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Happy Wednesday everyone!  I am back in the swing of things.  Yesterday I had my first chemistry lecture, followed by a lab.  It’s always tedious in the beginning because you have to go through all of the lab safety details and go over where everyone left off in the first semester of the course.  But I got through it because I was excited thinking about my dinner plans!  Heather beat me to posting, but I’ll tell you all again that I finally got to meet up with one of my favorite bloggers last night!

Heather from Running Leaner and Greener is just as genuine and fun as she comes across on her blog.  Definitely check out her blog if you haven’t already!  We talked for over 2 hours and could have gone on talking, I’m sure.  We seem to have similar interests and personalities.  But more than that, we are, in many ways, at very similar points in life (early 30s and newly married… We got married within 5 days of one another!).  I love reading the blogs of so many people, some in college, some recently graduated, some raising children…but it is really nice to connect with someone who is is in a similar place in life and thinking about similar issues.

I’m glad we at least got in pictures of our dinner, because in all of that conversation, we never snapped pictures of each other!  We were at the Whole Foods in Dedham, MA, so I had to take advantage of the salad bar!  In this beauty: baby spinach, grape tomatoes, cucumbers, mushrooms, artichoke hearts, peppers, roasted garlicchick peas, and some corn salad.

On the side, I had some chicken soup.  I’m not a huge chicken person and rarely eat it.  But I do love chicken soup…and on this snowy night, it felt good!

I had a great night, Heather.  Thanks!

I woke up to my best run ever!  15.1 miles!  That is a distance PR for me and it felt great!  Last week I did 13.5, so I only went 1.5 miles farther, but something about the number 15 makes me really excited!  And even better, my legs feel fine.  I rolled on the foam roller, but that was more preventative.

If I were in pain right now, I would be in for a really rough night.  As it is, it will be a rough night.  Tonight is my Microbiology Lab.  It’s a super condensed course…only 8 weeks.  But each Wednesday lab is 5 hours long, from 5pm to 10pm.  Considering that I am in bed every night around 9-9:30, this is going to be rough.  My brain shuts off in the evening, so this is going to be hard.  But I figure, I can suck it up for 8 weeks and get through it.  At least I hope so!

Because this lab goes right through the dinner hour, I’ve packed a bunch of snacks to bring with me.  I know we can’t eat in the lab, so I certainly hope he will give us breaks so we can sneak out and eat. I plan to eat something (and early, early bird dinner!) beforehand and then I’ve packed a Luna bar, some Sharkies, a banana, and some Pirate’s Booty.

The hard-boiled eggs I ate already.  15 miles makes a girl hungry!

I’ve gotten some bills paid and gathered some tax information for the hubby (he actually loves doing taxes!).  I plan to get through an assignment for my dietetics course before lab, so I’d better get started.

What kinds of things do you pack when you know you are going to miss a meal?

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What a day!  I love having only one class to worry about.  That will all change next week, but I choose not to think about that now!  🙂  I got up with Dave this morning and sent him off to work.  Then I headed down to the fitness center and pounded out an unexpected 13.5 miles while flipping through magazines and listening to music.  I finished in 2:01, so the 13.1 miles were sub-2:00 which made my day right from the get-go!  I think most people need to mentally prepare to run long distances.  Me?  I tend to do better when I don’t plan on it.  I’ll just be feeling good and I keep on going!

That alone was a great start to the day.  Then I came home and read all of your comments on my post yesterday.  It makes me feel good to know that I’m not the only one who needs to work on being more mindful about prices in the grocery store.  Some of you had really good tips too!  Thank you!  I love blogging not only for the awesome people I have met, but for all I learn from you all!

My good day continued when I checked the availability of the Microbiology course I want to take this semester…. It is offered in the standard format for the entire semester with a professor who confused the hell out of me in Biology.  And then it is offered as a hybrid (coursework on-line, lab in person) 8 week course with a different professor.  Since the professor I had for Biology was so difficult to follow, I wanted to take the hybrid course.  But unfortunately, the section meeting for the first 8 weeks of the semester was full, so I had to sign up for the 2nd 8 week session.  I have been checking multiple times a day to see if an opening comes up in 1st 8 weed session, but no luck.  I checked this morning before my run and it was still full.  But after my run, someone must have dropped it because there was an opening!  This means that the next 8 weeks will be tough with semester #2 of Chemistry, as well as a very concentrated Microbiology.  But it also means that by March I will be down to 2 classes and perhaps I can find a part-time job to take me through the summer.

What could be better than a kick-ass run, and a perfectly arranged spring semester….another gluten-free success.  I’ve told you that one of the things I have missed most is bread.  Doughiness!  I miss the texture of it.  Last week I had success with a banana/pumpkin recipe my mom gave to me.  So today I decided to try another recipe she gave me.

The original recipe was for Blueberry Sour Cream Coffeecake.  But I wanted something a bit more healthy for a daily indulgence.  So I omitted some sugar, from the already healthy recipe, I omitted the crumb topping (which I will save fo rwhen I want something extra sinful!), and I poured the recipe into muffin tins instead of a cake pan.

I give you, Blueberry Sour Cream Muffins:

1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
3/4 cups sugar
3 egg whites
1 cup fat free sour cream
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups gf all purpose flour
1/2 tsp. xanthan gum
1 tsp. baking soda
2 cups blueberries (may be thawed frozen)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Cream applesauce and sugar together.
Beat in egg whites,  one at a time.
Mix in sour cream and vanilla.
Mix flour and baking soda together.
Mix flour mixture into wet ingredients.
Stir in blueberries.
Pour into muffin tins
Bake about 25-30
Serve warm or cooled.  Makes approx. 15 muffins.


These were amazing!  The recipe made about 15 muffins.  I say “about” because I only had one pan of regular muffins, so I made 12 of those and then 6 mini muffins.

Out of curiousity I used Gina’s recommendation of CalorieCount.com, as well as SparkRecipes.com, to see if the nutrition information came out as I had calculated in my head.   It was pretty close on both websites: about 125 calories, 2 grams of fiber, and 2 grams of protein.  And as you can tell from the ingredient list, these are really low in fat too.

I really liked the pumpkin muffins I made last week.  But these are even better!  The original recipe called for regular flour, so these can be made with regular or gluten-free flour.  I already ate 3!  A girl needs to refuel after all that running, you know!

One the menu tonight is fish with a gluten-free crumb topping.  Hopefully I’ll have another recipe to add tomorrow!

Have a good night everyone.  Dave has several business dinners coming up and I am going to be out one night a week for my class, so we have only a couple of evenings together this week.  I am going to turn off the computer for the night, make a nice dinner for us, and cozy up with all my boys!  🙂

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Back Home

We’re back home tonight.  Christmas is over, but it is nice to be home.  And it’s nice to have Jack and Rudy back.  Dave heads back to work tomorrow, and I begin working on some blog changes, some gluten-free shopping, and some school preparations.

I’ve already made one blog change.  My new domain is: http://www.mylessonstolearn.com.  I know nothing about formatting or playing with html codes, so this should be a looooong process.  But I can get started on blogging some gluten-free adventures in the kitchen!  I poured over a couple of my new gluten-free cook books and made up a shopping list.  I need to pick up some different flours so I can start experimenting.  The thing I miss most is bread…..sandwiches, pizza dough, you name it!  So I want to try to make some bread.  The only tricky thing is that instead of using one flour, gluten-free baking requires mixing several flours to achieve the right texture, as well as the addition of guar gum and/or xanthan gum to make it all stick together.  I will be shopping, mixing flours, and hopefully baking some bread tomorrow.

Without any bread tonight, I made one of my polenta based pizzas for dinner.  I started making these because I was desperate for a pizza dough replacement.  But it turns out, I love the polenta pizza!  The crust turns out slightly crispy, but chewy.  And it looks pretty too!

Also on the agenda is getting myself organized for the start of school.  I only have one class that begins this week (one will begin at the end of the month, and one will meet for 8 jam-packed weeks starting in March).  Before I can think about that, I need to organize my mess from last semester!  We took off for our first Christmas in Seattle the day after I finished my last final, so everything was left in a big heap!

I am excited to begin this first class.  It is an on-line course in the dietetics program at Eastern Michigan University called Careers in Dietetics.  I am excited to learn more about the profession and what kinds of options I will have.  Right now, I am thinking of having my own practice because I see the beginning of this career coinciding with having children.  Having my own practice would allow me to see as many clients as I am able to see, depending on what my family demands are at the time.  That being said, I am excited to see what other opportunities are out there!  I just downloaded the syllabus, and one of our assignments is to interview a dietitian…. Any dietitians out there who want to be interviewed?????  This should be an interesting course that will demand a good deal of time, but it should not be the mental mind drain of chemistry and microbiology.

I am off to settle in with all my boys. It was a wonderful week and a half of family and fun.  But it’s also nice to be home and to fall back into our familiar routine.  Good night all!

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I’m pretty tired of all this studying, but I’m still kickin’, and…. I am nearing the end!  In 48 hours I will be all done with my last final!!

It’s been a while so I’ll back track…  I took part on of my chemistry final on Wednesday.  I think I did okay.  I hope I did okay!  Then I came home and dove into part 2, the take-home portion.  I think I did well on that.  There was only one question that really had me scratching my head, and I think I figured it out in the end.

I studied all day on Thursday for stats.  That is the definition of torture!  I took a running break in the middle, and in an effort to postpone my return to stats for as long as possible, I cranked out 13.1 miles (the .1 was just so that I could say I did a half marathon distance!)  That’s the longest I’ve run since the race last month, so that was a confidence booster when I returned to my problem sets.

Rudy helped me study…

I took the stats test yesterday and I think I did well.  There was one question I really didn’t know how to answer, but all the rest, I knew how to do.  I just hope I didn’t make silly calculator mistakes!  As soon as I left my stats final, I came home to work on the biology final.  I had been plugging away at it all week, but I still had the long essay to write.  After dinner yesterday, I finally finished.  My brother, the biology major, was a huge help.  He explained a lot to me that I didn’t understand about RNA and the process of protein synthesis.  Thanks Chris!!

Today I sent in my biology final….12 pages in total!  And then it was a return to chemistry.  Part 3 is on Monday, and then I’m done!  I have 24 more hours to become an expert on Lewis structures and electron configurations (among other things.)

In all of this, I haven’t starved.  I’ll give you a quick rundown…

Spaghetti squash and broccoli slaw “pasta” with artichokes, marinara sauce, and chick peas!

An omelet stuffed with Laughing Cow, steamed broccoli slaw, and tomato, with a baked acorn squash on the side.

Dave enjoying his “North Dakota burritto,” and Jack looking for scraps!

Friday night “polenta pizza” with mozzerella and artichokes.  Mmmm!

Tonight’s protein pancakes with hot apple slices and raisins on top.

Dave took Jack and Rudy to my parents’ house today so they will be taken care of while we are away next week.  I miss them already!  But it’s going to be a whirlwind until we leave.  Between Dave’s birthday tomorrow, my exam on Monday, and packing and cleaning on Tuesday, Wednesday is going to be here before I know it!

I am giving Dave the best birthday present a person can get…I am giving him one more day before crossing over to that next year.  Even though his birthday is tomorrow, we will celebrate on Monday once my head is out of my books.  He’s a good sport!  With a big nor ‘easter coming in any minute now, it looks like we wouldn’t be going out to celebrate tomorrow anyway!  We are battening down the hatches and holing up for the next 24 hours or so.  I’m sorry the Blogger Meet-up had to be canceled because of the storm, but was sad I was going to have to miss it.  I’m excited to meet so many familiar faces in January!

I am calling it a night.  I DVR’ed Elf the other night, so I think that is on the docket.  My brain hurts and needs some mindless fun!

To all of the Boston bloggers and readers, stay warm and stay safe!

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Just Checking in!

I don’t want you all to forget me so I am checking in with a pretty blah post.  I wish I had more time to be interesting, but lately it’s been all school, all the time!

I have never really thought of myself a being really good at any one thing…. But back when I was in school (the first time!), I was a good student.  I was really good at being a student.  It was one of the reasons I chose to go right to grad school after college….I didn’t know what else to do, and I knew I would do well in school….so I stayed in school for another 3 years and 2 masters degrees.  Just as an aside, this is the wrong reason to go to grad school!  It turned out alright in the end, but because I didn’t really have enough life experience at the time to really know what I wanted to do, I didn’t end up doing what I really wanted to.  Now, having figured out what I really want to do, I am back in school and back to being a student.

Because I was always good at being a student I think people look at me as a bit of an over-achiever.  A bit of a perfectionist.  In the last week I have gotten myself really worked up as finals approach.  I have done well all semester, and I am still terrified of not doing well.  But I insist to people that I am not just an over-achiever or a perfectionist.  Sure, I am sometimes.  But the reason I am so nervous this time around is that I have taken such a leap of faith in making this career change.  We lost my salary so that I can take these prerequisites….all in the hopes that my grades will be good enough to get me into the dietetics program I want.  I need to do well because if I don’t get into this very competative program at the end of all this, these 4 semesters of prerequisites will be all for nothing!  I am trying not to think about that, but I still feel a lot of pressure.  A lot more than I ever did the first time around.

Fortunately, this time around, I not only have most supportive mom in the world, I also have an equally supportive husband.  Between my mom and Dave, I have been put back together and I am going into the next 7 intense days feeling calmer than I have in the last week.  I just have to keep breathing and not look too far into the future. I have finished all of my pre-finals work and I have completed my Medical Terminolgy final, so I am in good shape.

Still to go:

  • Wednesday: Chemistry Final Part 1 Wed.
  • Friday: Stats
  • Saturday: Biology Final is due
  • Monday: Chemistry Final Part 3 and the take home portion (part 2) is due

Sandwiched in between biology and chem part 3 is a blogger meetup on Saturday and Dave’s birthday on Sunday!  Oy! Looks like I am going to have to miss another blogger gathering.  Even Dave’s birthday is being postponed a day until my last final is over.  (He has no problem putting off 33 for one more day!)

I have managed to get in some good exercise and eat breaks in all of this craziness.  Yesterday was a great 10.3 mile run, and today, I did some easy ellipticating.  I would lose it completely if I didn’t have exercise as an outlet for stress.

Dinner last night was one of my favorites!  Spaghetti squash with chickpeas, marinara sauce and artichoke hearts.  Such a great combinations.  Speghetti squash is so pretty!

All pretty!

And all mixed together!

Dave now accepts that he loves butternut squash.  But spaghetti squah….not so much.  So he made his own dinner.  Granted, he just made a Trader Joe’s bagged meal.  But he made it all by himself while I studied and he didn’t ask a single question!  He even made his own soda in the Soda Stream!

I know I have been a sporadic and not-so-exciting blogger lately.  But I plan to spend some time in between semesters trying to become a little more creative.  And definitely playing more in the kitchen!

And to get you coming back this week…. Dave will be writing his very first guest post in the next couple of days.  I have no idea what he wants to write about, but he’s a great writer, with one book already under his belt.  Stay tuned…..

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Still Here!

I’m still here!  I don’t think I’ve taken 2 days off from blogging in a row since I started.  But this has been one intense week.  In fact, right this minute, I am supposed to be enjoying a lovely night out with Melissa, Melissa, and Julie.  But I knew yesterday that there was no way I would be in a place with my school work that I could take an entire evening off.  I was right.   I didn’t finish my test tonight until a half hour later than I would have had to have been out the door.  Bummer!  I feel so lucky to have been able to meet such lovely ladies so close to home, and I feel a little flakey for having to bail out.  Fortunately, when January comes, I will have a lot more time to play! Who wants to play with me????

I am making the best of my night in.  Poor Dave has been a real trooper this week, putting up with a very stressed out Shannon (who has ocassionally collapsed in a puddle of tears over the last several days!).  So its not an entirely bad thing that I am home tonight to give him a little bit of attention.

I made a yummy dinner to celebrate the completion of my last test before finals (tomorrow begins finals preparation!).  I made one of my very favorite things….flax-dipped eggplant parmesan.  It’s so easy, but so good.  I just slice the eggplant, dip it in egg, and then dip it in a mixture of ground flax seed, italian seasoning, and parmesan cheese.  Delish!

I served some gluten-free shirataki noodles on the side.  All topped with Classico’s Tomato Basil marinara sauce.  This is my favorite bottled sauce.  It’s not too sweet, which I find in most other bottled sauces.

I had some leftover eggplant slices after running out of flaxseed, so I dipped the eggplant in the egg and stuck it in the oven. I came out looking like little french toasts!  I’ll let you know how it worked out when I try them.

As yummy as my eggplant dish is, Dave opted for a frozen pizza.  I choose my battles.  He’s really good about trying new, healthy things.  So when he wants a very not-healthy frozen pizza, its okay.  Since he has me, he is guaranteed to be healthy most of the time.  (He doesn’t bat an eyelash when I eat my weight in chocolate, so who am I to judge!)

It’s 7:30, and with the exception of a workout break and a vacuuming break, I have been doing biology and stats since 7am.  I think I am going to call it a night and go spend some quality time with my boys.  Jack is already comfy!

I don’t know how Jack can breath when he does a face plant like this!  But it is his preferred cat-napping position!

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It was cold and raw today, but I guess I was invigorated by the snowy start.  I was going to do a quick run on the treadmill, but I felt so good, I kept on going.  It seems that the more busy I get with school, the more I need the mental and physical release of running.  I ran 12 miles today.  I can’t believe I can run double digits 3 times in one week and not feel the least bit sore.  (That being said, I will cool it for the next couple of days.)

I was feeling great and much more relaxed after such a good run.  And then, just before leaving for class, I got the sweetest e-card from my sweetie….just to tell me that he’s thinking of me through all of the stress of finals.  Did I get a good one or what?!  That made my day!  I must look like a mess lately.   I even got out of bed the other night to write something down for my stats report so that I wouldn’t forget it in the morning!  I’ve been having trouble sleeping, and poor Dave hasn’t seen me in makeup and real, non-sweats clothing, in quite some time.  By the time he gets home from work, I have been home from class for a couple hours and have changed out of my school clothes for my “study uniform.”  I took a picture of myself today to show my very thoughtful hubby that the woman he married, the one who wears makeup and real world clothes, still exists!

What could top such a super run and such a loving gesture….I finished my last chem lab of the semester today!  (I am just not going to think about the 3 more semesters of chem labs that I have to go…)  I came home and wrote up the lab report and did my chem homework for the week.  All that’s standing between me and the end of this class is the 3-part (!!!) final exam.

I ended my very sweet day with a very sweet dinner.  I baked some butternut squash with some apple, cinnamon and sugar.

I mixed some pumpkin with vanilla greek yogurt to dip my squash and apple in.  So, so good!

It was so good, I didn’t miss the gluten-filled stuffed shells I made for Dave.  I stuffed the shells with ricotta and spinach.  That’s my trick….stuff the veggies inside so he can’t pick them out!  (Then put crescent rolls on the side so he gets something he loves, with the veggies that he does not!).

Time for some couch time with my very thoughtful fella!

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