Sunday, August 16, 2009

Not So Guilty Pleasures

Oh, so good. I got hooked on Mad Men several weeks ago after catching a repeat on AMC and promptly queued all the DVDs in Netflix. Needless to say I've been waiting for tonight and nerdily marked it on my calendar so I wouldn't forget!

Dinner was simple to use up some mushrooms and asparagus that were in a use-it-or-lose-it state with some whole wheat rotini. I made sure to have dinner ready early enough to allow my stomach to make room for dessert along all the fashion eye candy on Mad Men as well as time to clean up. This is a great easy weeknight meal that could just as well accommodate some chicken or shrimp if you felt inclined.

I just cooked up some sliced shitake 'shrooms in a bit of butter and lemon juice until they were slightly browned and added the asparagus for the last couple of minutes, along with a bit of vegetable broth and a dash of the pasta water to create slightly saucier dish. Normally I'd top it with some Parmesan but for the first time ever (what WAS I thinking?) I am out! No worries - the cheese drawer is always stocked and I added a couple chunks of feta for creaminess.

After cleaning up and painting my nails I sat down to indulge in my non-guilty pleasures. I'd seen a recipe in the latest SELF magazine for a blueberry-basil granita and knew I had to have it. Between this and the banana "soft-serve" that's been all the bloggy rage this summer who needs ice cream? This involved about two more steps than the soft-serve, which is to say that it took 3 minutes instead of 1. Really. Just add blueberries, a bit of basil, a couple tablespoons of honey, a little bit of water, and a pinch of salt to a food processor and blend. Once smooth, pour into an airtight container and freeze for a couple of hours.

Nevermind the lovely container - this was sooooooooo tasty. The clean flavors of basil and the sweetness of the blueberries made it feel considerably more decadent than it truly is. Plenty of other flavor combinations are a-brewing in my mind already.

Merry Old Land of Oz

Ugh.  Waking up this morning was not fun.  I'd had just enough last night to have a mini-hangover this morning but nothing that couldn't be worked through.  The Beanpole had to head out mid-morning to catch a flight to the other side of the Earth.  It sounds so strange when worded that way.  Anyway.  I needed something bland to eat, but needed it quickly, so once he was packed and ready to go we ducked into our favorite little neighborhood bakery, Red Hen, for a pastry.  I just had a plain croissant and an apple juice to hold me over.  

Grocery shopping was a nightmare today due the sudden downpour on the heads of the Air show crowd who proceeded to clog every major artery heading north or south.  It took nearly an hour to get home when it typically takes 10-15 minutes.  I was happy to be on the bus and not out on the beach far from cover!  Finally hungry and ready to eat by this point I stuck an Amy's Spinach Pizza wrap into the microwave and broke out the watermelon I'd picked up.  I'm not a huge fan of watermelon but this is the third time in a week that I've had a perfect taste of it.  Not soggy or sour, just perfectly crisp and juicy.  

My go-to hangover fix used to be a nice big Coke but now that I've cut down on the caffeine it's hard to take more than a couple of sips at a time so I stayed with a carbonated water.  Bubbles make everything better!  See how pretty?

Since then I've enjoyed a leisurely Sunday Spa day.  I'm exfoliated, buffed, polished, washed, straightened, moisturized, and RELAXED.  I think I did everything but dye my eyes to match my dress! Ooooooh, and I have what promises to be an extremely delicious dessert in the making right now.  My goal is to have everything ready to start my day tomorrow early tonight so I can curl up on the couch with my pretty pink toes, tasty (and healthy!) dessert, and relish every second of the new season of Mad Men.  Can't wait to find out what changes have taken place at Sterling Cooper!

I Went to the Danger Zone

Seems like a fitting title for a weekend filled with sonic booms and unexpected showers.  First, a correction.  Yesterday's yogurt was not in fact Oikos, but Chobani.  Either way I'm still a Fage kind of gal.  

Not long after the yogurt yesterday The Beanpole and I headed out to run some errands and see some friends who were kind enough to invite us over to enjoy their front-row seats to the Air and Water show.  We snacked on Romano cheese, rice crackers, spicy olives, and zesty pickles.  The pickles stole the show in my opinion!  I'm not sure what the zestiness contained but they were delicious!  How 'bout this view?!?!?!

Not terribly long after we arrived the Thunderbirds came zooming in and several of us piled onto the 24th floor balcony to watch the routine to the Top Gun soundtrack blaring on the speakers inside.  As fun as they are to watch I've got to say that they don't hold a candle to the Blue Angels.  Once a Navy girl always a Navy girl, I guess.  I tried to grab a couple shots of them in action, but they were hard to catch!  We all squealed with excitement (heightened perhaps by the beer and daquiris that were flowing) when they came flying right over the building:

Later we caught a bus up the street to the bar to meet some more friends and have a couple of beers.  Can't beat a $4 Carlsberg!  I hadn't really eaten a formal lunch and was pretty hungry by that point so I ordered the veggie skewers.  YUM.  Two skewers of peppers, zucchini, squash, and tomato over couscous with a curry dipping sauce and pitas.  I shared some of the pitas and sauce but tore into the veggies like a wild woman.  It's funny how the body truly comes to crave healthy options after a little while!  

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Happy Birthday to ME!

Now that I've adjusted to the new job and working out of the house again I'm making a sincere effort to get back into this blogging thing. It all sort of comes down to my birthday resolution. I don't actually make New Year's resolutions with the rest of the world but prefer to do them on my birthday. It's a fresh start for me and a chance to try to make some positive moves forward. While the rest of the world rejoices the coming of spring and new growth I instead use the dark, cold days of winter to reflect on the changes that I've already put in place through the fall and use the thoughts of all the new shoots to energize existing plans for a motivational boost. It's been a season of change around here and I've enjoyed the last month of reflecting on the past year and getting ready to start all over.

So, without further ado, I'm posting my Birthday Resolutions and the steps already in place for the world (or the 4 readers I currently have) to see

1. Start writing again. It's tough to get started, and tougher to keep going, but it's what I love. So I signed up for a class this fall on freelancing for magazines. By the end of the five sessions we're to have a finished article ready for submission and/or publication. I'm looking forward to getting some ideas and guidance and finally pursuing this after thinking about it for so many years.
2. Begin a regular yoga home practice. For years it seemed that a daily home practice was out of reach, something to be relished by those with endless hours and not bound by the time-space continuum. Recently though the lightbulb went on and I realized that a twenty minute practice could be just as valid as an hour and a half or more. This realization leads me to my third (and more nebulous) resolution:
3. Remember that it's all just practice. Like many others I have a tendency to forget that it (whatever IT is) doesn't have to be perfect the first time. It's ok to have a cooking disaster because plenty of opportunities for simple successes exist. It's ok for my heels to fly up stubbornly during adho mukha svanasana as long as I keep practicing. Maybe they'll get there. Maybe they won't. But either way, I will, and that's the bigger point of it all anyway.

Enough of the serious stuff, right? The past couple of weekends have been some of the best on record in the past year because the workaholic Beanpole was able to escape the doom of consultancy to GASP - spend time with his wife and reclaim a bit of a normal lifestyle. We celebrated last weekend with none other than a Chicago-style deep dish pizza at Pequod's (for him) and a movie date (for me) to see Julie and Julia. Many critics have expressed disappointment with the Julie segments but having read the book (a couple weeks after 30, being laid off from a job I didn't really like anyway, and loving food but not really knowing how to cook, and living in 600sf while being a frustrated wanna-be writer) I have to say that it was spot-on. I can't even count the number of times that the Beanpole turned to me and said "Yup. That's you."

That just about catches us up to this week! This is probably one of the better birthday weekends on record. Yesterday started out with an adorable puppy card and a box of Oreos on my desk from my cube-mate. How sweet was that of her? We'd talked the day before about "trigger foods" and of course, Oreos were mentioned. While I try not to place extremely strict guidelines on what I can or can't eat Oreos will send me over the edge every time so they are a once a year treat. And after breaking open the package I can say that they have yet to disappoint! The day got even better when my second paycheck hit. The thrill of seeing money in our bank account again is a fantastic high. What could make the day better still? The Beanpole getting home from Philly! And better than that? A lovely French dinner (in honor Julia, of course!) on Bistro Campagne's charming patio with a bottle of rich red wine. He enjoyed the special tenderloin while I feasted on halibut. We had a slight mixup and the runner served me a plate of rabbit instead and not paying attention I bit right in. Ohhhhhhh, it was amazing to have meat again. I sneaked in two bites before they snatched it away from me to replace it with my order but feared becoming sick. When I was still kicking half an hour later I knew I'd found a meat option! Will I eat rabbit on a regular basis? Not likely, as I'm loathe to prepare it and the Bistro is just a little pricey to visit regularly, but it's comforting to know that I'm not destined to remain solely pescatarian. It was a little too dark to get any photos, but I did snap the wine so we can pick up a couple bottles.

We slept in this morning after going to bed so late last night and are getting ready to run some errands and drop by some friends' house to enjoy their balcony for the annual Air and Water show. The Thunderbirds' maneuvers never cease to thrill me and a dream of mine is to ride through a show some day. I'd settle for the Blue Angels though if I had to and had a Blue bowl of breakfast in their honor.

Blueberry Oikos topped with blueberries and a bit of peach maple granola. I'm not crazy about Oikos but it was on sale for considerably cheaper than my favorite Fage so Oikos it was! And a big cup of water which was not, as the cup indicates, a killer margarita. Saving that for tonight perhaps!

We'll probably grab lunch out since the fridge is pretty bare. I'm hoping to find a tasty and filling salad somewhere since we'll be having cocktails tonight with some more friends to celebrate my birthday some more. After spending my 30th in the GI doctor's office doubled over in pain and misery I'm milking this one!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

What a Day!

Wow, I'm just amazed at all the sad celebrity news this week! I've been glued to the TV most of the afternoon trying to keep up with the is-he-or-isn't-he coverage around Michael Jackson. It's just been in the past couple of years that I've started to really enjoy his music. Hopefully he'll enjoy some peace now that he seemed to struggle to find here on Earth.

Annnnyhoooo. I knew I wanted to keep lunch on the lighter side tonight since I'm planning on a pasta dinner but didn't feel like a salad. After staring at all the yummy goodness in the fridge I had a flashback to some lettuce cups that a friend made one summer day a couple years ago. That version involved ground turkey but conveniently I had some Boca Crumbles in the freezer just waiting on a day like this. They're not much to look at but were very tasty!

I sauteed some chopped onion and garlic until translucent, added a bit of red bell pepper, some cumin and chili powder, the Crumbles, and a little bit of water and covered for a couple of minutes. This was the first go-round with the Crumbles. I don't love them and if I were a meat-eater would likely have been a bit disappointed but used in a sauce or a flavorful taco recipe like this they held up pretty well. The texture was decidedly different...a little on the mushy side. Nice to have on hand for a quick lunch or dinner though.

The lettuce cups were on the small side once wrapped so I added an apple and a couple of cherries for some balance. Boy, did I ever underestimate how filling the wraps would be! Half an apple is just hanging out in the fridge waiting on me.

In other exciting news, I had a job offer! Wooooooo-hooo! It's a temp-to-hire position at a local university and I'll be starting in the next couple of weeks. We're in the process of ironing out some of the details, but oddly enough it's a position that I interviewed for a couple months ago that's come open again. Funny how the world works, isn't it? How's that for a reminder to put out lots of positive energy in the world? It really does come back around. I think I'll have a glass or two of wine tonight to celebrate!
Good morning! I woke up nice and early to the warm sunshine this morning and took my time getting out of bed. It's so relaxing to just lie there enjoying the morning and not feeling rushed. The Beanpole often jokes that I'm becoming more and more like our cat and perhaps it's true!

Yesterday's oatmeal was delicious but today called for something a little lighter so I started with a pina colada Green Monster. It ended up being a little too much and turned warm too quickly, even with a couple ice cubes added, so I didn't quite finish it. There's about 1/4 left. I need to remember to make mini-smoothies so I don't end up wasting as much. Oh well. One of these days! To supplement the smoothie and fill the belly for a little longer I added a multi-grain waffle with almond butter and fresh berries.

My landlord is refinancing the place so she and the appraiser came over to take a look (hence the late posting) and in talking with her I found out that she has a friend who has some experience in the event planning field and got her name and number. I'm really excited about all the possibilities that are opening up now that I'm reaching out and pursuing something that I've always had in the back of my mind. Being laid off wasn't easy in a number of ways but I've really reached that point of making the most of it and becoming more and more engaged in the local community and building a new network of really great people. This might be one of the best things that's happened to me in the past year! Today looks to be pretty good. I'm camping out at home watching the Cubs game and getting some more resumes out there. GO CUBS!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

A Hot Mess

Sorry for all the weather chatter lately! Yikes. But, as anyone in Chicago will happily tell you we KNOW how to talk about the weather. There are so many jokes about it - all based in reality. Don't like it? Give it thirty minutes and it'll be different. : )

After eating out for five straight days while on vacation (and not wanting to buy groceries right before the trip) my goal for this week was to eat as many meals - if not all - at home as possible. Tonight was an exception though because I had a chance to meet another blogger! We met at Red Ivy in the Wrigleyville neighborhood (yes, that Wrigley) for their Wednesday $5 personal pizza special. I live several blocks away and with the sun beating down and a heat index of 105 degrees I was a sweaty, panting mess by the time I arrived. Sorry Lisa! I guzzled a huge glass of water and started to cool off in time for the pizza, which was delicious! The sauce was a little sweet and the crust nice and doughy. Ooops - a slice was already gone when I remembered to take this photo.

Objects in photos may appear considerably larger than reality. It truly was not as big as it seems but even so, I debated bringing half of it home for later. Surprisingly it was not overly filling even in the heat so I left only one tiny slice and the walk home was much more pleasant since the sun had set behind some buildings. As we ate we talked about life lessons, the progression of careers, and living frugally in the big city during tough times. We're really fortunate to have so many fun free events and great parks here and it's going to be a fun summer to take advantage of them.

**I took a look at the blog earlier and it looks like my links aren't working. I'm planning on doing some updates in the next couple of days so this should be fixed soon, but in the meantime please be sure to visit (cut and paste) for more info on Lisa and her blog**

Keepin' Cool

Yummmmm, all that hot oatmeal kept me full even longer than usual today, likely due to the heat. It's starting to cloud over and storms are expected but hopefully they'll blow through quickly and we can get back to some sunshine! I figured the best way to keep cool and eat light today was to whip up a salad. I LOVE salads when dining out but they never seem to taste quite as good at home. This doesn't seem to be the case for most meals but salads just have a little something extra when prepared in a restaurant. Anyone else feel that way about salads or any other particular meals?

Today's mix was some loose leaf lettuce, tomato, red bell pepper, carrot, kernels from one of the fresh ears of corn I bought yesterday, a couple sliced strawberries, about 1/3 of the remaining half of avocado, a tablespoon or so of Annie's sesame dressing, and an ounce of goat cheese. It was delicious - a wonderful combination of crunchy, creamy, salty, and sweet. I think the fresh corn made it special! A couple thin slices of pretzel bread rounded out the meal, but an hour later I'm feeling a bit hungry and will probably have a tiny snack before heading off to dinner.

I also got some fantastic news from a friend this afternoon! Nothing is set in stone right now but it could be a really great opportunity so keep the fingers crossed!

Berry Berry Good

Whew! I used our tiny little window unit A/C last night for a couple hours to cool the place down - which works pretty well when you're talking 600sf - but turned it back off to sleep. Man was it hot when I woke up! We were already at 87 degrees at 8am. Impressive in June. Nevertheless I kept thinking how tasty a nice big bowl of oatmeal with tons of berries would be. It's a little embarrassing to admit, but I definitely made the bowl and camped out in front of the window unit to eat it! I try to run the A/C as little as possible for energy savings as well as maintaining predictability on our electric bill but a girl's gotta do what she's gotta do for the oatmeal! It may not appear as such but under the strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, coconut, banana, and chocolate chips there are actually oats in the bowl!

Today's to-do list isn't quite as hectic as yesterdays but I do have a bunch of emails I need to catch up on and some people to connect with that I've been trying to find an extra couple of minutes to do. Tonight I'm having dinner with Lisa Marie from another Chicago blog! She and a friend started Laid Off Ladies several months ago and I love their blog! It's full of great ideas on how to keep the spirits up when going through this type of transition and I can't wait to meet one half of this duo. She's even spent some time in my beloved South Carolina!

Time Flies

Yikes! I'm sad to say that I missed the networking event last night. I was ready to go, save for getting dressed since it's steamy, and got distracted with some other work and next thing I realized the event was halfway over. Oh well - there are plenty more to come. After debating for a little while I finally settled on having breakfast for dinner. Eggs were sounding particularly appealing so I whipped up a veggie scramble. Nothing fancy, just some eggs, a bit of cheese, red pepper, tomato, and 1/2 a small avocado. YUM!

Washed it all down with an (unpictured) glass of pomegranate juice with a couple splashes of seltzer. I've discovered that caffeine and I just can't work it out and will have to make the most of this separation, but I'd been craving Coke all day. Upon reflection, though, I realized that it was really just the carbonation I wanted and decided to stick with this healthier concoction. I'm definitely one for giving in to the cravings (within reason, of course) but sometimes a simple switch is all it takes to satisfy the craving.

The scramble was filling thanks to the cheese and avocado but even after the "cocktail" I wanted something sweet, so I polished off a small bowl of fresh berries. So cool and refreshing on a hot summer night!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Bang for the Buck

It's been a productive day! I got a ton of work done, unpacked, grocery shopped, and managed to squeeze in a much-needed vacuuming and dusting. Life is so much calmer with a clean house! Contrary to expectations summer has finally arrived in Chicago and it's in the mid-90s today. We have a window unit in place but since it's only in the 80s in the apartment I'm leaving it off to keep the fresh air a-coming and enjoying lounging around in shorts and a tank top. When I left last week only the thought of the South Carolina heat got me out from under the best sleeping bag known to man.

Have I told you about my favorite produce shop here? It's most commonly known as Stanley's but I've been known to refer to it as my mecca. Seriously, this place is fantastic. It's almost nothing but produce with a few local bakeries represented and a month-old deli. One half of the store is dedicated to organic produce and the other is conventional. My favorite part of shopping there is that I don't have to break the bank to get fresh, organic produce. I absolutely adore Whole Foods but like so many others find that my bank account is not quite as fond of them. Stanley's isn't perfect. They don't always carry everything (no cucumbers today, really?) and sometimes I have to pick up an item from the conventional side, but I don't mind since I'm also supporting a locally-owned and operated business. Six on one, half a dozen on the other. Here's a glimpse at today's loot:

Organic Items:
-2 Pink Lady apples
-2 d'Anjou pears
-1 mango (sneaky little bugger isn't in the photos because he tried to hide in the bag when I got home!)
-1lb baby spinach (anyone familiar with the Green Monster understands why so much)

Conventional Items:
-looseleaf lettuce
-1 red bell pepper
-5 ears corn
-2 portabella mushrooms
-2 tomatoes
-8 bananas
-green onions

The best part? ALL of that came to $35.02. Really. It should last me about a week and a half. You might notice a couple other items here as well - my precious Trader Joe's Raw Almond Butter, and a couple of bars to try while I'm on the go this week. The amount of produce I picked up could probably feed an army when combined with the grains and fish already here at the house, so I don't put much stock in the argument that it's not affordable to eat healthy. I buy organic when I can and that does cost a bit more but overall I'd still rather eat conventional fruits and veggies than a host of overly-processed junk labeled as "healthy". Can someone help me down from my soapbox? Thanks.

Anyway, when I returned home and lugged the gatherings back from the car it was HOT! I wasn't terribly hungry but wanted something fun to taste so I made a Pina Colada version of my Green Monster. A little coconut milk and pineapple on a sweaty day goes down quite nicely! Add a banana and four cups of spinach and you've got yourself a well-rounded drink. Gustus Cat seems to think so as well.

I have an event to attend this evening that is offering appetizers but I'll probably try to stay away from them for the most part. It's being held in an Italian restaurant and it's always hard to tell at these functions what does and does not contain meat. I learned that lesson the hard way last week after a delicious but dangerous stuffed grape leaf. As such I want to eat enough to be able to handle a glass of wine to mingle with but keep me from getting too hungry, so I also had a Boca burger topped with a bit of cheese and ketchup. A bun would be too heavy today with the heat but a little bit of pretzel bread isn't!

Time to go get ready and head downtown!

Catch of the Day

Wow, it's been some time since I last blogged! I'm doing the standard "it starts on Monday" procedure usually reserved for correcting bad habits and starting anew with some fresh perspective. Cooking has been taking a back burner (sorry) lately for a number of reasons but it's more than time to get back to the kitchen and enjoy all the tasty treats that spring and summer have to offer.

The Beanpole and I spent a long weekend in the Carolinas basking in the warmth of the sun after the cool, rainy days in Philly and Chicago. Needless to say the refrigerator is rather empty at the moment save for some pathetic leftover strawberries what used to be leftover tempeh. After dumping my bags at home and checking on the Gustus Cat last night I popped over to the local market for a quick dinner and ended up with a Kashi GoLean frozen dinner of black beans, mango, and pilaf. I try to avoid frozen meals most of the time and don't feel too bad about this one since Kashi is a pretty healthy (nutritionally and ethically) choice.

All this time off from blogging has created some bad habits, however, and I neglected to take a photo of dinner OR the multi-grain roll with almond butter and strawberry preserves that I had for breakfast this morning. Instead, I'll leave you with a photo of my favorite lunch from our long weekend. I enjoyed every single bite of these babies!

I'm off for a run to my favorite produce store in Chicago to load up on fruits and veggies for a week of healthy meals to get back on track after vacation! I have a long list of to-dos today, an event to attend this evening, and I'm hoping to snag some beach time tomorrow afternoon if I can get caught up on everything after the trip. Summer seems to have finally arrived in the city!

Monday, February 16, 2009



Due to a hand injury (specifically the anatomical snuffbox - google it, it's real, people!) this blogging adventure is being put on hiatus, primarily because I can't Cooking is on hold, cleaning is on hold (no dishwasher=no dishes for me), yoga is obviously on hold. Yeah, pretty much everything. Typing one-handed requires too much time and effort so I'm chilling for a bit.

My appointment with the hand surgeon was moved from Thursday to today due to swelling and increased pain (yippee!) so hopefully by this evening I'll at least have a better idea what the near future holds!

If you're thinking that it's odd that someone could damage one of the tiniest bones in the hand that nobody has ever heard of that is called a snuffbox, just remember that I'm also the girl that has slipped on a banana peel twice (TWICE!), pinched her rotator cuff picking up a can of green beans and trapped herself in her own bathroom moments after her fiance left on a weeklong business trip. So it really isn't that strange after all....

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Third Time WAS a Charm

The rink opens at 12, but they resurface at 1:30 so I decided to wait and go a bit later today to get the laundry done. It was a pretty impressive morning - must have been the blueberries! I got the laundry done, took care of some bills, freshened up the kitchen, dealt with my nails (aka the hot mess of the day) and all in time to have lunch before heading out.

I knew I wanted something warm and hearty enough to keep me going through the afternoon but not so heavy that I felt full-full. I decided on a lemony shitake and asparagus sauce over quinoa. Pasta didn't sound too appealing and I wanted to give quinoa a shot since it's supposedly a wonder food. It's the only grain that is a complete protein in and of itself. Pretty cool, huh? This was my first go-round with it and I'm hooked! The slight nuttiness of it paired so well with the mushrooms. YUM!

I wasn't quite full and decided to go ahead and have a 2% Fage Greek yogurt with strawberry to fill up the empty spot in my stomach.

Shortly after lunch I headed downtown to hit the rink and was a bit disappointed to find about 20 people already skating. I don't mind the newbies who truly can't stand up on their skates and I LOVE the old-school hockey guys ducking in and out of the groups. I can get around the newbies and trust the hockey players completely to move where and when they need to, but there were a four guys in their late teens/early twenties who were, quite simply, being JERKS. What they were lacking in ability they more than made up for in ego and after narrowly avoiding being run over by them while they chased each other, threw things on the ice, and purposely tried to make people fall I was done. DONE. I made it nearly 30 minutes but just could not deal with them anymore and wanted to be able to enjoy the ice and my working iPod. Luckily my friend Karen recently pointed out that the OTHER rink is only a couple blocks away and basically hidden so I threw on my shoes and hiked over. What a difference 2 blocks made!

This rink is truly a hidden gem and I'm so grateful to have found it. I arrived to find eight or ten kids (real kids - all under 10!) who not only knew what they were doing on the ice but could outskate me. It reminded me a lot more of the rink I grew up on where there was a healthy mix of figure skaters, hockey players, and frequent fun-skaters who all could hold their own on the ice. Much more my style, and I even got the guts to work on my transitions from backward to forward skating as well as some back crossovers! Even the music was better - cheesy teen pop, which is in my opinion the best for skating. Luckily the rink had pretty much cleared by the time I bit it and none of the kids were there to laugh at me. : )

One of the best lessons I learned in yoga while working towards headstand was that sometimes if you don't fall it's because you're not trying hard enough, and that was definitely the case today. Once I really got into it, BAM, I went down. But hey, one of the skills they teach in classes is how to fall, so who cares?

When I got home I ended up doing a slow and light yoga practice instead of a power yoga session and am completely calm and loose now. That must have been just what I needed! The Beanpole's on his way home and to celebrate we're ordering Chinese takeout - a big ol' beef dish for him and veggies for me. Can't wait!

Bowl Full of Sunshine

All the stiff and sore muscles from yesterday were GONE when I woke up this morning and while I'd been slightly apathetic about hitting the rink and mat today last night it all washed right away this morning.

Time to fuel up, so after rushing through some lemon water I turned to the trusty oats. The addition of blueberries has been wonderfully refreshing and I think they'll be making many more appearances. Today's toppings were chocolate chips (just a few!), coconut, blueberry, banana, granola for crunch, and some chopped dried apricots. I always forget to mention the tablespoon of flax I add to the mix but I think they make the meal!

Of course I had to have a spoonful of peanut butter as well! I'm almost out but have a fun little sample-size packet of Justin's Almond Butter that I picked up at Whole Foods that's ready in the wings.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Arda Chandrasan (Who Doesn't Love a Half Moon?)

Mmmmm, yoga kicked my butt this afternoon. I think I underestimated how much I've been using my arms at the rink and what an intense arm workout yesterday's Power Yoga session was and I could barely make it through the vinyasas! In fact, I tweaked my shoulder a bit during one of the modified chaturangas due to fatigue - nothing serious, just a twinge here and there but still frustrating. I was extremely grateful for the standing sequence and the opportunity to finally give my aching limbs a bit of a break!

After lunch I cranked up iTunes and danced/cleaned the apartment. It's much more fun with fun music to move around to! Needless to say, all the cold winter air from skating, the cleaning, and the yoga made me ready to eat anything in sight. I narrowed it down to two choices - kung pao tofu takeout or breakfast for dinner. The Beanpole will be home tomorrow night and we'll likely grab dinner out this weekend at some point so breakfast for dinner it was! It's fast, easy, relatively healthy (compared to Chinese takeout!), and better still requires few dishes to clean up. I had two eggs scrambled with mushrooms, green pepper, onion, spinach, and tomato on a whole-wheat pita with a bit of Mexican cheese (maybe 1/4 cup?) and two veggie sausage links mixed in. The perfect half-moon side? Apple crescents of course!

Virtually every part of my body is deliciously sore right now so depending on the temps I might take a rest day tomorrow. I still want to fit in a yoga practice for sure though and have a slower-paced video that I might do to accommodate my cranky shoulder. I'd rather take a slow yoga day now than 6 weeks off for a crazy rotator cuff injury a la the green bean incident of 2007!!!

Third Time's a Charm?

I hope so anyway! I headed down to the rink this afternoon to get a workout and some ice time and ended up being out in the 5 degree weather for 2 whole hours. The laundry was scrapped prior to going so I could load up on some new music and skate away to all the cheesy pop songs I love, but after one song (oddly enough, Sk8tr Boy) the iPod craaaaashed. Between the Beanpole and I we have five of the things but one or more always seems to be on the fritz. Today was NOT the day for it to crash because the workers had the music set to classic rock and Pink Floyd is hardly my idea of good skating music. I much prefer early 90's pop since it reminds me of my old skating days! Never mind though - nothing was going to stop me! While gliding around happily I realized that I am extremely right-legged when it comes to skating and can't even come to a simple T-Stop with my left leg leading. Now in addition to skating just for exercise I'm setting little goals for myself and walking through what little I can remember from my pre-Alpha classes with my left leg to strengthen it. Once the "crowd" (maybe 8 people?) dissipated I even managed to psych myself up and work on skating backwards and my back crossovers. I miss the BIG rink I used to practice on with the hockey circles to help me track my back crossovers and stay consistent!

When I got home I was red-faced from the cold and ready to eat. I thought about stopping on the way for one of my favorite falafel-hummus pitas but decided that something even more savory was in order and decided to whip up a red lentil curry and some garlicky kale. I'd seen this recipe over at and finally had red lentils on hand to try it and it did not disappoint. I could honestly eat Indian food and/or curried anything every single day and it's great to have a quick recipe on hand that is much healthier than eating out! The bitterness and texture of the kale stood up quite well against the sweetness and creaminess of the curry and provided a nice balance. I rounded the whole meal out with half a pita quickly warmed in the oven.

I was fairly full after lunch but my sweet tooth decided that the savory tooth had gotten a little too much attention and decided to throw a fit, so I indulged it with a 2% Fage Greek yogurt and strawberry.

Next up is a yoga practice!


It's so nice to see after a couple cloudy-ish days. I just keep staring out the window at the perfectly blue sky and smiling. I'm not one who hates winter at all but sometimes the endless cloudy days are just a bit too much.

It's shaping up to be a lovely day. I'm planning on getting the laundry done as well as cleaning the entire apartment. Cleaning might be the only time I LOVE living in 600 square feet. I'm also planning on heading downtown again for a figure skating workout and then coming home to a power yoga practice. The only yoga classes in English I've been able to locate so far in Paris are in the Ashtanga style so I need to step up my game. It's chock-full of vinyasas and I'd like to be able to do full chaturanga throughout the practice, but that's going to require a lot more upper body strength and stamina than I currently have. I know, I know, it's about honoring the body and appreciating what I CAN do, but I'm looking forward to getting back to my more bendy self.

I started the day with a hot mug of water with lemon juice, as usual. I really enjoy the slow pace of drinking that and thinking about the rest of the day. Afterwards I moved on to - what else - oatmeal. Today's toppings were 1/2 a banana, blueberries, a couple chopped figs, a couple chocolate chips, a dash of cranberry-apricot granola, and of course, peanut butter.

Off to be productive!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Tofu Taco Salad

Over the past couple of days I've realized that I've learned to cook and am quite good at it, but need to wean myself off always looking at recipes and be a little adventurous in the kitchen. Sure, recipes are great for ideas but it's time to test my knowledge and see if I can come up with some ideas of my own. I've also felt a little lost when it comes to tofu (even though the BBQ tofu turned out quite nicely) and thought it time to take a risk, hence the Tofu Taco Salad was born. Taco salad was one of the only dinners I would eat growing up (go figure) and I was hoping this would be a healthier version of the same. Restaurant versions are often served in a crispy taco shell, so I used barley to get in some grains and texture. Ok, so it's not exactly like the taco salad I grew up on but it was quite tasty and will be making many more appearances!

Tofu Taco Salad

Garlic Powder
Chili Powder
Extra Virgin Olive Oil, to coat
Hot Sauce, if desired
Any desired toppings
About 3oz firm or extra-firm tofu
1/4 cup barley

Combine the first 5 ingredients in a bowl to taste. Add olive oil and mix.

Press and drain firm or extra-firm tofu. While tofu is draining, prepare toppings and barley. I used spinach, bell pepper, tomato, green onion, half a small avocado, and not quite a quarter cup of shredded cheddar. Once tofu is properly drained, chop into small cubes and add to taco seasoning, stirring to coat. Heat pan coated with cooking spray on medium-high heat and add tofu, stirring occasionally, for 4-5 minutes or until slightly crispy.

This was filling but still light and will be fantastic in summertime!

If It Ain't Broke

Don't fix it, which is why I had oats again. : )

Now what else can I say about that?

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Leftover Lentils

It was a day of impulses! First the soup, and then a coffee treat in the middle of the afternoon. It's been cloudy all day and I just kept thinking about a coffee treat. I don't have any decaf espresso beans at the house yet and it was much too late for the high-octane stuff so I ducked out and headed across the street to grab a magazine and a 12oz decaf skim latte, which I brought home and doctored up with a bit of hazelnut flavor I had here. I looked at the label to get an idea of the calorie count and was shocked to find that the tiny portion I'd used was only about 10 calories. Nice!

I went back and forth on dinner and finally decided to finish off the soup and pitza from lunch instead of making a tofu dish so that I could avoid even MORE impulse items at the market since there were a couple ingredients I'd need for the recipe I wanted. The olives and cheese on the pitza turned even saltier and while it was ok, it was very dehydrating and I'm guzzling water trying to catch up! In fact, it was so salty that I needed something sweet to make up for it and had 5 chocolate chips to cleanse my palate. Oh, and I had that other pita. ;)

Yoga BrainI

Since the beginning of my yoga infatuation my classes have always been in the evenings and even with my home practice I've found that to be the easiest time for me to focus. I like taking that time at the end of the day to let any worries wash away and focus on all the little joys. The general rule around yoga tends to be practice when it feels best for you but try to practice at the same time each day. I threw caution to the wind today with an earlier session and it is NOT for me. First things first, I got a case of the yoga brain, which can be quite pleasant in the evenings, and could not figure out what to eat or even HOW to eat lunch. I must have stared into the fridge for several minutes before deciding on a snack of a small slice of brie with a couple Kashi whole-grain crackers to at least keep me stable until I could comprehend the mechanics of lunch.

Still drawing a blank I settled at long last on take-out from Aladdin's, a Mediterranean not-quite-fast food joint around the corner. I ordered a "pitza" with feta, kalamata olives, a little baba ganoush, and grilled eggplant and a berry smoothie made with raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, non-fat yogurt, honey, and a little orange juice. I ran out to pick it up and impulsively ordered a cup of their len-chili that I absolutely love. It's half lentil soup and half vegetarian chili and has just enough spice. So good. I ate about a quarter of the soup, and half the pitza.

Never mind the extra pita at the top! That came with the soup and was not part of my lunch.

Breakfast Surprise!

Did you really think I wasn't going to have oatmeal again? Today's concoction was a repeat of yesterday's, but I'm going to get some fun new toppings when I go grocery shopping tomorrow to spice things up a bit.

I've been blogging at the end of the day as I've had to take photos from my phone rather than the camera since Beanpole took it to London. For some reason the two extra steps required to upload the photos is just too much for me.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Sleepy Cat Kind of Night

I did a late afternoon yoga practice and felt so much better! I'd had some pain in my shoulder and neck this morning and went a little easy with practice to start but by the end had graduated to full chaturanga from doing the knees-chest-chin modification! While every practice is beautiful just where it is I'm still human and get to take a little pleasure in this step. : )

Shortly after I'd finished practice I got to talk to The Beanpole on the phone! This was the first time I'd heard his voice since Saturday morning and it was such a comfort. We'd emailed several times but that just isn't the same. He's having a good time in jolly old England but wishes I were there. Awwww.

It was already 7 when we got off the phone and since I've been falling asleep so early lately I wanted to make something quick for dinner so I wasn't eating too late. It's nice to have a bit of time to digest! I sauteed a BIG shitake mushroom and slapped it on a Morningstar burger with a thin slice of brie, popped it in the oven to melt the cheese, and made a salad to go alongside. The salad consisted of spinach, carrot, red and yellow pepper, some apple, a few slivered almonds, and a tablespoon or two of a raspberry vinaigrette.

After dinner I curled up with a cup of Stash's chocolate and hazelnut tea. I noticed it last night at the market and just had to try it. I added a dash of sugar and a tiny splash of milk.

It's interesting. The flavor seems like it should be either a solid or thicker somehow but it's growing on me. The chocolate is barely a whisper under the hazelnut but grows stronger as an aftertaste. When drinking tea I think I'm definitely more of a fruity/herbal girl, but this might be a nice choice if I'm craving a cup of weak coffee-flavored beverage. It is decaf, though, which makes it a GREAT choice at night so I can do something along these lines:

Food for Thought

As usual, the oatmeal filled me up and I wanted something a little lighter for lunch. A wedge of brie caught my eye at the market last night and after trying too hard to recall the last time I'd had some I picked it up an couldn't wait to use it today! I knew I needed to get some studying in this afternoon and hoped this would hold me over while my rusty brain cells tried to remember some French. Last Monday The Beanpole was informed that he would be attending a week-long session of meetings in Paris - and I get to go with! Well, that last part was something we decided, but still - I GET TO GO BACK TO PARIS!!!! Our actual anniversary has been preempted with other commitments and some out of town visitors so we decided to call this an early anniversary trip! He'll be in meetings during the day and I'll be on my own running around trying to soak it all in, but we'll have at least a couple dinners and a day or two on our own. I visited in May 2005 and had a lovely time just walking around and taking it all in. The weather will likely be a little more unpredictable this time so I'm busy planning indoor sightseeing excursions. I'm so excited and can't wait to thrill the French with my toddler's grasp of the language haha.

I'd also picked up a couple rolls from the bakery last night and decided to make a quick sandwich with some brie, granny smith apple slices, and a little dijon mustard - one of my favorites! One the side I had some carrot sticks, some apple, and a small bowl of french onion soup, which wasn't planned but was all I had on hand!

Next up, some more housecleaning and a yoga practice!

Plenty of Pumpkin

Last fall when I started baking there was a run on pumpkin and I had to search through 4 grocery stores to find some, so when I did I picked up 2 of the humongous 28oz cans. That's a lot of pumpkin! I've been craving the pumpkin chocolate chip bread I made a couple times this fall but wasn't sure what I wanted to do with the rest, but over the past week I've read several different food blogs that incorporated pumpkin into oatmeal. It's such a healthy food and I just had to try it.

Today's oatmeal included pumpkin, flax, banana, a bit of coconut, peanut butter, a tiny bit of maple-pecan granola, slivered almonds, and of course a couple chocolate chips. YUM!!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Burger and Fries, Veggie Style

It's said that it takes 21 days to create or break a habit. I'm about a week past that and this is the first time I have CRAVED meat. I really thought about giving in, going out, and ordering a giant cheeseburger and fries. If my vegetarianism were about animal rights I might have slipped up but I have the lovely thought of being doubled over in pain for the next three days to keep me on the straight and narrow. It truly isn't worth it, especially when there are safer options to satisfy these urges. Ignoring it wasn't an option after moving all the furniture in the living room to vacuum up all the cat hair. I even cleaned the curtains!!!! It'll never be as austere as the yoga studio - and shouldn't be - but the deep cleaning is having a calming effect already, and only a couple more rooms to go!

I ran out to the market and picked up the couple of things I needed for dinner as well as some bananas for the morning and got a couple whole-wheat rolls, a pack of veggie burgers, and a sweet potato. Veggie style comfort food, with half an apple from earlier:

My tea supply is also starting to run low so I picked up a new chocolate and hazelnut tea that's decaf. Can't wait to try it!

Curried concoctions

I've had the heaters off again to cool the apartment down and it worked. It was freezing in here when I got back from church so I decided to have soup for lunch to warm up. I grabbed the curried red lentil soup from the fridge and saw that the kale was starting to look a little bit sad and wanted to use up as much of it as possible before the bunch went bad. I did a quick search for recipes and stumbled on one using apples and curry powder. Perfect! I'd intended to eat them separately but after tasting the kale and apple decided to try it with a bit of soup and it was delicious. What a great way to incorporate some veggies and fruit into an already yummy soup! I didn't have a lot of soup so it ended up being more stew like but so so good. I ate about three quarters of the bowl.

On the side I had the leftover lemony shrimp risotto from the other night. I liked the brightness of the lemon next to the curry stew.

Next up? Taking out some trash and super-vacuuming the living room!

Finally Huevos Time!

I woke up early with a headache and ended up going back to bed for a couple more hours to try and kick it and woke up a second time much more refreshed. I'd run out of bananas yesterday and was pretty hungry and finally used the rest of the zucchini and black bean mix. It was a big Sunday breakfast - one egg and one egg white scrambled with the zucchini mix, 2 Morningstar breakfast sausage links, and a slice of whole-grain toast with a bit of fruit-only jam.

It definitely held me over through the cold walk to and from church, Mass, and the discussion afterwards, but might have been a little too heavy. I'm embarrassed to admit that I was realllly fighting off the sleepies during the discussion.

Settling in with 'Shrooms

Believe it or not I fell asleep before I could write these up last night - probably about 9pm-ish. I'd eaten lunch late and didn't want to stop for dinner until I was done working on the apartment and ate around 8:00. It took almost twelve hours to go through all the paperwork and organize all the documents, but it was absolutely worth it. Two drawers that were overflowing to the point of not quite closing are now clean and well-ordered, two "junk drawers" no longer hold as much junk, and the china cabinet is home to some boxes that had been sitting on the floor for months as well as holding office supplies in an easy to reach fashion!!!

Drawer One, Before:

Drawer One, After:

Drawer Two, Before:

Drawer Two, After:

I still wasn't too hungry but had some shitake mushrooms to use and saw a recipe on a break earlier for a "pizza" on a tortilla with garlic butter. I didn't want to go to all that trouble but found inspiration and cut up some mushrooms, spinach, garlic, and added a bit of goat cheese and a dash of parmesan. The pizza was nice and light, and I was surprised at how well the tortilla crisped up.

And a nice glass of sauvignon blanc to relax with:

I was still a little hungry and waited a bit, but had dessert - blueberry Greek yogurt with a bit of slivered almond and granola.

Oh, and chocolate chips! ; )