The most wasted of all days is one without laughter – E.E. Cummings

Tag: food

Fail-Free New Year

It’s that time again, folks. Every year we bottle up all of insecurities and doubts and then resolve in a 24-hour period to fix each one of them over the next 365 days. I love a new year full of promises that I likely won’t keep, nay, even think about once the summer sun is shining. Let’s be honest, by April I’ll be the Miss Columbia of resolutions: just as I think I’ve made some progress, I’ll be honest with myself and hand over my resolution crown to more worthy recipient.

My issue is that my goals are always astronomical – like not even Stan Lee could write them even to existence because nobody would believe it. In the promise of total honesty, I submit to you some of my most miserable failures to-date:

New YearI will lose 15 pounds a month for an entire year.

I will stop eating all sugar. . . probably forever.

No more eating out. Nope. Not economical.

I will hand-sew all of my clothes this year. . . Just kidding. I would never try to do this. I just wanted to see if you were still paying attention.

I will get rid of everything in my house that doesn’t serve a purpose. (Husbands, beware of this one. If you don’t start helping out, you might just make the list. . . I’m just saying.)

As you can see, I’m not really a “realistic” goal setter; I’m more of the all-or-nothing type. I don’t just want to lose a few pounds; I want to be a contender for America’s Next Top Model by August. Stop laughing, you’re killing my dreams.

I’ve taken all the courses about SMART goals and I still don’t grasp it. I know all of the steps to being successful with your goals like, “A goal not written down is just a dream,” blah, blah, blah. If you ask me, I say a goal not written down is a SMART goal – smart because nobody can ever prove that you set out to do it in the first place so they can’t hold it over you when they try to prove that you are a failure. How’s that for thinking like the mafia – never leave a paper trail.

This year, however, I’ve decided to change things up a bit and bite off some New Year’s Resolutions that I think I can tackle. Once I started reviewing these on paper, I thought I should let you all in on the plan so that when your other, loftier, “5k by March”-type goals fall through, you’ll have something to fall back on and just continue to be proud about.

So without further ado, here is Carlee’s Guide to a No-Fail New Year:

Goal #1: Be Less Dumb

Some years (like this past one), I’ve set reading goals to try and increase my vocabulary and to have something intelligent to talk about (with my 3-year-old?). Anyway, by mid-year, I’m so sick of reading things that I hate and that are supposed to make me smarter (Christian Science Monitor, I’m looking at you) that I actually get sick of reading and find myself watching Netflix and completely avoiding the documentaries (remember, by brain is tired). It becomes counter-productive and I start to loathe an activity that I generally really love.

I have also set goals to watch more news and stay fresh on what’s happening in the world – a goal that I can promise you now will only lead to mild bouts of depression and anger.

So how do we fix this? How do we win the battle of the brain? Well, I’ve found two things that have helped me feel “less dumb” and they only take me about 20 minutes a day to chomp through. They are theSkimm and Highbrow. theSkimm is a daily e-mail (Mon-Fri, folks. I don’t want to hamper your weekends with thinking.) that takes the major news topics and breaks them down into really short, fairly humorous facts. By the time you are done reading it, you feel informed enough to make it through water cooler talk (they are all Skimming, too, by-the-way) without all of the heavy, Lester Holt reporting. It’s good stuff.

Highbrow was introduced to me by a guy that used to rock a mullet so you know it has to be amazing. It, too, is a daily email but it is filled with course-like information about a topic of your choosing. The information is concise and really entertaining. I’m in the middle of the “Short Stories” course (each course is 10 “episodes” or emails) and have thoroughly enjoyed reading E.A. Poe this time around – my high school English teacher would be so proud. When your course is over, you simply jump back on and pick another topic. Again, easy breezy.

Whatever your methods, the goal this year is to be less dumb. Don’t force yourself to read stuff you hate. If you feel like reading about the latest E! News controversy will add to your dinner table discussion, do it. If 20 minutes every day proves too difficult to start, just read something, anything. Cereal boxes are chalk-full of good info these days. Start there.

Take in more information this year than you did last. Goal #1.

Goal #2: No more Chocolate Cake Wednesdays

You know how every Wednesday, you sit down with a nicely covered chocolate cake and a fork and you just drown your worries in devil’s food. . . Now that I’m writing this down, I’m starting to think that maybe this isn’t as widespread as I’ve been telling myself. Dang it. But this is: EXCESS! Let’s talk about that.

Because it is so effective in the Bible, I like to use metaphors in my teaching. But then I take it a step further and explain the meaning, kind of like I’m talking to a little kid. Adults love that. You should try to be condescending in everything that you say. People will just think you are charming and fun. . .

I digress. The cake represents excess. The “Wednesday” represents regularity, and not the Metamucil kind although if you are literally eating that much cake. . . I digress AGAIN! Dang it.

My point? What was my point? I’m so distracted by cake. Oh yes, eating cake on occasion is great, no harm, no foul. But eating it on a regular basis is no bueno. Sure, it might improve your mood a bit but it’s just not healthy for your mind or your body.

The goal this year then? Pinpoint your “cake” and try to cut back a bit. If you shop too much, gossip too much, eat too much, drink too much, talk about CrossFit too much, whatever you do “too much” of, identify it and trim it back by 25%. That’s all it takes. Not only will you feel better physically, if your excess is some personality trait or talking about something in excess, you might actually find yourself with more friends because you’ll be that much less annoying (Vegans, I’m talking to you.)

Doing anything in excess is never wise which is why I’m limiting the number of marathons I run this year to six. Jokes.

While we are on the subject of exercise:

Goal #3: Netflix

You thought I was going to say “Watch More!” like this is some paid placement from Netflix, America’s leader is replayed television and original programming. You guys, I’m not a total sellout.

I was actually going to say: Let’s all resolve now that we will not binge watch more than two hours of anything without at least doing a lap around the kitchen. This needs no further explanation. I’m just trying to do my part to keep you healthy, you guys.

Goal #4: Be Nicer to People

This goal is a bit tougher than the others, particularly if you plan on visiting a Wal-Mart over the next year. Also, this requires you to overlook obviously idiotic moves by your fellow men and harness your inner Namaste. It’s hard!

So rather than saying “I’ll be nice to everyone, all the time” (a nearly impossible task if you own miniature humans/versions of yourself), we are going to make use of that “r” in “Nicer” and just be better than we were last year. A good place to start? Please and thank you, my friends. They’re called the magic words.

Remember that lady that slammed the door in your face at that little store on Main Street last year? It was probably me and I probably did it because you didn’t say “thank you” when I held it open for you the first time. That’s right, I’m guilty! But here’s the thing: I felt like my childish retort was justified because, in the words of my three-year-old, “You started it.” I admit my mistake publicly under the hope for a brighter future. When someone does something nice for you, say “thank you”. That’s includes even little things like holding doors, getting out of your way or helping you pick up something you dropped, even if it was just a cigarette butt. (I’ll still don’t understand why people keep getting upset when I hand those back with a “don’t litter” smile on my face. . .)

“Please” is another great word that insights kindness and giving. Smiling at people is good, not speeding up when someone is crossing the street and not looking disgusted when people bring their kids to dinner are also other ways to be “nicer” to people. Do what you need to but even starting here will turn your niceness factor way up, yo.

For the first time in a long time, I feel like my New Year’s Resolutions are really just lining up with the kind of person I want to be come 2017. I feel success in the air, my friends, and you should, too. Join me on this journey to change the world one kitchen lap at a time, will you? Together, we can!

Happy New Year.



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Diary of a Chubby Girl

It’s interesting how time can change perspective . . . on most things.  We grow, we change, other people change and our realities become altered by our new “normal”.  Not only do I continue to struggle with the challenges outlined below but after two kids, a couple of job changes and a good solid serving of life, I can now proudly add more eye wrinkles and a lot more gray hair to my list of imperfections.

I’m re-posting the most “brave” blog post of my life today, five years after it was originally posted, and I still feel every word of it.  This is my way of saying “thanks” for continuing with me on this journey, imperfections and all.  Hope you enjoy.

-Still the Chubby Girl


Monday, November 29, 2010

Diary of a Chubby Girl

I’m writing this post with total awareness of its implications – I just want you to know that.  Sometimes posts like this get written in hopes of receiving notes of encouragement or kind words and while your mental notes are appreciated, they are unnecessary here.

This was all sparked by an off-hand comment made to me today at work.  A co-worker and I were discussing an informational video that they had seen online and I asked them to forward it so I could watch.  After several minutes, they re-appeared in my office and said “No offense, but there is part of the video that has to do with obesity and the affects that it has. . .” This, my friends, is where I stopped listening and started internalizing what had just happened.  “No offense. . .”  What did that even mean?  I shouldn’t be offended that they talk about obesity or I should be more self-aware. . . I’m not really sure but in case there was ever any doubt about how I see myself, I’m going to clear it up right now: I am chubby.  Been aware of it for years.  There, the cat’s out of the bag.  Newsflash: The chubby girl knows!!!  I hope we can all relax now and stop filtering our comments about weight and health.

Most of the people that will read this know me well and know that this isn’t a new revelation.  In fact, it’s one that I’ve dealt with my whole life.  What I haven’t done (until this very moment) is have a very real, out-loud look at my self-image.  I’ve tried everything short of therapy to try and understand who I am and why the chips (mmm, chips. . . jokes, jokes) fell the way they did so maybe this will help.  Then again, maybe it won’t but here it goes.  

The battle of the bulge didn’t start last week for me – I didn’t wake up on Wednesday and think to myself “I think I’m a bit overweight!  How did this happen?”  As much as I wish this was a day-to-day battle over whether I liked how I looked or not, it hasn’t been.  In fact, I would dare say that there has probably been no more than a 30 day period in my life where I truly liked the way I looked. . . and man did I look good in those Pampers.  Do you know what it’s like to struggle with body image every day of your life?  Sadly, a lot more women than are willing to admit it fight this battle every morning.  I’ve been one of them. . .but I’m thinking about stopping.

diary of a chubby girlI’m actually a very normal girl with a very normal appetite.  I know that it’s shocking to the general public that people that are overweight actually do like carrots and I know that it shocks the hell out of most people when we ask for a box at the end of a meal because we can’t eat all of our food (thanks for staring at us while we eat, by the way . . . it’s very encouraging) but it does happen.  I like vegetables and fruit.  I also like pasta and French fries, just like your average eater.  I don’t over-indulge on a regular basis.  I don’t slap mayo on my 100% fried food in order to get it down.  In fact, because I struggle with my weight, I pay very close attention to the things that I put in my body . . . and I probably eat better than a lot of people.

I’ve been an athlete all of my life and I’ve never been prejudiced toward sports.  I have more belts and trophies than most people could dream about and they are NOT for serving water on the sidelines while I eat a donut.  I play basketball, softball, soccer and did karate . . . and I am decent at all of them.  I like to dance and lift weights and have run a 5k within the last year.  I will work and sweat and move more in a day than most people do every two.  Contrary to popular belief, overweight people aren’t all lazy.  I get up early, I work long days, and I visit family and contribute to my community.

I am healthy.  I have the cholesterol counts and heart rate to prove it.  My organs function as they should.  I’ve never drunk nor smoked a day in my life.  My mind is sharp and full of ideas.

I say all of this to prove a point.  Despite all of my efforts, all of my awareness, all of my try and work and sacrifice. . . I’m still chubby.  Does it bother me every day?  Sure does.  I’ll be the first to admit that I would adore waking up tomorrow and having the body that I deserve – the one that I’ve worked very hard for all of my life.  That would be ideal.  I keep waking up every day hoping. . .

But, more importantly, do I think I’m more than this?  Absolutely.  As much as I wish things were different and that this wasn’t such a tough battle for me and millions of other people, I’m better than that.  I’m better than taking “offense” to your comments and staring and judgement because this struggle has made me sensitive and understanding and mindful of other people’s struggles.

I know that it may be hard for some people to grasp but when you tell a chubby girl that she’s chubby, you aren’t likely telling her something she doesn’t already know.  So, you can stop staring and whispering and talking about how I could “let myself get like this.”  I’ll tell you how – I did exactly the same thing that you all do every day.  This is just my battle.  All things considered, I think that my ailment, while very visible, is pretty minimal compared to what I could be dealing with, no?

‘Nuff said. . . I need a carrot.

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300 Sandwiches away from an Engagement Ring

A while back, I saw a story on television about a woman who made her boyfriend a sandwich. Ah, today’s news. Good stuff. Next to that was a story about how a guy forgot to put his socks in the laundry basket. The end.

Ok, there was more to the sandwich story but the obvious nature of this into lent itself too well to jokes to not run with it. Anyway. . .

The sandwich was apparently so good (it was a turkey and Swiss on white bread, in case you are curious) that the bf in this case said “Honey, you are 300 sandwiches away from a proposal.” Well if that doesn’t sound like a challenge, I don’t know what does. I know about 53 girls that would quit their day jobs and work at Subway as a sandwich ARTIST if the guarantee at the end of it all was a handsome fella and a 1.2-carat finger weight. Don’t go getting mayo on those prongs, ladies. It’s impossible to clean out.

You’ll all be relieved to know that this rad chick took the challenge and started making sammys for her man. Right around the 280 mark, he lived up to his end of the bargain and put a ring on it. See, my motto is true: sandwiches do bring eternal happiness.

For anyone on this side of the women’s lib movement, you can imagine the outrage that this story sparked for head-shaving, bra-burning ladies everywhere. “How 1950’s can you get? Little woman cooks for her man and that makes him marry her,” responses were posted from YouTube to Twitter, talking about what a misogynist this guy must be to make the little woman cook for him in order to agree to marry her. To this I say in my best Barbara Streisand impression: “Oy vey.”

Let’s be clear about a couple of things: first, I don’t recall even once that that the guy turned to his GF and said “Woman, make me a sandwich.” That’s a very different, pack your bags kind of scenario. Second, he didn’t threaten her at gunpoint to make him dinner. This was a feel-good story on GMA, not Dateline. No cooks were harmed in the making of these sandwiches. Lastly, and I know that this is what most of my readers are concerned about, she did not make 300 grilled cheese sandwiches. She actually went out and researched amazing sandwich recipes and cooked them up with and for her man. Breathe easy, readers. There was no inundation of cheddar and the worst intestinal blockage of this guy’s life. (I think now is a good time to warn you ladies that if your plan is to make grilled cheese for dinner for a year, abort mission! Cheese is good for the soul but not for the tummy, if you catch my drift.)

I actually thought that this story was totally charming for several reasons: first, this guy recognized his woman’s prowess for making delicious sandwiches and told her about it. If only every husband or wife would pay such homage to their spouse’s talents, I think there would be more wedded bliss. I’ve been waiting for just over five years for my hubs to tell me how amazing I am with our Kirby.

Second, this girl heard what made her man happy and decided that she wanted to keep doing this seemingly small act to bring him joy. In the grand scheme of things, sandwiches aren’t a big deal… except when they are. You never know what’s going to melt someone’s butter (mmmm, butter) so it’s important to pay attention. More times than not, what seems like a big deal to someone else may be a fairly insignificant sacrifice for you. Little sacrifices on your part could (and likely do) mean the world to someone else.

I loved this story so much that I’m issuing a Sandwich Challenge to my readers. The upcoming holidays are a good time to implement this because they are all about giving and sacrifice and yadda yadda yadda. . . This isn’t just about finding or taking care of your romantic interest (although I’m certainly all about that). This challenge will be equally effective in any relationship you hope to make stronger… like with your rich uncle. Jokes, jokes. Sort of.

The rules of the challenge are below. And of course, I would adore reports back on how this worked out for you – if you dare.

Carlee’s Sandwich Challenge 2015

First Step: Focus. Focus in on one or two people that you want to improve your relationship with. Again, this doesn’t have to be a romantic interest but absolutely can be. Even if it’s a “kind of stranger” that you feel like you want to know better, this will work; a neighbor, an acquaintance, the good looking nurse at your local clinic . . . ok, that last one may be a little more difficult unless you plan on getting a flaming case of strep throat on a weekly basis and even then . . . flu shots! Flu shots are coming up. Ok, we’ve solved your issue. I especially recommend this for you singles out there trying to snag a date with a particular someone . . . this will be a rad experiment for you.

Second Step: Listen. This is a toughie because we are so self-involved these days but this is the critical part of the challenge and without it, we’ve got nothing. Listen to the people you’ve decided to focus on. Listen for hints or flat our declarations of things they love or would like to do, see, visit or eat. People are dropping these hints ALL THE TIME even though they don’t’ realize it. “I love watching (feel in favorite 80’s movie here”; “I wish I knew how to make cake pops” (me, too. I for sure know how to eat them but. . .); “I love the fall and the leaves and pumpkins”; “I hate doing the dishes”. All of these seemingly insignificant statements can give you a lot of great ideas and insight into what makes your people tick.

Third: Write it down. We don’t want to make any hasty decisions right away as this could be dangerous: someone will make mention that they really like expensive cars and you’ll go out and take out a $70,000 loan and then you’ll hate me and. . . My point is not to go crazy. Be methodical. Take down some easy notes for a few weeks: likes campfires, wants to learn how to knit, needs an hour away from children, etc. This “listing” serves two purposes: first, it helps you keep track of individual “sandwiches” of each of your people – you’d hate to take a plate of peanut butter cookies to someone with a raging peanut allergy, am I right? Experiment over. Second, and this is the sentimental part, it generally means more to someone if you remember the things they said. If I said, “Gee. . . I sure love cupcakes,” and then you showed up with one 20 minutes later, it not only wouldn’t mean as much but it might seem like you are trying too hard. It, however, would blow my mind if you showed up with a cupcake three weeks later and said, “I saw these and REMEMBERED that you like them so I thought I would pick one up.” Mind. Blown.

Important side note: This is the most important warning I can give in the entirety of this blog: It’s critical to not be creepy. If the girl you are hoping to ask out makes mention that she loves her purple underwear (why would you say that? I don’t know. I’m old. I don’t know what you kids are up to these days!), maybe just don’t write that down. Turn on your “creeper” radar before you write just anything down; ask yourself, “Could this get me arrested?”, “Could this possibly make anyone mad?” or at the very least, “Will this cause extended conversation about me that includes concealed weapons permits and restraining orders?” If your answer to any of these things questions is even “maybe” let alone a resounding “yes”, I would recommend keeping it off the list. Also, anything that involves the word “poop”, but that’s just a personal recommendation.

Last Step: Divide and Conquer. Look through the list(s) that you’ve made and discard anything that is going to require a crazy amount of money (that you don’t have) or irrational wishes (that you also have that aren’t fulfilled like a trip to Italy). While these “bucket list” items are important for all of us to have (dream, people, dream), that is not the point of the Sandwich Challenge. The point of our little experiment is to see how much of an impact the seemingly insignificant sacrifices mean to other people and make a difference in their lives.

Once you’ve disregarded all of the impossible or even seemingly difficult tasks, you should have a nice little list of things you can do for that person (or people) without too much effort on your part. Look for things that:

• You can do without purchasing anything over a couple of dollars (or purchasing anything at all).
• You have a resource to help with (she wants to learn how to knit and your mom happens to be an expert).
• Acts of service that won’t take much time to complete (weeding a flower bed, babysitting for an hour, etc.).
• Things that you can to together. This last one is one of my favorite categories because it not only shows that you listened but that you want to spend time with the person completing a task or learning a new skill. Part of the appeal of the sandwich story was that not only did she research and make a lot of sammys for her man but that she got him involved; they researched together, they cooked together, it quickly became their “thing”, and having a “thing” is almost a guaranteed bond – a wonderful one at that.

Once you’ve narrowed down your list, it’s time to do. Make a plan and execute.

The purpose here isn’t to blow someone’s mind by taking them on a hot air balloon ride (unless you know a guy, of course, then just go for it). The point is to do several small things that make a difference – make someone in your life some sandwiches. It’s these seemingly small acts that can make a huge difference to someone else. Try it. And while you’re at it, eat a grilled cheese.

If you are interested in sandwich recipes (literal ones, not the figurative ones I’m talking about above), check out our sandwich vixen’s cookbook here.

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