Food box blunders, ear infections and a good workout

I’m feeling exceedingly optimistic today.

I “fixed” my roomba, had a therapy session that left me sobbing in my psychologist’s office, had an incredible workout (full body as I will be traveling this weekend, but we did a lot of work on hip mobility), and cooked.

The business cards for Parisian Phoenix came in. Thanks to my trusty business partner Gayle.

Perhaps the chaos of earlier this week is finally settling down.

Seen in downtown Easton

So, last Saturday I got my regular Hungryroot order. And Tuesday was Purple Carrot. I wasn’t going to get a box from them this week but they had West African Peanut Stew on the menu.

And then I got a text that Green Chef was on the way.

I promptly canceled Green Chef so there would be no more surprises as they were my least favorite. But that box was on the way.

It arrived yesterday after I left for work. I received this message today.

I certainly hope there is no more food coming.

Because the teenager came down with an ear infection and has so much phlegm in her throat that she can’t swallow. But don’t worry she took some antibiotics and some DayQuil so she could enjoy a Hungryroot burger.

I prepared a bag of greens and a Green Chef meal for Gayle as I am supposed to go to DC this weekend and I can’t physically prepare it all. And M, my host, said I can’t bring it. The result— I now can say I pay my art director in groceries.

Purple Carrot has a $75 Thanksgiving box available. I ordered one.

And today I cooked:

  • Green Chef Mojito Cauliflower
  • Purple Carrot Buffalo-style tempeh and roasted sweet potatoes and garlic
  • Brussel Sprouts

But much to my chagrin— Purple Carrot swapped out the peanut stew for a grilled tofu meal.

Addendum:

From Gayle, after making her Green Chef meal.

I came home and just put everything in the fridge. Brown bag and all.

Pat looked at the recipe when she headed to the bathroom. She made vomiting noises. Not surprising.

I thought I remembered it saying 30 minutes. About 4:30, I started working on it. I didn’t look at the recipe earlier and didn’t realize it had two sides. I was overwhelmed when I saw all the instructions on the other side. I quickly realized that they were dummy proof and that made them longer.

I got the farro on and started the oven, then cut the squash and picked the tarragon. That was the most tedious part of the whole thing. That all went in the oven and I opened the chard. It was nasty. One leaf was probably okay. Glad you gave me other chard. I’m not a fan of raw chard so I wilted it. The nasty stuff went to the compost pile.

The rest of the prep was easy. By the time the farro and squash were done, the rest was too.

I made two portions. One for another day and one for supper. I did not put the apple on the leftover portion because it was already browning.

I was left with two large piles. One was compost and the other was plastic bags. So many bags. One said to pull off the label and recycle it. The rest had no numbers, no nothing so they went in the trash.

It was nice having all the ingredients and a recipe. It was fantastic having something different to eat.

Health Update: There was a Crooked Hip

I still haven’t heard from either my gynecologist or my primary care physician— and the mental and physical struggle has been rough. It’s ironic, since my daughter thought she say worms in the dog’s poop and within 24 hours she had lab results and preventative medication.

Luckily, I’ve been able to engage my chiropractor (the beyond amazing Nicole Jensen of Back in Line Wellness Center in Easton, Pa.’s College Hill neighborhood) in this journey to discover and maximize the potential of my disabled body.

(Which I am told today is World Cerebral Palsy Awareness Day, not that I ever even heard of it or noticed anybody celebrating.)

I told her this past week has been hard and strange with familiar pain and symptoms coming at the wrong time of the month and new symptoms happening now.

But I also admitted that some of these symptoms— like my swollen legs last night— could be explained by my behavior. Cheeto binge this weekend, for example.

Last night, I performed at only 83% when I had folded those clothes at 100% or higher all week despite pain. My knees had intense intermittent pain and my legs felt completely wooden, like they didn’t even have joints.

The chiropractor laughed at my ownership of my Cheeto binge and said that, yes, that might have something to do with it.

And she commented during my adjustment that my body and I are managing life and my symptoms much better in general.

But here is the “good news”—

My hip was crooked. The right side of my hip was significantly higher than my left and probably had been since the pain started last week. I attributed it to the same old pain but it was probably new and unique pain.

So then the chiropractor mentioned what I have been trying to articulate.

I used to have periodic bouts with high levels of pain when joints would seize and shift and muscles would spasm.

Now, with my exercise regimen and some of my other behavior change, I am experiencing lower levels of pain more frequently, but that pain is emotionally disturbing because I am aware of and used to the conditions that send my body into a flare and am doing everything I can to prevent those situations.

So it’s a perpetual game of anticipating what might be next. And how bad it will be or get before I find relief.

I told her I have had much success with CBD cream and she recommended trying a daily dose of the oils to see if that could help from the inside out.

I’m enthusiastically giving it a shot as over-the-counter painkillers like acetaminophen and ibuprofen don’t help.

And the “not knowing” because of slow response time from my medical team is crippling to my mental health.

Pun intended.

I actually emailed my therapist yesterday and it must have been a good email because I got a response asking if he could call me for a check in, which I said yes to, and he called to do a wellness check to make sure I was safe.

Odd how that can make a person feel “loved.”

Now my hip is back in place, I took my vitamins and my CBD oil and prepared my final Purple Carrot meal from my box. This one— apricot sticky rice— even the teenager loved.

Getting sick of electronic devices and words

I haven’t written in a while and I may keep this one skeletal.

I called out sick from work on Thursday and skipped my workout as I woke up in the same pain I had when I went to bed.

I thought I would rest in bed with my laptop and work more on the Parisian Phoenix website, my erotica collection, or even book four of the Fashion and Fiends series, Road Trip.

But instead I had my first Big Mac ever (which is especially odd since I worked my way through college at a McDonalds), ate too much candy and slept for 12 hours straight. The cats did not know what to make of that.

Are you curious how I responded to the Big Mac? See that here.

Friday I moved a little slow but still got decent numbers in QC folding clothes and after work ate too many cheese curls.

But, in my defense, they were amazing cheese curls— sour cream and cheddar— that I found at my local Dollar Tree.

Speaking of food, I also made my final Green Chef meal. Video here. I cheated a bit, adding beef tips, and forgot the pecans and the vegan aioli but it still tasted great.

Tonight I made Purple Carrot’s Fieldstone sausages with roasted fingerling potatoes and vegetables. Another great dish. I also made a side of “leftover sauce” pasta, mixing up every scrap from the fridge.

This morning, the teenager and I met up with Dan at Apex training and I did some lower body while Dan taught the teen to do barbell squats. He started by giving her the bar and evaluating her form and then he gave her some weight.

I think she used some muscles in her knees and legs that she has never used before, not with that range of motion. Let’s just say she was walking like me on the way home.

Then we treated ourselves to some egg sandwiches, grabbed the dog and went to the Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab Yard sale and cake auction. The child spent all my money— but we didn’t buy any cake. She got dog supplies and the massive dog now has a mermaid flotation device and a puffer jacket. And I have my third tea pot in two years. The teenager kills my tea pots.

Even the cats got goodies. See the new water fountain here.

I never saw a cake auction before and it was certainly more fun than the livestock auctions I’ve seen.

The dog was so tired she couldn’t keep her eyes open in the car on the way home.

Then I came home and made a video I’ve been putting off. I kept planning to get a little dressed up, do my makeup, set up a cozy spot on the sunporch and made a video of me reading a little of my novel.

Instead, I did it in sweatpants on the couch with the dog. See it here.

Food and Fitness Update, plus more reviews of Purple Carrot and Green Chef.

Last night I not only made my metrics at work but I surpassed them. 106% without any accommodation for the six-minute all hands meeting we had or the observation with my supervisor. My legs are no longer hurting and it feels like my back pain is a one instead of a five or more.

Today was my 26th session with my trainer Dan at Apex Training and we worked on upper body, I was bench pressing some 25 pound dumbbells— almost was able to do 30.

Still no update from my medical team after receiving the results from the ultrasounds about 10 days ago. They found some things, not too big or suspicious things but things that may explain my symptoms I hope.

But the fun thing is I finally got my Purple Carrot box. And had my Green Chef Maple-Glazed Carrot power bowl for dinner.

Green Chef Power Bowl

I ate the bowl without the green goddess dressing and still thought it was amazing. Why can I not remember what the first Green Chef meal was? Ah, the farfalle with Brussels.Making the Farfalle.

Today’s Purple Carrot unboxing can be viewed here.

The refried butternut squash tacos were a great light meal.

The bottom left is prepared according to the recipe.

My daughter won’t approve

So, my daughter asked me if I plan on returning to my vegetarian habits when she leaves home.

I said no, but the more I think about it— the answer might be yes.

I probably eat 75% plant-based naturally. I even eat quite a few vegan meals, like the Hungryroot zucchini falafel I had for lunch yesterday in a sweet potato wrap with green chili sauce and lemon tahini.

As the teenager likes to remind me; I put beans or vegetables in just about every meal.

I find plant-based cuisine quicker to prepare, very versatile and easier for me to get the nutrients I need. And harder to overeat. Easier to stay lean.

And easier to avoid processed or fatty foods.

But the volume of food needed to gain muscle and stay satiated when weight training is intimidating. If I weren’t at the gym— I know I could keep a good diet. But I’m already struggling with my macros so it makes me nervous.

This is when I turn toward Simnett Nutrition, Gaz Oakley the Avant Garde Vegan and even Abbey Sharp on YouTube.

I also ordered a Green Chef meal box. This accompanies the meals and groceries I have delivered from Purple Carrot and Hungryroot.

I “do” Purple Carrot and Hungryroot once a month each and I was jonesing for an extra Purple Carrot box last night at 1:30 a.m. but I missed my order cut off and found a discount code for 50% off a Green Chef box so…

And the teen and I are supposed to go grocery shopping at noon today. I intend to go to the gym, hit the weights hard, and come home and meal plan. I need to make it harder to abuse myself with food.

Speaking of the gym… My Nick Best/Best Strong t-shirt by Barbell Apparel arrived Tuesday night and I am so excited to wear it to the gym. Nick Best is a strong man athlete up there with Brian Shaw and Edie Hall, but Nick is in his fifties. I can relate to his philosophy:

Age is just a number.

Nick Best

Unboxing the Best Strong t-shirt can be seen on YouTube here: T-shirt and my new novel unboxing.

I posted the photo on Instagram and Nick Best’s Instagram liked it and followed me!

Order my novel here:

A little bit of life updates: from warehouse work to cat fostering

This particular blog post will touch on brief updates of multiple areas of my life.

1. My new phone: The refurbished iPhone Xs sent to be my Square Trade has developed a green line in the display. I went to report it and their website is down for maintenance.

2. The laundry room project: The teenager has selected a color with the help of her grandmother, polka dot skirt.

3. Hungryroot and Purple Carrot: Yesterday’s meal kit was Purple Carrot’s Palestinian Spiced Peppers with Crispy Seitan and Tomato Caper Relish and Lemon Dill Rice. We also cooked the Chicken Bruschetta Burgers from Hungryroot. Everything was amazing.

4. Work and/or Disability: starting Thursday night my body was stiff and my right leg is giving me so much trouble. It appears to be the perfect blend of weather (tropical storms), hormones (ovulation) and disability (cerebral palsy). I was very uncomfortable.

But my numbers at the Stitch Fix Bizzy Hizzy have been consistently decent— I QC’ed 46 fixes from 3:30 to 6:30ish, and then picked an M cart in 20 minutes before clocking out at 7:05. The night prior I was on “mailer machine” (a folding machine that operates with a lot of compressed air) that they call creased lightning.

5. Foster Cats: someone expressed interest in Louise. Here’s a video of her last night: Louise

FURR Khloe
FURR Shady

6. The Gym (Apex Training): I did my first one plate barbell deadlift. I’ve always wanted to do barbell lifts. So far I’ve done bench press and deadlifts. Today I did four sets: one of three so my trainer could evaluate the weight of the lift, a set of five, another of eight, and a final of five.

He didn’t tell me how much weight that was— but my research from Mr. Google says the bar is 45 pounds and the plates are 20 kg. That together it’s 135 pounds?

Review: Finished the first week of Purple Carrot

Purple Carrot now wins the distinction of being the first meal kit delivery service I have used that I have managed to make all the recipes without getting sick of them or sick of the effort.

Hungryroot is a very close second because I still didn’t eat half their food— some of their entrees are in the freezer and I still have tofu, green chile sauce and lemon tahini in the fridge.

Today I finally finished Thursday’s ramen— and I made the last recipe: Tropical Avocado Cakes. Except just like when I make falafel or from-scratch veggie burgers or my zucchini cakes, they turned out like hash or home fries instead of patties.

Quinoa-white bean-garlic-avocado and lime zest patties with purple cabbage, mango and avocado in lime juice and scallions for dressing and a pickled jalapeño-vegan/soy free mayo aioli. I mixed it all into a big pile and gobbled it up.

Fitness update and my favorite vegetarian protein sources

My trainer Dan at Apex Fitness said something last week that made me chuckle and made me beam with pride.

“I forget you can handle more [weight] than most [women].”

“I still got it?” I asked.

He laughed.

Dan is very good at using full body motions even on isolated body part days. So on leg day we’ll throw in some bicep curls after those deadlifts and on upper body day, we do things that focus on form and stretching the lower body in addition to burning out the arms and chest.

I’m noticing much more flexibility in my body and that my chiropractor has gotten more agressive as well.

And I get to play with Dan’s super adorable baby and we talk a lot about food. He just picked up a client who is a vegetarian and doesn’t like tofu and some other stuff. We were brainstorming protein sources.

I thought I’d make a list.

Here’s my favorite vegan athlete on YouTube: Simnett Nutrition. Look at the sheer volume of food he eats. That is why I can’t be vegan. It has nothing to do with the diet— I just couldn’t stomach that much food.

For more gourmet cooking, check out Gaz Oakley, the Avant Garde Vegan (here).

My favorite vegetarian proteins that are not tofu

  • Greek yogurt
  • Cabot cottage cheese
  • Silk unsweetened soy milk
  • Nut butters (morning hack— coffee, nut butter and yogurt smoothie. Add dates if you want to feel trendy)
  • Homemade salad dressings featuring tahini or peanut butter
  • Add black beans or chick peas to anything you can
  • Add hummus or tahini and/or sprouts to sandwiches. Pick bread with higher protein.
  • Nuts and seeds (including chia, flax and hemp) on salads, oatmeal, in baked goods or smoothies
  • Ancient grain or chick pea pasta
  • Peas and lentils
  • Frozen lentil pasta
  • Morningstar vegetarian breakfast patties
  • “Wheat meat”/seitan
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Adding beans or eggs to soups
  • Eggs & cheese
  • Snap pea snack crisps
  • Special K nut and fruit protein bars
  • Sweet Earth frozen foods

And for vegetarian meal services/meal kits:

  • Purple Carrot offers meal kits and prepared food. They have low calorie and high protein options are plant-based and get on the table in about 40 minutes. Purple Carrot is expensive, and requires a minimum of three dinners a week. Read my previous blogs on Purple Carrot here.
  • Hungryroot has more flexibility than Purple Carrot and offers “free protein”with each box. You can order meal kits, prepared foods or groceries. I get one or two meals and spent the rest of my credits on groceries. A lot of their recipes include extra ingredients— instead of a small jar of a tablespoon of Chile sauce for example, they send a tub. So you can use the extra for other meals. They can get on the table very quickly. They use a lot of “whole” main ingredients coupled with prepared sauces which keeps nutrient value high but prep time low. Read about my impressions of Hungryroot here.
  • Hello Fresh has a lot of great recipes and offers vegetarian food. All the sauces are incredible. But you spend a lot of time in the kitchen. Also expensive. Servings tend to be small. I am told Every Plate is cheaper. My experience with Hello Fresh is here.
  • Green Chef, have not tried it

Some cats, some ramen, learning the “mailer machine” and more about childhood trauma and imposter syndrome

First, the cat picture of the day.

Misty and Oz, two of our cats

Next, let’s briefly do a Purple Carrot Update. Today I prepped the matcha overnight oats and made the ramen bowl. (Video of matcha prep here.)

The teenager vetoed the homemade miso broth and fresh ramen.

I had the leftover black pepper tofu for dinner and it was soooooooo good, even leftover.

And most Purple Carrot meals take 30 minutes to prepare, which in my kitchen has been translating to 40 minutes. Much better than the cooking marathon caused when a Hello Fresh box comes.

But now to the Bizzy Hizzy. I finally learned the “mailer machine.” It’s a folding machine. We used it to fold the postal service priority mailers that go in each fix.

We had trouble getting the machine to work— so we didn’t really get started until after first break. We folded 4401 mailers.

Basically we unpack the mailers, sort them so they are less likely to jam the machine, and feed/empty the machine. There is a zen to lining up the mailers on the rolling machine, fanning them and making sure they don’t curl.

I was sent to the mailer machine as part of Stitch Fix’s quest to know what tasks I perform best. I perform regularly at 96% in QC but unfortunately when I have bad day that plummets to 85-90%. They raised the pick goal so I only do 75% of that. Apparently I have shown both potential and inconsistency in inbound processing and returns. I apparently tanked in style carding (66%) which I would like to believe was a fluke but maybe not. And a shocking 29% in NAP binning. It was shoes. And it was very painful.

I’m told they want everyone to have two work centers they can perform 100%.

So now I’m at the mailer machine.

If I’m honest with you, and it is very hard for me to say this in public, what I hear is: “You’re not good enough for us, so since you suck at everything, let’s stick you on this machine back in the corner.”

I feel threatened. And like a failure.

And that is not what they said. At all.

But I have a disability that makes me insecure and makes me feel inferior, unworthy. And certain childhood traumas leave me feeling unwanted, and as if I am a burden to everyone.

So I am being honest. For one reason. In case someone else is fighting a similar battle and needs to know he/she/they are not alone.

Review: First Purple Carrot shipment and their black pepper tofu

Unboxing first purple carrot box

First I’ll let the photos and video speak for itself.

Next, a little back story. Some familiar to my readers, some probably new.

1. When other people go to Target, order weird lamps off the internet, buy clothes or troll yard sales, my version of retail therapy revolves around food. Wegmans is my happy place.

2. I spent my twenties as a vegetarian— even tried veganism for about six months. Back then, you had to go to the natural food store to buy non-dairy milk and you had two choices: rice or soy. Both came in aseptic boxes that were shelf stable. I don’t like the big business that agriculture has become, and I don’t like not knowing what is happening to my food via industrialized farming.

Why did I stop?

I got pregnant. The teenager has always been a huge carnivore. I had gestational diabetes while pregnant so I started eating turkey sandwiches to change up some of my proteins.

Then when the teenager was about 18 months old, I started craving bacon cheeseburgers (and I don’t even really like bacon). That was probably when my anemia started.

3. I am really enjoying this tour of meal delivery kits I’ve been doing this summer. Hello Fresh has flashy recipe cards, a lot of rice, a lot of prep and amazing sauces. Hungryroot has a nifty blend of “groceries” and “recipes” so if I just want that out-of-this-world snack cheddar, I don’t need to order the whole grilled cheese kit. The recipes are an easy blend of processed and fresh, so the fridge-to-table time is a fraction oh Hello Fresh.

Now we add Purple Carrot. It’s the plant-based Hello Fresh. Three things about them I liked as soon as I opened the box:

  1. They send a booklet of all the recipes for the meals and extras, regardless of what you ordered. I lost the Hungryroot recipes. And Hello Fresh gives you your meals. This is practically a little cookbook.
  2. Their bags and containers are all clearly labeled.
  3. The bags and containers are all clear. It’s easy to see everything.

Based on my initial impression— making one of the four meals I ordered— here are my thoughts.

Pro

  • The vegetables shine, instead of being a side dish.
  • I finally know how to make tofu crispy.
  • Even though they are plant based, they still have high protein options.
  • So delicious

Con

  • Takes almost as long as Hello Fresh