plain tofu

Between a rock…

and a hard place the golden arches.  That’s where I was stuck this past weekend. 

It started Friday morning, before setting off on our road trip to Palo Alto.  Kyle and I offered to pick up breakfast for our driving companion, but he didn’t get the text in time.  As a result, we were happily fed and Starbuck’s-ed before the drive began, while our friend was in need of breakfast.  He requested that we hit up the McDonald’s drive-thru before getting on the freeway.  Hm.  This is where my inner battle began. 

Do I voice my anti-fast-food opinion and refuse to go to the golden arches?  Or do I shut my mouth and let him make his decision without my own personal beliefs ruining his breakfast? 

Let’s set aside the fact that complying with his request would mean a six+ hour car ride with nausea inducing smells (I literally get queasy when I smell fast food).

Ok.  Here’s the thing.  McDonald’s represents everything my blog is against.  And although I consider myself open minded and accepting of others’ choices, I also feel I have somewhat of a responsibility in terms of educating others about nutrition.  I’m a cardiac nurse after all.  If this person were my friend, I would have no issue speaking my mind (saying hell no to 7 am Egg McMuffins).  But, he is Kyle’s classmate, so I don’t feel like I am close enough with him to be quite as opinionated.  It’s a fine line.  I certainly don’t want to be that obnoxious person talking sh!t about others’ food choices, but at the same time, if this is something I’m passionate about (which I am!), then isn’t it my job to speak out about the truth?  I guess ultimately it’s all about how one goes about doing this.  Tact is an art form.  And being informative without being condescending is also a skill.  I’d like to think I’m pretty good at this. 

In the end, though, Kyle saved the day and spoke up before I had a chance to make up my mind.   We ended up going to a bagel place.

While on the road, we got to talking about food and health care and the role of nutrition in disease prevention.  It was amazing to me how we were all on the same page about these issues (he’d even seen Super Size Me and read Fast Food Nation), and yet, for him McDonald’s was still a food option.  I sound judgmental, I know.  But I’m passionate about this subject.  It’s hard to see people with hypertension, heart disease and diabetes in the hospital day after day and not want to share the facts about the causes.  So sue me.  Others may think this is judgmental (and not my place), but I’m just being honest.  If I’m afraid to raise my voice, then who is going to do it? 

Anyway, for those wondering, our driving buddy was very receptive to what I had to say, and although I held back considerably, I still made sure he knew the reason I was anti-McD’s.  If nothing else, maybe he will think twice next time he opts for the drive-thru window.  Or maybe not.  It’s his choice either way, and now I can rest easy knowing it’s an informed decision, having shared my knowledge on the matter with him in a kind and respectful way. 

What are your thoughts?  One the one hand, it takes balls to speak out to friends and family about such personal lifestyle choices, like diet (since it can be seen as obnoxious).  But on the other hand, it’s each person’s right to make his/her own decision about what to eat.

I guess for me, it ultimately comes down to knowledge.  As long as people have the information and understand what it means, they can do whatever they want with it, and that’s their prerogative. 

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On that note, here’s my latest obsession. 

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Thanks to Follow Your Heart’s delicious vegan salad dressings, I’ve been a veggie queen as of late. 

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Who knew Caesar dressing could be both vegan and yummy?  And organic, too!

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When I was in high school I went through a major Caesar salad phase.  It was all I ordered.  Ever.  I had forgotten how much I loved it until Follow Your Heart offered me products to try.  As I browsed the website, I was instantly drawn to their vegan Caesar dressing and my fond memories of romaine crunch came flooding back. 

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So I tried to create an equally as tasty (vegan) version.

Vegan Caesar Brutus salad

  • lettuce (romaine is optimal, but I used spinach)
  • carrots
  • bell peppers
  • sprouts
  • extra firm tofu, cubed
  • Follow Your Heart vegan Caesar dressing
  • nutritional yeast

*if you’re a big nerd you’ll get the title reference

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After combining all the salad ingredients, I added the dressing, gave it a good toss, and then added a bit more dressing and sprinkled nooch on top.

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Et tu Brute?

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This salad, while not much like the real Caesar, is much better.  Probably not stab-your-friend-in-the-back better, but really good nonetheless. 

Tofu is a good substitute for chicken; while the sprouts are the perfect ingredient to soak up all the dressing, much like croutons would.  In addition to this delish dressing, sprouts are officially my new bestie.  They make everything better.  I need to get my sprout on (perpetual to-do list item)…

Still out of whack

Right after I posted the other night I realized my optimism about returning to a 100% healthy state was premature.  Details aren’t necessary, but I was up til 3 am – in and out of the bathroom (pretty sure you can fill in the blanks).

Fortunately, a big shipment of Vita Coco arrived earlier that day…

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100% pure coconut water.  Hydrate naturally. 

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Exactly what I needed to do.

I am not in love with them…and I think Kailey described the flavor best when she said it’s like the leftover juice from those snack-pack fruit cups, but I still downed it like a champ because my bod needed the electrolytes in a mayj way. 

I’m not gonna sugar coat it, it was a rough night.  I cried a bit (as if that would help) because I was (am) frustrated by the lack of cooperation of my GI tract.  Lately my stomach has been so much more sensitive and I can’t figure out why.  I’ve been trying to ignore it for a while, but I think I need to get back to my more strict vegan ways because that’s usually when I feel best.  I don’t know…

Thanks to hulu and facebook, my late night wasn’t too boring, but my sleep schedule is completely out of whack!

I got up at 9 am and felt drunk or something.  Then I fell back asleep and woke up to my phone ringing at noon.  Crap.  Another day wasted. 

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I had plain tofu straight out of the tub for lunch.  This is kinda one of my dirty little secrets.  I looooooove plain ‘fu.  I could easily eat an entire block it all by itself.  But not with my current stomach sitch.  I had a few servings and called it quits. 

Rather than spend another day in front of the tv, today I was a bit more productive in my sickly state.  No, I still didn’t leave the apartment.  But I did accomplish quite a bit from the comforts of my couch.

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Later on I made sweet potato/hummus snack, which was not only perfect for Sarah’s sweet potato challenge, but also was very easy on the tum.  This SP was different from the ones I usually buy (it was almost white on the inside), but it was still sweet and yummy.

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I steamed it in the micro, cut it into 3rds, halved each portion, and smeared hummus onto the open faced parts.  Deee-lightful.

I used both roasted red pepper AND spinach artichoke because I couldn’t pick just one. 

For dinner, we were supposed to go to HanGawi – a vegetarian shrine in midtown, specializing in Korean vegetarian food.  I’ve been wanting to go here FOREVER, so I was pretty excited.  Too bad I felt like a$$ and we just couldn’t make it.  I was truly devastated, which only further angered me, and thus my stomach.  I swear, stress just aggravates any symptoms I already have and exacerbates them eight-fold.  I hate my GI tract.  Get it together man. 

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So, instead of fine dining, I went with a safer (read: more GI friendly) consolation prize of a meal…which may as well be a second entry to the aforementioned sweet potato challenge

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This meal was made possible thanks to Valerie’s brilliant contest that I was lucky enough to win.  I love love love Amy’s products, so it was a big win in my book.  In addition to the soups, I scored coupons, a cute bag, and a magnet. 

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I tried the Tuscan Bean and Rice over my second sweet potato of the day (not even close to a record for me, but still worth noting).  So yum. 

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I had the second half of the soup in a bowl, mixed with left-over steamed BN squash.  That Amy knows her stuff.  This company is freakin’ money.  My stomach was both full and happy, thus, I was happy.

Kyle got home and we snuggled up to Slumdog Millionaire. 

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I made a bomb berry smoothie with the following ingreds:

  • POM pomegranate juice
  • Vita Coco coconut water
  • frozen mixed berries
  • xanthan gum
  • ice

Holler!  Although I was far from warm, the coolness of this drank was really refreshing. 

Still, I ended up having tea right after to warm myself back up.  I so silly.  Fingers crossed that tomorrow I will be able to return to the land of milk & honey soymilk & stevia solid foods.

White UN-cheese sauce

I’m gonna gloss over my AM eats because they weren’t too interesting.

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If I were on Top Chef I’d call it a de-constructed smoothie, but I’m not, so for blog purposes it’s simply frozen nanner slices in a Blueberry Chobz.  Told you I like bananas Jess!

Lunch was a fantastic plate of yum.  On a bed of fancy shmancy lettuce and broccoli slaw, I added my WF baked tofu leftovers, baby carrots, and a few blobs of tofummus.

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I was feelin’ the ‘fu BIG TIME.  Mmmm…

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Perfectly protein packed.  I’m already on my second batch of TOFUMMUS.  Love.

Lunch dessert: medjool dates filled with raw macadamia nuts.

I was nervous about trying macadamia nuts (I’m still working on getting over my nut phobia, so this was the next step in my self-imposed program).  I haven’t had them since my dinner at Pure (the “cheese” sauce in the lasagna is macadamia based).  But given my obsession with dates, I figured this was the safest way to introduce them (I’m like a 5 year old). 

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They weren’t my favorite nuts, but I didn’t gag.  So I guess that could be considered a success?

I went to the gym later in the afternoon and happily danced my way through 8 miles (good playlists and several gym-less days tend to have that effect on me), followed by an ab workout and stretching.

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I rehydrated with juicy honeydew, and then went grocery shopping for my very exciting dinner.

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Thanks to amazing reader/email pal/commenter extraordinaire Courtney, I’ve had a recipe for white UN-CHEESE on stand-by for quite a while.  Literally, I have been wanting to make this recipe since she first sent it my way, so now that I finally have a functional kitchen appliance the magic bullet, it was definitely a high priority. 

This was my first experiment with nutritional yeast, and I gotta say, it was VERY cheesy :)  Consider this the first (of many) fan letters I will write:

Dear Nooch,

Thank you for providing a dairy-free alternative to cheese that I can add in bulk to my meals and not endure GI suffering for hours days following my feast.  I promise I will introduce you to every carb and vegetable in the apartment.

Fondly, Elise

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     Dish #1 Cheesy broccoli noodles            Dish #2  Cheesy carrot noodles

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     Dish #3  Cheesy carrot                             Dish #4 Cheesy quinoa

I’ll let Courtney reveal the recipe (if she chooses) in the comments section.  But keep in mind I increased the amount of tofu because I left out the agar flakes.  This made it a more sauce-like consistency, which was perfect for me.

After watching several hours of tennis, I was ready for something sweet.  Inspired by my Texas love, I had a bowl of frozen cherries for dessert.

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First day of PT tomorrow!

raindrops on roses & whiskers on kittens

Now that’s it’s “summer” we have been sleeping with the bedroom windows open, but the thunder and lightning were so INSANE last night, I had to channel my inner Von Trapp and sing “My Favorite Things” to calm myself down…it was scary!

It woke me up it was so loud.  And just so you know, normally I sleep like a rock, so this was no joke.

Clearly I had a rough night’s sleep – enter coffee 🙂

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These are a few of my favorite things…

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Peach chobz (not as good as blueberry) and a bowl of melon.

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I had a mid-morning snack of peanut butter + banana, just to tide me over until lunch.

Once I was full and fueled, I began my Hawaii preparations (planning meals for Kyle while I’m gone, downloading new music and yoga sessions on my iTunes, etc.) – sure it may be a bit premature (I leave on Sunday), but I know I have lots in the coming week, so the type A in me wanted to get things rolling.

That really worked up my appetite!  Lunch time!

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I made a sammich with Za’atar tofu (baked with Sabrina’s spice mix last week) on one side, and roasted red pepper hummus on the other.  I already need another tub!

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Fan-freakin-tastic.  Random question: Do you guys cut your sandwiches in half before eating them?  Or do you bite right in?  If you cut them in half, which half do you eat first?  I always cut mine diagonally, and eat the smaller half first.  That way I don’t get sad when I finish the first half because I still have the bigger part left :)  Haha, I’m a freak, I know.

Anyways, I feel like soy products have been getting a bad rap lately, so I just wanna say – errrthang in moderation kiddos!!  Tofu isn’t the devil, especially if you prepare it yourself.

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On the side I had apple slices with a mini-tub of Tribe hummus…I may have dipped the sammie in the hummus, too (TWO kinds of hummus on ONE sandwich – now that’s my kind of meal)!

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You know what this means…fresh lemonade!!

Lunch dessert = dried fruit platter with raw cow hide mango, pineapple, and papaya spears.

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The skies parted, so I sprinted to the gym…my workout was good, not great.  It felt good to get my blood pumping, but the whole time I was wishing I was outside :(  On the plus side, I had the new Black Eyed Peas cd AND Jillian’s podcast (thanks Sarah!!) to distract me. 

I did some very necessary shopping on my way home…

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I was hardly in the door when I ripped into these babies!  I had a obscenely embarrassing amount (TEN).  Cinnamon may even be better than the original!  The HUGE sugar crystals on top were the best part.  SoSoSoGood!

Even after half the box, I wasn’t full, so I crunched into this bright red loverrr.

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And sipped on pounded a Cosmic Cranberry Kombucha (try saying THAT 5 times fast).

In case you were worried, I replenished my Sabra stash today. 

I have GOT to get a hold on myself..I bought 4 different flavors (3 of which were Sabra).  Can’t wait to see Kyle’s reaction when he opens the fridge…

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For dinner I dove right into the classic Sabra (FIRST with a fork, and then with an english muffin).

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Since yesterday’s “nachos” were such a success…I went with round two of the veggie slices “cheesy” chips – which I then decided could ALSO be dipped in hummus.  I mean c’mon, why not?! 

Who didn’t see this coming…haha.

Once my carb cravings were properly met (and surpassed), I decided to get some other food groups in (wait, hummus isn’t it’s own food group?) and made a plate filled with yum.

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Mark your calendars kids, because this will go down in history as one of THE SINGLE best dinners of my life.

Lookie lookie: Chickpeas, edamame, brown rice, tofu chunks, shredded carrots, broccoli slaw, red bell pepps, and dried cranberries all a bed of spinach.

Oh.Em.Gee.

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Beeeee-YOOT!

I was quite content after this bomb dindin.  I had some iced tea which required NO ice since this mug was stored in the freezer (the water freezes in the outside part) – so COOL! 

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Like a built in cozie!

Eventually it was time for the big D.

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Melted carob chips + PB + toasted Alvarado Street bread = mmmm!

This rocked me right into a food coma.  I was barely able to pack my lunch for work tomorrow before the zzzzzzs kicked in.

ICU…and I raise you!

Welllll…this weekend was pretty intense. 

I worked. 

I saved lives. 

Literally.

I try not to go into too much detail about my job (a) because of the whole patient privacy thing and (b) because I have a feeling it’s not very thrilling to read about.  But sometimes I wish I could share all the crazy things I see and do on a daily basis because, well, it’s a big part of my life.  Or at least a part.

Anyways, as I’ve mentioned before, I work in the cardiopulmonary critical care unit (CPCU), which is the step down unit for the surgical intensive care unit (SICU).  Basically I get patients after any open heart surgery (bypass, valve replacement, pericardial windows, etc.) and occasionally lung surgery, too.

Since the CPCU and the SICU work together, occasionally I’ll get sent to work in the SICU, which is what happened on Saturday.

My patient was on the verge of flat lining the entire shift…you can’t IMAGINE the kind of stress that can have on a person. 

It can be a little scary.  A whole lotta crap went down…but the only part that matters is that my patient is doing well now (and knowing it’s because of me isn’t too shabby either). 

Bring it on ICU!  (just kidding, please don’t, the stress of Saturday cost me 4 years of my life)

On Sunday I transferred my patient upstairs to the CPCU since she was a bit more stable.  I was glad to be getting back in my comfort zone.  Home base – yessss! 

Oh, and did I mention I got an additional patient on Sunday, too.  Heaven forbid my stress level enter a manageable range…

I left work each day in such an exhausted state…all I wanted to do was a swan dive into a pile of pillows pass the eff out. 

ANYWAYS, sorry about the rambling…I’ll get back to the real reason you read…let’s start with Saturday’s eats

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Coffee & coconut date rolls – the breakfast of champions?  For sure.

Pre-packed lunch. 

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Ensalada grande:  spinach, carrots, snow peas, cherry tomatoes, clover sprouts, dried cranberries, and more seaweed/sesame salad.

Courtney, I promise I’ll post more on the seaweed/sesame salad later!

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More snacks: Newman’s Own dried organic apples, Berries GoMega odwalla bar, apple, and Ocean Spring Mixed Fruit crisps

Check out the cute starfruit!  By the way, anyone know what a jackfruit is?  Because I had some for lunch.

The best part of the day was when Kyle surprised me after work!!!  And guess where we went for dinner?

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Whole Foods!!!! 

The baked tofu is one of my fave hot bar items, and you can’t go wrong with chickpeas…the wild rice/edamame/carrot mix was a new one for me and I LOVED it.  As usual, WF delivered.  My dinner was perfectly fulfilling and satiating.  Mmmm…

Later on I had some dessert, which wasn’t my best creation.

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It was almost worthy of a “Heat the Salmon Butt” title.  But I did finish it, so I guess that says something.  I thought this was the vanilla flavor, so imagine my surprise after I mixed it all up and took a bite. Plain greek yogurt with PB and carob covered raisins? 

Fortunately, peanut butter masks anything and everything enough to delight my taste buds (and carob raisins clearly didn’t hurt either).

So I licked the cup clean 🙂

As for Sunday’s eats…I packed a similar lunch the night before.

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The only difference between this salad and Saturday’s was the addition of baked tofu (the 3 leftover chunks from WF).

Estrogen?  Check!

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The 2 remaining dried apple rings in the bag, an apricot Clif bar, an apple, and some ridiculously overpriced grapes.

Here’s an action shot of my salad half way through…

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I love mixing my salads up in tuperware. 

Shake, shake.  Shake, shake, a shake it!

If you are looking at my lunch and thinking…that’s not very much food.  Well, you’re right.  I was starvin’ marvin by 4 pm – scavenging the unit for random eats.  The search was somewhat fruitless, as you would expect of a Jewish Kosher hospital (under construction on a Sunday no less).  Ugh.  I had 23 glasses of apple juice instead.  Awesome.

I nearly passed out on the subway ride home…which is why I was SO thrilled when I got home to this!

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Look what greeted me when I walked in the door!  Kyle gets MVP for the weekend.  Meeting me downtown for a Whole Foods surprise dinner on Sat and BBQing vegan eats for me on Sun…I hit the jackpot with this one!

Look at him all proud of his skillz.  Cue master K! 

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I love BBQ corn!  He also made mushroom/bell pepper skewers and LightLife smart tenders (plus 2 un-pictured chicken breasts for himself). 

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I think I tried this brand of smart tenders long ago and wasn’t a huge fan, but this was a new flavor (Lemon Pepper) and wasn’t too bad. 

As I mentioned whined about earlier, I was hangry by the time I got home, so I immediately made up a plate.

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I added 3 tender strips and a kebob to a handful of spinach and corn.

Hit. The. Spot.

Here’s plate numero dos, with a multi-v vitaminwater on the side.

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Anyone tried these new lower calorie vitamin waters?  This was the first time I tried one and I’m still a little unsure how I feel (I’ve never tried any of the original vitamin water flavors either).  I noticed rebiana (the stevia extract) on the ingredient list, but I think it’s in the form of Truvia (the one with “natural sweeteners”).  Hmm…

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Dessert was huge fruity melon mix and a pair of hermits.

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So chewy and delicious!

After watching three horrendous hours of Celeb Apprentice killing my last few functioning brain cells, it was bed time.  Thank goodness I have Monday off!  I have so much catching up to do!