Monday, January 31, 2011

My Blog Bad

We had a nice, low key-ish weekend.

Friday night we went for drinks & dinner at Beauty Shop and Do, respectively, with a fun couple who we haven't had all that much one on one time with, of late.  I'm still not 100% on Do (a sort of trendy sushi place in the cute, artsy neighborhood down the street from us) - but it was a fun night.  And once the huge crowd in the restaurant cleared out, my enjoyment of the atmosphere greatly improved.

Saturday we ran ~100 errands during the day and then stayed in that night.

And Sunday night, we had a fun birthday dinner with Jonathan's parents.  This is where "my blog bad" comes in because I had full intentions of photographing our entire delicious meal so I could share.  But I didn't even take one picture.  Boo.  You'll have to take my much more boring than a picture word for it...

When planning the meal, Jonathan wanted to cook lamb.  And since mint is a common paring with lamb, everything was sort of centered around mint & lemon.

1st Course: French onion soup (complete with croutons & melted gruyere on top)

I love French onion soup.  And I'd never made it before.  But after watching a cooking show a couple weekends ago where the cook made it, I realized it's easy enough, and would be the perfect amount of elegance (yet still totally casual) for our dinner party with his parents.  It was a big hit.  I used the slow cooker, which was perfect when cooking a big meal, because we didn't really have to worry about it and it didn't take up any oven space.

Main Course: Braised lamb shanks, with mint & walnut pesto; quinoa with olive oil, lemon, mint, and italian parsley

The lamb was prepared with port, lemon zest & juice, rosemary, and garlic.  Jonathan cooked it "low & slow" in our big roasting pan in the oven.  I wanted to make some kind of mint sauce to go with the lamb; and a pesto seemed about right.  So I went with this one that was a mix of fresh mint and Italian parsley, and then used walnuts as the nut (which added a lovely flavor that was unique from normal pesto).  My father in law loves quinoa, so I went with this simple vinaigrette and tossed it with some of the herbs in the pesto.

Dessert: Toffee cookie bars with chocolate mascarpone sauce; vanilla gelato

I saw Giada make these last weekend when I was watching cooking shows before church.  They looked friggin awesome, but I sort of brushed the idea of making them off because I had no need for a decadent dessert.  Then I remembered Charlie's birthday!  So we did away with a traditional cake and instead served these with gelato.

The base is a sugar cookie mixed with crunched up Skor bars (chocolate-covered toffee).  On top of that is a layer of chocolaty goodness (made by melting a cup of chocolate chips and mixing it with a cup of mascarpone cheese).  And then it's all topped with chopped walnuts and more chopped Skor bars.  Make these.  Just do it.

It was a pretty awesome dinner.  And on that note, I need my knee to heal properly so I can run about 20 miles to burn off all the calories!

Hope you guys had good weekends, too!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Fitness Friday

Can I say, before we get into fitness talk, how happy I am that it's finally Friday?  I knew this week would feel long (since the past two weeks were 4 days for me) - but it has absolutely draaaagged.  I'm totally prepared to be the annoying girl at work today who uses "it's finally Friday!" in every conversation I have.

It's finally Friday!

So anyway - in terms of fitness, I'm feeling a little frustrated.  If you recall, I mentioned Monday that at the end of my 8-mile run last Friday, I was starting to have a little knee pain.  Well, in retrospect, running 5 miles the next day was probably not my wisest choice.  When I attempted to run on Wednesday (the first run since Saturday), after one 9-minute mile, my knee was bothering me.  It's that straight up over-use pain you get under the kneecap on the front side of the knee.  I've overused it - it needs to rest.

But man - this is such a bummer!  I was really excited about how well everything was going.

But I'll deal with it - that's the only thing I can do.  I'm going to rest it for a little bit, ice everyday, and hope it clears up quickly.  So in the meantime - I'm wondering what to do for exercise this coming week?  I could definitely get hardcore about yoga and go to a lot of classes.  OR, I could go to the gym to use another cardio machine.  (But I really dislike the elliptical - and the stationary bike is so BORING...)  I could potentially swim laps under the bubble of the Rhodes pool but I'm worried about how cold the water will be.  Or I could do some workout videos that aren't high impact on the knees.

What are your favorite low-knee-impact exercises?

Also - on a food note - I bought some new bread at the store last weekend.  It's from the Food For Life company that makes all those Biblical-named products.  I got the Genesis 1:29 - and it's awesome!  I don't normally eat bread or pasta (because it doesn't make my stomach feel great, and/or, it sometimes makes me want to binge eat - like, ignites strong food cravings).  But I've been eating one slice of this bread every other day or so, and it hasn't really negatively affected anything.  I'm a fan, I think.

It's finally Friday!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

It's Just Hair...

I love my hair dresser dearly.  She's young and cool and talkative - but most importantly, she gives me great cuts.  I mean, arguably the best hair cuts I've ever had.

So when I went on Tuesday and came home with a cut I'm not 100% ecstatic about, I'm not really blaming her.  You guys have all seen my hair.  It's short and generally has the same sort of cut (slightly longer in front, slightly stacked in the back, with a side swept bang).  Before she cut this time, we were talking about what I wanted her to do.  I was asking what her thoughts were on growing it out - that is, what kind of cut she could see me in if I had, say, slightly-longer-than-shoulder length hair.  I've been thinking of growing it a little longer so that I could do a nice ponytail.  The risk, though, is that my thin hair doesn't necessarily look its best when it's longer.  So I was asking her opinion, since she gives me "the best hair cuts I've ever had" (as stated earlier), and she's never cut it when it was longer.

Anyway, we went back and forth and I decided not to grow it for now.  So I think I said something along the lines of, "well, just forget the idea for now - we'll keep it short until I definitely decide I want to grow it out."  I guess that's slightly ambiguous.  I should have said "just trim it for now while I decide if I want to grow it out."

So my hair isn't the shortest it's ever been.  It's just short.  She did more of a cut than a trim.  Like, maybe before, the front pieces were hitting in between my shoulders and my chin - well, now they're hitting right below my chin.

And it's fine.  Whatev - it's just hair.  But man - if I was thinking about growing it out any time soon, those plans have been put on the back burner.  Have you guys ever had someone cut your hair too short - and then felt the weird emotion of: 1) my hair is too short and I hate it and AAAAH; coupled with, 2) don't be dumb, it's just hair, stop being such a girl?

(I might or might not have had a little freakout moment yesterday morning.  I was running late, trying to get myself ready for work, the hair was not sitting right - I was just frustrated.  With tears in my eyes, I lamented to Jonathan that "I look like a boy now!"  I'll let you guess his response:

a) "you don't look like a boy"
b) "I love your hair - it looks great"
c) "it looks good; and even if you don't like it, it will grow out"
d) "well, now I guess you'll have to start wearing clothes that show your boobs more"

Ahem.)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Name Game

They did a segment on The Today Show a few weeks ago about baby names: the most popular in 2010, and up & coming names for the new year.  I don't know if you guys saw it or not.  If you didn't, let me fill you in.
And then what the trends seem to lean toward for the new year.

Um...what?

I think the 2010 ones are alright - they aren't that uncommon - they maybe just show a general shift toward newish names (your Addison, Madison, Aiden, Jayden crowd) and/or names that have been around for awhile that haven't been all that popular of late (the Sophias, Olivias, Jacobs, and Noahs).

But seriously?  The 2011 ones?  What?

There are a couple I've never even heard before (Maci? Kinley? Aarav?  Ryker?); and there are a couple that are cool enough - but maybe a little too much like Pottery Barn chandeliers (Kensley, Bentley, Beckett).  And then there are some that sound like they originated when someone used a last name from their family as their child's first name (Madison, Jackson, Lincoln, Kingston) and then, unlucky for that family, the name became super popular and the family gesture was lost to popular culture. 

And speaking of popular culture, a couple of these feel a little familiar right?  Isabella and Jacob?  What about poor Edward - I guess we know which "team" new parents are on.  (Also, I wouldn't be surprised to see a little Harry/Hermione/Ron action in there - I bet they're on the list in England.)

I just think name trends are funny, mostly.  Especially living in the South, where sort of off-the-wall names are almost more common than classics.  There's the phenomenon that is the double name, too.  (My sorority in college was notorious for interesting double names: Sarah Margaret, Laura Caroline, Nancy Elizabeth, Ann Donnelly, etc.)  You also see the whole last-name-as-a-first-name a lot.  This actually causes a little bitterness in our house because Jonathan's middle name - Walker - is one of those (maybe his great grandmother's maiden name?) that would make a great first name.  Except - it became too popular.  Now, if we were to name a son Walker, it would seem like we just chose a cool, trendy name - not that we're representing his family.

It's funny to look at these lists for 2010 and 2011 and think that in 10 years, a fifth grade teacher somewhere is going to read her class roster and there will be a noticeable lack of Katies, Jessicas, Mikes, and Matts.  Those names might even feel a little dated in the way that Linda, Ronald, Sharon, and Terry do to us now.  (How many babies in the past decade do you think were named Linda?)

Do you guys think about naming your yet-to-be-conceived children?  Do you think you'd go with family names or names you like?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Yum Yum Squash

I'm a big fan of squash.  I love the starchiness and sweetness.  I love that it can be sweet or savoury.  I love that spaghetti squash is a decent substitute for pasta.  I love that you can find it at all grocery store.  Big fan, all around.

So Sunday night I was making one of my go-to squash recipes, and as we were eating it, we were commenting about how delicious it is.  So - squash lover or not - if you're interested, here's the recipe (which is so so easy, it's worth a try).  I made it Sunday and also baked a piece of salmon - but I think it could absolutely stand alone as dinner.

Creamy Orzo With Butternut Squash

Ingredients
2 cups butternut squash, peeled, and cut into small cubes (I usually use a whole, medium-sized squash, which is more than 2 cups [and if you don't know squash, there are seeds you have to scoop out in the middle])
1/2 tsp olive oil
1/8 tsp table salt, or to taste
1/2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 cup uncooked orzo
1 1/2 cup(s) water
1 cup broth (I use vegetable)
8 whole sprigs of thyme
2 Tbsp half-and-half (or whatever you have - milk, non-dairy creamer, cream, etc.)
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste

Directions
Preheat over to 425.  Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray or cover it with foil.

In a medium bowl, toss squash with oil and salt; spread in a single layer on prepared baking sheet.  Roast, stirring halfway through, until squash is tender and lightly browned, about 25-35 minutes.

Meanwhile, melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat; add orzo.  Stir constantly until orzo begins to smell toasty, about 3 minutes.  Add water, broth and thyme sprigs; bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low; simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until liquid is nearly absorbed, about 15 minutes.

Remove thyme sprigs; stir in half-and-half, cheese and roasted squash.  Season with salt & pepper; serve...and enjoy!  Yum!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Re-Cappage

We had a really fun, friend-filled weekend.

I kicked it off on Friday afternoon with an 8 (!!!) mile run on the treadmill.  According to the Nike GPS app, my stats were as follows: 8 miles; 8'30" average pace; 1:08:02 total time; and 980 calories burned.  It felt surprisingly good (many thanks to Oprah for the distraction - except for the tear-inducing final song that came on around mile 6, for that, I do not thank Oprah).  My knee started to hurt a little at the end of mile 6 - but nothing awful.

We then went with the newly-engaged Emily & Joe to Las Delicias for some much deserved Mexican food.  Seriously, I manhandled those chips & guac with the fury that only someone who'd just burned 980 calories could.  We had a night cap at Bari, which is quite possibly turning into one of my favorite spots in town.  Overall, a super fun night.

We ran errands most of Saturday during the day.  I had to get a birthday present for my dad, ie, the most difficult man in the world to shop for.  (The most difficult man in the world for which to shop.  Yes, I understand grammar rules.  I just think it sounds a little too high-brow in some instances.)  Anyway - I'm sort of excited about what I got him.  I really put my thinking cap on to come up with something great.

Then Saturday night we had a fabulous evening with our friends K.C. and Katheryn.  We went to Tsunami and had drinks at the bar followed by an incredible dinner.  I mean, a huge, wonderful dinner: a few appetizers, soups, salads, entrees, and dessert - oh my!  We followed with a night cap at The Beauty Shop.  Such a good night - so good to hang out with them.

Sunday was a normal Sunday (church, errands, cleaning of house, football, etc.), which was necessary after so much play.  All in all, a great weekend!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Fitness Friday

I talk a lot about my running on the blog, but I don't talk all that much about yoga.  Specifically, I don't really mention any athletic goals pertaining to yoga.  I actually have some, though, that are just as important to me as the running-centered ones.

1) By the end of the year, I want to be able to do down dog with my feet flat on the floor.  Because my hamstrings are so tight, I currently have to stand on the balls of my feet when in the pose.  I try to stretch at least once a day in a down dog-type pose to gain more flexibility.  I know with a lot of patience & practice, I can achieve this.

2) Similarly, I want to be able to do a forward fold without using a block for my hands.  So in yoga, if you aren't flexible enough to do a pose, you use a block and "build" the ground up to you so your hands can be grounded.  The forward fold essentially stretches the same muscles as down dog, so I think in achieving goal one, I will also (hopefully!) achieve this one.

3) Not be so intimidated by headstands.  Currently, if there's a class where I think they'll do headstands, I don't go.  It's because I'm totally chicken and/or think I'll look like an idiot if I a) try and fail, or b) don't try and thus am a tool.  (This is a sort of weird reaction, because as anyone who's ever stepped foot in a yoga studio knows, the atmosphere is the total opposite of judging - but still.)  I know the only way to feel more comfortable about them is to practice at home - but I'm even a little chicken about that.  So this one requires a bit of work...

I love yoga, though.  I love the atmosphere & vibe of the studio.  I love the cool, hippy-ish, calm teachers.  I love the help/support you get from the teacher, and the general feeling of support/niceness that comes from everyone in the class.  I love the chill, groovy music they play.  And the awesome moment of rest (savasana) at the end.

I think a really good schedule for me right now, considering the longer runs I've been doing, would be: 3 days running, 2 days yoga, 1 day other cardio or weights, and 1 day rest.  I'm totally committed to my Thursday night yoga class, so that makes it easy enough to just choose one other class/week to attend.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

I Heard the News Today, Oh Boy...

Did I get that song in everyone's head?  It's certainly stuck in mine now.

Anyway.  A couple newsworthy things have sparked my interest of late.

1) Did you guys know that the Superbowl is the biggest event of the year for human trafficking in the US?  It's predicted that because of the huge demand, woman & children will be brought into Dallas for the event.

I think everyone thinks of sex trafficking (that is, prostitution) as something that only happens in "less developed" countries than ours; we especially think this way in regards to the trafficking of children.  But sadly, it's happening here a lot.  It's predicted that in 2 years, sex trafficking will surpass drugs as the fastest growing illegal trade in the US.  Here's a government fact sheet if you're interested in reading more. 

I was completely shocked to hear that about the SuperBowl.  Apparently there's a campaign right now called "I'm Not Buying It," which is working to promote awareness about the issue.  Unfortunately, the SuperBowl host committee won't participate at this time.

2) On a different note, did you guys watch the Golden Globes with Ricky Gervais hosting?  What did you think of his "off-color" humor?

I don't feel super passionately about this - but I do think, generally, his "jokes" throughout the night were unnecessary.  Especially considering that the nation has been swamped with media coverage about bullying in schools (which is great; more coverage = more awareness).  So essentially, Ricky was just a big, adult bully on the show, hiding behind the illusion of comedy; and that feels a little bit retrogressive to me...  Thoughts?  I know he's British and there's a slightly different tone to British humor - but this is an American awards show.  I think everyone needs to be nice.

3) Are you guys watching the coverage of what's going on in Tunisia?  Some of the stuff happening there is really, really awful (ie, it was initiated by a man who set himself on fire as an anti-government protest).  And even though Tunisia is small and far away, what's happening now with their revolt could affect our country's relations towards the Arab world.  It's worth reading up about if you haven't.  There's a great article in Time.

4) And on a final entertainment note: we saw The King's Speech this past weekend and it was awesome!  Colin Firth absolutely deserved the Golden Globe for hotness Best Actor - and everyone should go see it.  It was 100x more enjoyable than I thought it would be.

This is sort of a random post, I realize.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

My MLK Day...Told Through Food

My MLK day was awesome!  Despite the nasty weather, I had a fabulous day away from the office.

Before my long (7.5!) mile run, I had breakfast & coffee.  I think of this guy as the Breakfast of Champions on a day when I want to run.

The bowl contains:
-1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
-1/2 of a banana (I ate the other half, but too much banana makes the mixture gummy)
-a handful of blueberries
-a handful of walnuts
-1/3 cup old fashioned rolled oats
-cinnamon
-a big spoonful of honey

The run went well (despite some serious motivation issues on mile 2).  I watched the end of the Today Show and most of Rachel Ray.

After a shower, I went and picked up this cup of awesomeness for lunch that I then snuck into the movie theatre.
It's California Tart frozen yogurt from YoLo with a large-to-very-large amount of granola, salted pecans, and fruit (bananas/strawberries/blueberries).  Holy crap delicious!

I went to see Rabbit Hole (with Nicole Kidman - the one about the couple whose kid died).  It was a great film.  Jonathan generally doesn't like dramas that are/could be realistic, so I knew he wouldn't like this one, which made it the perfect solo movie for my day off.

Then I went to the semi-annual sale at Isabella.
I got these $180 jeans that I've been wanting....for $80!  In this pic, I'm eating the first part of my afternoon snack (some grapes), which was followed by:
this bowl of goodness.  I nibbled on this while I watched Oprah's MLK special.  (Did anyone else see the show?  There were some really poorly represented Southerners from video clips she's gathered over the years [although most of them apologized in the present for the way they acted on the shows from the past, which was redeeming].)

In the bowl:
-1/2 cup black beans (with spices) warmed & then mashed with sour cream into a paste
-taco sauce
-guacamole
-more sour cream
-tomatoes
All scooped up with some pieces of corn tortillas.  Yum.

After Jonathan got home from work, we had our lovely dinner (utilizing the highly esteemed kale from a couple blog posts ago).
I served:
-wilted kale (with meyor lemon zest & a little olive oil/m. lemon combo drizzled on top)
-baked salmon (baked chicken for Jonathan)
-baked acorn squash with spicy apples

Then I had dessert.
My new favorite sweet treat: all-fruit coconut bars!  Which was followed by some of these:
Before we went to the Girl Talk concert!

Fun, fun day!  I hope you guys enjoyed it as well if you got the day off!  (If you didn't - that's quite unfortunate.)

Monday, January 17, 2011

I've Always Wondered...

1) Do birds really "fly south" for the winter?
          a) If so, to where?  Memphis has birds in winter - do they fly here?
          b) If they fly farther south (say an island in the Caribbean), how do they cross the ocean?  As in, how can a tiny sparrow fly all that way without getting tired?

2) If your gas tank is low in the winter, could the gas really freeze when the car's turned off?  Does anyone know someone to whom this has actually happened?

3) When a glass "sweats" (a glass of ice water on a hot day, for example), where does the "sweat" come from?  I understand that it's condensation - but from where?  The atmosphere?

4) What are a meteorologist's credentials?  There's a girl who went to Rhodes who is a meteorologist now; I think she was an English major.

5) Remember those infomercials in the 90s about speed reading?  You would run your hand over the page and read it in 2 seconds...?  Does anyone know someone who can do this?

6) Does Rosetta Stone really work?  Like, does someone know firsthand that it does?

7) Do any commercials on tv have "real people," that is, non actors?  Like, the commercials for medical stuff (I'm thinking of toothpaste ads and that Restasis one with the pretty doctor) - are those really doctors - or actors?  Or what about the ones for cleaning supplies/credit cards/Chevy/Toyota when the "real family" talks about how their family uses the item - are those actors?

8) Where are all the landfills for major cities?  Like, where is the one for Memphis?  I presume most landfills are enormous - why can't they be smelled from the whole city?

9) How do you get selected for the home makeover shows on HGTV?  (Particularly Divine Design, because I'd like Candice Olsen to re-do my house.)  Also - who pays?  You or the network?

10) Does another person (or many!) exist in the World who has your exact same proportions - like, everything the same: height, weight, shoe, inseam, hips, waist, bust, calf/thigh/arm/neck circumference, arm length, etc.  (If that person did exist, and you saw them walking down the street, do you think you'd recognize your body?)

Anyone??

Happy MLK Day, too!  I'm home enjoying a lovely day off.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Fitness Friday

It feels a little weird for me not to have a goal (other than the "goal" of not weighing myself everyday and/or obsessing about my weight).  I like goals.  I like having some tangible thing I'm trying to achieve.  Sooooo - I think I'll make a new one!

Run ten miles on the treadmill in less than 1.5 hours.

I don't really have a specified date I'd like this completed - but I want to do it in the healthiest, most comfortable way possible for my body.  So I don't think it will necessarily happen next week.  I'm setting a time limit because I think, in theory, I could probably run ten miles now if I just took it super slow.  So I don't want that to be my goal (ie, just run 10 slow-a miles in 2+ hours).  I want to keep up with the pace I have now when I do my 6 or 7 mile runs which, according to my Nike+ GPS app*, is usually around 8:30-8:45.

So that's my new goal!  To achieve it, I'm just going to keep clocking the miles - and then gradually add onto them (even if that's adding an extra .25 at a time).  I've noticed that once I get to 7 miles, my body starts to get pretty achy - so I think I need to chill out there for awhile so I can get used to running that much on a regular basis.

Anyone else need a new goal?  Want to try to achieve it alongside me?

*This app is awe-some!  If you have an iPhone & you like to run, you need it.  Pay the $2.99.  It's worth it (and I'm not usually a person who pays for apps).

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Kitchen Tools & Tips

As someone who likes to cook & eat, I also enjoy reading about said delights.  And certain things for which I'm always on the lookout, other than delicious recipes, are new kitchen tips & tools. 

So I thought I might share two tools and one tip that I've found especially useful of late, if case you, too, like to read about new tricks in the kitchen.

1) This guy:

If you like to cook/cook a lot and don't have a big momma, enameled, cast iron dutch oven, you're missing out.  I got this as a wedding present.  I'll admit that it sat on our shelf for awhile because I thought, foolishly, "I don't really make that much soup." 

That comment is so silly, because thinking that soup is the only thing you can/will make in this pot is a funny joke.  Ha ha ha.

Because you can make everything in this pot.  Everything.  It's a perfect size (I like it 100x better than our stockpots because it's more wide than it is deep, making it really easy to saute).  But the enameled cast iron is what really does it, because it cooks things beautifully.  Like, the distribution of heat is so even and perfect that cooking is almost foolproof.

Get one of these pots!  Save your money for it, because the cost comes back in how often you'll use it.

2) A microplane zester:

I also got this as a wedding present.  I registered for it because I'd seen it on so many cooking shows, I figured all kitchens needed one.  But even in registering for it, I didn't think it would see all that much use.

But actually, I use it a ton!  It's possibly because I cook a lot of Indian- & Asian-flavored dishes, but I find that at least 3 nights a week, whatever I'm making calls for ginger and/or garlic, and that's where this little beauty is awesome.  I keep the ginger root in the freezer, and when I take it out & peel it, I then "zest" it with this tool; it makes a super fine ginger dust that's a lot more useful than if I were to chop the ginger.  Similarly, I "zest" the garlic with it too, which far surpasses the grated garlic I get if I were using a garlic press, in terms of the final, grated product.

And it's so easy to throw it in the dishwasher (unlike that garlic grater when you have to dig out the remaining garlic skin first).

And finally,

3) The Art of Freezing
I imagine that some of your houses were like mine growing up, that is, you also had two freezers like we did.  That is, my mom had so much frozen food, she needed an additional freezer for storage.

For whatever reason, as a cook myself, I didn't really get that into freezing until recently.  But once I started doing it a lot - I don't know how I ever lived before.

So here's the dilemma: you cook a recipe for you & your husband.  Almost no recipes make two servings, they just aren't like that - so, what do you do?

Well, we used to maybe eat the dish two nights in a row.  Or I'd take it in my lunch for the week.  Or, sadly, it would get thrown out after two days because we didn't want to keep having the same thing.  Now?  We eat the dish one night, freeze it, and then have it anytime in the next few weeks when I don't feel like cooking, or on a Thursday (which is the farthest day from the grocery store, and thus, I don't like to serve meat/fish that might not be awesome after being purchased on Saturday or Sunday).  This is so, so awesome because nothing is going to waste, and I have a couple meals on hand in case something comes up and I don't want to/can't cook.

Even the other day when I made cookies, I froze half of the cookie dough so I could just make a reasonable amount for Jonathan and me without having to bring half to work so we wouldn't gain 5 pounds in cookie.

Do you guys have any good tools or tricks you've been using of late?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Day Off - Woo Hoo!

My snow day was glorious!  (Yes - this post is a little late describing it.  But the National Championship football game went later than I expected, and then I was busy at work yesterday, so this is the first time I've had a second to sit down and write.)

So I slept in until about 8, which was awesome.  I watched morning shows on tv; talked to my mom on the phone; baked cookies; read my book; did some laundry; ran 7 miles on the treadmill; cooked a delicious soup for dinner; then watched the football game.  Such a nice, unexpected day away from the office.

Here's a little dilemma we encountered on the day off.  So, I was getting the ingredients out to bake the cookies, and I realized I didn't have enough vanilla extract.  I'd usually use 2 teaspoons, but I only had 1 in the bottle.  What would you do in this situation?  (And I mean in terms of substitution - I wasn't about to leave the house to get a new bottle.)  I wanted to do one teaspoon vanilla, one teaspoon whiskey, but Jonathan was disgusted by the idea.  So instead I used the one teaspoon vanilla, then added one teaspoon water with a little bit of Splenda french vanilla coffee creamer, which was of unknown date of purchase, and found on the back shelf of the pantry.  I don't know if I'm just searching for the flavor because I know it's not there, but when I taste the cookies, I think they slightly lack the body that vanilla extract gives them.  Have you guys ever made a substitution for it?

Anyway...great day off! 

(And if anyone's curious, the rain/snow boots I ordered last week on Thursday haven't arrived yet.  Really helpful.)

Monday, January 10, 2011

Oh Yeah!

SNOW DAY!

It started snowing last night around 7 and snowed on steadily through the night, I think.  We have a few inches, I'd say.  All schools are closed.  Jonathan's office is closed. 

I love a snow day!

I'm going to do a long run on the treadmill; finish my book; do some laundry; maybe make some cookies...the possibilities are endless!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Fitness Friday...ish

Here's a fun little story...

So the whole month before Christmas I embarked on a journey to lose 10 pounds & thus wear my honeymoon swimsuits on our Christmas vacation.  I counted calories like you've never seen.  I kept alcohol to a minimum.  I exercised just about every day - including some serious running.  In the end, I lost ~3-4 pounds and I did end up wearing the honeymoon swimsuits (but maybe slightly less well than I did on our honeymoon).  Whatev.

Then we went on our Christmas vacation.  On the trip I: didn't exercise - not one day; drank ~4 beers/night (sometimes in addition to splitting a bottle of wine at dinner); ate a TON of Doritos; ate a TON of Christmas cookies and chocolates; drank sugary drinks like juice and Gatorade.  Total diet disaster.

Then I got home and weighed myself....and I weighed 2 pounds less than I did when we left.
___________

On a different note, Sarah and I were having a conversation before I left for vacation.  Basically, we both agreed that our individual bodies have a weight that is pretty easily maintained.  We both agreed that when we get above that weight, it's easy-ish to bring it back down.  And it's harder to try to get that weight "re-set" at a lower number.

We also both agreed that we wished the number - the "homebase" weight - was lower.
___________

And I'm not sure I can explain the exact mental connection that was made in my head, but basically a light switch was turned on:

I need to stop f-ing obsessing about how much I weigh!

It's just a number.  It's a number that obviously moves around in weird ways (see the first part of the blog post).  This dumb, inconsequential number does not own me.  It doesn't deserve to make me feel happy or sad in the morning, depending which side of the "homebase weight" it's on.  And frankly, it doesn't deserve so much of my undivided attention.

For my height (5'9), the healthy weight range for a woman (as set by BMI) is 129-169 (thank you genes for making me so tall!).

So here's my new philosophy: continue to exercise most days of the week; continue to eat real food; and continue to keep my weight in the healthy BMI range.  I don't need to weigh 129.  In fact, I don't think that would be possible for me unless a significant portion of my general shape changed (although, I'll say, my boobs are free to get a little smaller if they want). 

Here's the annoying truth, since I know myself so well: I'm pretty sure there's no number on the scale that will ever make me content.  Like, even if I weighed 130 - just knowing myself, I'm pretty sure I'd obsess until I got into the 120s, because come on, so close! 

I'm also going to quit weighing myself so often.  I will once a week, just to make sure things haven't taken a drastic change.  But this every-morning-help-me-set-the-mood-for-the-day is over.

Do you guys think I'm being lax?  Like, should I try to be my most ideal weight (which would probably be about 5-10 pounds lower, in theory)?

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Happy New Year!

We had a really wonderful New Year's Eve celebration this year!

(One not so wonderful aspect was that my office wasn't closed at all in honor of the holiday.  A lovely part of working for a stock market-centered company is that we have about 10 "stock market holidays" throughout the year.  I think because the year ended on a Friday, there's some pre-determined stipulation about closing the market, and alas, it was open.  But whatev - I only worked until about noon, anyway.)

So on NYE, we started the night at a friend's house on Mud Island.  (Side AWESOME note: one of the other couples we were with live two blocks from us and they drove the whole night.  This wasn't necessarily the plan, but she felt comfortable driving at the end of the night, so, lucky us, we got to avoid the mess of calling a cab.)  Anyway, the friend who's house we started the night at is really into wine, so we had some delicious wine from his collection before we headed out.  Then we went to McEwan's, which is a nice restaurant downtown, for our dinner.

They had a set menu with a couple choices for each course.  My first course was a warm vegetable plate, followed by an arugula salad.  And then my entree was sea bass with some vegetables and gnocchi.  The dessert was a plate of three things: a flourless chocolate cake, a spice cake, and white chocolate/candycane bark.  I loved the candycane one - mmm.  Overall it was a really good dinner, with really good company.

So we'd been to McEwan's two years ago for the same sort of NYE celebration.  When we went that time, we had our long dinner, and then stayed through midnight (and everyone in the restaurant counted down together and they passed out champagne).  Well this year, the restaurant wasn't very crowded (most likely due to the monsoon rains and tornado warnings [not to mention the gushing river of rain water that ran right outside the restaurant's door] that didn't really affect our plans, but could've easily deterred people with less desire to eat & drink than us).  So as midnight approached, the restaurant people were sort of closing things down.  We decided to race back to Mud Island for midnight instead of out-staying our welcome.

We got back with about 10 minutes to spare.  We turned on the tv and saw that all three major networks were showing NYE shows.  Dick Clark seemed like the best option.  We turned it on and waited for the countdown.

Only....

It never happened.

But by the time we realized that we wouldn't see a countdown on Dick Clark's show, it was too late to try another channel.  The ten seconds had passed.  We missed them.  No counting, no kisses at midnight, no champagne.

It was weird.  Not like, weird-bad; it actually had no general effect on my impression of the night.  But more like, wtf Memphis programming?  You need a time delay!

It was still a great night, though.  And the best part?  When we got back home, I had maybe a strong buzz at most - so I was able to sleep a glorious night and not wake up hungover.  (Even though the fact that we only took off our bathrobes for an hour to pick up Indian takeout & beer for dinner on Saturday might have suggested otherwise - don't be confused; we were just really, really lazy, not hungover.)

Did anyone else have a time-delay issue with ole Dickie boy?

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Aruba...Arriba!

We had a great time in Aruba!  It was sort of a typical Christmas vacation for my family: warm, sunny, relaxing, and food- & drink-filled.

We rented a fantastic house:
It was big and nice.  There were a few different places for lounging (a couple patios and two den-type rooms with tvs) that gave us all enough room to have our own space if needed, and not be on top of each other all the time.  You can't tell in the picture, but the pool was just below that outdoor patio (to the left of the rental car).

The house was pretty off the beaten path, which wasn't necessarily awesome, but the niceness of it helped make that ok.  We encountered this little guy on the way home, one day:

We went to the beach one day.
And it was soooo crowded:
We had some fan-tastic dinners.  We ate at a restaurant that had been voted "the best restaurant in the Caribbean," and it certainly lived up to the hype.

I did a lot of this:
I read The Raw Shark Texts - the book I got at our book club gift exchange.  I loved it - but it's probably not for everyone.  If you like sort of weird, obscure books that play with language, you'll probably like it (or at least appreciate it).  If you don't like books that aren't about something 100% tangible, it's probably not for you.  I also started (and am still reading) The Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson.  It's a dystopia (my fave!) given to me by Jonathan.

Overall, we had a lot of good family time on our trip.
Jonathan was surrounded by a lot of females.
But he liked it!
We were even visited by this guy:
And were able to celebrate the birth of this guy:
Overall, it was really nice to get out of cold, gray Memphis and soak up the sun for awhile.  I hope you guys had great Christmases, too!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Take a Cup of Kindness Yet, For Auld Lang Syne

Everyone has different opinions about making "resolutions" in the new year.  I guess it is somewhat cliche - I'll give you that, skeptics.  But still, I like to do it.  Even though we should all be checking in with ourselves often and resolving to be better, I like that the new year marks a definite shift in time.

So - I'm making a new year's resolution.  It's just one, although it's sort of all-encompassing:

Be nice.

Just that - I'm going to be nicer.  To my family, my husband, my friends, myself, strangers on the street, people I just meet, people I work with, people I don't like - I'm going to be nice.

It's not that I'm currently mean, I don't think.  But I don't think I'm as nice as I could be.  Sometimes I have some stereotypical female cattiness.  Sometimes I pick fights about things I don't care about, just because I feel like arguing.  Sometimes most times, I'm not nice to the people at work I don't like.  Sometimes I negatively judge people I just meet.  Sometimes I judge myself in a harsh, destructive way.  Sometimes I deflect negative thoughts about myself onto others.

And so, generally, I'm going to try to be nicer.  I'll make an effort to smile more and argue less; to be nice to everyone at work; to nag at Jonathan less; to not be smug towards my mom; to talk less negatively about people; to stop beating myself up and dwelling on my failures.

And it will be a good year.  Not to be all Yanni-touchy-feely, but I think there's something true about negative or positive energy surrounding you - so I think making an effort to be nice will definitely feel different in terms of my surrounding energy.

That's my resolution.  Did you guys make any?

(Also - Merry belated Christmas!  I'll blog about Aruba [which was fab!] later this week.)