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Chickpea Chocolate Cake

2014 May 23
by Laura

CHICKPEAS?” Someone exclaimed with a mouth full of chocolatey goodness.

“Yes! Chickpeas!” I replied, with an equal amount of moist cake in my mouth.

“No way.”

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Ohhh, yes way, my friends. And only 5 ingredients!

  • 1.5 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 19-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed (this is about a can and a third, unless you can find the correctly sized can)
  • 4 eggs
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • confectioners sugar for sprinkling on top

Preheat the oven to 350. To begin, mix the chickpeas and eggs in the bowl of a food processor and blend until smooth. Add in sugar and baking powder, blend again until smooth.

In a microwave-safe bowl, melt the chocolate chips by microwaving them in 20-second intervals, stirring in between each one. Stop when there are still some melty chips left, when you stir it all together those will melt. (Chocolate scorches very easily, so don’t be overzealous with this step!)

Pour the melted chocolate into the food processor bowl. Mix together until combined. Pour into a greased 9-inch cake pan. Bake for 40-45 minutes, until a knife comes out clean. Let the cake rest in the pan on a wire rack for about 20 minutes, and then turn over onto the serving plate.

Dust the top with confectioners sugar, serve and enjoy.

Small announcement

2014 May 22
by Laura

Someone and I are moving in together in 38 days!

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The welcome mat above was my anniversary present from Someone. We found a 1 bedroom/sunroom/balcony apartment about 1 block from where I currently live, and we are beyond excited for the next step in our relationship and our lives.

I can’t wait to live with my best friend! Any advice from you other cohabitators out there about moving in??

Nope, not dead!

2014 May 22
by Laura

Just working night shift. Woof.

Night shift is WEIRD. My body is so confused, all the time.

Baseline: Tired. I drink coffee at very bizarre times, I eat strange foods at very strange times. I never know what day it is.

Night shift is also AWESOME. Really cool people work the night shift (and work ONLY night shift). My favorite experiences in nursing so far have been on nights. It’s pretty chill. Busy as hell, no matter what time of night, but still—more relaxed.

If only I could work night shifts AND have a life!! Alas, not possible. Sleeping the day before to prepare, sleeping during the day three days of the week, and then sleeping the day after = no time for anything else. The sample day looks like:

Work 7 p.m. to 7:30 a.m.
Drive home: get into the apartment around 8ish.
Eat whatever sounds most appealing to me at that time: a bagel? Some pasta? A banana? Make tonight’s “lunch” — sandwich, apple, pretzels, yogurt, popcorn. Make coffee to put in the fridge so it’s icy when I wake up.
8:30ish: Close curtains (and tape them to the sides of the wall), turn on sound machine, get out earplugs and eye mask, turn on fan.
8:35 Get into bed, read a bit, check e-mail, try to unwind and fall asleep.
9ish-1: First round of sleep. Wake up confused around 1, try to fall back to sleep.
2-4: second round of sleep.
4-4:15: Lay in bed, check e-mail again, Facebook, try to wake up and pretend I feel OK.
4:30-5:15: Shower, get ready, put on scrubs.
5:15-5:45: Eat leftovers for dinner that I made ahead, if I feel like it, or eat “breakfast.”
5:50: Check Waze, see what route will have the least amount of traffic.
6:00: Leave for work.

As you can see — not too much free time in there. Working days has the illusion of more time to yourself — I’m not sure if it’s because when you leave you get to say “See you tomorrow!” and not “See you tonight!”, or if the darkness helps with the idea that more time has passed than about 10 hours. But no TV time, no exercise time, no Someone time, no time to cook.

Overall, can’t complain. They’re not half as bad as I had imagined. And I’ve seen some preeetttyyyyy crazyyyyyy stuff.

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One year

2014 May 1
by Laura

One year ago today, a lonely, jaded, kinda pathetic single girl walked across the street to the divey Mexican place in the strip-mall her date had selected. Little did she know that the night would be one she would remember forever.

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Someone met me outside the restaurant, smiling broadly. He gave me a warm hug that felt not-at-all awkward, even though most “this is a blind date and we met on the Internet and you’re a stranger but a handshake would be weird” hugs on dates such as those are awful. He smelled good. He was tall. Mama likey.

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What followed was a few margaritas and a lot of conversation. Someone told me that no one had ever asked him questions the likes of which I had in my back pocket (and if you know me at all, you know that giving people the accidental third-degree is kinda my M.O.). We were flirty. We laughed and smiled. I looked at him across the table and thought, “Hmm, could be.”

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I remember us talking about Bill Clinton and college; I remember us going to the bathroom at the same time because we thought it was silly to leave the other person alone because of a social standard. I remember talking about the weirdest foods we have ever eaten and the craziest places we’d ever been. I remember delighting in the fact that he knew and used big words correctly, and we both edited the menu of the restaurant out loud. We stayed out way past our bedtime, and when the night was over I didn’t want to leave. He walked me home (the whole 200 feet) and kissed me. It was perfect.

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That night I remember tossing myself onto my bed like Cher in Clueless and texting a friend that he was “cute and funny, and maybe a little too smart for his own good.” I smiled with glee when I got his text, 5 minutes later, telling me he had a great time. He wrote: “I want to take you out Saturday night, to a weird Russian place.”

And the rest is kind of history.

Happy Anniversary to my one love, my Someone, my rock and my best friend. I have had the best year of my life with you and cannot wait to have many more!

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Waze

2014 April 28
by Laura

Best app ever (and it’s FREE): Waze. It’s a social-media based traffic and GPS app. It might not sound like much, but trust me.┬áIf you’re not using Waze to get around, you’re losing at life. Seriously — it is that awesome.

I first heard of wonder-app because a few of my coworkers use it religiously to get to work. I got Someone hooked because you can send another Wazer an ETA of your arrival and they can actually track your GPS progress on the map. I am committed for life because it has saved me from some horrendous traffic jams and found me a route to work that gets me there in 19 minutes flat, instead of the 26-30 minute route I was taking before.

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Things that are great about Waze:

1) You can report traffic light cameras, speed traps, and police activity for other drivers. “Be careful—speed trap ahead,” says the Waze lady.

2) You can report road closures, vehicles on the shoulder, accidents, traffic, etc. Other drivers get alerted by the pleasant lady who says “Watch out: Heavy traffic reported ahead.”

3) Waze will find you the fastest route at the time of day you’re leaving, based on the traffic reports from its other users. It also really knows the HOV restrictions well, so you will always be directed to avoid those routes.

4) Want another route? Click “Routes” and Waze will tell you 3 other ways to get there.

5) Want to save on gas? Waze has community-reported gas prices so you’ll always know the cheapest place to fill up your tank.

Go get Waze. It’s still free (remarkably?) and even if it weren’t, it would be worth a membership fee. Save yourself time, headaches, and frustration! Report incidents, traffic, and hazards to help other drivers, and they’ll help you back.

 

Disclaimer: I am not paid by Waze.

Weight loss

2014 April 22
by Laura

I’ve lost 15 pounds since January 1st.

Nursing school wasn’t kind to my body, and neither was I. I never made time for working out or exercising and the stress of it all made me eat and eat and eat. Additionally, the lifestyle of a student is pretty sedentary: sit in class, sit in lecture, sit and study. Sit sit sit. No wonder my butt got so big! It needed extra padding for all that sitting!

At my heaviest point at the start of the new year, I knew I needed to make a change. It started with using MyFitnessPal, and has continued with the more active nursing job (walking 5 miles per shift!), additional crazy amounts of stress, and making the time in my schedule to Zumba and Body Pump it up.

The last time I stepped on the scale, I was 15 pounds lighter than I was before, and I feel AWESOME. Clothes fit me again, I no longer hate wearing everything in my closet, and I feel like a spry little thing. I am stronger and healthier. It’s easier to lift patients and run around at work. I sleep better when I’m exhausted physically and mentally, and although I am still controlling portion sizes and the quality of the food I am eating, I can have a piece of chocolate cake without feeling terrible about myself later.

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(Nursing school graduation, above, at my heaviest. EEK.)

But now here I am!

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Looking and feeling MUCH better.

I don’t think I will ever be the kind of person who doesn’t have to watch what I eat and how often I work out. It will always be work. But it’s comforting to know that I can do it, even at an age where losing weight is significantly harder than it once was.

Birthdays, Easter

2014 April 22
by Laura

Rounding out the two holidays I had yet to share with Someone in the calendar year since we met (hint: the big one-year anniversary is rapidly approaching!) were his birthday and Easter.

Up to Annapolis we went to spend time with Someone’s family and bask in the sunshine and spring-ness of the weekend. We walked around the adorable little shops (Someone was appeased since we went into many a bookstore and nary a jewelry store), sat on the dock for a bit, and grabbed cocktails in a garden before eating dinner at a “small plates lounge” and heading back to his parents’ for cake.

Although it was the first Easter I spent not with my own parents, it was exciting and different to start new traditions as a couple. I made us a ham on Easter evening, and we sang good old Methodist hymns together in a pew at church. I facetimed with the PA fam (poor substitute), and went to bed full and happy.

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Hope your Easter was lovely and simple, too!

My job

2014 April 22
by Laura

Emergency nursing in a nutshell:

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Oatmeal Blender Pancakes

2014 April 22
by Laura

Some mornings, I wake up ravenously hungry at the crack of dawn; others, I have to force-feed something to hold me over until I can run into the break room for 45 seconds around 9 a.m. and scarf down a hard-boiled egg or baked oatmeal to go.

Eating on 12+ hour shifts is difficult. The worst is the 11:00 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. shift: every meal is ruined. You eat breakfast when you wake up at 8ish, then try to eat again around 10:45 right before going onto the floor. Inevitably, I am starving at 2 p.m. and don’t get a break for dinner until 7 p.m. It just doesn’t work for this girl who loves her food so much!

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One thing making it easier is this recipe for banana oatmeal blender pancakes from Mountain Mama. My roommate found the recipe online the other day and made up a batch — we then discovered how easily this recipe stores in the fridge, too. Heating up 2-3 of these babies saves me precious time in the morning and is a guilt-free and delicious start to the day. It’s naturally gluten- and dairy-free, too!

The best part might actually be the blender: pouring directly from the pitcher into the pan is such a genius idea that it makes you wonder why all pancakes aren’t done this way, too!

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Head on over to Mountain Mama Cooks to grab the recipe, and enjoy!

Big Buns

2014 April 13
by Laura

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Big Buns in Ballston is such a well-kept secret that I’m afraid it might someday secretly go out of business and then I would be so, so sad. Therefore, I am posting to remind DC folk that it’s over there in Arlington and to publicly thank a little private establishment for being awesome, gluten-free friendly, and delicious.

From the french fries (which are done in a separate fryer and are therefore GF) to the gluten-free buns (which are absolutely delicious and not store-bought but bakery-made) to the gluten-free beer (Omission) to wash it down, I was so happy we went back to Big Buns last week. My previous go-to burger place had been Red Robin (which still gets kudos for being an American chain that is GF friendly), but after returning to Big Buns and discovering the wealth of options for me, I won’t go back to Red Robin for a while. Plus, Big Buns has the chipotle aioli which is pretty darn life changing.

Thanks to Big Buns for proving that GF food can be tasty, affordable, and accessible.