I survived!

Two days before my comprehensive masters exam in public health nutrition:

For reasons best understood by her, our student services manager scheduled mandatory department picture day. It was a use of time we really would’ve preferred for other things (LIKE STUDYING). We fantasized about smiling like Ted Cruz for the picture.

(I’m telling you, we are obsessed with Ted Cruz’s weirdness. Please don’t take this as an endorsement of anything Ted Cruz says or believes though, okay?)

(Also, Jaclyn on the right is from Texas as well and I think she just really channels him)

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Later on Thursday, two days before comps, the teacher I’ve been working with to arrange my advanced nutrition internship, in her infinite wisdom and tact, announced that the plan we’d been working on for months for the internship had fallen through and we had to start all over again. HURRAY. Imma think about that later.

I felt not particularly great, due to mental exhaustion and that crappy news. My roommate had also had a frustrating day. So we wrapped ourselves up in fleece blankets and binge watched The OC.

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One day before my comprehensive exam in public health nutrition:

I had my last meeting with our study group. It is DISGUSTING that we are called upon to memorize things like this.

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Then I met up with Steph to study a bit more at her place (but first she made me a grilled cheese❤❤ <3)

Thank God for Max, her roommate’s cat who’s just the greatest little guy in the whole world. Carefully monitoring neighborhood security.

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LOOKIT HIS LITTLE FACE! LOOKIT HIS BIG EARS!

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We studied for awhile and then my brain was so so tired but I also didn’t want to sit alone in my house. So I stayed at Steph’s and we watched Atonement❤ After a bit her boyf (well fiance actually) Eric came home and the girls were watching Atonement and the boy was flying around his drone in the backyard annoying their pet chickens. It was adorable.

On the day of my comprehensive masters exam in public health nutrition:

My neighbor’s dog woke me up barking hysterically at 7am. Lovely. I lied around in bed being angry but not getting back to sleep. Then I gave up and got up and sang When Doves Cry in the shower. I stopped at my fave coffee shop and got a veggie breakfast burrito and a cappuccino. Then who should step up to the counter but my advisor and epi professor, who gave me a hug and told me she’d be sending intelligence vibes my way (WHICH IS GOOD CAUSE HER SECTION OF THE EXAM WAS THE HARDEST BY FAR).

I then meandered over to Steph’s again, bringing along a hot chocolate for her, and we embarked from there to walk to our test (SO SMART, getting fresh air and exercise prior to sitting in a sterile room with banks of computers; but also serious FOMO looking at all the people sitting outside eating brunch and enjoying the beautiful spring day).

I took the exam. Boring story.

Then it was celebration time! I got home and was exhausted and befuddled. Fortunately, I ran into my cute six year old neighbor and sat outside with him for awhile, admiring his nerf gun and discussing our favorite kinds of dogs. He always wants to come in my house and jump on my furniture, so I let him come in for a bit and he made me listen to Daft Punk (haha what a weird kid right?!)

Then my girl Camille came by. We put together the best kind of dinner, things dipped in things (triscuits, bell peppers, green apples, bread; dipped in hummus and baked brie). Alli, the best roommate in the land, gifted us with a bottle of the finest Barefoot champagne and we toasted and toasted.

We next took a delicious evening walk to Weaver Street Market where we ended up meeting with some friends intentionally and more friends unintentionally (it was a glorious evening to be outside). There was ice cream and snackage and merriment. There was a cute black lab named Alice sitting by us begging to be petted so that was a highlight as well. Here I am sandwiched between two of my best compatriots, Helena (demolishing some strawberry rhubarb pie) and Camille.

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The evening continued and then somehow I ended up hanging out with that dude again… I know, I know. I decided that in the individual circumstances of yesterday (a still-racing brain that hadn’t comprehended yet that its vigilance could at last turn down) hanging out on a weird guy’s couch watching horror movies and drinking red wine was what I wanted to do. And it really was quite fun.

As for today (the day after my comprehensive master’s exam in public health nutrition) I have a massage booked for four pm😀 Life is good!

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It is actually difficult for me to remember my life before I was studying for comps. What did I do with my time? I was probably bored and lonely. Now I am  busy and exhausted, but also fundamentally bored because studying nutritional biochem around the clock and memorizing tiny details about enzymes and hormones and things is not exactly a thrill.

Because photos of me hunched in front of my computer are decidedly non-entertaining, I’ll share some pictures of my best study buddies.

Steph’s roommate’s cat Sam:

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SO CUTE!

Also, Helena is a freaking GEM and made EVERYONE in our class a comps care package. Other people got cute cartoon pictures of themselves on their cards. I got a picture of a ginger cat:) She knows me well!

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Some of the tasty contents:

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She also included a little factoid in everyone’s care package:

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And THE CUTEST CLEMENTINE I HAVE EVER BEHELD!

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(She also included a lovely voodoo doll, which is a private joke but made me very amused)

I had Helena over for a study date and (woefully trying to measure up to her generosity) fed her dinner: my homemade French onion soup topped with cheesy bread, and some of Trader Joe’s finest salad: greens, bleu cheese, craisins, candied pecans and raspberry dressing.

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More school stuff: despite the fact that nothing from our stupid food science class will be covered on comps we still had to complete a rather large assignment for it in the midst of all our comps studying. My group adapted a taco recipe for people with chronic kidney disease. Actually, I guess creating this recipe did lead to us reviewing CKD for comps, which was a worthwhile pursuit. Our technique was all about limiting protein, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, and calcium.

Anyway, my group created this taco recipe in which we swapped ground beef for chicken thighs (lower in phosphorus and also just a healthier choice), bulked up the filling with flavorful but low-phosphorus and low sodium mushrooms, made homemade taco seasoning with way less sodium, etc.

Carolina got out her fancy camera to take a classy picture of our taco makeover:

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Here’s my crappy iPhone version hahaha. The rest of the group ate these for dinner. I, still Lent-ing it, had sauteed vegetables over shredded lettuce. It wasn’t bad, hahaha.

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So just assume that most of my life is studying but here are some amusing pictures of non studying aspects of my life.

I’ve been keeping an eye on the patriarchy. It is alive and well. Dudes on the bus just do not think about how they take up other people’s space the way women do. (This bro’s backpack kept smashing me in the face).

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I’ve been trying to get my nature on. I met my friends and their kiddo at Honeysuckle Tea House, my first time back there since they reopened for the spring. I love it so much.

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The beautiful black lab was fulfilling his greeting duties, as usual. All he wants is for you to throw him the tennis ball. The hyper children running around in a mob were happy to comply with his wishes.

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Such a cool place.

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There was also one blessed day where it had rained earlier in the day and the sun came out and that meant temporarily LOW POLLEN AND I COULD ACTUALLY TAKE A WALK! I needed it to clear my head after a lottttt of studying.

I saw this sweet sign. Oh, Carrboro.

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I’ve also been maintaining my habit of taking a walk in between food science lecture and lab to tone down my irritability and get some fresh air (pollen-y air, but I suck it up and deal with the snottiness that ensues).

The arboretum is still flippin’ gorgeous.

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I’ve also been playing dress up preparing for the gazillion weddings I’m attending this summer. (Well, three. Would be four but I cannot fly to Mexico in the first week of my clinical internship to see my cousin tie the knot, alas).

Normally sane people go a little cuckoo when they get married. I adore Myra and Alex but it’s a little out of character for them to uh, send every single one of their wedding guests (not just people in the wedding party. All of the guests!) a color scheme in which they must dress. Naturally, I owned no clothes in those colors (I am a Mediterranean olive-skinned lady, I don’t have anything peach…) so I went to Target and consulted my boo Andrea (who was blessedly in town) whether this dress was wedding appropriate. She said it was and I could dress it up. We’ll see. Anyway, it’s part of the color scheme, oy.

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Meanwhile my bestie Lydia is tying the knot and is way at the other end of the spectrum and even though I’m the maid of honor she is just like “Wear whatever you want! Maybe something that’s like a garden party!”

So I went through my closet and went, uh, here’s my most garden party-esque dress…

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And she said well hm actually that might clash with the flowers which are purple and blush.

SO TBD FOR THAT WEDDING.

Meanwhile, I am somewhat hilariously waitlisted for my friend Steph’s wedding, whose venue limits the number of people she can invite. She said if one more person backs out I’ll get to go hahahahahahahahaha. I’m choosing to find this funny rather than insulting- weddings are tough, money is weird, parents are weird.

If I do go, perhaps I’ll wear this, which I got from a clothing swap and feel hot in! (I took like fourteen pictures to get this one, which is not very high quality hahahaha. I have no hidden talents for taking selfies).

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Another clothing swap purchase which I’m SOOOOOO tempted to wear to something even though I can barely walk in them and look like a stripper:

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Finally, this past weekend (which marked T minus 7 days til comps!) I decided I needed a break and took myself for an adventure at Goathouse Cat Refuge.

I was too busy hugging the cats to take pictures of any of them but I did get this shot of the goat who enthusiastically ignored me as I begged him for his friendship.

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Then I was close to Pittsboro, so I went to Phoenix bakery to get my cousin donuts for her birthday the following day. I also got this monster of a pecan bun for myself <3<3<3 I ate it in two installments, it was enormous!

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Then I got a killer period headache and was out of commission for the rest of the day Saturday! Sometimes our bodies are what make the decision that we’re done studying for awhile.

Finally, one of the weirdest, funnest things I have been involved in:

My mother sent me the link to this absolute GEM of Ted Cruz’s bad lip reading. Being someone who likes to bring joy to the lives of others, I have shared it with many people. My friend Claire and I have started to run away with it, communicating now almost exclusively in quotes from Ted Cruz bad lip reading.

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And it’s transformed into something where we just enthusiastically follow all ridiculous Ted Cruz related news (Ted Cruz seems to invite these things, what with the dildo ban and being ignored by his fellow Republicans at that fundraising dinner and the ex college roommate who hates him and stuff).

This story, a relatively benign one about his bizarre love for Campbell’s soup, lead to the exchange of these priceless photos.

I sent her this:

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To which she MAJORLY raised the stakes and responded with this:

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You gotta get the laughter where you can, man. Thanks, Ted Cruz.

semi-recent goings on

Cooking:

I made homemade French onion soup for the first time. I had homemade broth, I had onions to caramelize…

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I threw in some mushrooms too…

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I didn’t have the traditional baguette and gruyere but I had whole wheat English muffins and various cheese bits in my fridge.

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Delish!

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Other random meals: snack plate of carrots ‘n hummus, homemade tortilla chips and mashed avocado, Greek yogurt for protein.

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Scrambled eggies with tomato and cheese.

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Toasties topped with hummus and Trader Joe’s killer feta spread, kale chips.

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Nachos! “Nachos”. Bean chips (so good! and more protein and fiber), lunch meat, cheese. More avocado.

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Weaver Street market, when I feel my veggies are lacking. Beans, Caribbean collards (which have yuca in them and are boss), polenta, beets, creamed spinach. Ate this in two meals, as I recall.

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Outdoor living:

For awhile there I was taking LOTS of evening walks.

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And making LOTS of new cat friends.

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Then this happened: the annual North Carolina OH MY GOD THERE’S POLLEN EVERYWHERE situation. Super gross when you think about the fact that it’s essentially tree sperm. Also, I am violently allergic to it.

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There’s an app for that. And it’s bleak.

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Time with friends:

I went to the school cafeteria at UNC (!) for the first time with my friend Leesie to catch up. This is not a good picture but I had to share it because THIS WAS MY SIGNATURE SALAD! In college, I ate this for lunch alllllll the time. It is quite tasty:

  • spinach
  • feta
  • kidney beans
  • broccoli
  • red onion
  • cherry tomatoes
  • oil and vinegar

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And because UNC’s caf is FANCY, I also got a bit of sushi with my salad!

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And had a bowl of lucky charms for dessert:) ah, college life.

Then things started going in a super lame direction with the dude I’d been kind of sort of seeing? And wow my friends are really excellent and did a good job of distracting me.

Alli (the greatest roommate who has ever lived) gave me flowers, chocolates, and an AMAZING Easter Bunny Pug card.

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Colton, my fellow TA and work wife, invited me over and fed me a superfoods lunch of baked salmon and homemade sweet potato oven fries.

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After we ate he was basically like, “Please don’t tell anyone I am secretly this nice or secretly eat this healthily. It will ruin my reputation”. Hahahaha.

Jaclyn invited me over to watch The West Wing and play with her adorable dog. This was when Jaclyn was trying to lure Lemon onto the couch with a toy. Every time she succeeded, I’d frantically attempt to hug Lemon and Lemon would run away. LOVE ME LEMON.

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She is SO SO CUTE!

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And let the record state, later in the evening I got her to spoon with me on the floor. Oh, animals. The best.

When Helena heard about my boy woes, she said, “Can I take you on a date?” And I was like “OH MY GOD YES.” It ended up being (American) Easter Sunday (mine isn’t til May 1st). We went to the beautiful Rue Cler. I began with some delicious coffee.

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And admired their decor, which was a mix of Frawnch classiness and cool Durham repurposed tobacco warehouse vibe.

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We both got the special of the day, a crepe filled with tomatoes and caramelized onions and mushrooms and cheese topped with two poached eggs. She opted for the fries, I for the salad. The salad was actually sublime- that perfect rich yet tangy French-style vinaigrette.

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Then another night- and this was less about boy drama by this point and more about school drama and not having gotten to see each other in weeks and having tried to plan a get together for months that didn’t work out until this particular evening- Melissa and I went to Starlight Mead. We tried the new mead they were debuting and also had some snacks- since it was on April Fool’s Day, this was the “sushi”. Adorbs!

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Then we got dinner at Carolina Ale House and man oh man you’d never guess these were nutrition students. Shrimp and grits and spinach and artichoke cheesy dip❤

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more food science

More adventures (“adventures”) from Food Science lab. Let the record state that this makes entertaining blog fodder, but (particularly because the material covered therein will not be included on my comps exam), the class itself is a SLOG.

Bread Week

Bread Week was the best, mainly because we had a guest speaker- the bread artiste from the Carrboro Farmer’s market!

Look at this sexiness:

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He said the best bread really looks nearly burnt on the outside- that’s the kind of heat you want to get an awesome crisp crust and awesomely chewy interior.

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Such a Carrboro pinup boy. Tshirt, beard, dad bod. Rhapsodizing about microbreweries and small local grain growing cooperatives and wild yeasts and taking cultures on vacation. The presence of an additional male increased the proportion of dudes in our class by 100% and our professor was in SUCH a tizzy.

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Obvi the best part was that he brought samples. Those Mason jars to the left are examples of wheat berries and various grinds of flour one can purchase at a mill. I kind of thought flour was just whole wheat (all the bran) and white (none of the bran) but in fact you can buy all kinds of flours with various proportions of the bran removed.

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The garlic sourdough was particularly heavenly. I ate a LOT of bread on this day and was very very happy.

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Bread Man also brought us pizza dough! He used one of his sourdough starters to make the dough and also opted to use garlic-infused olive oil (he’d used it to cook the garlic for the aforementioned delicious garlic sourdough).

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My group made a white pizza topped with kale. It’s funny, you convince yourself that these artisanal pizzas don’t have that much cheese because it’s not forming these long threads off of them like Domino’s, but let the record state that this below is 6 ounces, no small amount:

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We prebaked the crust, then put on the cheese, some red pepper flakes, and some thinly sliced garlic (<3) and prebaked a little more. The last step was putting on some kale that had been massaged with olive oil…

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Then baking til it was crispy and gorgey.

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Meanwhile, I went around spying on other groups.

They were infusing oil with garlic and hot red peppers…

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Caramelizing onions…

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And putting out platefuls of deliciousness.

This was a super delicious margherita, with just fresh mozzarella and tomato sauce and basil.

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Cheese pizza

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White pizza

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I thought this one was gorgeous! You got a big wham of umami from the parmesan. It was a little too salty for me, though.

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A ‘Greek’ pizza with feta, spinach, and tomatoes.

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Another shot of ours cause it was so freaking gorgeous:) All plated.

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We only got wee little pieces of each pizza but it certainly added up because there were many types!

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There was one leftover crust to do with what we will. Well, I say that- I had grabbed it and some of the other groups’ leftover ingredients and then got screamed at for awhile by the professor who, as usual when she realized she was screaming at someone who was not actually doing anything wrong, did not bother to apologize. She was extra nice while having the guest speaker and then once he left she had to make up for lost time, *eyeroll*

Anyway, I kind of threw up my hands after getting screamed at and put others in charge of this pile-on-what-you-want creation, and they did a marvelous job. Lots of sauce, cheese, veggies, and- key!- banana peppers. Cheesy and spicy. It would’ve made excellent drunk food.

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Lots of slices.

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Sugar and beverages week:

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This week started with a tasting of natural and artificial sweeteners, in which we literally ate spoonfuls of molasses, agave nectar, and honey; and various sugars and artificial sweeteners dissolved in water (which was DISGUSTING, particularly the sweet ‘n low).

We have the oddest curriculum, and I know some of it is catering to the archaic RD exam but this week in particular was like, how is this giving us information to help future patients? While we could have been learning how to adapt recipes to be gluten free for people with Celiac disease, or how to cut sodium/potassium/phosphorus for people with chronic kidney disease, or making lower-fat but still tasty options for people who’ve had a heart attack we were… making lemonade.

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And chocolate ice cream soda.

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Which looked like this, and tasted weird.

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And egg creams (the use of soy instead of regular milk the concession to specialty diets, I guess?)

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Which looked like this (yes, nearly identical in both appearance and taste)

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And then another group made hot chocolate (yet again, identical, right?! So weird!)

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And- again, this is a NUTRITION class- the last group made penuche, aka fudge. Melted butter, cream and sugar. Yep.

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We ate it on Christmas napkins for some reason, hahahaha.

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Next we had a smoothie competition. Here are some of my adorable competitors:

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For reasons best understood by her, our professor had purchased a total of two bananas for making smoothies… for five groups. Obviously every group wanted a banana because they are the foundation for most smoothies, right?!

So we added this much of a banana, oy:

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Other ingredients: shredded coconut, cinnamon,  cocoa powder, coconut milk, ground cloves. We also ended up thickening it with a big of yogurt and sweetening it with a bit of honey. We also drained out the coconut flakes (though actually I kinda liked them). For some reason we had no blenders, so my group used an immersion blender.

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Other groups did fruit/veggie combos…

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And used food processors.

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The final layout:

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A chocolatey one (that suffered from an almond extract explosion), an extremely berry-y one, a berry-y and yogurty one, and a kale and banana-y one.

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It kind of looked like ranch dip, but it tasted good!

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My group (coconut deliciousness) and the kale group tied for first place. It was pretty fun.

Pie and pastry week:

Again, are we in a nutrition class?! I was nervous about making pie crust in the presence of our ever-hovering, mercurial professor but I ended up in a group that used premade phyllo dough.

Still, the groups that did wrangle with cold butter and flour did an AWESOME job making their crusts!

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There was lots of culinary fanciness happening, like these stylishly sliced apples:

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Rolling pin action:

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Fancy biscuit cutters:

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As for my group, during the lecture our professor asked if any of us knew someone who had made homemade phyllo dough and I mentioned that my great aunt had and she went OH YOUR GROUP WILL MAKE THE SPANIKOPITA! Which was fortunately fine with me:)

Everyone goes on and on about the Mediterranean diet but I will confess that any phyllo-containing recipe worth its salt will contain a lot of butter.

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We got our mise en place for the filling:

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And cooked up a buttload of frozen spinach, draining off as much water as possible.

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Cooked up a bunch of onions in olive oil (the smell of which immediately transports me to my mother’s kitchen)

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And then started the layering. We were given the option between doing the phyllo triangles and doing the layered casserole, and all decided we preferred the layers. So I taught everyone my mother’s baklava method.

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We were fortified in our efforts during this time with the first round of biscuits out of the oven. I had mine with molasses.

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So flaky!

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And then, when one group finished their pie early, they decided that they too wanted to try their hand at biscuits. While the first group had used a shortening-butter combined recipe, the second group went all butter.

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Finished! My group had seemed kind of uncertain about how thick I was making the layers of phyllo but once the recipe was done I wished I’d made them a little thicker! (Though we would’ve run out of butter, hahaha). Anyway, it was beautiful and delicious.

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Fancy shmancy apple tart:

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Blueberry lemon pie, which was good but we didn’t have enough class time to let it cool all the way so it was a little runny. The lemon was interesting- you tasted it the first bite but after that its flavor kind of disappeared.

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This rustic apple tart was THE most delicious. Oh my goodness the crust was great and the filling wasn’t too sweet.

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And our spanikopita- I let my group member who went to culinary school be in charge of the cutting, which is the trickiest part!

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My plate (with ice cream!)

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We all tend to leave food science lab feeling a big hyperglycemic. I want to say I worked out after this?

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the best little lunch break

Thank God we got out of food science early one week. I took the opportunity to take an epic lunch break.

The first epic thing that happened was that I ran into a friend I hadn’t gotten to see in way too long!

I hadn’t seen Laura since before my ex and I broke up (since they were part of the trivia group he got custody of her and her husband, *sigh*) but imagine my surprise when I was bopping around campus and saw her and her kiddos! It was so lovely to see her and catch up a bit, and I walked her and her friend and a mob of children to see the UNC football stadium.

Then I continued strolling through campus, wading my way through mobs of tour groups. My destination was the arboretum.

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I used to work around the corner from this arboretum when I was at the planetarium (such a great job)! Now I don’t get to see it as much as I’d like to (and quite honestly I am deeply, deeply allergic to it) but man I really enjoy the little moments I steal there.

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Spring is exploding, obvi.

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But my journey was not yet complete.

Since my academic stress load is inversely related with the nutrient density of my meals (aka when I’m stressed I eat crap, despite the ironic fact that the origin of my stress is a nutrition program), I try to make healthy choices when I eat out. AKA stuff in as much vegetables as I can.

I am aided by the brilliance of Tru Deli and Wine, whose menu was seemingly designed to save me (me, personally, based on my dietary preferences) money.

You pick a base (bread or salad) and then while meat toppings are $$$, veggie toppings are STUPID cheap, at 25 cents per veggie regardless of which type of veggie and regardless of whether you get light, medium, or heavy. SO I GET HEAVY AVOCADO EVERY TIME FOR 25 CENTS GUYS. Seriously, everything else on the menu must be a loss leader for avocado.

This combo (I got the same exact thing a few days later):

  • Spinach
  • Tomatoes
  • Cucumbers (hidden)
  • banana peppers
  • sprouts
  • avocado
  • pepper jack cheese
  • roasted red pepper dressing

 

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FOR UNDER FIVE DOLLARS YAAAAS.

Here are some other things I’ve been thinking thoughts about:

  • I’m totally exhausted by studying for comps [comps= my master’s in public health comprehensive exam on April 23rd. Covering biochemistry, medical nutrition therapy, epidemiology and public health. Can we just use that shorthand lingo from now on, friends? Thanks]. So, so tired. While simultaneously feeling like I’m going to flunk. I’ve also been hemorrhaging money because my best studying tends to happen at coffee shops.
    I have a comps study group, and we’ve been meeting each Friday at 8am. It’s a good thing, deep down. We’ve structured it so each of us takes a topic for the week and then teaches it to the others (and I’ve generally tried to sign up for topics in which I feel weaker so I have to learn the REALLY REALLY WELL to teach them properly). So that reduces some of the burden because you can listen to other people teach you things. However, it means having four young women (some synced up on the same menstrual cycle at this point) all contained in this little stress box together. It gets kind of intense. I guess no one has cried yet, though, so that’s good (it’s been known to happen. I’m looking at you, biochem).
  • While this sounds deeply contradictory with what is written above re: academic overload, reading for pleasure has become really important for me. Some of my favorite reads this year so far:
    • Cleopatra, A Life. Still in the throes of it, actually (it’s long!) but wow it’s this simultaneous historical education and feminist awesomeness. Meticulously researched about this deeply fascinating life. Such amazing detail about everything from the epic library in ancient Alexandria to various inter-family marriages (ew) and murders in the Ptolemy dynasty to the kind of antique event planning that goes into taking a river cruise with Julius Caesar. Those Pulitzer Prize guys knew what they were doing when they gave it to this one, hahaha.
    • The Boys in the Boat. I don’t have much to add to all the raving about it everywhere, except to agree with them, and recommend it.
    • The Leftovers. Tom Perrota is one of my favorites, and this was good (though The Abstinence Teacher is still my fave). It looks at a Rapture-like event but it’s an intellectually stimulating novel, not weird Left Behind religious propaganda. How nuts would people go if a bunch of other people actually disappeared for no reason?!
    • Atonement. Though I’ve sobbed through the movie at least five times and read virtually everything else by Ian McEwan, I hadn’t gotten around to Atonement. I was reading it at the same time I was working on a piece for the writing club I started and the feeling I imagine is akin to starting on a high school football team and watching the Super Bowl.
  • I’m going to the doctor’s on Monday and assume I’ll be getting new  blood work. I’ve gone through many phases of grief about my high HbA1c on the last test. I hopefully have been eating better? I hopefully have been exercising more? It’s hopefully enough to get my blood glucose back on track? Oy.
  • My roomie is a smitten kitten. I’m stoked for her but a small, petty part of myself was like “I BROKE UP WITH MY BOYFRIEND LAST JANUARY AND YOU DIDN’T BREAK UP WITH YOURS TIL LAST MAY SO IT SHOULD BE MY TURN FIRST”. Sigh. Mostly it’s fine, and she deserves to be with someone amazing, but lying alone in your room surrounded by textbooks while listening to your roommate giggle and murmur with someone the next room over is a little painful.
  • I’m going to get sushi with my sister now. Needing to spend time talking to someone who’s not in my program (well of course now she is! But hasn’t started yet :D)

Have a nice weekend!

spring break

I am in the trenches of this comprehensive exam studying and life is not terribly fun. Because my brain frequently finds itself tired, I’m trying to alternate studying (I got in a great 2.5 hours on Saturday night in a deserted coffee shop- the rest of my town was watching the Final Four- GO HEELS!) with… not studying. If my brain says, “Ugh, Ileana, please not now”, and inertia is stronger than anxiety over failing, that’s when I turn to an alternate activity.

In this case, that alternate activity is recapping my spring break, a mere three weeks or so ago that seems like a different lifetime.

Ironically, my first picture is of studying. It’s pleasant when it can be done in my favorite Korean bakery in my hometown. I got a sweet potato latte (yasss) and sat in the hipster upstairs lounge. There were several Korean businessmen having a meeting in this rather unconventional location.

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And the rest of my (all too brief) time at home was hanging out with my mom and my cat. Sheila tolerates being photographed more, so that’s what you’re getting.

In her corner of the couch:

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On my lap as I do a crossword in my mom’s real paper NEWSPAPER (oh the luxury!)

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Even when she is not with me, she is with me. Ah, shedding season.

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I knew I’d have to get back to NC midway through spring break to get my life together- work for a laughably small amount of money, clean my disaster apartment, catch up on school, etc.

In order to preserve my mental health, I planned several occasions with friends so I wouldn’t immediately become cripplingly depressed in the absence of the unconditional love I’d been soaking up at home.

My classmate Jenna and I have been bonding throughout the semester in our food science class because we are basically culinary soul mates. We decided to prepare a Mediterranean seafood fest together! It was smashing.

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She brought AMAZING scallops, I made shrimp (I took a pic of a recipe from one of my mom’s cookbooks for a Spanish-style preparation that essentially consisted of a ton of garlic, olive oil, and parsley. Legit.)

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Also in the meal was a lovely salad Jenna made (with tomatoes, bell peppers and SO MANY PINE NUTS YUMMM), a simple fennel and green apple salad that I made with lemon and olive oil, and some sweet little red potatoes I made with olive oil and lemon and LOTS of parsley. Quite the delicious meal.

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I also hung out with my cousin one day, taking a lovely walk in the springtimey sunshine with her and her adorable dog.

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And, if you haven’t figured out already that this post is mostly animals, I went to the cat refuge for the first time in WAY too long.

The cats were in good spirits because it was a beautiful spring day. When cats are friends it makes me SO HAPPY.

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I just wandered around petting cats. It was bliss.

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This one was like, “Chop chop, keep the petting coming.”

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Torties are so adorable.

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I had plans with friends that evening (my birthday gift to them was a free babysitting gig so they could have a night out) and I thought it would be nice to bring some lovely baked goods! (And give myself an excuse to go to my favorite bakery!)

I got a big ol box of goodies, and then sat in the sunshine and read the Indy. Downtown Pittsboro is so adorable- like going back in time!

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I got the coffee from a super hipster coffee shop around the corner from the bakery. I loved their decor.

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Then, box of baked goods in hand, I was off to my friends’. Before they went out, they fed me dinner! Dan made this SO SO SO GOOD homemade ramen (I believe the recipe was from Food and Wine? Seeing this picture is reminding me that I need to get the recipe from him!)

Doesn’t this bowl look like a cute muppet with googley eyes?!

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It ended up being quite the feast; also including egg rolls and a TOPPINGS BAR.

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Also, bragging: my friend’s little two year old, T, is a bit of a picky eater (shocking, I know, for a two year old). However, when she saw me eating noodles, she wanted some herself and ate them with gusto. Her parents turned to me and went, “… She hasn’t eaten noodles in months. Can you just be here at mealtimes to get her to eat stuff?”

T and I spent the evening reading books, and it was SO FUN reading Richard Scarry’s Busy Busy Town- who remembers that?!

The next day, I took a CPR class (actually, a basic life support CPR test- a level above the standard one). It was in Raleigh, which meant I of course had to pop in and see my sister and her boyf and the animals.

Here is Malindi, looking like Mother Nature with her animal friends.

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After catching up a bit with Malindi and her boy and the kitty and the doglet, Malindi and took off to get brunch at Joule, which was hoppin’. We sat at the bar. I got some of their coffee, which was noms.

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I’ve been trying to eat more salads lately, since my vegetable intake is highly unimpressive in periods of academic stress, and a salad is a nice big veggie delivery system.

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This one was HUGE (two meals’ worth) and very delicious. Bitter endive, bleu cheese, caramelized onion vinaigrette, a TON of avocado, and best of all, pistachios.

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Malindi got the pancake which turned out to be a legit cake. Sweet and tall and dense and buttery. With scads of whipped cream. We swapped bitesies.

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Then I wanted a hot chocolate after my salad (#balance) and went to the fancy chocolate shop which in part was this weird psychological battle of me being like “Who cares if it’s near your ex’s place?! You are a strong independent woman!” and part of me being like nauseanauseanauseawhyamIinthisneighborhood.

Anyway, I like their historic hot chocolates.

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But the best part of the day was taking my sister’s furbaby for a walk by the lake in his sweet little catpack.

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And thus concluded Spring Break.

MY SISTER WINS

The baby sis and I went out to celebrate last Friday night…

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CAUSE HOMEGIRL GOT INTO UNC! I don’t think I had mentioned this on le blog, but my sister applied- and was successfully accepted!- to my VERY SAME nutrition and public health program at UNC! Hollllaaaaaaaaaa!

We sat on a lovely patio for a celebratory dinner. Glasshalffull has one of the prettiest outdoor spaces in Chapel Hill/Carrboro, IMO.

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I invited my classmates along, and my friend and (adorably!) her younger brother (who happened to be visiting for the weekend) opted in. Sibling Love Dinner Celebration!

I let Malindi, the guest of honor, choose what she and I ordered. We both got a glass of bubbly to kick off the evening.

Then we split some fried fishies (foreground)…

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… and some cauliflower fritters. Noms!

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And then since the booze and the fried food weren’t quite enough of an indulgence to celebrate someone’s acceptance to a nutrition program, we each got our own dessert.

Malindi got a gorgey cherry crisp, which nice and tart, with lovely ice cream atop. It was gluten free… as was my dessert actually; it seems that they try to make that the default option which is nice for the Celiac-ers of the world.

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I got the key lime tart (crumbly crust hidden beneath the lime curd). That big dollop on top was super dense whipped cream.

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If I had one complaint to make about the desserts at Glasshalffull, it’s that they’re a little huger than they need to be. Yes, seriously, I just complained that a dessert was too large.

Anyway, then we took a nice cat break, because every celebratory occasion should have a cat.

Now, Malindi has her own little guy.

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Notice how Luke (or Mearl, as Malindi calls him much of the time, since when he meows it sounds like meeeeerrrrrl and is such a cute sound it literally brings me to tears sometimes) is surrounded by slippers and foam. Where did the foam come from, you ask? Guess.

But even though Malindi had a kitteh waiting for her in Raleigh, I brought her to come meet Lucy, the somewhat moody deeply chunky cat I was minding.

Lucy tends to be unimpressed.

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Despite Lucy’s mercurial temperament, Malindi sat around petting her looking like an ANGEL.

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Then Lucy went a little nuts and hissy. “Crazy Eyes misses you”, I texted her human.

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