Amy Artisan

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Month: March 2013

Brilliant!

For the last several years, March has meant an “escape” to Texas for a long weekend with my girls and a trip to the Dallas Arboretum. This year, the girls have an opportunity to go to Disneyland for their spring break so we won’t have our “Dallas Blooms” weekend. I still managed to get my dose of spring blooms this month – this time in the form of the Philadelphia Flower Show. On Sunday afternoon, I headed downtown for the final day of the show. It was a spectacular spring day – it almost seemed wrong to be spending it indoors. But, the blooms were indeed brilliant and made for a delightful afternoon.

 

The shows theme of “Brilliant” saluted all things British. From the moment you walked in, there was definitely “a bit o’ Brit” in everything you saw.

cricket A tableau celebrating cricket. This might have been my favorite scene because it reminds me of playing cricket with the project team last year on July 4th as we were in the midst of go live week. (90+ degrees & a dusty baseball field is a far cry from this lush scene)

garden_club

…Area gardening clubs contributed scenes…

austen

British literature was a source of inspiration for some scenes – of course, the Jane Austen one was my favorite.

big_benAt the center of the show was a digital Big Ben. On the hour, the clock face transformed into a fun video of song & British pop culture. The area also included a stage – on Sunday afternoon, one of the guys from Celtic Thunder was performing.

amaryllis

Even with all the professional scenes, one of my favorite areas was the “Horticourt” where gardeners submitted their special plans for judging. As someone who had a “dud” amaryllis this year I was amazed at the beautiful pots of bright blooms.

The show also included many vendors for all sorts of gardening. I was very intrigued with all the terrariums that were available – while I didn’t buy any, I’m thinking one could be fun for at my desk. Between the Brilliant inspiration of the flower show and the generally gorgeous weekend, I’m starting to think about what simple gardening I will do on my patio this year.

The Whole Third

At the end of February, I jumped into doing The Whole 30. The time was right to refocus on health & fitness for me – in 2010 & 2011 I had decent success with losing weight & adopting a healthier lifestyle while on the road. Then, screech – the last 15 months were filled with all sorts of excuses and back-sliding. After reading a bit about The Whole 30 online, seeing a friend share her successes through her blog and reading the book It Starts With Food I decided it was time to start. It turns out that a co-worker here at my “new” office has previously done this and decided she would do it again with me.

If you haven’t heard of this program before, the premise is: take 30 days to reset your body with a focus on whole foods. During this time, a lot of things are removed from your diet: dairy, sugar, grains, legumes, soy, alcohol. The focus is on protein, veggies, some fruits and healthy oils/fats. After 30 days, you gradually add the different groups back into your diet to see what happens & determine what the right balance of foods for you is.

After 10+ days I think I’m doing pretty well. I will admit that the first 3 days were tough with a “detox” headache; however, since then I have definitely been feeling better. During the first couple of days, I was definitely more reliant on having fruits & nuts for snacks. As the days progressed, I find that I’m not feeling as hungry between meals and my first option is to drink some more water before determining if I need a snack.

As I got started, I cleared the fridge & pantry of items that were a “NO” for this time. For my unopened pantry items, I donated them to a local food pantry where I volunteer. When the fridge was cleaned out, suddenly the pockets on the door were empty – there are just a few condiments now that I’m using. (They have since been filled with quarts & pints of homemade goodness.)

The key to success is definitely planning and prep. (The Whole30 Daily newsletters have also been a great help.) For the first week I did some planning and advance prep but by mid week I realized that I needed to do more. Buy the end of the week, eggs and ground beef were the last thing I was wanting. This past weekend my goal was to “fill the fridge” to be ready for the week ahead. Saturday morning was for shopping: it started at a local farm to pick up some eggs and meats; then the Asian mart to load up on produce; finally a few things at Trader Joe’s. Saturday afternoon & Sunday were filled with kitchen time and by Sunday evening the fridge was full.

whole3rd

Peering into the fridge now, I find:

  • Homemade Tomato Soup – great on it’s own or throw in some meat & veggies for a heartier meal
  • A third batch of cinnamon almond milk – I’m definitely going to continue doing this
  • Homemade salsa to liven up any meal
  • Another pan of my Turkey-Apple-Egg bake is ready for breakfasts each morning
  • The chicken I picked up at the farm has been cooked & shredded for salads this week. I also got a gallon of chicken stock from it that is ready for other recipes
  • Pork Chile Verde – a bit more “labor intensive” dish than I’ve made in a while but so delicious & so worth it. I’m pairing it with sweet potatoes for a fabulous dinner
  • Citrus Vinaigrette ready for impromptu salads
  • Kale & Persimmon Salad that just gets better “with age”
  • Curried Cream of Broccoli Soup
  • Homemade mayo – this was my first time making this, it’s so easy & delicious. It is pretty fantastic as the binder in a quick chicken salad with a few chopped pecans & some freeze dried strawberries for crunch.

A third of the way into this, I’m enjoying the opportunity to be spending this time in the kitchen. Yes there are some “trying” times but I’m thinking this is also the mental reset that I needed to rethink my approach to food. I’m not going to lie, there are a few things that I’m looking forward to introducing back into my ingredient list; however, I think those things will be a much smaller doses than before.

I’ve added a new page set to the blog – Whole Kitchen. I’ll be posting links to some of the recipes across the web that I’ve been making as well as some of my own recipes that are getting me through the days.

In Pictures: February 2013

Here we go…a second month of 2013 in the books… February

I flew out of Green Bay on the morning of February 1st – on my way to the airport I drove by Lambeau Field. As the temp registered “-1” there was a long line of fans that were waiting to snatch up free tickets for Donald Driver’s retirement announcement the following week.

Rebecca finished up her 5th season as a swim coach. She sent me this picture from when the school won the county swim meet for the 13th straight year. As the teams were at their state meet, I was able to follow their progress through app – a fun way to be connected to her even from so far away.

As the big blizzard struck the northeast, we only got a small taste of it. A few inches of snow fell overnite on Friday & by the time I woke up on Saturday, the maintenance crew at my apt. complex had already cleared the parking lots and sidewalks. Later that afternoon as I walked around the complex, my new snow boots were definitely overkill but at least I had a chance to break them in.

This Valentine cutie…my littlest girl in Texas ready for her preschool party. On Valentine’s evening, it was fun to FaceTime with the girls in Texas as well as the kids in Wisconsin.

I made it to the movies twice – both were excellent – and each movie yielded a dishcloth.

I ended the month starting The Whole 30 which means I’m spending some fun time in the kitchen making new things – among them, my first time making homemade mayo. I’ll be sharing more about this adventure in my next post.

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