi roll and the tempura veggies – two giant thumbs up from her.  After we were done I eyed all the dishes I passed by – definitely getting a noodle veggie dish next time.

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We ended up bringing some soup home for Jacob.   Eating out was my reward for having my cleaning pants on for a long time on Saturday!

The kids and I are getting into a routine I guess.  I shouldn’t really be calling them kids because they’ll be 23 in a few months, but I realize they need their privacy just as much as I need mine.  And while I don’t mind spending time with them, Saturday night I ended up hanging out in my comfy chair, stalking Pinterest on my tablet on the side, I watched multiple episodes of Surgeon Oz.   OMG, I watched a whole show about an aortic heart valve replacement – just what Tony had in 2007 – and it was fascinating.  I’d never really realized what an intricate surgery that was, and I don’t know why I didn’t think it because it was his heart.

The dogs have surprisingly accepted me.  I fully expected Red, the big dog to be my lap dog, but this picture he only laid with me for 5 minutes – he prefers to be on the floor near someone, not actually on someone.  Um, Rummy, the Boston Terrier, is a bit of a diva.  She likes to be UNDER the covers at all times.   She’s super affectionate too – it’s as if when she walks into the room and sees me that she thinks “OMG, Biz is still here!” and she’ll come up and jump all over me and kiss my face.  In this picture Rummy is laying under the covers:

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I made my (OUR) meal plan for the week, and realizing I had some apples that needed to be used up soon, I decided to make some apple ring buttermilk pancakes.  Except I didn’t have any buttermilk – so I did the age old trick – 3/4 cup of milk mixed with 2 tablespoons white vinegar – just let it sit for 5 minutes or longer and you are good to go.

3/4 cup milk
2 tablespoons white vinegar
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons white sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg
2 tablespoons butter, melted
cooking spray
1 small apple
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Mix the milk and vinegar and let stand 5 minutes.  Ad din the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, egg, melted butter and mix until combined.  It’s okay if it’s a bit lumpy.  Let your batter sit at least 15 minutes to let the baking powder do its magic.  I used a 1/4 cup measure for each pancake, so each pancake comes in at 114 calories, 18 carbs, 1 fiber, 2 protein and 3.7 fat.  Once the batter was in a pan sprayed with cooking spray, I laid one slice of apple on the batter, pressed it down and with the mixture of the 1 teaspoon sugar and 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon, sprinkled a bit of that over the top before flipping.

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I used a teaspoon to scoop out any of the core if I needed to.

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Remember the tablet I bought for Tony when he was in the hospital?   I had to just look back to find out when I got it for him.  November 20.  A mere 12 days before he passed away.  It boggles my mind how fast and slow time has gone these last several weeks.  Well, I decided to keep it, it had a 30 day money back guarantee if Tony didn’t like it, which he decided he hated it the first day I showed it to him, but it was before I bought a case for it and it was kind of slippery to hold onto.  Well, turns out it’s a life saver in the kitchen – no more printed out recipes all over – just go to my Pinterest page and bam!   Both Hannah and Jacob gave these pancakes two big thumbs up.  But I think they would think anything tasted good after packing up and eating fast food for the last couple of weeks before moving in with me.

I ended up getting my walking shoes on – new shoes with tags still on them that I just bought at Goodwill a couple weeks ago for $4.99 and hadn’t tried out yet.  It was 28 degrees and a bit windy, but sunny!  I started out down by the river, then did a big loop around my neighborhood – according to my fitbit I did 4.11 miles in 60 minutes.  I got back and told Hannah and Jacob how comfy they were and Hannah looked them up – they are $115 shoes!  Crazeballs that someone would give those away!

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I love walking, but the problem is my mind starts wandering about all the things going on in my life.  I thought I could drown out my mind with music, but that didn’t work too well.  I ended up wearing Tony’s headphones.  He never liked headphones that go in your ear.  When I left him for a week at St. Mary’s when he was still having tests done and I had to come home from work, that first Monday I was away from him, Tony called me at work.  In our brief chat he mentioned that he wished he had brought headphones so that he could listen to podcasts.  Never thought of that.  So I called the gift shop and had them send Tony some headphones, but I was specific – they had to be over the ear and not in a girly color.  I had the older woman write on the note “Now you can listen to Doug Benson – Love Biz” and she kept asking me “are you sure you want that on the note, it doesn’t make sense to me!”  No worries.  Later that morning Tony sent me this picture of himself with his new headphones on – I love how crooked his glasses are in this picture.  Again I have to pinch myself that just four months from the date of this photo I’d watch him take his last breath.

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And just when I started to really get all weepy about my life without Tony, what my direction will be, I suddenly looked down and saw this:

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A giant heart painted on the road.  So random.  So Tony.  I think it was his way of telling me that he’s still with me.  He still loves me.  And that eventually I’ll find my way in this next chapter of my life.  I still miss him so fucking much though.