Tuesday, August 23, 2011

These are a few of my favorite things

*Disclaimer: these are my current favorite things and subject to change at a moments notice because I am a fickle person*

Favorite Activity:
"Running" through Dilworth

Photo credit

I put "running" in quotation marks because I have decided to take on "running" around town... Charlotte, at least South End/Dilworth are relatively flat. My version of "running" involves walking for like 5 minutes and then running as long as I possibly can. Yesterday I did about 3/4 of a mile at once (probably a mile and a half total of running in a 4 mile total walk/run). Pretty proud of myself! Hoping to get where I can run a little bit more each time I go out. I took today off to cook and clean... My coworker Elizabeth and I are splitting a weekly farmshare - I have apples and pears in the slow cooker, and cooked a big pot of okra, corn, and onion in tomato sauce to serve over rice.

And I digress - I really like walk/running through Dilworth because as you can see in the picture above, this is what I see on my route: picture perfect houses and there are also a lot of shady spots along the path. I love my apartment, but I am going to keep my eyes peeled for houses to rent in Dilworth as my lease gets closer to its expiration... I would love to live in one of those cute little houses. New life goals: own a house in Dilworth and own a house on the Carolina coast.

Favorite song:
See No More - Joe Jonas

I never thought I would really truly like something that any one of the Jonas Brothers put out... But I really do like this song - it's catchy and the words ring true. Also, I am still a teenybopper at heart and probably always will be, as my friend Sehar and I discuss frequently. P.S. can any one tell me when Joe Jonas decided to go all solo on his bros?!

Favorite food find:
Kraft Veggie Macaroni and Cheese

Photo credit

Kraft Veggie Mac and Cheese is one of the best inventions ever. Kraft is an awesome innovator of food - they took dried cauliflower and made pasta out of it! When you make it "healthy style" according to the box, half of the box is only 8 Weight Watchers Points Plus (a steal). I made it my own by adding spinach to it, but this would taste great with any vegetable - next time I want to try it with broccoli and spinach. I looked for some online coupons today, since it is a new product but did not turn up any luck... Anyway, I am definitely stocking up on this and keeping it on hand for when I need a speedy dinner - it also doesn't hurt that mac and cheese is one of my comfort foods. When made with reasonable ingredients, mac and cheese is something I can eat on a regular basis and still live a Weight Watchers lifestyle! Thanks, Kraft!!!

Favorite TV Show:
Bachelor Pad

Photo credit

This is for sure my guilty pleasure show of the summer. While I do enjoy Big Brother as much as the next person, I love the drama of The Bachelor franchise and all of the back stories of the characters. I am currently watching last night's episode on-demand... my poor TiVo forgot that I had it set to record and must have gotten confused and overwhelmed with all of my other shows... While I had full intentions of blogging about Bachelor Pad - it doesn't seem to be in the cards this summer... Classes started again today (yay.) but the good news is that this is my last class EVER in my academic career. Yes people, ever... no more going back to school for this girl.

Back to Bachelor Pad: Jake and Erika's kiss almost made me throw up. And Kasey's vocabulary drives me nuts - if he says heart or love or protect or infinity or promise (should I go on?) one more time, I might vomit... Maybe next week I'll play Bachelor Pad drinking game. That could be fun, or dangerous... Oh my gosh - Kasey is now singing... This is sad and disturbing at the same time, yet I can't look away.

If anyone wants a legitimate recap of Bachelor Pad, I reccommend reading Reality Steve's weekly column (posted every Tuesday). He is freakin' hillarous, but buyer beware: he does have spoilers in his blog (if you have been living under a rock and have never heard of him).

Ok enough of my ramblings - these are a few of my *current* favorite things... I'll probably be back with brand new ones next month, knowing me though this might even be next week... Leave me comments about a few of your favorite things, or if you have tried/done any of these things - I want to know if you love them too!!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Weekend update

My life is not terribly exciting right now - my LAST first day of classes ever begins tomorrow. Officially down to 116 days until graduation!! Until something else more exciting comes along, here is my weekend update:

I met my parents at the beach on Friday afternoon - of course, any time I can get to the coast I am a happy camper. I need to figure out a way to move to Wilmington... Ideas anyone? Sat on the beach for a little while on Friday afternoon and caught up with Mom. She started her new (work-from-home) job today! Maybe this is my ticket to beach living?

Friday night we went out to a beach bar on the boardwalk for drinks and dinner. Dinner was less than mediocre. Drinks were delicious. You know it's been a bad week when you walk in to the bar and immediately order a "Purple Hooter" (shooter) and the bartender responds "already?" Anyway, the shooters were only $3 and they had Landshark draft on special for $2.50.. it is cheap to drink at the beach.

Like I said, the food was not very good. But the evening did have its upsides. The bartender gave me $5 and told me to pick out songs on the "jukebox" - I know its not a jukebox anymore, but that computer thing where you get to pick music. That was FUN! I didn't even choose it, but my favorite bar song came on right after my playlist of 12 songs. However, the best quote and moment of the night was after finishing the meal.

Dad: well, that food was kind of gross
Me: this is the kind of bar where you don't eat dinner, you get hammered
Dad: a hamburger probably would have been pretty good
Me: get 'hammered' not 'a hamburger' *giggles*

Reiterating the food not being good theme - my mom got really sick on Saturday. I managed to sneak in some time on the beach in the morning. We switched hotels to downtown Wilmington and the afternoon was filled with crappy weather and laziness. The good news was that I finished my book! Bad news is my Kindle broke in a sleeping accident. The other good news is Amazon.com has THE BEST customer service and is sending me a new one that is set to arrive on Wednesday (and the Kindle app on my Evo allowed me to finish the novel after the sleeping accident). This is why I do my online shopping almost exclusively with Amazon.com.

This was seriously one of the best books I have read in a while. It tells the story of four girls who attend Smith College (an all-girls school in Massachusetts). The story begins on move-in day of their first year of college - the word 'freshMAN' is banned at Smith. There were some hillarious moments, heartwarming moments, and sad moments. I really felt like I was the fifth friend in the book, observing - the author really painted a vivid picture of their lives. From that first day of school, I joined the foursome through the trials and tribulations of college and what happens in those first years of adulthood (definitely relatable) as well as I learned a little back story about each of the characters and the formative experiences in their lives prior to arriving at Smith. The story had an ending I definitely would have never predicted. While this may not be the finest book review, I recommend that people pick up a copy of this or download it to their Kindle/Nook/other e-reader. It is a must read!

On to other important things, the terrible dinner from Friday night was counteracted with an amazing, delicious, nom nom meal on Saturday night. Dad and I had a daddy-daughter date to the Ruth's Chris bar at the Hilton Riverfront in Wilmington (where we stayed). They have awesome "bar food" (if you can call it that...) high quality and very reasonable prices. I got the ahi tuna salad - the dressing I would describe as a soy vinegarette with a hint of wasabi spice. I took a picture of the salad mid-way through it.. sorry folks, I saw it, I was hungry, and I got overzealous. Wherever you live, check out the Ruth's Chris bar - you can eat decadent on a budget... or at least for a reasonable price (my salad was $16.95 and dad's burger and fries were $12.95 - not too shabby).

While this post was utterly thrilling, brace yourselves... Up next: a few of my favorite things...

Sunday, August 14, 2011

There's no place like NC

The past few days have been quite an adventure! Let me recap my weekend. I'll consider it starting on Thursday night, since Friday I worked for a few hours - but it was basically a travel day.

Thursday night:

Elizabeth's Birthday Party at Route 20 (on Route 20) just outside of Freeport... The restaurant was surrounded by cornfields - no homes or anything anywhere to speak of. Lucky girl was in Freeport for her 30th and got to celebrate in style. While all I wanted was a good burger (and had been saving up for it... not getting one elsewhere), it turned out to be just 'eh.' The pickle chips and homemade ranch on the other hand... nom nom delicious! Food so great you will want to lick your plate? I may or may not have done that with the ranch. Don't judge me... wait, never mind... judge away!

Route 20, see it's on Route 20 on the way to Freeport!

Me in a cornfield


Woke up early in Freeport, worked until lunchtime and felt very helpful! Enjoyed my 2 hour drive to O'Hare - I surely have logged a lot of 'windshield time' in the past few weeks.. Thank goodness I had XM Radio in my rental car. Really, I am not sure how I would have survived. Security at the airport took forever (yay Friday) but I made some friends in the security line that helped past the time with some chit chat. I was like an hour and 45 minutes early, so I decided to pass the time with a few glasses of wine - and wandered the airport until I found my spot. Wicker Park - they served sushi. Airport sushi, I braved it... and survived. It was good, hastily put together, but not as good as the sushi I had in Freeport.

Alaskan Roll and Yellowtail Roll

2 glasses of wine later... I was in a great mood and it was time to board the plane!! I was provided more wine by the lovely and oh-so-friendly US Airways flight attendants (read: not friendly.) About 2 hours later, I was finally back in Charlotte - oh, it had been a long two weeks and one day (not that I was counting or anything...). Hung out at the airport for a little while while I waited for Christine to arrive from DC for the night. She made it! And we cabbed it back to my apartment - so happy to be back at my apartment!

We went to Tavern on the Tracks across the street from my apartment - I got the black bean burger with pepperjack (I forgot to take a picture, but don't worry... it's my favorite thing on the menu and I eat there like 4 times a week). If you live in or near South End Charlotte, you must check this place out. The food is all homemade and delicious - I haven't had a bad thing on the menu, and I've tried a lot of it. I keep mentioning ranch dressing - but they have a chipotle ranch that is just divine - I could basically dip anything in it and be happy. They had a live band that was mildly entertaining - food and company were great :)

Cheers! Beer for me, margarita for Christine

We then went to the bar next door called The Gin Mill. The bar was pretty quiet - maybe it's because it was Friday? But... they had cheap drinks, good people watching - they have a rooftop bar where people were playing cornhole. It was fun! I'll definitely go back - maybe on a Saturday night it will be more lively!!


Saturday started with me not knowing where I was when I woke up (no, it wasn't all the wine...). I was very confused not to be in a hotel, but much to my excitement I realized I was waking up in NC!!! Which, no matter where I am in the state - it is my favorite place to be. I took Christine to the airport so she could continue on her weekend adventures. Then I went to the Farmers Market, World Market, and Target. The Farmers Market trip was very successful, and until our farmshare starts up - I plan to visit here at least once a week to pick up fresh produce. The rest of my Saturday was not that entertaining - so I will spare you the details.

Here is my creation with Farmers Market veggies: baby spinach, baby bella mushrooms, onions, tomatoes, cucumbers, garbanzo beans, and ham. Also, featuring homemade ranch - it looks like there is a lot on there, but it's pretty thin dressing (and super low in fat/calories). If I used a recipe for it, I would share it... but basically I take low fat or fat free sour cream, add in a tiny bit of low fat mayo, and enough milk to my liking for the consistency, then add a packet of buttermilk ranch dry mix, some garlic powder, and lots and lots of black pepper - this can be modified in almost any way and still taste delicious.

Farmers Market Salad

Today was a good day for a drive. Spent the day in Knoxville - usually when I am in the car for more than... oh 10 minutes, it gets dangerous because I start thinking about everything. But, today's drive was really good - for some reason it cleared my head. Anyway, why the heck did I go back to Knoxville? Katie, you complained about living there for 11 months...

Well, my friend Sehar who lives in Nashville and I came up with the brilliant idea to go see the Glee 3D concert movie together. Yes, we are Gleeks that couldn't face the prospect of going to the movie without each other. Knoxville was the only logical meeting place. The movie was great and the company was as well! I once again live in a different city than (most of) my friends - so it's nice catching up with ones that used to be your neighbor!

The movie was what I expected - it was basically like seeing the New Directions in concert... and while I don't usually get all philosophical, I really did like the message of the movie. In between concert scenes, they featured three real life Gleeks that each had an inspirational story. At first I was like "ugh, show the characters - that's why I came to see the movie!" But in the end, their stories tied in to the concert "experience" nicely and it was a bit like watching Glee + True Life: I'm a Gleek/midget/gay/have aspergers.

Gleeks in Glasses

All in all, this has been a great weekend filled with great food, great friends, and lots of travel! Looking forward to just pushing through this week and what next weekend has in store (and staying in NC for once!!)


Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Spider bites and restaurants

As some of you know, I have been spending my days in Freeport, IL since the end of July. I am here supporting my old team for work as we go live on a new enterprise planning system (SAP, for those of you who are familiar). I am stationed at a distribution center up here. My team is holed up in a corner of the DC cafeteria. Here is a picture of my workspace, and my chair... Speaking of these chairs, they are painfully uncomfortable and I need a massage. ASAP. Anyone know of any good massage places in Charlotte?? I'll be back on Friday night!

The electric chair?

Yes, that is a smidge of sunlight that I see!

I have basically been working, working out (if I am lucky - read: not lazy), eating, and sleeping. I have squeezed in two movies (potential movie reviews to come?) and two trips to Chicago during my time here. All-in-all, it has been a pretty good trip! Slim pickin's on the restaurant selections though. In a small town, you tend to eat at the same places over and over again. My expense report looks something like this: Subway, Subway, Fuji (sushi), Subway, Cannova's (pizza), Subway, and Sushi.

It is a given and has already been discussed that I get some variation of Subway breakfast every morning since the hotel "buffet" is less-than-stellar.

Before I left Charlotte, I was nervous (read: 100% positive) that I wasn't going to be able to find any sushi in Freeport, so I was trying to squeeze it in at any possible meal. I was pleasantly surprised to find Fuji Sushi and Hibachi just down the road from my hotel. I was even more pleasantly surprised with the quality of their sushi - I have now tried at least 5 different rolls and each one has been divine. The cucumber salad is some of the best I have ever had: simple with julienne'd cucumbers, that tangy vinegar sauce, and sesame seeds. Below is a picture off of their Facebook page (I regrettably have forgotten to take pictures of my meals!) My favorite roll that I tried happened to be the first one that I tried: tiger roll - eel and avocado, topped with salmon, tuna, and whitefish. Second runner up? A roll not on the menu - summer roll: salmon, tuna, and whitefish topped with a spicy crab meat mix. Simply divine, and so happy that I found sushi in Freeport!

is a locally owned pizza/Italian restaurant in Freeport (website has the correct menu, but an alternative location). I highly recommend the pizza - I have tried a pasta dish before (only once, for a reason) and I was not extremely satisfied. But perhaps they were having an off day, or my taste buds were having an off day, or I just ordered the wrong thing... Their pizza on the other hand is very good - they have a light, crispy crust and a sauce full of Italian flavor. Their mozzarella cheese is top notch quality. The first specialty pizza on their menu is the Cannova's Classic: diced tomatoes, fresh garlic, spinach, black olives, sweet basil, house cheese, and mozzarella. This is my favorite! I wish I had a picture, I really do... but trust me, this pizza is very good!

On to the spider bites (how do you segue between food and spider bites?), so this small corner of the cafeteria is infested with bugs. Apparently a spider got up in to my pants, and left me two gorgeous and itchy red marks. I am trying to ignore the fact that there are spiders living in my work area... but these love bites make it hard to forget! I'll be here until Friday afternoon - hopefully I can keep these little creepy crawlies away from me until then. I've started keeping my feet propped up on a chair, because in my (completely logical..) mind, this will keep the spiders at bay. You know the feeling when you think bugs are crawling all over you and they really aren't? Yeah. That's what I have going on.

And back to food - this central standard time is throwing me off! It's almost noon here and I am getting mighty hungry. Hopefully the catered food is not chicken (I just don't like chicken.) and I can have one less Subway purchase on my expense report...

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Love the One You're With

Ever since I got my Kindle, I have been a reading machine... I honestly forgot how much I loved reading books, until I started back up again. Ever since college, and through grad school I have developed this horrible habit of making myself feel guilty for reading anything other than a textbook. Well, it's my summer vacation - and I am going to read! The Kindle was one of the better investments that I have made - lots of free or low-cost books, and thanks to the amazing Amazon.com textbook trade-in program - I have myself a nice gift card balance to spend on my "splurge" $9.99 books!

I just finished reading Love the One You're With by Emily Giffin - the same author that wrote Something Borrowed. The book really resonated with me - it is all about "the one that got away." I would venture a guess that almost everyone has an ex that when you think about them, you think "what if?" That's basically the general theme of this book, although most of us don't have the opportunity to find out "what if?" Which is probably for the best... but fate sometimes takes us down a different road than expected.

Ellen is married to Andy, her best friend's brother, and has a chance encounter in NYC with "the ex," Leo. The rest of the novel explores Ellen's emotional battle: love the one I am with, or explore the possibility of that "what if?" idea and risk ruining an (almost) perfect marriage. I also appreciate the author throwing in a Newell Rubbermaid product reference or two in her books, as she has some personal ties to the company. I definitely recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good chick lit novel, but appreciates a story that is not always so neat and tidy. I don't want to give anything away for those of you who haven't read the book... but I was satisfied with the storytelling and how the plot moved along as well as the ending. I definitely empathized with Ellen and her struggle - I only hope to be as lucky in love as Ellen - struggles and all. Besides, nothing in life that's worth having ever comes easy... this book stands firm to that philosophy.

Next in the queue, Girls in White Dresses by Jennifer Close, which just came out today. Expect a review on this in the next few weeks. I plan to start this one tonight :)

Monday, August 8, 2011

Bachelor Pad - Episode 1

Alright so I am back into blogging - I want to cover this season of Bachelor Pad. This is definitely the best guilty pleasure show of the summer. It's like a train wreck... I can't turn it off. I watch reality TV because it is my escape from reality.

Intros: this season is going to be ridiculous. Jake and Vienna in the same house? Who could ask for more? While some of the cast is "filler" - many of them have intertwined stories, due to the incestuous (read: amazing) nature of the Bachelor franchise. I won't complain - I love the drama. I love how Vienna and Michael say: "if I walk in to Bachelor Pad and Jake/Holly (respectively) are there... I don't know what I will do." Hello? Of course they are going to cast all of your exes... it adds to the drama - and I love it.

And here come the limos. Let the party begin - I want to see who gets the most drunk on the first night, and based on the parties involved, there could be a tie for first place.

Is anyone else with me... how does Chris Harrison get paid for this? I am glad Melissa Rycroft isn't co-hosting this season. I felt that was a bit of overkill.

It's amazing how the media perception of Jake and Vienna has flipped: Jake = evil and manipulative, and they are really milking the Vienna situation.

Ames is so awkward, yet adorable - if he were the next Bachelor, the season would just be a trip. I am not sure how he could handle 25 women, if he could handle 25 women. The interaction between Gia and Vienna might be more awkward than Ames... Fake smiles all around!!! And, I really can't stand Jake... the majority of my posts on Bachelor Pad will probably revolve around this subject.

I can't wait to read Reality Steve's recap of the episode tomorrow - his day-after-Bachelor(ette/Pad) posts make my Tuesday complete.

I'm off for now - more on Bachelor pad to come... I happen to be watching it live tonight because I am in a hotel access with no TiVo. I am likely to not make it through the entire episode - these 11/12 hour days at work are really taking it out of me. Back to Charlotte on Friday and my 8 - 5 routine. Very much looking forward to it.

Chocolate is the cure for Monday's

It's officially been over a year since I wrote in this blog. I've been inspired by other bloggers I have read on the internet, and decided to pick this back up again. Hopefully I can make this a regular habit. I have more time on my hands these days. A lot has happened since I last blogged! Check it out:

- I moved from Knoxville to Atlanta. Lived there for a year. I just moved to Charlotte (back to NC!!)

- I joined Weight Watchers, so I didn't have to go through my weight loss journey alone. I have lost 18 lbs! Give or take a few that I may have gained in the last week or so... and I have met and bonded with some great people along the way. While the title of this post contradicts it, I have really adopted a (mostly) healthy lifestyle and feel really good about my decision to become a "Weight Watcher." It is a lifestyle and a commitment - not just any old diet.

- I am no longer a "recent college graduate." Is that weird? I was in Chicago this weekend visiting friends - some kid started chatting me up, he asked where I went to school... He was working in Chicago on an internship. Boy, did I feel old.

- My hair is long again. Current dilemma (as recent as this morning's throw-it-into-a-ponytail/bun routine) - do I cut it off again? My hairdresser remains in Atlanta, so I guess I can't decide until my next trip there is finalized.

- I graduated from my rotational program at Newell Rubbermaid. Now I have a big girl job... it is basically the same job I did my first year, but with a different team, in a different location. It all worked out for the best - because the job is NC, and a Katie in NC is a happy Katie.

- I am now one class away from graduating from ECU with my MBA. One class?! Even I can't believe it. The past two years have been a struggle - but I now can truly see the light at the end of the tunnel. 129 days until graduation. I can't believe I am almost in double digits!!

I think that summarizes my main life changes. I am ecstatic to be back in North Carolina - closer to family, friends, and the beach. I love my apartment. I decided to live in the city. Of all the apartments I have had (SC, TN, GA), I have always lived in the 'burbs. While my Atlanta apartment was gorgeous and in a great location with respect to work, it wasn't in a prime social scene. Not that I had time to socialize anyway when I lived there. Things are about to change! I moved on June 30th, but things have been pretty crazy in my life. I was in the middle of summer school, starting a new job while still doing my old one, traveling back to Atlanta for work... I really haven't had time to explore Charlotte. I focused on getting settled in to my apartment. Looking forward to getting back there and meeting some new people, and spending time with old friends. As much as I love Raleigh, I am trying not to use it as a crutch to fall back in to old habits. I could easily go back every weekend, but I remind myself - I live in Charlotte now, I need to learn to love it too!

For the past week and a half or so I have been in IL for work - a small town about 2 hours west of Chicago. It has been nice - I was able to travel back to Chicago the past two weekends and see some friends. I love Chicago (in the summertime). I had to remind myself of the blizzards in the wintertime and how much a Midwest winter really stinks - or else I would totally move to Chicago... The summertime in the Midwest is just so picture perfect. Also, the food doesn't hurt either. The town I am in is very small - so I don't have a plethora of restaurant choices; however, I did find a delicious sushi place only a few miles from my hotel. I have been frequenting their takeout option most nights - it is a light, healthy choice compared to some of the other things I have been eating. Deep dish pizza tonight, whattt?

A pro and a con to traveling for work is that you have to eat out - while this is fun and games for the first few days, I am dying for some home cooked goodness. Ready to get back to Charlotte and my beautiful kitchen (pictures to come). Also, my coworker and I are splitting a Farm Share. So ready for that to begin so I can get fresh and delicious seasonal fruits and veggies every week. The upside to this is that breakfast at the hotel is basically disgusting, so I have been getting Subway breakfast every morning. I will never, ever complain about eating this. It is one of my favorite things, ever - and I tell everyone I know to try it. On your average day, I will get a muffin with ham, egg white and pepper jack cheese topped with spinach, peppers, onions, tomatoes, S&P, and a drizzle of their chipolte southwest sauce. That sauce is the ticket. On particularly hungry days, or days where I am picking it up for brunch - I will go crazy and get the 6" flatbread or two muffins (egg white and cheese only).

I will get off of my soapbox for Subway Breakfast, but seriously though - if you haven't tried it... I dare you. The muffin is the best $2.00 you will ever spend! Let me know how you like it!!! The flatbread is only $3.00... you really can't go wrong. It is also much more healthy and nutritious than alternative fast food breakfast choices - super filling too. I have found through my very non-scientific survey of people that certain people fill up on eggs, and other people fill up on oatmeal (and that will hold them over until lunch). I am an egg girl. If you are an egg girl or boy, this breakfast will absolutely hold you over until your next meal. I have tried making it myself - is it good? Yes. Is it as good as Subway's version? Hell no. Ok, I'll really stop talking about this now. But I promise, it won't be the last you've heard from me on this subject!!

I also recently started pinning. Have you heard of it? I discovered this phenomenon via reading other people's blogs - I admit, I was a skeptic but now I am hooked.

I suppose I should bring this post to a close. In light of my impending weekend at the beach - I invited myself on my parent's mini-vacation... technically I invited them to Charlotte and got rejected - so my mom invited me to the beach with them - here are some inspirational words that really are so true (if I were artistic, I would add chocolate to the pretty painting). Happy Monday!

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