Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Vacation Planning--Ready for Big Trip 2015

Hi Everyone! Guess what! We're almost through with one of the most depressing months of the year! I've never been a fan of January.  It's so cold, you know?! At least up here in D.C. it is.  And it's still really dark around here, even though the days are technically getting longer now that we've passed the winter solstice.  I won't be pleased until the sun is setting AFTER I leave work.  

And then there are all those goals and resolutions we want to set at the beginning of the year in the most depressing month. I'm just over all the "fresh start" and "new year, new you" headlines.  I read this recently:  "There's nothing special about January."  Ain't that the truth.  

I guess the one thing I like about January is that it's usually the time that Ben and I plan our annual vacations!  Last year I posted about how I'm pretty spoiled when it comes to vacations.  Some people never take a vacation, either because they don't have the means to or because they don't desire to take one.  And other people, always take a vacation.  I'm the latter.  Traveling is the one thing that Ben and I like to invest in.  We'll go months without buying new shoes or underwear if it means we get to travel somewhere nice for at least a week.  

At the beginning of each year, and sometimes a little earlier, Ben and I get together and talk about what place we want to "invest" our money in.  Our annual trips started in 2010, with Puerto Rico.  Then Hawaii, Miami and the Florida Keys, Sedona and the Grand Canyon after our wedding, and then for our honeymoon, Greece. 

Because we went to Europe last year and hope to go again in two years, we agreed that this year's vacation should be a bit scaled back. We figured we could cut our European travel budget in half by going somewhere in the U.S., Caribbean or Latin America. 

Friday, January 23, 2015

Jewel Eats: One Pot Pasta

Hey y'all! It's...FRIIIIIDAAAAAY.  #thankyaLord.  And here we go with the second post in my adventure to try out some dishes from my new cook book, Martha's "One Pot."  Remember the Tuscan Roast, from two weeks ago? Awesome, right?  Yep.

Ben and I are going out for dinner tonight (YES).  I was planning on assembling something with our leftovers.  But last night, after semi-botching a dinner of steak sandwiches and feeling exhausted after the past few days of work, I told him I needed a night off.  Of course he was on board because that meant no dishes for him to do.  So we're venturing around Old Town/D.C./Arlington tonight for whatever fancy cuisine we can find.  But if you're staying in tonight, only have grape tomatoes, pasta noodles, garlic and an onion on hand...and don't want to mess up that many dishes...and only have 25 min...I have the recipe for YOU.

One Pan Pasta: Linguine with Tomato and Basil
And bonus: this recipe is available in the "One Pot" cookbook, and also on Martha's website!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

NKF at the Expo!

Earlier this month, my mom, one of my sisters and I volunteered with the National Kidney Foundation at the NBC4 Health Expo! 

Photo Credit: National Kidney Foundation Serving the Capital Area

Friday, January 16, 2015

A 2 Cool Blog Birthday!

Guess what!  

This blog has officially been alive for two years. Yaaaay!  Happy Birthday blog!  I told you last year that it was some kind of miracle that this blog had been running for one year.  Blogging can be really hard sometimes.  Two blogging challenges I faced over the year:

  • SICKNESS!  Even when I was going through kidney failure, I feel like I was able to maintain some consistency in my blogging.  But this year, I was sidelined a few times because of my weak, sloppy immune system!  
  • WRITER'S BLOCK!  It can be downright hard coming up with things to write about.  After having my transplant and not being sick anymore (yay!) sometimes I struggled with what to even say on here.  Was, "Hi! Still not sick!" appropriate?  How do you talk about not being sick anymore when this blog was started for the purpose of documenting my life as a sick person??    
Even with challenges, and the weeks when I only posted once, I'm so happy/thrilled/blessed to have this space on the interwebs to just vent and rant and share my life with you, sick or not sick.  Thank you to everyone who has been here since day one and also to those of you who maybe just stopped by for the first time.  You push me to write better and be better. 

2015 Selfie since it's been a while!  Just me after having seven tubes of blood drawn. NBD.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Fixed, but Fearful

Last week, I went to the gym and was unable to get on an elliptical with a connecting TV, so I had to listen to my iPod. I usually use my time at the gym to watch cable, since Ben and I suspended ours six months ago and have been relying on Hulu, Netflix and Amazon for our televised entertainment. But it was OK. I listened to one of my favorite podcasts, Snap Judgment.  It's a radio show where different people, essentially, tell stories about things that happen to them, and it's one of my favorite shows.  The stories are often compelling, funny, shocking, sad...but even the sad ones have a beautiful ray of optimism at the end, which I guess is what makes the podcast so good.

The episode I listened to was a collection of the editors' favorite stories from the past year and beyond. And boy did I pick the wrong time to start listening.  By the end of the first story I was in tears while trying to keep the pace on my elliptical. The second story continued the assault on my emotions. "Heart Failure" is the story of a woman's boyfriend who had  suffered four heart attacks by the age of 27, and it didn't seem like there was cure in sight. I'll leave out a big chunk of the middle in case you want to listen to it later, but *SPOILER ALERT* in the end, her boyfriend is somehow cured!  Fixed! His body simply stops having heart attacks.  It was so amazing.  He comes on for a bit while she's telling her side of the story and says this: 

"I still didn't believe it. It's too hard. It's too hard to get my hopes up. And I was just waiting for it to come back, almost like the worst old friend. It had just been around for so long. But I'm OK. I haven't had a heart attack in over two years now. I run five to eight miles a day. I can make plans for the future now, and I couldn't before." 

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Jewel Eats: Christmas Cookbook!

One of my sisters gifted me "Martha Stewart Living's One Pot" cookbook for Christmas. And I read it cover to cover in one day.  Y'all know that I love eating and I love cooking what I eat because it's the best way to ensure you're sticking to a low-sodium diet. Low-sodium is good for maintaining a good blood pressure which in turn is good for maintaining healthy kidneys.  Win-win. 

I've had my eye on this book since it came out because I'm a Martha Stewart Living stalker. I started cooking Martha's stuff when I was in college and moved into my first apartment with friends.  I've found most of her recipes to be fairly easy, straightforward, and delicious.  So, when the One Pot cookbook came out...I made a note to put it on my Christmas list so that someone else could buy it for me.  Now, I've only made one recipe out of this book, but I think this is a great thing to have around especially during these cold winter months.  The book is all about roasts, slow-cooker meals, dutch oven meals--full dinners that can be cooked in one pot/pan/dish.  And since it's just me and Ben in my household, most of these big dinners can be eaten over two to three days.  

So the point of this post: I'm inviting you to come on this journey with me, of trying out several recipes in this new cookbook, over the next three months.  By April it'll start to get warm again and we'll all be talking about Easter eggs and salads, and less about roasting and braising things I'm sure.  

The first thing I made:  Tuscan Pork Roast

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

2014 Recap

Happy New Year!

First snow of 2015
In my world, the "new year" doesn't actually start until the first Monday of January...or the first day back to work in January.  So, welcome to 2015 people...officially!