Sunny Skies and Cooking New Things

I have definitely fallen off the blogging wagon! Ack! It’s unfortunate, because I’ve realized over the past month that this (super public) journal really has been helpful in keeping my mind clear and focused, and the support you’ve all given me makes a world of difference.

I’ve been open in past blogs about my struggle with depression, and nothing seems to exasperate that issue for me more than a constantly cloudy sky.  While in the grand scheme of life the rainfall in Texas has caused many more important problems (death, property damage, flooding, etc.) than what lurks my head, it still stinks. I left a beautiful (cloudy) city and dear friends to come home to the love and sunny skies of Texas, so I’m glad to have them back!

I’ll always be thankful that the genetic lottery dealt me a kindness with depression when the paternal side of my biological family struggles with much more, but sheesh. When it rains, it pours, and it’s been flooding in my brain 😉  I’m at my best with a very busy, structured schedule, and I feel like this past year has been anything but.

What helps (besides sun!) is getting back on track with taking care of myself. I finally made an appointment with a therapist and I cooked! Well, not just cooked, but tried something new.

Even though tomatoes are the acidic devil and hell on my tummy (tho okay on my blood,) I almost always have a couple containers of homemade spaghetti sauce in my freezer. I struggled with meal planning this past week, so I figured I would just make some gluten free spaghetti and pass out in a carb coma.

I’ve done that a lot, actually – I think I averaged 2000 steps a day this entire week. Not good. Sitting is the new smoking, you know. I bought the Up by Jawbone and it’s amazing how much time I spend on my ass.  You’d think someone who thrives with a schedule would find success in scheduling a workout, but you’d be wrong.

Any hoot, I made a pit stop at Trader Joe’s after quilt class last week and picked up some zucchini. I ordered a spiralizer a few months from our friends at Amazon, and after a few false starts and more than a couple rounds of moldy and forgotten zucchini, finally put the thing to good use.

It’s awesome! And so good! Look how pretty these suckers are, just cooked lightly in a pan with some olive oil, salt and pepper.


The finished product was delicious, and it’s amazing how much “pasta” a small zucchini yields. I had enough for three servings, and I’m tickled pink with the final result. And yes…that’s a tiny bit of Parmesan sprinkled on the top. I’ve made no secret that I miss dairy the most of all the foods I’ve had to give up. Mmmm, cheese. Delicious cheese.


I have tons of veggies in my sauce, including artichokes, but also lots of grass fed beef. Yummy. BOOOOOOOOOOOOF!  A serving is 306 calories, 28 carbs, 16 g of fat and 18 g of protein.  I would like to bump the protein up a bit, but not sure how to do that without overwhelming the sauce.  I could definitely add something, though, since the calorie count is so low.

I’d like to say I’m going to get back on track with my blog. The intent is there for sure.  Quilting classes are going well, therapy starts today at 4 pm this afternoon, I’ve got a birthday coming up and a best friend visiting, so plenty of things to share and celebrate. Hopefully the gray skies in my head and over the state of Texas can just move along for a while.

Housing Market Madness

I’ve had to take a break from watching my house porn on HGTV – no Property Brothers, Love It or List It, Too (the regular version is hateful, plus Bachelorette Jillian!) nor my beloved Fixer Upper.  It’s just too frustrating to watch, especially Fixer Upper.  Waco is apparently the only place to buy a house in Texas these days, and you can get a good one for $100k and painted shiplap.  #shiplap!

I decided early on that I wanted to head back to a more central location, preferably Richardson, North Dallas or Addison.  You know, somewhere between Tollway, Bush, 75 and 635.  Convenient to work, downtown and my suburb friends.  The suburb friends are a big deal, y’all.  Most of you have gotten married, had beautiful babies and wanted some square footage and a decent school district.  I get it.  I’d like to see you a little more often, and I think being 20 minutes away in Addison will be easier than 45 minutes away downtown.  And hey, I have a pretty good sized budget and that’ll go far for me in the ‘burbs, right???

I didn’t consider all of the companies coming to Dallas, though, and I’m pretty sure I’ll never buy a Toyota product in sheer protest.  It’s gotten OUT OF HAND.  I could have gotten a house in the Seattle suburbs for $300k (ish) and had an hour commute.  Maybe a ten minute commute to Woodinville, and who wouldn’t want to be near so much wine?  Hell, I have an hour commute now and there’s barely a tree or water to be seen.  When did Dallas decide to be as expensive as the rest of the country?  It’s madness.

Anyway, five offers, all over asking (some substantially so), some with letters, some owned by friends of friends and I’ve still gotten beaten out.  Some by cash, and it’s hard to argue with cash, but it still really stinks.  I already know I’ll have at least a month and a half of paying month to month rent, which is BRUTAL.  In good news, it’s apparently been warm enough to use our complex pool for the past two weeks.  I haven’t really been up for it, but Jersey Shore has already started right outside my patio.

I’m kind of at a loss right now, and honestly, I have so much other stuff going on that I would LOVE to just put this behind me.  I’m starting to worry about hospital fees eating into my down payment and remodeling funds, plus work is nutty, and OMG.  I just want a little house, would prefer a pool, so I can spread out a bit.  I’ll have a room for all of my quilting stuff and I can get a dog.  A DOG!

Cheers!

Houses, Health Care and the Word of the Week…Mystifying.

I think I have four good reasons why I’ve been a little quiet on my blog this week:

  1. I’ve gained five pounds, and I’m annoyed at myself.  Hard to talk about my big life changes when I seem to have lost all enthusiasm.  I’m pretty sure it’s just all salt bloat, but I still feel gross.  I’m not excited to cook anything.
  2. The Dallas housing market is a beat down.  Seriously.  All I do is look at houses, make offers on houses, get rejected.  Rinse.  Repeat.
  3. No new health news, but my rounds of specialists gets kicked off this week.  First up?  Gastroenterologist.  I’ve been a projectile vomiter since I was an infant…let’s find out why!
  4. Quilting.  I haven’t done enough quilting.  Loved going to the Dallas Quilt Show Sunday, though.  So fun!  I pity the fool that didn’t get to see Mr. T in person:

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You know what’s not fun?  Getting shut down on a super kickass house that you’re in love with, despite offering $16k over asking, agreeing to a 60 day lease-back, not asking for a damn thing and having financing approval.  Not just pre-approval, but actual approval.  I don’t know if I’ll ever manage to buy a house in this stupid market, but gift cards and letters of thanks will certainly be due to the two lenders I’m working with, not to mention my super amazing realtor.  Love you, Betsy!!  (Hanne too, I’m sure, once I meet her 🙂 )

So I woke up kind of ugly today, these things happen to the best of us.  I get some work done, I check my email every ten seconds like a crazy person to see if we’ve heard back on the offer, I eat healthy things full of too much salt, I check my email again.  How is the ugliness supposed to improve under these circumstances?

No house, and even my realtor is “mystified.”  Gosh that’s a great word.  I’m going to use it to describe everything going on with me right now, like dating in Dallas, buying houses in Dallas, dealing with my unknown health BS and why my scale isn’t nicer to me.  MYSTIFYING.

Know what else is mystifying?  How health insurance works.  Remember when I had nine vials of blood drawn last month?  My first bill said I owed nothing – AWESOME!  Red herring, though, because I got a new bill today for $600.  That’s right, there are two zeros.  TWO.  $600 is a big chunk out of my couch fund.  Fortunately my current living room furniture still looks good, because even though I’m sick of it and ready to move on, my finances might require me to drag it out a bit.  Sea foam for a whole decade, y’all!

Anyhoot, I’m a little scared of these specialists for a whole new reason now.  $600 out of pocket for the lab tests my regular doctor had me do…what fresh hell will be unleashed with a specialist?  I already know I have to get a scope done, so I guess that’ll just push me up to my deductible.  Good grief.  And I get an extra scoop of guilt because now that I’m aligned with the health care industry, I’m also part of the problem.  Our government is a shit show, so I see why socialized medicine is unpopular, but good grief.

See where my head is spinning right now?  I’m spinning, I’m stressed out, therefore I’m not being as careful with food so I feel like crap AND I gain weight.  At least I’m not drowning my sorrows in vodka, so I’ll take that as a win.  The human body is a mystifying thing, my friends.

Hopefully I’ll have some good news from the gastroenterologist on Wednesday.  And maybe a new house will pop up.  Have I mentioned none of the good ones last longer than 24 hours on the market?  Sheesh.

Cheers!

Just a Casual Monday Night Dinner

I think I’ve mentioned I’m the weirdo who works out while staring at the Food Network.  It’s a double whammy, right? Not only can I probably not eat 90% of the recipes shown, but I’m the only overweight person at my pretty person gym. Whatevs. I’ve got my playlist bumping and the Pioneer Woman is cooking up some beef and a cake.  There’s only so much news and Sportscenter a girl can watch. 

This past week, I ended up watching Guy’s Big Bites, and he whipped up this delicious scallop and andouille sausage dinner. I’ve been craving scallops ever since. So yummy! 

I didn’t end up making that recipe, but I did wander into Whole Foods on Saturday, high noon, a wee bit hungover and starving after 18 hours without food. First of all, oops. Secondly, I’m normally prepared with at least some raw almonds, but I got caught off guard. What do you get when you wander into Whole Foods in these conditions? 

Two bags of random food and a much lighter wallet :



Let me be honest here. I’m a big Whole Foods fan, and I’ve shopped there very economically. This is done by checking out their sales flyer and building my meal plans accordingly. Steak on sale? Great. Do it. Buy the fruits and veggies featured, since they’re normally in season and at a great price. I got amazing organic apples for $1.30 a pound this week and omg they are insanely good. 

I also bought pre-made Cajun crab cakes and a third pound of giant scallops, along with some vegan chocolate treats, the Enjoy Life Chocolare Chunks for when I finally make those damn chocolate chip cookies, and a bunch of other stuff. Can I just blame the bagger for packing so efficiently? He was a gem. 

The weekend ended up being too busy for cooking, so I have had the best Monday night dinner ever. 

I left work a bit early to avoid a repeat of Friday’s near two hour commute home, but mostly so I could hit the gym. I parked my pink clad behind in front of HGTV and The Pioneer Woman (treat. yo. self.) and planned out my dinner.  And can I also mention how much I love the scenic hikes available on treadmills these days? I select my speed and average incline and they do the rest. I’m obsessed and wish my time on the elliptical was so fun. 

Back at home, I wasn’t sure how long to cook the crab cakes, but it turns out a sear on each side in my cast iron skillet then oven finishing at 350 did the trick! 



For the scallops, I followed Guy’s guidance, so even though I couldn’t cook them in adouille sausage fat, I patted them dry as can be, seasoned and plunked them into my buttery spread-filled pan. 



Look at that sear! So crisp and delicious. Two minutes each side and they are perfect. 

I also tossed up a super sprout salad (thanks Whole Foods) and I have a very happy belly. Lunch for tomorrow, too, because there’s no way to physically eat two crab cakes. They’re six ounces each and woo. I’m stuffed. 



The white sauce is a jalapeño and horseradish tartar. The crab cake was so tasty I barely touched it, but it was definitely delicious.  I’m pretty sure it’s the gluten, and next time I should probably make my own gluten free version. My cheeks are already flush. 

Now where is that magical elf to wash my dishes?  Please?  Sigh. 



Good News, Bad News and the 50 Pound Mark

Good news first, yes? I officially hit the 50 pound mark over the weekend. It’s hard for me to wrap my head around being 51 pounds heavier this time last year. I’m still struggling with how I look and how my body (poorly) functions at this size, so how on earth was I doing it last year?

Oh that’s right…I wasn’t. I was a mess 🙂

I was worried the loss was a fluke, since this weekend was mostly ridiculous, but the scale said the same thing today so I guess I’m in the clear. It’s so great to drop into the next set of numbers too.

On to the bad news – turns out my house had TWELVE other offers. Isn’t that insane? I have no idea if their realtor even shared my awesome cow note, as it wasn’t mentioned with any correspondence with my realtor. I was surprised by that in particular – the last time I got into a bidding war of sorts on a house and wrote a note, the realtor thought I was the cutest thing ever and wanted to set me up with the homeowner. I can’t remember what came of that, but I think I actually talked to him a couple times.

Anyway, I’m not shocked about the house, as I did offer over asking but not by much. The selling agent told us how popular it had been, albeit in a seriously unprofessional way. My cow house with a fireplace and pool was at the top of my budget, so I couldn’t exactly get crazy. I am being kept as a back-up option, so we’ll see.

The search will continue, and I definitely will be looking at places with pools. Since I’ll be living in the middle of Dallas, it’ll be a great way to bring people together this summer, and I love hosting parties. As fun as my house parties were in Richardson, I can’t imagine how great they would be during the day with a pool, especially since so many of my friends now have little ones. Yay for barbecues!

The other piece of bad news I’m still trying to wrap my head around. This whole blog was started as a way for me to journal about my experience changing my lifestyle and adapting to a much more restrictive diet, all in the interest of fixing my random health issues. I’m thankful I found a doctor that I like – she’s my age, accepting, a great listener – and I wish she had better news for me.

I had nine different vials of blood drawn last week, and though the tests haven’t all come back yet, the ones I was most concerned with did on Friday. The one that go all this started, the C Reactive Protein (hs CRP) that serves as an inflammation marker and is used to measure cardiac risk, among other things, has actually gotten worse. My last measurement was 22, where it needs to be under 5. Now it came back at a 24.7!! Alarming!

Where would it be if I wasn’t essentially following an anti-inflammatory diet? Part of me wants to say fuck it and eat some pizza with a side of Chinese food, but an unsuccessful effort at lowering inflammation doesn’t mean I don’t have severe food intolerances. I actually had some gluten over the weekend, tiny amounts, and was rewarded with skin breakouts and severe headaches. Guess that ish is for real after all. Sigh.

I already had an appointment made with a GI to have a scope done before any of my test results came back, so I guess I’ll just keep moving forward. I’m getting kind of sick of the doctor’s office at this point, though. I do feel better than I did before I changed my diet, so I’ll stay the course, but I’ll admit I’m pretty damn devastated that the hard work hasn’t given the results I was after. Losing weight has been great, but it’s just not enough.

The other bad thing was my platelet count. I don’t know if I’ve even blogged about this one, because it’s frankly not as interesting as the whole change your diet thing, but my platelet count came back very low back in October. Normal minimum is 150, and I measured 125. Dr. Brown is pretty unflappable, and she was concerned enough for me to have it retested. November I read 140, still low but better. Now it’s even lower – 116.

New doctor told me not to be too worried, since it’s only gets super alarming when it drops below 100, but I’m still being sent to a hematologist. That’s right, friends. I get to see two different specialists this month. Yay? Hopefully it’ll just be ideopathic and a low platelet count will just be my new normal. I won’t even wrap my head around the things I found on Google.

Bah.

I was so down when I got home from work Friday night, and I’m so thankful for friends and family that distracted me, via text or barstool (I amended Lent to veto vodka and other liquor – it’s still a sacrifice. There are only so many ciders a belly can hold and vodka is my favvvvvvorite.) I was planning to wallow that night in some happy pants, but got pulled into a very fun evening that cheered me right up. More the same the rest of the weekend, and I’m just feeling thankful to be so loved.

I might not have been up for chatting on the phone or FaceTime, but even the sweet texts I got from my bests made a world of difference. From the ski slopes, house hunters, long weekenders and moms chasing their babies, Seattle, Springfield and Dallas, I was feeling the love ❤️💙. You guys know who you are. Xoxo.

Dreary day in Dallas and the city is practically shut down, so I’m going to work on some pretty quilt blocks between conference calls and the usual Monday work day. And I’ll keep counting my blessings until I have more concrete reasons to worry.

Cheers,
CL

Ode to a Cow. A Judgmental Cow.

I’ve been back in Dallas for nine months, which seems absolutely insane.  There are still people I haven’t had a chance to see!  Time just passes in a blink, doesn’t it?  Life changes so much – marriages, babies, careers, relocating, moving to the ‘burbs…it goes on and on.  It used to be so easy to grab a drink on a random Wednesday evening!  Ah, growing up.  It’s all part of the fun.

Speaking of growing up, I’ve been looking for a home to buy.  I’ve gone back and forth – do I want a condo?  A townhouse?  Square footage?  Not the kind of square footage that requires a move north of George Bush, and definitely not the kind that requires living north of 121 (love you ladies and gents!) but probably more than Uptown has to offer.  You see, the Dallas market has gone insane.  It’s just like the rest of the country!  Well, it’s still cheaper than anywhere else.  But expensive for here because we don’t have any views.  Or trees.

Anyhoot, $350,000 used to get you a decent older home in the M Streets (just needed a little love) – now it gets you a tear down.  HOA fees of up to $1200 a month for a one bedroom FIXER condo at $250k.  Fixer upper townhouses in Addison for $290,000.  EEEK.  Makes me miss my baby fixer in Richardson – she was a great home for six years and she was practically free.  I’ve earned my MBA and have done alright for myself since then, but sheesh.  Who wants to be house poor when there are handbags to buy and vacations to take?

As usual, I digress.  You guys clicked on here to hear about cows, and I’m gonna talk about cows.  Specifically, the kickass cow painting in the home I put an offer on today.  Who knows if I’ll get it – this house is the belle of the ball, 30 showings in two days and an open house to go tomorrow – but I loved it.  And the biggest sign?  This giant judgmental cow.

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Also maybe the pool.  Because you have to have a pool in Texas, and I can see barbecues all summer long.  It’s how I’ll bait my Uptown friends – I have a pool, boozy treats and spare bedrooms!  It’s only 20 minutes north!

When the first thing you hear from the few people you’ve shown the listing to all say, “Do you think they’ll let you keep the cow?” you know you’re on to something. Because here’s my own badass cow:

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You see, because this market has gotten much more aggressive, I decided to take an extra step.  I wrote these homeowners a letter about how our cows should be united.  People, this house had 30 showings in two days and there’s an open house tomorrow.  It’s going to be ugly.  I figure whatever I can do to get the edge, I should do.

Here’s the letter I wrote:

Dear So and So (I put their names, but you get the idea.)

I really adore this house. Sure, I love the high ceilings, stone fireplace and plaster molding (not to mention three master closets.) I have plans for the pool and I love that there’s a pet door already installed, but I have to admit I was smitten with the cow.

You see, I have a delightful cow painting of my very own. We call her Judgmental Cow. She hangs above my wine fridge, judging me with every bottle I might withdrawal. She’s also given me a graceful side eye while I’m making a steak. She’s the Mona Lisa of moo.

I bought her at a flea market south of Grapevine – a goodbye present to myself when I moved from Dallas to Seattle four years ago. My cow is painted on top of a rusty piece of barn siding, and I wanted a little piece of home to take with me.

I’ve been back nearly a year, and I am ready to make a home again.

When I forwarded the link to your home to my parents and best friend, here was their response:

BFF: “It’s cute. You should tell them to leave the cow so you can have two judgmental cows.”

Mom: “I love it!!! Do you think they’ll let you keep the cow?”

I’m not kidding, and whether you decide to leave me the cow or not, I think it’s a sign we were meant to be. I thought it might be awkward to pop into the offer letter, but if you don’t happen to have a wall for her at your next stop, you can always leave her with me.

Cheers,

Christina Lee

PS: I’m not sure if she’ll look best in the wet bar, and continuing to side eye me while cooking beef in the kitchen, but she’ll look great.

And then I attached her picture.  Who wouldn’t?  I might be a little crazy, but it’s been a nutty week, I swore off booze for Lent and I needed a little levity.

Cheers!