Micro-Goals for Micro-Progress

About a month ago, I discovered an article in the New York Times about accomplishing goals.

I like reading the “smarter living” articles that newspapers usually publish, but they aren’t always new information for me. This article, however, was super insightful!

In short, it is about achieving goals & motivation. It introduces the topic of “micro-progress” and how you’re more likely to achieve x, y, and z when you break it down into tinier goals that you can easily check off the to-do list.

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What is the idea here?

“For any task you have to complete, break it down into the smallest possible units of progress and attack them one at a time.”

These tinier tasks are supposed to be much easier to finish. When you finish them, you are getting a rush of dopamine and confidence. And this directly translates into motivation to complete more tasks!

Even if you are only completing a few tiny tasks a day, you are left feeling a lot more confident than if reaching the end of the day and saying, “I feel like I didn’t get anything done” or “I barely made a dent in ____.”

That being said, you feel a lot more accomplished, at the least, but the article actually argues you actually are more productive the you are doing this because of the psychology behind it.

Also, the author suggest that even writing a title of a project can be an easy goal to accomplish. This reminds me of my post about starting a mathematical proof.

“That means that once you start that PowerPoint you’re dreading, even if all you’ve done is give it a name, that micro-progress can continue to build on itself until you’ve finally finished that last slide.”

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Curious what this means for me?

I’ve got a big week of packing this week. I also want to focus on my physical and mental health. Last night, I told myself “You need to sell stuff this week” and “You need to get back on track with exercising.”

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Yes, these things are do-able. But I don’t even know where to start. Here’s a list of my min goals for the micro-progress in each category.

Sell Stuff:

  1. write a list of the items you want to sell this week
  2. price each item on that list
  3. circle the items you think you can actually sell
  4. take a picture of an item you want to sell
  5. post it on buy / sell online group
  6. make a calendar to fill in the meet-up times for selling

I already finished the 1st step yesterday, so today I am going to price everything – which seems super do-able and is something I can get done in just a few minutes!

Health:

  1. figure out which workout I want to do today (run? fitness blender? walk? bike ride? yoga?)
  2. put on my workout clothes (this always helps me get started)
  3. charge up my phone and pick a playlist
  4. do the workout

Step 1 seems like something I can incorporate into my morning ritual and it won’t take very much time or effort. I love that!

Tell me:

What is a big goal you have for yourself this week? Can you break it down into tinier goals? Do you think small goals are easier to work with? How do you handle the overwhelming stress of giant goals?

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World’s Easiest Peanut Butter Cup Pie

When I was growing up – pie wasn’t my thing. To be honest, I didn’t like cake either. Something about the gooey filling and the dry crumbly crust just threw me off. I had more important things to indulge in at holiday & birthday parties.

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To be honest, I’m still not a pie person. Although, I am HUGE peanut butter + chocolate person. It gives Pb & J a run for its money and I can’t think of a better combo.

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I’ve created a decadent, indulgent, and vegan peanut butter cup pie that could never disappoint a single soul (unless you’re not a chocolate person… by the way, HOW).

 

This pie contains only 9 amazingly simple ingredients, a little grit & patience, and a passionate excitement for the end result.

Up for the challenge? Read through & give it a go! Make sure you chill the coconut cream & mixing bowl ahead of time!

World’s Easiest Peanut Butter Cup Pie

Ingredients:

  • 1 sleeve of graham crackers
  • 1/3 cup vegan butter, melted
  • 5 oz + small handful vegan chocolate chips
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 8 oz vegan cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup agave syrup
  • 1 can coconut cream (not milk), chilled {thick part + liquid (separate)}
  • 1/2 cup peanuts
  • 6 mini vegan peanut butter cups

Directions:

  1. preheat oven to 350, put large glass or metal mixing bowl in freezer, put coconut milk can in freezer (if you forgot to chill it – otherwise keep it in the fridge)
  2. In a food processor, grind graham crackers and butter together – ensure no cracker pieces are remaining. You want a gritty, yet equal consistency throughout.
  3. In a glass or ceramic pie dish, press the graham cracker mixture evenly and up the sides as well. It will be relatively thin – this is OK.
  4. Bake crust for 15 minutes. Once done, set out to cool.
  5. While it is baking, heat up milk liquid (drained from coconut cream can), into a small saucepan or microwave safe dish & heat up until very hot.
  6. Pour liquid over 5 oz chocolate chips and mix until it is smooth and thick. Set aside until crust is done baking.
  7. Clear out food processor and add peanut butter, agave, and cream cheese. Blend together until a large ball (see image above) forms.
  8. In the chilled bowl, add coconut cream (not liquid – just the thick part) and mix with a spoon – add the peanut butter “ball.” Put in freezer for 15 minutes.
  9. By now, the crust should be done – pour the melted chocolate into the crust and place in freezer for about 15 minutes.
  10. While waiting for the crust & filling to chill, chop up peanuts, peanut butter cups, and melt your handful of chocolate (I did this in a small dish in the microwave w/ the remainder of coconut milk liquid).
  11. Once the crust & filling have chilled, layer the pie – starting first with the filling – and spreading evenly.
  12. Then top with peanuts, cups, and drizzle chocolate across with a spoon.
  13. Freeze between 30 – 60 minutes – depending on the consistency you want. A creamier lighter tasting pie will be obtained near the 30 minute mark. A thick, almost “ice cream” pie will be 45-60+ minutes.
  14. Store in freezer if you can control yourself and eat it in more than one sitting!

So, thinking about making it? Pin it for later, or share it on facebook!

Have you already tried it out?! Share it on facebook, instagram, twitter, or pinterest and let me know what you think!

I want to hear your comments, questions, and critiques! Bring them all in!

Buttons for sharing & saving are below!

 

 

A Recipe for Trigonometry

Creating & developing recipes reminds me a lot of something I did back in high school Pre-Calculus.

In short, we were given a bunch of identities and we had to use them together to make something equal something else.

They were called trigonometric identities – and we had to use them like puzzle pieces. It was difficult at first, not going to lie.

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There were a lot of failed attempts. There were a lot of times I thought I was on the right track and realized halfway through that I was headed in the wrong direction. I had to start all over again from square one.

Creating recipes is A LOT like solving these equations. I start with ingredients. I lay them all out, and I think, ‘How can I use these to make ­­­­_______?’

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I consider all of the possibilities and ways these ingredients can go together. I think of all of the ways I can utilize cooking, mixing, and manipulating. How can I chop, dice, heat, chill, etc.

The possibilities are endless – and it’s really exciting! However, it can also be extremely overwhelming. The fact that there are so many ways to tackle and create the recipe makes me question:

“What is the best and simplest way I could do this?”
“Which would require minimal effort?”
“How could I use the least amount of ingredients?”
“How can I make this easy for people to understand?”

Once I figure out what I want to do & how I will do it – I have to begin the process. I have to test it out and see if my ingredients + process will actually perform well together and will give me a satisfying food in the end.

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Sometimes, it works out perfectly.

I only have to prepare it once, photograph it, and get it ready for the blog because it tastes great and I feel confident that others will enjoy, too!

Other times, it’s a disaster!

I have to stop halfway through and start over. I have to re-evaluate what‘s going on, what I want the end product to be, and create a new game-plan.

In the end, I finish everything up and I am satisfied with how I used the ingredients, the process and steps for the recipe, and of course, the end product is delicious!

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So what does this have to do with Trigonometry?

EVERYTHING. Equating Trig Functions feels the same way creating recipes feels.

The frustration, the creativity, the rigor, the requirement to start over halfway through because of failure, the satisfaction at the end – it is all there.

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Here’s an example of this type of trig equation.

If you have difficulty following along – just remember – it’s like making up a recipe!

I start with some givens – which are referred to as “trig identities” – like ingredients.

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I have to use these identities together to prove that two things are equal.

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At the end, once I figure out the best, simplest way to solve the puzzle (again there are TONS of possibilities to tackle this equation), I have a clean, neat answer – so satisfying!

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Tell Me:

Have you ever created a recipe before? Did you feel these same emotions and go about it this way – that is, like a puzzle?

Let me know what you think – I’d love to hear your input!

There aren’t enough STEM related posts about food (are there any?).

It can answer the age-old question math students are always asking – “When am I ever going to have to use this?”

Also, if you enjoyed it and found this interesting, use the buttons below to share it on facebook, pinterest, twitter, instagram, or copy the link!

 

 

Cilantro Lime Bulgur Salad

Have you ever had bulgur wheat before? It’s a crunchy grain and tastes great in chilis, salads, or just on its own as a side.

It is a great source of protein, iron & manganese, too! It’s flavor is nutty and its texture is crunchy and somewhat squishy – like quinoa, but so much better and more flavorful.

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I used to make a recipe from America’s Test Kitchen that used bulgur to make a carrot, almond, & mint salad. It required soaking the bulgur with water for about an hour – and then adding other ingredients to bump up the flavor and texture.

Since then, I have created my own salad using the same soaking method. This salad is a blend between beloved cilantro lime rice, quinoa salad, and bulgur.

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The lime juice brings out the boldness and freshness of the corn, tomato, onion, and spices. And the bulgur soaks all of the flavor up!

It is delicious as a side or as it’s own meal in itself – especially if you add some more plant-based protein, like tempeh or black beans!

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Go get together these 10 cheap ingredients and try it out today! You can find bulgur wheat a most grocery stores in the health food or grain section – Bob’s Red Mill has a bag of it. You can typically find it in the bulk section, too!

 

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Prep Time: 10 minutes
Soak Time: 60 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 ½ cup bulgur wheat rinsed
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 lime squeezed
  • ½ cup chopped cilantro (stalks and all)
  • 3 tbsp avocado oil
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • ¼ tsp cayenne
  • ½ cup red onion, diced as small as you can get it
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • ½ cup corn
  • 1 avocado, cubed (optional)

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl, combine water, lime juice, and bulgur wheat. Let it soak for an hour.
  2. While it is soaking, prep, chop, slice, measure all of the other ingredients.
  3. Once the bulgur has a chewy consistency and there are no “hard” bits in it because the water has been completely absorbed, mix in all other ingredients.
  4. If you are choosing to use avocado, be careful when mixing it in (unless you prefer it to be smashed, not cubed).
  5. Garnish with some more cilantro & enjoy! Goes great as a side, snack, or even a main dish!

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Cold Feet & A Mathematical Proof

We’ve all been there, right?

On the verge of something new.
About to make a huge leap into the unknown.
Waiting in purgatory between the old life + the new.

Real talk – that’s where I am. We are about 6 weeks away from leaving our home in Minnesota to start on our grand, new adventure – and our feet are frozen – literally (as in, there is an insane snowstorm happening right now) and figuratively (we’re a little terrified).

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I realize the best way to lay this all out and really evaluate what’s going on is to write + find solutions.

At the very least, that’s what always seemed to help me when I was getting my bachelor’s degree in math. I would take a look at the assignment or what I had to prove – and I would just write the beginning of the problem, or the “givens”, down.

I would write exactly what I saw happening and let my mind relax for a second. Then I would try to figure out how to solve or prove what I needed to.

By the time I finished writing the assignment down, I would usually have an idea regarding how I could approach the solution.

Although it didn’t always work out so magically, it always helped in some way – and it definitely made me feel like I had more control, concentration, and grasp on the situation.

If I still couldn’t complete it, at least I had a memory of what I would need to eventually do (writing really helps me remember things, does it do the same for you?).

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So that’s what I am doing here today, I’m going to write down the problem, and let the solution flow.

And just maybe, by the end, I’ll have completed my proof – full circle.

*fingers (and toes) are crossed*

Maybe, by the end, I can add the triumphant “Q.E.D.”

This stands for “quod erat demonstrandum”, which is typically written at the end of mathematical proofs to indicate it’s completion.


T H E   P R O O F

So let’s begin, shall we?

  1. Given the following, prove that you must try out another lifestyle and leave Minnesota.

Givens:

  • We must leave Minnesota
  • We want to travel
  • We do not have any financial ties
  • Our lease is ending
  • We want to try new things

A few months ago, we put the idea of moving out there. We wondered what life would be like as travelers and together, we decided that we wanted it to be our future – more than anything else.

We told our friends, family, and even wrote about it here. We have been extremely excited. We know this is our future – and we know this will happen.

Since telling the world about our plans, weeks have passed. We have 2 goals in mind at this point – save money & sell our stuff. In my opinion, we’ve been doing a great job a this. Both Todd & I have been working a TON and have serious financial goals in mind that we are driven to achieve.

So here’s the problem in the middle of my proof.

Here’s where I see the sticky situation.

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We are about 6 weeks away from moving. Need I remind you we still don’t know exactly where we are going? A little scary – but to be honest, it’s the least of my worries.

What’s really hitting us right now is the fact that life, here, in Rochester, MN, is very easy. It’s affordable, we both have great jobs, the Spring, Summer, and Fall are breathtaking, and we love our house.

The other morning, my first thoughts when I woke up were, “It’s going to be so weird to not have a home, to not have a base, to not have a place with all of our stuff… with our set permanent life.” It seemed unsettling.

You can see the issue now, right?

We want a challenge – in fact we’re craving the challenge our future is holding for us, but there is a part of us wants to be in this comfort zone.

A few nights ago, a friend asked us, “what are you most excited about?”

Our responses:

  • not having so much “stuff”
  • only having our essentials
  • feeling refreshed
  • traveling
  • collecting moments
  • discovering new places to hike and enjoy outside
  • discovering and trying new hobbies

We can’t have these things if we stay in our comfort zone.

We can’t have these things if we try to keep our toes warm in Minnesota (ironic oops).

We can’t have these things if we just decide that math problems and proofs are too hard – or they’re over our head and we can’t even try to tackle them.

If we really want these things – we have to scavenge for solutions and make this work. The best things in life aren’t easy – everyone’s heard that before.

We just have to work through this and acknowledge the truths and desires we have within us.

Q.E.D.

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Do you have a complicated life version of a mathematical proof?
Let me help you out!

P.S. This is, for real, how I get my students to write proofs in Geometry.

How to Write Your Own Proof

  1. Start by writing your givens.
  2. Leave some blank space.
  3. Write your final solution.
  4. Figure out what’s really preventing you from solving the proof? What is the actual problem. What does this missing piece of your puzzle need to tell you?
  5. If you don’t already have a good idea of ways you can fill in your proof’s blank space. Search for ideas – call a friend, look at social media, search hashtags, use google, search for it on pinterest, ANYTHING. Ideas will come and be sporadic but eventually they will bind and mesh together and take you to the final destination of your proof.Here’s an easy example to get you started:

    I want pizza, I can’t eat gluten, my car broke down & I can’t go to the store.

    I’m about to eat some pizza.

    Now go find out how to get some pizza!!

TELL ME!

I’d love to see what proofs you come up with, too! Share below – even if it’s incomplete. Me & my followers might be able to help you out!

Also, did you like this post? I have been thinking about taking a turn with my blog and covering more lifestyle topics with a mathematical twist!

Let me know what you think.

 

Easy Marinated Tofu Breakfast Sandwich

Who says vegans can’t enjoy a good breakfast sandwich? Not me!

Here’s a simple recipe for marinated too + how to combine it with the best ingredients to give you a flavor packed, juicy, all-vegan sandwich.

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Easy Marinated Tofu Breakfast Sandwich

Ingredients:

  • tofu slice (a thin, half inch thick piece)
  • soy sauce (3-4 tbsp)
  • soy chorizo (1/4 cup)
  • oil (2 tbsp)
  • sourdough bread (cut in half)
  • vegan cheddar or american cheese (1 slice)
  • tomato (2 slices)
  • spinach (a handful)
  • red onion (a thin slice)
  • avocado (1/4 smashed)
  • hot sauce

Directions:

  1. In a rimmed dish / container, lay tofu piece flat & add soy sauce on top. Carefully, flip over the tofu a few times to make sure it can completely absorb the soy sauce. Let sit for 15-30 minutes to marinate.
  2. Heat oil in a large pan / skillet over medium heat.
  3. Carefully, add tofu – you do not need to add the extra sauce from the container.
  4. Let the tofu fry for 7 minutes per side.
  5. Then, raise heat to medium-high and add the soy chorizo on top of the tofu. Let this fry for 3-4 minutes, then flip and let fry for 4 more minutes. You might have to move the chorizo around and keep adding it on top of the tofu – but it should stick after a while.
  6. Add slice of cheese and cover with a lid for a few minutes- allowing it to steam and melt.
  7. Next, toast your bread and start layering with toppings (tomato, onion, spinach, avocado). Carefully, add the tofu & drizzle on hot sauce.
  8. Top with the other piece of sourdough & enjoy! Also, feel free to modify or add other ingredients & toppings.

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Share this recipe with your friends on Faceboook, Twitter, & Pinterest. And comment to let me know what you think – I’d love to hear your feedback!

February Footprint Wrap Up | Month of Trash

Before you read: You are entitled to your own opinion, but please do not throw in harsh judgments or rude remarks about my journey through trying to reduce my waste & plastic use. Know that this post, above anything else, is a personal assessment of my learning process and it is cultivating and evolving. I am my own person and I don’t learn by criticism -peace.

A few years ago, I worked at a local co-op / health food store. I worked in the kitchen and, of course, we had TONS of waste. One thing I really admired about working there was the emphasis the whole store had on composting and recycling. Prior to this, I had never worked in a food business that cared about the environment so much that they took waste / eco precautions (other than separating cardboard boxes from other trash).

In the kitchen, we had 3 waste bins – compost, recycle, and other waste. Behind the store, there was a massive container (the size of a truck bed), a big dumpster, and a small dumpster. The large container was for compost, the big dumpster for recycling, and the small for all other waste.

This really took me by surprise – is it really possible that we can potentially send that little waste out to landfills?

Why are dumpsters and trash bins filled to the brim in so many households by the end of the week?

It’s so easy to not let this happen.

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It made me reevaluate my waste at home. I was always consciously thinking about what waste would go in which container – and how easy it would be if I just composted myself.

Flash-forward to February this year – I wanted to do something different. I wanted to finally see how much I could do to reduce my waste. You can read about my intentions for this month here.

First thing I did? I assessed where I was. I looked at what I was wasting – what I had and didn’t use – and what I had that could be reused before I tossed it.

Here’s a rundown of the things I did differently this month:

  • I got a compost bin!
    • As you probably know already, I cook – so much. And it’s mostly raw vegetables and fruits, too. I started putting all of my scraps in my compost bin instead of tossing them in the trash bin. My friend helped dig a hole in my garden to throw the scraps in for now (because it’s still frozen outside and I can’t make a pile outdoors).
  • I started reusing bags from food products.
    • A surprising amount of the food we get comes in plastic bags WITH A ZIPPER. That means I can reuse it. My goal was to get at least one extra use out of it before tossing it. I used it for saving leftovers, packing lunches, etc.
  • I donated a lot of unused items / clothes.
    • Although the primary reason for doing this was because I am moving, it was a great way to avoid tossing household items and clothes and having them up-cycled and given to a new home.
  • I reduced food waste by…
    • Looking at my fridge and product and figuring out what was going to go bad first. I tried cooking those things and preserving the fresher foods so that I avoided letting anything go bad before it was used.
  • I timed a lot of my showers
    • I didn’t always do this, but when I remembered to, I made sure I put on a few songs and limited the number of songs I heard while in the shower to just a few – less than 5-8 minutes in.
  • I stopped washing my clothes…
    • After wearing them only once. I used to be really bad at this with pants, shirts, and sweaters

Here are some things I wish I had done differently & I aim to do in the future:

  • Spend even less time in the shower
  • Buy more food products that did not come in plastic
  • Compost more waste – research what I can / cannot compost
  • Drive less / bike + walk more
  • Donate more clothes & unwanted items
  • Spent more time outdoors
  • Reused plastic that I obtained more often

As a wrap up, I’m glad I challenged myself this month, but I know there is still (always) more that I can do.

Let Me Know:

Have you tried anything lately to reduce your waste? Let me know! I need some more ideas and I want to try more things out!