Whole30: Day 20

Clocking in about a year behind the rest of the world, I’ve been doing (eating? participating in? suffering through?) the Whole30 this month. No alcohol, no sugar, no dairy, no carbs – no problem. (ha.)

Are you wondering why I would voluntarily do such a thing? Well, I’ll tell you.

About halfway through the month of October, I reached a breaking point. After a year on Weight Watchers, I was still five pounds heavier than I was when I got pregnant with Henry. I was unhappy with what I saw in the mirror. I was unhappy with how my clothes fit. I was unhappy with the quick-meal rut I had fallen into at home. I was unhappy with how I felt. And as a result of all this unhappiness, I was being really mean to myself. Like, if my inner monologue was a person, we would have been straight up enemies. Unhappy Corley is cruel, grouchy, and a terrible friend.

So when Grace over at Camp Patton posted about her Whole30 experience, I had a lightbulb moment and decided I was 100% IN. I loaded up our grocery cart with lean meats and healthy veggies, I pinned a ton of whole30-approved recipes, I joined the subreddit, I downloaded the timeline. And on November 1, I started.

The first two weeks were honestly awesome. Right away, I felt empowered and healthy. I have cooked more meals at home this month than in the past year, no exaggeration. With each meal, I made enough to take leftovers for lunch the next day. Those Saturdays, I sat down and planned out the weeks meals so that I could grocery shop and prep as needed. I should note that our Whole30 grocery bills were MUCH higher than usual – shopping the perimeter of the grocery store is NOT cheap.

The third week (this week) has been a little tougher. True to the timeline, I am over it. I haven’t had a real “cheat day” or binge, but I have posted some tweets and sent some texts that were less than enthusiastic. It’s cold and dreary and I’m daydreaming about warm sourdough bread, sharp cheddar cheese, and peppermint mochas in cheerful red cups. I’m bored of all the foods I’ve been eating for the past three weeks. I still feel great, and I’m still thrilled with my progress…but I would also be pretty thrilled with a Smashburger with cheese on a pretzel bun right about now.

I’m not going to give up. The deal I struck with myself on November 1 was that I would stick with the plan until Thanksgiving (ok, Whole27), and I’m keeping to my deal.

I have had a couple momentary transgressions – I gave in to the temptation of two peanut-butter filled pretzel bites earlier this week. I got lazy and stopped at Chick Fil A for the family the other night, and when they gave me regular nuggets instead of the grilled combo I ordered, I still ate them. I AM ONLY HUMAN.

But by and large, I am still in this.

Yesterday at lunch, I went home for (more) rainbow trout leftovers. When I opened our fridge, I came face to face with a big bowl of my Mother In-Law’s homemade baked potato soup – and I stayed strong. I grabbed some LaraBars and an orange, and I headed back to the office – I’ve got a week to go before I can say I did this, and I am feeling pretty proud of myself.

But you’d better believe that my first meal on Thanksgiving morning is going to involve bacon and buttered toast.

Helpful Whole30 Resources mentioned above:
Shopping List

My go-to snacks and foods:
*LaraBars (choose the ones with no peanuts or sugar – my favorite flavor is *Coconut Cream Pie)
Pistachios (I think I ate my weight in pistachios)
*Almond Flour (for breading meats – I’m never going to stop using this! SO tasty!)
Fresh fruits and veggies
(* indicates Amazon affiliate link)

The best advice I can offer:
Black coffee isn’t as bad as you think it’s going to be. Get halfway through your first cup and you’ll be fine.

Don’t let yourself get hungry. Hunger leads to hanger leads to desperate measures.  Make sure you’re getting enough protein and fats with your meals, and allow yourself to snack if you need to!

Plan to succeed. Shopping with my week’s meals in mind, preparing enough for leftovers, keeping my snack drawer stocked with Whole30-approved options — those moves were lifesavers for me this month. When we went over to my in-laws for football, I ate lunch beforehand and packed a banana and a LaraBar to avoid the temptation of football snacks and Chinese takeout.

Don’t beat yourself up. If, like me, you find that you have slipped off-path – perhaps tempted by the PB Pretzel Bite siren song or delectable happenstance non-grilled chicken nuggets – just get back on track and keep going. Yes, you may need to get tougher on yourself if you know your willpower is weak – but don’t be mean. One moment is not going to ruin your whole month!

Easy with the coconut oil. I accidentally made coconut flavored “Cauliflower Rice” and Veggies the first week. Lesson learned. A little goes a long way.

Be your own cheerleader. I’m going to be really proud of myself when I reach my goal at Thanksgiving, and I think I deserve to be!

This has been a major change in my life – major and necessary. I’ll definitely reintroduce carbs, dairy, and legumes into my diet – but I’m hoping to have said a permanent goodbye to Diet Coke, frequent fast food, and snacks that predominately come from crinkly bags. Those are changes I feel proud of, which is a refreshing about-face from how I was feeling this time last month.

Good night


This little boy crashed all of a sudden after tearing through the living room for the better part of the evening. He says a few words now: Mama, Dada, uh-oh, duck! Duck is his favorite. He knows which of his little wooden animals is the duck, but he also just likes to say the word over and over. It’s like a new superpower he’s tapped into. The power of duck.

He understands more than he says. He knows what we mean by pig, sit down, smooch, milk, and chew. He can point to his belly and his ear on request. He likes to dance and clap his hands. I think he’s starting to make animal noises like moo for cow and hoooo for owl, but I’m not sure it’s more than coincidence just yet.

When we ask him a “how much” question (how much does mommy love you? How much do you love ducks?), he raises his hands high in the air to show “soooo much!” When I ask him for certain books (The Big Hungry Bear, The Pout Pout Fish, Go Dog Go, …) he can find them in a pile.

He’s an excellent sidekick, a champion snuggler, a gifted dancer. He is funny and sweet and bashful around strangers at first.

He’s pretty fantastic, this little person of mine.

The great ones


There is so much to say about Ed Comer, and I don’t know where to begin. I don’t think I’m ready yet. I can’t yet tell my favorite stories without getting choked up – but someday, I’ll be able to share with you about his strength, his kindness, his fairness, his quick wit, his sweet whistle.

My grandaddy passed away on Friday afternoon. He was one of the great ones, and I’m going to miss him so very much.

Song for Sid

Langhorne Slim

As the earth stood still, Sid began to move
I understood the words he said, he understood mine too
I watched Sid suffer, I saw Sid strong
Now tell me where do the great ones go when they’re gone

He told me it would be alright, go and have fun
He said he loved his family, but it was time to run
I loved that old man, I wrote him this song
Now tell me where do the great ones go when they’re gone

I’m so glad, I got to say goodbye
And when you run into Jack, Sidney, tell him I said hi
I loved that old man, pray he’s where he belongs
Now tell me where do the great ones go when they’re gone

I loved that old man, I wrote him this song
Now tell me where do the great ones go when they’re gone
Now tell me where do the great ones go when they’re gone
Now tell me where do the great ones go when they’re gone

Grandaddy and Cat Skeletons

I first posted this story years ago. Today I feel like posting it again. Because it makes me happy, because I like this picture of my Grandaddy, and because there’s a lesson here that I need to be reminded of.  Things will only go one way: the way they’re meant to go.

photo taken on our wedding day by The (amazing) Schultzes

Folks, this is Grandaddy. He is a retired fireman, a Rock Hill native, and one of my very favorite men on God’s green earth. He was probably joking with my brother about making him pee blood when this picture was taken. That’s an actual running joke with him. “Boy, I’ll make you pee blood,” he says menacingly. It’s an old joke. Don’t judge.

See the watch on his wrist? As a little girl, I used to sit on his lap for hours fiddling with the links and the clasp, sliding the band off of his wrist and onto mine, running my fingers over the shiny glass face and the brushed metal back, trying to figure out what he learned from this little machine on his arm.

If you’ve met him, you know he’s a character. He has a story for everything, and I don’t think he’s ever met a stranger.

One of my favorite stories is from his fire-fighting days. You know, firemen used to actually get called to people’s houses to get cats down from trees. That didn’t only happen in the cartoons. It happened regularly in real life.

One day, a woman’s cat ran up a tree. Or telephone pole. I forget which. It was a tall, wooden thing. Distressed, she called the fire department. Mind you, my grandfather once had a rat terrier that he trained to chase and kill cats — but that was on his own time. On company time, he was a feline hero. So, being the good firemen that they were, they loaded up the truck and drove across town. When they got to the lady’s house, she was a mess. She was crying, wailing, lamenting her poor kitty — certain that he was on the brink of his ultimate demise. My Grandaddy tried the ladder and found that it wasn’t tall enough to reach the cat atop his perch in the tree/telephone pole.

“What do you MEAN you can’t get to him?!” she cried. “What are you going to DO?! What about poor FLUFFYYYYY?!” (Confession: I don’t know the cat’s name. I also don’t know that this is an exact quote. I like to picture this woman in hysterics, a hand thrown daintily across her forehead, seconds away from the smelling salts.)

“It’s not tall enough,” he said. “That’s all there is to it. Give him time, he’ll come down on his own. It’ll be ok.”

“He CAN’T come down on his own!” she wailed. “He’s TRAPPED, he’ll DIE!” Here, I like to picture her in full on panic mode, clinging to my stoic grandfather, hyperventilating, searching the pockets of her housecoat for a hard candy.

“Lady,” my Grandaddy said. “Look around. Just look.”

She looked.

“How many cat skeletons do you see hanging from trees on this street?” he asked. “He’ll come down when he’s ready, and you’ll just have to wait ’til then.”

The Hundred-Year House

Oak Tree in Park“But here at Laurelfield, there was something more in the mornings, a buzzing sensation about the whole house, as if it weren’t the servants keeping it running but some other energy. As if the house had roots and leaves and was busy photosynthesizing and sending sap up and down, and the people running through were as insignificant as burrowing beetles.”
— Rebecca Makkai, The Hundred-Year House

I finished The Hundred-Year House tonight. I really, really enjoyed it.

When I worked for Biltmore, my favorite perk was free admission to the estate. I loved visiting the house late in the afternoon, in time for the last (least crowded) tour of the day. I would drag my feet through each room, trying to drink in as many details as I could, imagining what life in the big house would have been like through the years. What was it like to sit in the library with the windows open during a rainstorm? How was it to eat breakfast on the patio? What was the house hide-and-seek record? And most of all, what were the people really like?

The Hundred-Year House is written in installments by generation. It starts in 1999 and ends in 1900, spanning four generations of life in the house (in reverse) at Laurelfield. With each new section, the reader gets some (but not all) of the answers to the questions asked by the people living in the house. You’re a fly on the wall, learning the secrets and the truth (but not quite the whole truth) behind the house’s ghost stories and bumps in the night. There are hate-able characters and love-able characters and (best of all) characters who you can’t quite pin into one corner or the other.

If you’re into historical fiction, ghost stories, or old houses, you’ll probably be into this book and its secrets. It’s one of my favorite reads of the year.

Next up, I’m due for a nonfiction book (which means I’m working hard to resist the draw of The Miniaturist). Any recommendations?

Zen and the art of Label-Peeling

Beer Labels
I peel the labels off of my beer bottles.

I started my habit in college. I usually carried a notebook and sometimes stuck the labels, still a little sticky with leftover glue, into the pages. When I got home from the bar, the labels would be dry and I could fill in the blank space with snarky observations and snippets of eavesdropped conversations. Later, when I started dating Josh, I would scribble goofy notes on the labels (the more beers I drank, the goofier the notes), passing them to him across the table. Now, I’ll fold a label over and over until it becomes a thick little square that I can flick down into the neck of the bottle. Sometimes, if I’m feeling ambitious, I’ll try and remember how to make a paper crane.

I do it because it’s satisfying. There’s a certain release when I’m able to get a label off in one rip-free piece – like a long sigh after a deep breath or the end of a good stretch (the kind that takes over your body and contorts your shoulders and back and face and voice against your own will until the stretch is done).

I do it because it’s a distraction. If the table conversation doesn’t interest me or if I’m feeling like biting my nails down to painful little stubs or if I’m in the bathtub and my head is swimming with thoughts and worries and to-do lists, I can concentrate on peeling this one label from this one bottle until conditions clear.

I do it because it takes patience. With most bottles, you can’t just charge in and swiftly peel the label in one piece. You have to wait, let condensation soak in to the paper and loosen the glue. You have to start in one corner, getting a big enough piece that you can gently pull in the rest of the side. If you rip your first try, you’ve got to move to the other side, tugging a little more gently or maybe just waiting another five minutes for the glue to ease its grip a little.

I don’t meditate. But I have this thing, and this thing works for me.

She used to be mine

A little while ago, I read a webcomic about how every big decision we make splits our timeline into two branches – on one branch, you continue as you are with the decision you made. And on the other branch, an alternate version of you splits off and starts living with the effects of the other choice. Read the comic here if I’m not making any sense.

Anyway – I tell you that to tell you this. Somewhere out there in a parallel universe is a version of me who majored in Musical Theatre and is living in some metropolis, auditioning and doing odd jobs and waiting on the one role that she was born to play. And if, in that parallel universe, there is still a Sara Bareilles, and IF parallel Sara Bareilles (maybe her name is Paralleiles) is still writing the book for a new musical based on the movie Waitress, then parallel me is doing whatever she has to do to be in the original cast of that musical.

Mom and I heard her sing this song from the show at her concert in Charlotte earlier this summer – and I can’t stop thinking about it. Some version of me was born to sing this song. 

Skip to around 2:13 for the start.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to try and transcribe all the lyrics and chords so that I can bring to life my new dream of belting this out for the whole world to hear.

Sweet Sweaty Sunday

Left: sweaty, but happy | Right: trying to keep Henry cool by any means necessary

Just got back from the US National Whitewater Center, where we planned to see Langhorne Slim (Henry’s First Concert!) – instead, we melted into puddles of goo during the opening acts and goo-traveled back to our car, Alex Mack-style, answering the call of the Air Conditioning before Langhorne even took the stage.

Despite the sticky heat, we had a blast. The USNWC is awesome, and if they had a little more shade available, it would be an absolutely perfect place for a concert. Dogs and babies are welcome, which is always a plus, and the rapids run straight through the park, so you can watch rafting groups and solo kayakers brave the waters even if you’re only there to drink beer and adventure vicariously through others. There’s also a zip line running through the park, which would have been a perfect way to catch a breeze on a night like tonight.

Since we had Henry in tow (and babies are for some reason discouraged from ziplining), we opted instead to drink a couple of beers (just us, not Henry) and craft a makeshift canopy out of our stroller and a couple of blankets until we just couldn’t stand the heat any longer. And then, we sucked it up and sweated it out for the hike back to the car.

Henry has been out since we buckled him in to his car seat, Josh is downstairs drafting his fourth fantasy football team, and I’m hitting the sack as soon as I publish this post. Good Sunday, team.