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whole 30 update

So technically, if you are really into the Whole 30 "tough love" philosophy, I failed.

Because on Day 8, my boss took our team out for Greek food, and my dressing-free grilled chicken salad came with a cup of avgolemeno soup, which had rice in it, and I couldn't resist and ate the rice.

And then on Day 17, I had two friends over for brunch, and even though everything I made was completely Whole 30 compliant (I have come to loathe the word "compliant"), the girls brought over mimosas to toast the fact that I may or may not be getting married soon and it would've been rude to refuse, so I had a very small mimosa.

And then last night, Day 23, a bunch of us took the mister out for a belated birthday celebration, and I had wine and a pupusa (which is made with corn).

So if I were being really, really strict with the Whole 30 rules, I would have had to start over from Day 1 after every single one of these "slips."

Which doesn't seem right to me. Because besides these three instances, I've been spending all of my free time cooking, meal-planning, packing my lunches, trying new recipes and changing what I reach for when I'm hungry. I've broken my chip addiction. Instead, I eat apples, carrots and other whole foods as my snacks. I made plantains for the first time (amazing), learned how to cook with coconut milk and came up with a really awesome way to make killer roasted potatoes. And I've stayed away from gluten, soy and dairy, which are the three things I really wanted to avoid through this diet.

I don't feel like a failure, no matter what the Whole 30 rules say. And I actually really enjoy being in the kitchen.

So I'm going to keep going and not worry about starting over. And I hope the habits I've learned will continue even after I reach Day 30.

(Speaking of recipes and cooking and trying new things, I made deconstructed samosas today. Yum.)

dead animals, new beginnings

So today I was e-mailing back and forth with someone who wants to borrow my taxidermied rabbit and squirrel for a 4-H photo shoot.

This is Frank. He has creepy teeth.

No living squirrel would ever pose like this.

(Thank you to the lovely and talented Bri Leahy for taking these photos and downplaying how bad my taxidermy skills are. Fact: I'm good at skinning things but suck at stuffing them.)

I kept trying to explain to the dead-animal-seeking-lady that my taxidermy is not very good and pretty much downright deformed. But she insisted it was fine. So now some unsuspecting 4-H kids will have nightmares about squirrels with dislocated shoulders. Dear parents: You've been warned.

In other news, I started my new job last week and it is awesome. I've been in PR for more than a decade (I know, right? I'm old) and have struggled with the idea of "doing good." Yes, the wine industry was fun and exciting and full of decadent caloric intake, but I didn't feel like I was doing anything to help make the world a better place (unless getting people tipsy is considered philanthropic). And my recent and very brief stint in the corporate world left me feeling even more disconnected. So it is amazing to now be able to bring beauty, freedom of expression (especially in the current political climate) and curiosity to the community. I'm so grateful for this opportunity and I want so much to make a difference!

Also, how cool is it to be able to leave my desk, walk upstairs and see this mural?

Way better than my taxidermy "skills." 

take that, winter!

I did it.

I ran outside in -2 windchill and didn't die. And I still have all my appendages. (Side note: Did you know penis frostbite is a thing? I learned that today. I also learned you should never google "frostbitten penis.")

The key is good gear and covering every bit of your skin. (Read Megan's winter running tips for an awesome breakdown.) I was a little nervous about getting it right -- would I be too hot or not warm enough? What about my eyeballs? And dear god, would it be horrible waiting for my Garmin to find a satellite? (Answer: Yes, it was uncomfortable but doable.)

I wore a fleece-lined beanie, a ninja mask balaclava, sunglasses to protect my eyes from the wind, a long-sleeved technical base layer, a 2/3 zip pullover, my North Face Isotherm jacket, fleece-lined gloves, tights, Smartwool socks and trail shoes for more traction. My core, fingers, toes and face were warm throughout the run (just 40 minutes), but my butt and thighs started to go numb after awhile. (I think next time I need to double up on the pants.)

The run itself felt great. I can't tell you how excited I was to be outdoors after being cooped up on a treadmill for so long. (Is this how I get out of my running funk? Only run in ridiculous weather conditions to keep things interesting?) I took it easy over the icy patches, though -- I'm terrified of taking a nasty fall. (This happened to me in grad school a long time ago. I got out of my car, slipped on a patch of black ice and hit the ground hard -- in front of a lot of people, of course. I've been paranoid ever since.)

What I loved: How quiet it was out there. Like having the whole world to myself. And the scenery -- the snow transforms everything.

Also: These signs that the nearby elementary school made are pretty much the best thing ever.

I don't ever want to see my poop cry.

The Minneapolis PD is standing by.

(Huge thank you to The North Face for the cold weather gear! It's great being part of the TNFLocals program!)

whole 30

So here it is, Day 1 of the Whole 30 program. I ate a slice of frittata for breakfast, a baked potato topped with ground turkey for lunch, some celery and sunflower butter as a snack, and a stuffed pepper and roasted potatoes for dinner.

I'm not craving sugar or even any rice (yet), but I really want chips. Specifically, an enormous bag of Fritos. All I want is Fritos. And this is likely because I've had Fritos as my mid-afternoon snack almost every day this week. I even miss the way they smell -- sort of oily and semi-nutty. And they're just so salty.

And there are 29 more days of this.


Good-bye, grey cubicle. It's time for the next adventure.

this probably comes as no surprise, but

... you guys, it's fucking cold.

And yet, it's not as bad as it was several weeks ago, when the "feels like" temperature said -31 degrees. (And for some insane reason, we still went outside anyway and walked to the Vikings game and then walked to a bar afterwards for burgers and then walked to another bar, where there was a mechanical bull and two guys got in a fight and accidentally hit a girl and it was really upsetting and I had the worst drink I've ever had in my entire life. Do not ever -- ever -- let the pint-sized, 22-year-old server talk you into a Jeremiah Weed.)

Anyway, you learn to cope. I own a lot of puffy coats and hats and gloves and scarves and those face mask things that make you look like a ninja. And I love snow boots. Actually, "love" is an understatement; I'm completely obsessed with them. I honestly feel like I've been waiting my entire life for an excuse to only wear snow boots, especially this pair with the fur:

And you adjust your perspective because -17 is really "not that bad" when you know things could be much, much worse. And you convince yourself the sensation of having all of your nose hairs freeze at once is actually "refreshing." And you tell yourself that doing all of your runs on the treadmill builds "character" and "mental fortitude."

And when friends post articles like this one on your Facebook page (thanks, Layla!), you announce that the authors must be mistaken because North Dakota is so much worse.

party's over

All I can think about right now is how I really don't want the long holiday weekend to end. I need one more day of pajamas and sleeping in and "Gilmore Girls" (yes, the original and not the Netflix update because somehow I spent my whole life not ever seeing this show until now) and reading trashy novels and dressing the cats in tiny, cat-sized holiday outfits. (Confession: As I typed that last sentence, I briefly thought about dressing the mister in tiny, cat-sized holiday outfits. And then I realized what I was thinking and was sort of horrified but really proud of myself at the same time.)

Anyway, here are some highlights from the Christmas and New Year celebrations over the past few weeks.

Holidazzle in Loring Park: Love this art installation.

Santa is a Vikings fan, which means he's also destined to a life of disappointment and sadness.

My first white Christmas ever! At last!

Tiny, cat-sized holiday outfits!

I made Christmas dinner: Gluten-free ravioli from scratch.

Ultimate breakfast sandwiches on New Year's morning!

Children vs. mister: Children win.
(Please don't tell the mister I posted that last photo. He's probably already concerned about the tiny, cat-sized holiday outfits.)

hello, new year

Wait, what just happened? 

Mouse's thoughts exactly.

Oh right. It's 2017.

And since I am completely incapable of doing anything in moderation, I'm jumping in full force. I have a new coach -- fellow Coeur teammate and all-around inspiration Liz Waterstraat (read this immediately because it summarizes all the feelings) -- and did my first bike-run of the year today. (IM Wisconsin, I'm coming for you!) I'm also obsessed with the insanity that is the Coeur century swim challenge (100 x 100), and even though I'm in no shape to swim that far all at once, I'm breaking it into pieces and did 3,000 yards Thursday and another 4,000 yards yesterday (thank you, pull buoy and fins).

And I'm cleaning up my nutrition, too. I spent Christmas in Wisconsin with the mister's family, and every day involved Wisconsin-style Old Fashioneds (brandy or whiskey, sweet or sour, garnished with asparagus spears or mushrooms, for real), a shit-ton of cheese and the world's most amazing egg bake -- hash browns, cream of mushroom soup, ground meat, all topped with another shit-ton of cheese.

See? Mushrooms.

So I'll be attempting the Whole 30 program -- no dairy, no grains, no soy, no gluten, no sugar, no legumes, no alcohol. I'm gluten-intolerant, so that piece is nothing new for me, but no grains at all means no rice. Um, hello? I'm Asian. There's a strong possibility I might shrivel up and die. (Note to self: Teach the cats how to dial "911" in case of a rice emergency.)

Whole 30 egg bake: Awesome, but no shit-ton of cheese.

I've started incorporating some Whole 30 recipes into my meal planning the past few days. (I even made my own mayonnaise because apparently store-bought mayo has sugar in it.) I'll dive in completely this Friday because Thursday is -- wait for it -- my going-away happy hour to celebrate the last day at my current job! That's right: I've got a new adventure lined up. (But more on that later. Because I know you love suspense. And waiting three months for my next blog post, in which I will totally forget what I previously told you I'd write about so then you will actually never know anything about my new job. See? I'm self-aware and know my flaws.)

This year is going to be big, folks. Assuming I don't go into rice withdrawal and jump out the window, of course.