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All the Goodbyes

Hi friends! I’m blogging from my bed in California now! I am officially home for Thanksgiving!

I wanted to pop in and share a little bit from my very last day in St. Louis.

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What a freaking goof.

The cold came in Friday night, so I bundled up for Crossfit. My last one! Thankfully, the gym is heated. For the workout, we worked on hang cleans. The WOD was killer on the shoulders.

10 rounds:

10 push press (65 lb)

10 UNBROKEN double unders

10 weighted sit ups (25 lb)

I knew right away the push presses would be the hard part of this since 65 is a little heavy for me for a WOD. It was. Ouch. For the double unders, if they were broken (aka you messed up) you had to start over. Surprisingly, I only did this one set. It was a good workout to end on, and I said my goodbyes.

I went straight from Crossfit to The Mud House, a coffeeshop I visited once before, for some food and study time.

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Kombucha and cheddar chive grits. Why are grits more of a thing in California??

The place was absolutely packed for brunch, but I was able to snag a spot at the counter. But the line was smooched up against the counter, so I felt especially awkward pulling up my anthrax research for microbio.

I didn’t do too much that afternoon other than squeeze in some last kittie snuggles.

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Around dinnertime, I bundled up for one final outing.

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Me and a couple of zoo buddies went to Seoul Taco in the loop. I had my last chocolate milk stout.

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Plus a bowl with chicken and a very jiggly egg.

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Next was our main event on the agenda, visiting Garden Glow at the Missouri Botanical Gardens. It was a big light display set up in the gardens, and I was really excited to see it! With lows in the 20s and wind, I was nervous for the weather. I finally made use of my winter coat, and the temperatures were only low 40s so it wasn’t too bad! Check out the lights though:

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I had such a great time, and it was a great way to welcome the holiday season.

Afterwards, we stopped at The Cup in Central West End to pick up cupcakes. They had 3 GF options! I got a chocolate cupcake with vanilla ice cream and it was SUPER delicious and fudgy.

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We ate these while watching Insidious 2 back at my place, and Scooby kept us company (and Yoyo wandered around making sure to creak every floorboard in the dark old house!)

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And then it was time to say goodbye. I’m really going to miss these people. It’s amazing the relationships you can form in 3 short months. I can’t bear to get to sappy here, but I’ll leave it by saying it’s not goodbye forever, because I WILL come visit.

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Sunday morning I woke up to this:

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29, feels like 25. Yeah. I decided my run could wait until the “feels like” was at least above freezing. What did I do instead?

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Finally I got out the door and did my normal 3 mile route. I had planned on running in Forest Park but didn’t want to spend the time driving there.

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And then finally I said goodbye.

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But with every goodbye comes a hello.

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Oh, and I had my first cranberry orange bread of the season. This had warm spices which made it feel extra holiday-y.

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As hard as it is to leave, I try to look forward as much as possible, because I’ve enjoyed my life at every stage lately and know that I will be just fine. (That doesn’t mean leaving people in the past though!)

How do you say goodbye?

End of a Journey: St. Louis Lasts

It’s my last FULL weekend in St. Louis! Where the heck did the time go?? I’m both excited to go home for the holidays and sad to leave this city.

The title of this post (the journey) refers mainly to the thing I planned my entire Satuday around. But we’ll get there.

First on the agenda? A morning run. I’ve been wanted to run along the river but never got around to it, so today was the day! I went to bed super early the night before, so I was wide awake and ready to face the day at 6am.

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Brrrr. Hard to imagine how hot it was last time I was down around there, my very first weekend in St. Louis.

I did my usual 3 miles, enjoying the sights of this city I’ve called home for the past few months.

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Then, it was time to hit up my final coffeeshop of the list. Mississippi Mud House. I’ve been putting this one off since it’s downtown and that seemed like it required more effort. But like I said, I made a day of it. I ended up parking about half a mile from the coffeeshop, near where I was going to get lunch. I love walking around cities, on during the chilly early morning (like 8:45am).

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The place had a cool vibe. It was in the front of an art gallery.

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Of course, I got a decaf cappuccino.

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This was probably the one of the best milk foams. I could tell the milk used was really high quality. The cappuccino was a little milky, which was what I was in the mood for, but I do have to dock a few points for style. I would maybe rank this just under Rise? The flavor wasn’t super deep.

But as I’ve finished my coffee tour of St. Louis, expect a full recap coming up! My Tuesday studying will be a little victory lap.

It felt good to start my morning with some productivity though!

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My caffeine tolerance is sad. I don’t know what it is, but lately I’ve been feeling the caffeine even with decaf (and I’m sure it’s decaf). I can’t go through more than half a cup before feeling it.

After coffee I walked through the city to lunch. It was chilly so I decided to go back a block over in the sun, and ran into City Park!

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Lunch on that chilly day was hot soup from Bread Co. (Panera in St. Louis). I got the Autumn Squash soup.

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While I was downtown, it did occur to me that I should probably visit Anheuser-Busch before I leave St. Louis. I went home and showered and then arrived at the brewery.

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They offer complimentary 45 minutes tours of the facilities and the production process, complete with free sampling.

We even got to see the Clydesdales! I love them.

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From there, we started touring the facilities and learning about beer making.

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We had the option of tasting Budweiser Select or Bud Light. Why would you ever choose Bud Light?? I think it’s a step up from Coors Light though.

I won’t pretend like I understand beer making, so enjoy some pictures!

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At the end of the tour we got to choose any beer on tap to “sample” (I use quotes because it was a full glass). I went with Spaten. Not bad, but I like the dark Spaten better.

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TO be honest, Budweiser isn’t my favorite beer. It seems a little bit water to me. That being said, at the Crossfit night out last weekend, I talked to a fellow Crossfitter who worked for Anheuser-Busch, and he brought up the point that Budweisser is really good for its style. And I’ve decided that that’s fair. It’s crisp, and not bad for a ballgame, but I personally like a little more complexity.

My next stop was to pick up some GF cannoli. Right??? I stopped by Piccone Pastry. They have tons of flavors, and they’ll fill the GF shell with whatever you want! I got a sea salt caramel and a chocolate chip.

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I also picked up some tea at Blueprint across the street.

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For dinner, I kept it on the light side because I fully intended on filling up on cannoli. I made avocado toast and cooked up my honeynut squash from Trader Joe’s. I bought this a few weeks ago because I thought it was cute and since it was small, it seemed like the perfect single girl’s squash. I was planning on microwaving it to soften it enough to cut, and then roast, but apparently 5 minutes was enough to make it totally soft. And then for some reason just turning on the janky oven here was enough to set off the fire alarm so that was out. I ended up finishing it up by sautéing it in a pan with olive oil, salt, and pepper.

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I cut my cannoli in half in case I actually felt like using portion control but you better believe I devoured them.

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I spent the first part of the evening watching Clueless, curled up with Scooby.

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Then I went to watch a horror movie (Insidious) with my zoo buddy. I brought the last of my Oktoberfest beer. I had it in my bag with my wallet, keys, etc, and as I was getting out of my car, I dropped my bag and one of the bottles exploded. I was literally pouring beer out of my wallet. My bag was dripping and full of glass shards. Luckily, 2 of the 3 were spared, but my wallet and everything in it was a sloppy mess. I actually got a new wallet today, which was probably needed anyways! But everything smells like Oktoberfest (which thankfully is more pleasant than average beer).

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Sunday morning I went to an Olympic Lifting class at Crossfit. They just got a new coach to teach it! I’ve been Olympic Lifting for over 6 years now, and in that time my focus on it has come and gone. I don’t work on my lifts as consistently with Crossfit (which I’ve been doing for over 3 years now) because we have so many other focuses, but I did work with my original trainer again last summer, and I got really strong and my technique improved greatly. I PRed all my Oly lifts last summer. Between my shoulder and my foot injuries, these lifts have kind of fallen by the wayside.That being said, I have pretty good technique. One thing the coach helped me on a lot was the position out of the bottom of my snatch, which is my weak point. I’m actually easy stronger from the hang than the ground, just because my position isn’t where it should be. He instructed me to arch my back more at the bottom, start with my hips a little higher, and bring the bar in closer to my shins. This worked to created a straight plane for the bar to move in, and it felt like it was flying up! My clean and jerk is definitely stronger for me (technique and weight-wise) so there were fewer comments for that!

I ran some errands afterwards including getting a flu shot, and made a quick lunch of avocado toast and pizza eggs (marina+cheese). img_0390

After lunch, I picked up my coworker and we drove out to Defiance, Missouri’s wine country. img_0392

We went to Sugar Creek Winery.

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We did a $4 tasting, which included 4 samples and a wine glass. I went with all whites, plus the blackberry.

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I sampled the Vidal, the Boone Country, the peach, and the blackberry. All were delicious, with light flavors. Plus, the company wasn’t too bad!

We got a bottle of the Boone Country to share while chatting and enjoying the scenery.

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This was on the sweeter side and it was pretty easy to drink. So, how does MO wine compare to CA wine? I talked to a wine distributer about this at the Crossfit night out, and I think I agree with his assessment that CA is better for the price. These were also all lighter flavors than a lot of CA wines. I’m going wine tasting in Napa over Thanksgiving so I guess I’ll have a direct comparison!
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And now I’m on the couch. I wasn’t planning on being here for the rest of the night BUT i’m currently under 2 kitties. Yoyo decided to join me halfway through this post. He really wanted to settle on my laptop, which was a problem. Now he’s on my belly and my laptop is lodged in the space between 2 kitties. I’ll miss these boys.

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That’s all for now! I’ll catch you guys later!

When You Feel Like a Potato

This morning I woke up and was having one of those days. I felt sluggish, lazy, sort of sad, and overall like a blob. The best way to describe it? I felt like a potato. My diet has strayed more on the side of sweets lately and I felt kind of off as a result. Lack of sleep from the election. And after spending the previous night talking politics to my mom and ranting on the blog, I woke up feeling dirty. I didn’t want to do anything. I wanted to just stay in bed with a massive bowl of cereal and hide from the world, and slide into more potato-ness.

But then I decided that that just wouldn’t do. I needed to figure out how to turn myself around, because I had scary visions of my entire rest of my gap year in potato-land. As I mindfully made this decision, I wanted to do a post on it, because we all have potato days. Here are some things I did to bring myself out, or that made me smile.

-I started referring to myself as a potato which I definitely found amusing. It lightened the situation.

-I decided to make a blog post about coming out of bad days, therefore forcing me to focus on the small positives throughout my day.

-I started my morning with a workout. Exercise first thing ALWAYS helps. We did 4 sets of 10 back squats today (yuck) at a relatively light weight. Then the WOD was 5 rounds of 150m run, 15 box jumps, and 10 hand stand push ups (which I did off a box). At the start of the WOD, I just didn’t feel like moving. But one round in, I felt much better.

-I made myself presentable. Looking good on the outside always makes me feel better on the inside. I didn’t have the option to wear cozy clothes (zoo uniform), but I considered not wearing any makeup, and decided I would feel better if I actually put the extra 2 minutes in.

-I hugged a Yoyo on the way out the door. A selfie occurred. He was not amused, and both kitties were a little suspicious about why I was chasing around trying to hug them, but it lifted my spirits! Especially because then they got riled up and started wrestling and it was kind of adorable.

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-I took a second to appreciate the pretty leaves outside on my way to the car. I love fall.

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-I played my current jam on the way to work.

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-I got an awesome parking spot at work (also I love my Spanish music. Enrique <3)

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-The zoo is starting to put out holiday decorations and I love it!

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-Polar bear eating lettuce. Enough said.

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-Watching and listening to little kids can be endlessly amusing. They all LOVE our polar bear Kali. This comment this morning that a kid was repeating over and over cracked me up: “He’s a beautiful specimen with a giant butt!” True.

-Vegetables. The best way to feel better and to start eating better again. Nothing crazy, just veggies. I had a salad with champagne vinaigrette, humus, goat cheese, and an egg for lunch.

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-Productivity. Sometimes I feel guilty about not getting things done and it can be a little bit paralyzing. I took some time on my lunch break to get ahead on Microbiology reading.

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-Timehop. I love it. I wish it would somehow be able to look at pictures on my computer since I’ve deleted most from my phone, but I saw this gem. I was a minute early on 11/11/11 at 11:11 I guess!

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-The Sun Bears were pretty active today, which made them fun to watch!

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-My zoo buddy hung out with my for the very end of my observation while I was a little bit overwhelmed, and it was helpful to have an extra set of eyes! Plus she brought me a cookie <3

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-I made plans with myself to do something more interesting for dinner than eggs and lettuce, so I stopped at Whole Foods so I could get dinner and spend some time afterwards studying.

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The food wasn’t that great since I was early and it was probably still from lunch. But I was enough out of my potato-ness that this didn’t bother me.

-Kombucha. Always helps.

-A delicious and healthy dessert to eat while curled up on the couch. I had half a piece of healthy pumpkin bread with semisweet chocolate chips, vanilla Halo Top, and whipped cream.

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-Spending the rest of the night snuggled up with Scooby, watching a Rom-Com set at Christmastime, while eating said bowl of deliciousness.

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And now I don’t feel like a potato.

Fall Weekend: Caturday and Pumpkin Bread

I’m starting this post on Saturday afternoon while watching college football, with Yoyo snuggled in at my side. It seems like the 80+ degree weather finally broke, and it was a chilly 43 this morning!

This has been a really low key weekend, which was needed after a few crazy ones. I was traveling the last 2 weekends, and had an action packed weekend the week before that with my parents visiting.

Friday morning began with a great Crossfit workout—front squats and deadlifts! I love anything with power movements. We did 10×2 front squats, and I used 125 lbs. The WOD was

15 deadlifts (135 lbs)

15 box jups

15 deadlifts

15 box jumps

rest 3 minutes. repeat.

For breakfast I had something a little bit different. I’m trying to make my way through the freezer, so I made a protein smoothie with a frozen banana, milk, cocoa powder, and Quest salted caramel protein.

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I haven’t been feeling meat as much lately for some reason, so my lunch salad was meatless. Pears, dried cranberries, and lots of goat cheese in champagne vinaigrette, with crackers on the side.

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And a pice of chocolate.

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I can’t believe I only have 2 weeks left of zoo life!

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My wild Friday night included plan at a coffeeshop to work on my online Microbiology class. With all the travel lately, it’s kind of been put on the back burner.

I started out by ordering a sandwich. I ordered it on GF bread but I don’t think they actually gave me GF bread because I’ve gotten sandwiches there before that don’t look like that! Despite the results of my gluten experiment, I decided I didn’t want to lose mental capacity so I just ate around the bread. The sandwich was turkey, swiss, and herb cream cheese with a side salad.

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After enjoying that, I ordered a baked pumpkin maple latte (decaf!) to sip on while completing an assignment.

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I’m not normally a sweet coffee person, but this was no Starbucks. It was really delicious and actually tasted like coffee!

I was planning on watching Game 7 of the 2014 World Series (I have it on DVD) afterwards, but I was craving a book so I stopped by Target to pick one up. This was my night:

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I like this book! There’s definitely a lot to it, and it’s fairly dark.

Saturday morning I was supposed to teach spin, but no one came to the class. Instead, I headed out to a 9am Crossfit for some clean and jerk work and a partner WOD. In groups of 3, we split 75-60-45-30-15 push press (65), calories on the rower, and kettle bell swings.

Afterwards, it was time to hit up a St. Louis must-do.

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Rumor was they have GF donuts Friday and Saturday mornings, and I picked up a GF pumpkin spice cake donut!

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Of course I had to try a bite in the parking lot (but managed to save the rest for when I got home because it needed milk).

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It was good, but to be honest, I think I would have liked it more baked. I don’t really like the fried flavor. But my first donut in a very long time was well enjoyed.

I also really like this milk, so I wanted to mention it. It’s filtered to have lower lactose and high protein than normal milk, but mostly I like it because I actually have a pretty strong fear of sour milk, and I feel like if it’s super filtered that’s less likely to be an issue!

My entire day basically consisted of reading my book on the coach with kitties. Mostly Yoyo, but Scooby joined us for a little bit. He sat on my lap but kind of spilled onto Yoyo and was directly on top of him, so I LITERALLY had cats on cats.

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Saturday night I went to a Crossfit night out.

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My local Crossfit here organized a night out at a local bar. It was a really fun night; it was nice to actually talk to people outside of working out (though of course the topic of Crossfit was brought up once or twice 😉 ). It was really interesting learning more about people’s lives outside of them gym, and of course I had to try some local craft beer! It just makes me all the more sad to leave these people in 2 weeks!

One really nice thing was that it was within walking distance of my house, and while the temperatures have dropped quite a bit these past few days, it was a really nice, crisp night to walk.

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Sunday morning at 6am, Yoyo busted open my door and before I knew it I had 2 kitties snuggled up on my bed.

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Despite their antics, I managed to sleep a little bit longer!

My main event for Sunday morning was going to Crossfit run group. It’s basically just people meeting at the gym to go run together. There was a short and a long option. The short was 1.5, and the long was 5…1.5 seemed a lot shorter than what I was hoping for, so I decided I might as well go for 5 and turn back if necessary. I hadn’t run this far since my stress fracture; I had only run 4 miles 2x, and 3 is my normal distance.

My foot performed fantastically! I was able to cover 5 miles pain-free, which is pretty huge. My legs were feeling it by the end though! A group of 3 of us did the 5 mile option, and apparently our average pace was 9:36, which is not too shabby! It felt good to run longer again, and I’m sure I’ll be feeling it tomorrow. My plantar fasciitis is flaring a little bit from the increased effort though. Running on my foot is pretty variable. I think the fact that I spent the entire previous day on the couch is part of why I was able to cover those miles pain free. I walk and stand a ton at work, which limits my mileage.

I was HUNGRY when I got home and had a few gulps of chocolate milk while preparing lunch.

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I messed up flipping my egg, but somehow it turned out perfectly bread shaped! I’ll take it! I made an open-faced egg sandwich with American cheese. On the side was a salad with goat cheese and dried cranberries.

After lunch, I facetimed a friend back home, while mixing up pumpkin bread (and dividing the recipe in half!) Somehow, despite multitasking, I think I managed to not screw anything up.

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I asked my mom to dig up my favorite pumpkin bread recipe which I haven’t made in a little while. The recipe is from so long ago, it’s 1. pre-blog and 2. on paper!

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I tried to find the link to the recipe, but I can’t find it!

I cut the recipe in half, used GF flour, and used a bit under 1/3c brown sugar and 1/3c maple syrup in place of the full cup of sugar. I also sprinkled a few chocolate chips on top of one side!

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Delicious!

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Chilly temperatures+pumpkin bread?

NOW it’s fall.

I spent the afternoon studying. I went to Rise for a cozy decaf cappuccino.

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Dinner tonight was another warm fall favorite: soup! I heated up some mushroom lentil soup and topped it with fat free cheddar (kind of rubbery but trying to use it up!). On the side I had some buttered toast.

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For dessert, I sautéed up some apples with butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla. I don’t think I added nearly enough butter, and the edges got sort of caramelized. I served that with some vanilla Halo Top.

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It was a great, relaxing, low key cozy fall weekend!

What do you like to do when the temperature drops?

Answers

I had an interesting day on Monday. As you probably know, I’ve been dealing with some sort of mysterious stomach condition since February. I’ve had tons of tests, and everything was coming up negative. There was one last test to try and since I was feeling significantly better I put it off until winter break because it took 5 hours. But the reality was although I was feeling better, I don’t feel like a normal person.

All this led to be fasting for 16 hours and then eating radioactive eggs.

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It’s weird going to the doctor and having them feed you, right? I did a gastric emptying study. Basically, they fed me radioactive eggs that they can then track through my stomach with an MRI type of thing, over the course of 4 hours, beginning with a 30 minute long picture. The process was long and involved a lot of waiting, but was relatively painless. While waiting, I googled symptoms/treatments for delayed stomach emptying and found myself nodding along with the symptoms, so I wasn’t too surprised when the test came up positive for delayed stomach emptying.

After a follow up appointment, it sounds like this is likely what is causing the problems. Treatment is mostly managing the symptoms and changing eating habits. I basically have to avoid eating too much. I have to eat more mini meals throughout the day, instead of full meals. I’ve actually been pretty good about eating fairly light over break so far, and I think that has kept most symptoms at bay. So I will be eating lot of small meals, and soups (since liquid can be easier to handle).

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Lunch today was a mini bowl of soup and a baby piece of cornbread.

I have mixed feelings about this. I’m glad to finally have some answers, but I’m nervous this lifestyle change will be either difficult to adhere to or won’t “cure” anything. When I think to how bad off it was when it first started, I can’t imagine that smaller meals would make a difference. Thankfully I am better than that, but the threat of that worries me. I just want to be normal! If mini meals might get me there, then that’s what I’m going to have to do. But I feel like at least for now the threat of a full on flare is still very present.

So what else have I been up to?

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More soup-Greek lemon chicken. We added carrots and lemon juice. This was topped with chives and feta, and the feta linked all the flavors perfectly. On the side was Trader Joe’s Gluten Free cornbread (from a mix). I really liked it! With butter and honey.

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My first ever flat white.

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Peppermint hot chocolate with my sister from Peet’s.

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Last night’s dinner: sage, chicken, and mushroom soup, with a gluten free rosemary roll on the side. The roll is from Mariposa in San Francisco. Yesterday my mom and I went up to San Francisco to go to the Ferry Building.IMG_5120 IMG_5117

We started out with a gluten free lunch at Mariposa, and I got a turkey sandwich with cheddar and cranberry sauce.

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We also stopped by the gourmet ice cream shop. I was hoping they would have olive oil ice cream like I had last time, but they didn’t so I settled for some delicious chocolate.

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We wandered the shops a little bit before heading home.

Another food excitement—new energy bars! It’s nearly impossible for me to find bars that meet all my various restrictions, so when I saw a website for custom bars on Kaila‘s blog, I jumped at the chance.

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I got mine with a date and sunflower seed butter base, and then had whey protein, chia seeds, chocolate chips, vanilla, and honey. SO delicious!

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In terms of workouts, this morning I went to the track to do my simple 6x200m. Love the view from this track though!
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The other night, I went to a fun Santa Themed spin class, which I dressed up for with Santa socks and a holiday bow in my hair.

I’ve also been going to my home Crossfit, which has been SUPER fun. My first workout back was Tuesday, and the WOD was 5 rounds of 400m run, 30 sit ups, and 15 back squats at 115#. This is exactly the type of workout I LOVE, and it was fun! However, I haven’t done a ton of back squats since hurting my shoulder (I think the first time I was able to do them was like a month ago?) so while the weight wasn’t too heavy, the underuse plus high reps has left me unbelievably sore! Man!

Currently, I am blogging from under both a cat and heated blanket. Winter break isn’t too bad!