Thursday, September 29, 2011

TV Time and Taylor

Fall 2011 TV is in full swing, and Mr. TiVo is completely overwhelmed. Luckily I have had this week "off" of school, and have had some good TV watching time. I am very much looking forward to tomorrow night - a black bean burger from Tavern on the Tracks, TV time, and not working or thinking about work for at least 48 hours.

The rest of my weekend is far more exciting. 5K on Saturday Morning. I am challenging myself to how far I can run - yesterday I did 1.5 miles (with a few good uphills that I NEVER thought I would be able to run), with a 1 mile walk break, and finished the last half mile with a jog. I stopped the first leg of running because I got stopped at a light, and couldn't get up the momentum when I was able to go again. I am hoping with a 5K course and not having to stop, I will be able to make it further. We shall see.

Then off to Atlanta for an afternoon of shopping with Betsy and Sehar. Then dinner by Chef Matt (yay!) Particularly excited about his creme brulee. Matt, I know you're reading... Sunday is girl day! We are making my favorite breakfast recipe - sausage pinwheels (see below), catching up on shows, and then getting ready for the Taylor Swift concert. We are hoping to get her to meet us at Taco Mac before the show - it's worth a shot right?? Twitter is awesome. Then a few days of training for work, and back to Charlotte. I am looking forward to spending some quality time with some good friends.

Sausage pinwheels are way too easy.

1 roll reduced fat sausage
1/4 bag reduced fat sharp cheddar cheese (optional - adjust amounts to your taste)
2 cans reduced fat crescent rolls

1 - Remove the crescent roll dough from the cans, but do not separate rolls. On top of a piece of plastic wrap or aluminum foil, pinch the triangles together and form a long rectangle, gently pulling dough as needed.
2 - Spread the sausage in an thin layer over the dough. Sprinkle some cheese on top.
3 - Roll the dough lengthwise to form a long roll.
4 - Using a serrated knife, cut dough into 1/2 inch thick slices. You can freeze roll for 10 - 15 minutes beforehand to make slicing easier. Place on baking sheet.
5 - Bake according to directions on crescent roll package, or until the sausage is cooked through and then enjoy! These keep well in the fridge and can be reheated in the toaster oven or microwave.

Back to fall TV. Some of my old favorites are back: Grey's, Private Practice, Desperate Housewives (how sad is it that this is the last season?!), The Middle, Modern Family, Sister Wives, Glee, Gossip Girl... the list could go on and on...

And it does, with new shows. I am trying to determine if they are worth watching. I watched the first episode of Suburgatory tonight - it reminds me of Mean Girls, but the TV version. I will keep watching! Still undecided on Two Broke Girls, and the endearing-ness of Zooey Deschanel is keeping me engaged in New Girl. Up All Night with Christina Applegate is super cute - I feel like if I ever have kids, that will be my life.

Has anyone seen the show Revenge? I have heard good things from other bloggers. I have the first two episodes taped and it looks really good. I like Emily VanCamp from her Everwood days. Remember the WB?!

What are you all doing this weekend?? Who is so glad that tomorrow is Friday?!

These girls are. Just hangin' out with Taylor. See ya again on Sunday!!!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Out of whack

Hot Mess Alert (HMA) Warning: my life is out of whack this week. I was thinking Monday was just a particularly bad Monday because I had such a good weekend, but Monday has passed and now it is Tuesday. Tuesday was bad too. I needed a major attitude adjustment. Nothing seemed to be going my way. I haven't been sleeping well, which stems from my lack of exercise and eating like absolute crap. Case in point. This is a picture of my bed the way it looked when I woke up this morning. Images in this photo have not been altered or retouched in any way (poor Mr. Piggy looks like he got mauled).

Ok, maybe I am being a bit dramatic. But this is what my bed looks like after I make it.

Mr. Piggy forgot to pose for the camera. Must be all the trauma from last night. Last night was a rough night's sleep, making me a complete bitch today. I passed out mid-Gossip Girl (which comes on at 8 PM, mind you) and proceeded to wake up at 12 AM, 2 AM, and 5 AM. The 2 AM wake-up was because of a horrible dream; it has been storming a lot here lately, and I had a dream that my mom and brother were at my apartment, and a tornado was coming directly towards us and I couldn't take shelter fast enough, and got shards of glass in my back when I ducked to take cover (you know, how they taught you to duck during the tornado drills in elementary school??) Anyway, that freaked me out - it was vivid and super scary. Then, I couldn't get back to sleep after the 5 AM wake-up... I just lay there thinking about work and getting ticked off. When I wake up and can't fall back asleep, I get angrier and angrier and work myself up so I really can't fall back asleep. It is a viscous cycle that luckily doesn't happen often. Apparently this is my week for life to fall apart. Again, being just slightly dramatic, but I do need to get myself together.

I am hoping I have a happy hump day tomorrow. I felt accomplished at work today and got a lot done. I also helped win over one of our angrier/feistier internal customers. Getting her on board means we get the rest of her team on board. I need to focus on my "wins" and not the small stuff that ticks me off. After realizing I needed an attitude adjustment after having a small mental breakdown at my desk while everyone was gone at lunch (and virtual yelling at my mom on office communicator when she was just trying to help - SORRY, MOM!), I went to Target for retail therapy. Also, I love the Target popcorn combo. For $1.69, you get all sorts of popcorn goodness and a soda! Now that is a deal.

I returned to work full of popcorn and sunshine. Just kidding about the sunshine part; I am not nearly medicated enough to be full of sunshine. The rest of the afternoon went by quickly. I forced myself to get a quick jog in, trying to get back in to my exercise routine after 4 days off. The big 5K is this weekend and I really feel out of shape, even though it has been just a few days off. I have not been putting the right 'fuel' in to my body over the course of the past few days (booze, popcorn, fried food, chocolate = not good). I need to seriously recommit to eating the right things and tracking (for realsies, not just telling myself to) between now and my birthday in November so I can look (and feel) amazing for all of the festivities.

Anyway, I am pretty sleepy. Let's hope I have a good night's sleep tonight because Lord knows I need it. I need to have a better workout tomorrow than I did today. Goal for tomorrow: hydrate, hydrate, hydrate at work. I must flush out the popcorn sodium and not be so thirsty that I have to go on a short walkjog. Also another goal I am working on is eating slower. I watched this girl in a lunch and learn last week take 30 minutes to eat a salad. THIRTY. I was totally amazed. I told my co-worker when we left that I would have demolished the salad in probably less than 10. Again, there is no reason I could not make a salad last 30 minutes.

Maybe getting these things down in writing will force me to commit. Maybe? Again, any inspiration would be helpful! I can't keep falling off the wagon and getting back on, but at least I keep getting back on, right?

Monday, September 26, 2011

Weekend Adventures

Two of my oldest and most favorite best friends came to visit this weekend - Casey and Meredith! We always have so much fun together, and no matter how old we get, and how much time passes between our last visit, it feels just like the old days and like we had seen each other yesterday!

We had lots of weekend adventures. Adventures with food, malls, cabs, and bars.

We ate... and ate... and ate some more. Luckily we all have the same (diverse) taste in food so there was never any restaurant selection drama! Friday night, we went to 131 Main in Dilworth. Part of me doesn't want to announce this here, because I feel like it is a well-kept secret, but they are a BYO restaurant - this really kept our meal costs down! We brought in a bottle of champagne and a bottle of wine. I also had a free appetizer coupon. Best pimento cheese in the whole world. The unique thing about 131 Main is that they do not have freezers; everything they make is super fresh! And super delicious I might add. We shared the dip platter (salsa, guacamole, and pimento cheese). We also shared the Ahi Tuna Salad and Shrimp and Grits. This goes down as one of my favorite meals ever.

We went out to the bars at Montfort that night and made new friends! It was fun. The most entertaining part of the night was the cab ride home. The cab driver had some specialty burned CD's that he decided to play for us. Weirdest. Music. Ever. I was so confused. He was really in to the music too... Well we all made it home in one piece only slightly emotionally scarred from that strange sound coming from the cab's speakers.

"Brunch" the next morning took place at the Midnight Diner.

We forgot to take pictures, but this was by far the unhealthiest meal we had. It surely was delicious though... Casey got Chicken and Waffles, Meredith got a slider and onion rings, and I got a hot dog and onion rings (they really have the best waffles). It was a delicious.. breakfast??? Afternoon laziness ensued. We watched Napoleon Dynamite and napped. Well, me and Casey napped. And Meredith took pictures.

We then got off of our behinds and went to the mall. I had to pick up a necklace that was getting repaired and my race bib for Saturday's 5K. We all had a successful shopping day and cute dresses to wear out that night at Francesca's. Look how cute we are! I will not bore all of you with the photo shoot that took place in my bathroom while getting ready... hey, we know how to have fun.

Dinner that night was at The Cowfish. If you haven't heard of The Cowfish, it is a combo sushi bar/boutique burger bar. The food is so delicious! My favorite part of The Cowfish is the Bento Box. You get the best of both worlds: thai cucumbers, sweet potato fries (I subbed for the pickle chips), edamame, sushi, and a slider!

We also had crab rangoon dip and I got a cucumber mojito! Nom nom!

We got back to my apartment and more laziness ensued. We were about 10 minutes away from not going out that night... but we got our act together and started playing drinking skip-bo, which is basically my favorite game.

After we each won a round, we again got our behinds in gear and began the getting ready process. And I lied... this wouldnt be a true recap of the weekend if I didn't include at least one picture of our bathroom photo shoot.

We went to Epicenter that night - Strike City is a bowling alley. I know what you all are thinking: Katie? Bowling? And no, I did not bowl. I stood there and looked pretty. It was fun. We met up with our new friends there, and went to some random bar - I still don't know what the name was but we had fun!!!

All in all, it was a successful girls weekend and I miss them!!!

Dear Casey and Meredith,

Come back soon! But, not too soon. This girl can only handle that much awesomeness every so often.


P.S. I will be in Raleigh in a few weeks so let's have part two then.

Until then, I get to look forward to this coming Saturday in Atlanta with more of my best friends! Including but not limited to Betsy, Matt, Sehar, and you know, TAYLOR SWIFT.

Betsy got us tickets in the suite at Phillips Arena. NBD. We are hoping if we tweet at her, we can get her to meet us at Taco Mac before the show. We'll be the girls dressed like cowgirls. I'll probably be eating popcorn and drinking beer. Betsy will be the one screaming like a crazy person. We won't be hard to find at ALL.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

My (in-process) weight loss journey

I have been on a weight loss journey since October 2009 - slow, but steady(ish). And I am using this post to come clean and hopefully get some advice. Consider this to be a confessional of sorts... one particular picture, I am not proud to share.

When I first started working, I was not used to living such a sedentary lifestyle. In college I walked probably 4 miles a day, and ate whatever I wanted (not healthy, but I was skinny). After going through a breakup, I got even skinner - and chopped off all of my hair. My active lifestyle in college kept the weight off without even me having to try - the nasty cafeteria food that I couldn't really eat didn't hurt either.

Flash forward 6(ish) months after graduation, and I had put a lot of weight on - and when I say a lot, I mean like 30+ lbs. I was not moving, at all.. sitting at a desk for 8 hours a day and then coming home and sitting on the couch (and eating whatever I wanted for dinner - specific example: I remember having cheezits and beer one Saturday night, for dinner - we aren't in college anymore!) was a combination that was leading me down the wrong path. I got really heavy - I am only 5'3", so even a few lbs will show on my small frame. I just didn't realize how big I had gotten, and then BAM - these pictures were taken in October 2009. 6 months!

That week I was in Raleigh for recruiting at NCSU (side note: it's Game Day - Go Wolfpack!! I will be watching at the Charlotte Alumni bar tonight!). That week was a wakeup call for me after seeing pictures.. I tried for well over a year to lose weight on my own. I successfully lost about 5 lbs, with eating "right" and "working out." I put those in quotation marks because I did not take my healthy living plan seriously. I was writing down what I ate, but that didn't stop me from overeating what I did write down. I had not invested in a food scale, nor was I remotely concerned about portion size. I was also not committed to a regular exercise routine; between juggling work and two graduate classes each semester, it was about all I could do to get my school work done at night, let alone get a workout in.

On December, 16th 2010, I joined Weight Watchers... all thanks to Betsy and her patience. I had been skeptical of WW - what sort of diet program lets you eat a 100 calorie pack of cookies OR a banana for 2 points? I know what I am going to choose. Betsy is a Lifetime WW member who is very passionate about the program. But I just couldn't wrap my mind around it, until... I did. She always informed me about it and answered any questions I had, but never pressured me to join. But when I was ready, she stepped in and has been my backbone of support on my entire journey!

And so, I was ready. Weight Watchers revamped their program to the Points Plus program (ranked #1 best weight loss diet by US News and World Report), and this was a plan I could really get on board with. All fruit and most vegetables are 'free'? Yes, please! The Points Plus system calculates points based on fat, carbs, protein, and fiber. The old Points system calculated points based on fat, calories, and fiber. While the Points Plus values for most foods went up, this was offset by the "free fruits and most veggies" as well as an increase in your daily Points Plus target.

From December 2010 until about April 2011, I had great success on Weight Watchers. I lost appx. 15 lbs with only 10 more to go. And then I hit the dreaded plateau. Until very recently was I not seeing ANY results on the scale from my weight loss efforts. Was I always consistent with my tracking? No. Was I eating horribly? No. Was I exercising? Yes (but not often enough, I think). I remain frustrated... but I know the only path I can keep going down is the healthy one, whether I am seeing results on the scale or not.

As far as workouts go, I had always relied on walking (which still to this day is awesome). Leslie Sansone's Walk at Home DVD's helped with that initial 15 lb weight loss, and walking is an amazing form of exercise. I would go to an occasional Zumba class, or hop on the elliptical machine for 30 minutes, but mostly walking. I always envied runners for one reason and one reason only - that they could get places faster than I could walking. For those of you that know me, you know that I walk fast and with a purpose, even if my purpose is "meandering around" - I know no such thing.

So in August 2011, I decided to start jogging - #1 I wanted to get places faster and #2 I thought this might kick start my weight loss again. In fact, this picture was taken on the day of my first "jog." This was after 2 weeks straight on the road for work (meaning 2 weeks of eating 3 meals daily out). I was not feeling so hot. As you can tell by the corn, I was in the midwest aka fried food capital of the US. I did not make good eating choices while I was there. But, my long hair is back!!!

I chose to start jogging up there because the roads were flat, I was able to jog for 30 seconds or so at a time, and have to walk again. On a 2 or 3 mile walk, I would do the jog intervals 4 or 5 times, and boy was this hard. When I got back to Charlotte, I realized the roads in Dilworth/South End were just as flat, and I could make my walk/jog intervals happen here too. It has been about a month and a half since I started jogging, and now I can jog up to 2 miles without having to take a walking break. Every day I just tried to push myself a little further, and a little further. My "go-to" run is 1.5 miles - perfect for a quick after-work workout. I am also incorporating more strength training in to my exercise routine (pushups, crunches, leg lifts, and this neck exercise to improve my posture). While the scale has not really budged (super frustrating), I can tell that I have lost inches. This picture was taken last weekend, and is the first picture that I have seen of myself where I feel like I have really lost weight - I know, it is all mental and I have just not seen it until now.

I never really understood people who have to work out every day, and granted I have my lazy days - but my body wants to get out there and jog almost every day. It's crazy! I am not sure who this person is, but I like it. I have been sleeping better, my clothes fit better, I am losing inches, and the healthy activity that I have been practicing has been making me less inclined to put crap in to my body all the time. Am I saying I am a "health goddess" who only eats things that are good for me? Absolutely not! I would rather have a slow weight loss journey than not enjoy life through food. Case in point, my Target shopping basket yesterday consisted of: toilet paper, cheezits (reduced-fat, k?), 2 bottles of wine, Sprite Zero, and Cranberry Juice - am I going to make healthy living choices this weekend? Probably not.. but only every so often am I reunited with two of my best girlfriends! And so, we shall celebrate with champagne and other assorted alcoholic beverages.

I don't believe that my weight loss journey will ever be over. It will be constantly evolving and in-process, and I am OK with that. I have finally made the commitment to living a (mostly) healthy lifestyle, and I know my body will follow suit and shape itself one of these days as long as I keep it up. I have decreased my Weight Watchers membership from the monthly pass (where you attend meetings and have online access) to just Weight Watchers online (where you can track food and exercise online, search recipes, participate in the message boards) in the efforts of saving money.

I have about 10 more lbs to go until I reach what Weight Watchers says is my goal weight, but I feel pretty darn good where I am right now. The last 10 lbs will come off with time, but I need to remind myself daily that the scale is not all that matters - eating a balanced diet, having a healthy body, keeping your heart healthy, and disease prevention is most important and the scale will fall where it may. This is and will always be a constant struggle for me... but putting it out there (and confessing to my original weight gain) may just give me the extra edge I need for my commitment to healthy living and weight loss. Consistency is key!

What types of struggles have you gone through on your weight loss journey? Please share any tips, tricks, success stories, or motivational speeches!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Come on, ride the train

I promise this will be my last Amtrak themed post (for the week). But, I have to say I was very pleased with my experience. Reasonable prices, ease of travel, efficient... I really don't have a bad thing to say!

You know, just casually waiting for the train on a Sunday afternoon

ChooChoo here comes the train in Cary!

The ride from Charlotte to Cary was easy - the train was not crowded and I had a seat all to myself! On the way back, the train was completely full. I had to walk through 3 cars before I could find a seat. The girl I sat with (super unfriendly), but she got off at Greensboro so I had half of the ride with a full seat to myself. Look at all this space! So comfy. I would pay a small premium any day to not have to drive 6 hours in one weekend. I was able to do a lot of reading and get some school work done as well.

Weekend at home was really good. I forgot to take pictures - I am looking in to investing in a (new) digital camera, and giving my phone a break. I always forget to take pictures. I wonder if I had an actual camera, if I would do it? Friday night we went to Abbey Road in Cary, NC - broke my no meat streak for good reason. They really do have the best burgers. And the beer and onion rings didn't hurt either.

Saturday was a lazy day. We napped, watched TV, and went to the first annual Apex Jazz Festival, where I ate my weight in bar snacks, popcorn, and tortilla chips. We then went to my favorite Mexican restaurant for dinner - La Rancherita. Did I eat too much? Absolutely. Was it worth it? Absolutely. Bean burrito, spinach enchilada, and cheese quesadilla. I sometimes wonder where I put it all... and then I remember - my ever expanding stomach. Speaking of minimizing the expanding stomach, I am still going on the jogging... I sort of conquered my parents' neighborhood on Saturday (although there were 2 points in time where I thought I might have died). Charlotte = relatively flat. Apex = super hilly. My legs and my lungs were not prepared for the hills, but it was definitely good practice.

Yesterday was an even better lazy day, and while I woke up with a stomach ache (thanks, La Rancherita) and a massive headache, it was a perfect excuse to curl up and watch the Teen Mom marathon. I got my mom hooked... she kept on watching even after my train was Westbound to Charlotte. Finale on Tuesday. Will Farrah move??? The suspense is killing me (not). Got back to Charlotte. Got in a (minor) argument with my cab driver from the train station. He totally overcharged me and I called him out on it. Whatever, that was not my first cab ride and I'm paying what I know it costs! He even said "I promise my meter's not fast!" and I said "uh huh." Don't pay Mr. Cabbie. This is why I like Yellow Cab - reliable and fair, not Joe Blow's cab service. He also turned on the meter while we were sitting in a gridlocked parking lot. I made him reset it. Argh. I'm feisty and I get my way. Deal. With. It.

On tonight's agenda - elliptical machine (I guess), Zumba, and TV time. Because I know I am not going to want to cook tonight, I have a Lean Cuisine reviewed today by 'Tactfully' Southern ready and waiting to be microwaved. This will be my first try of the Lean Cuisine bags - I am trying the Asiago Cheese Tortellini.

I know it is Monday but I am ready for the weekend because two of my best friends are coming to visit! We go all the way back to middle school and high school. They are also some of my favorite dance partners. Time to brainstorm activities and fun things to do!! Below is a picture of these two lovely ladies' last visit (to Atlanta) more than a year ago (my hair is so short and blonde!). It is about time for another Girls weekend 'o fun!

Casey, Meredith, Me

Friday, September 16, 2011

Friday's thoughts

As I write this post, I am on a wi-fi-less train, cruising through North Carolina. For a train ticket about the price of gas, and the 3 hours that I get to spend blogging, reading, and/or doing schoolwork, this is definitely the way to travel. I admit, I had some anxiety about taking the train by myself. Part of it was caused by the “unknown” factor, but luckily there are “train attendents” everywhere that tell you what to do. I have only ever been on Amtrak twice before: once with my elementary school, traveling from Detroit to Chicago and once with my friend Casey, traveling from Raleigh to Baltimore. Now that I am on the train and have a power outlet right at my seat, I feel fine and anxiety-free! 3 hours to myself with really nothing else to do? This is a foreign concept unless I am asleep! My only complaint (and I would hope this changes soon as it is 2011) is that this train does not have wi-fi. I would definitely pay a small fee to have Internet access.

So far it’s already been an adventure. Before the train even took off, I heard some girl fighting with her boo over how “he’s making her take this train” and “he won’t even come pick her up” and “he’s pullin’ some sketchy ass shit.” Oh, people and the conversations that they are willing to have in public. Thank goodness she shut up. (Edit approximately 20 minutes later: here she goes again – she is riding all the way to G’boro, just to see him, and he is going to go out with his friends. Homegirl is NOT happy.) A happier story, we just pulled up to the Salisbury train station. It is really cute and historical; someone is even having a wedding outside, adding to the charm! It is decorated with Christmas lights and all set up. Even spotted the bride and groom taking pictures.

In other news, one of my best friends Betsy started a blog today! I am so excited for her… Blogging is my favorite hobby, and I am glad we will be able to share our experiences with each other. Be on the lookout for some guest blogging from Betsy. Until then, let’s all welcome Betsy to blog-land. Stop by and say hi to her!!!

For those of you that don’t know “our story,” we went to the same college and had very similar majors. We graduated a year and a half apart, but never crossed paths at NCSU! Anyway, I started my big girl job after college and people kept calling me “Betsy junior,” and I kept asking myself “Who is this Betsy girl and why do people keep calling me this?” Keep in mind, Betsy and I had never met each other before, only talked a few times on Office Communicator about random work topics. Turns out Betsy and I look a lot alike, and basically have the same personality. We became fast friends and bonded over… everything: our love of NC, our love of food, our love of boys, our love of bad TV, the list goes on and on.

Betsy and I really got close (read: attached at the hip) when I lived in Atlanta for a year. When I found out I was moving to NC, we got a lot of comments from concerned friends and family members: “Are you guys gonna be ok? How are you gonna handle the separation?” Well so far, we are surviving (thank goodness for gchat and BBM!) and regularly scheduled visits that we can look forward to. We are fortunate to work on the same team, just in different locations, so for training and such, we will be reunited. We are also excited to be going to Raleigh for NCSU recruiting again this year! This will be our third year going. Time flies. And now I sound old.

I suppose I should get back to working on my schoolwork. Might as well use these 3 hours for something productive, so I have more time for exercise and TV next week! And I am certainly going to need a lot of TV time with all of the new shows starting. Mr. TiVo is feeling a bit overwhelmed, but with each other’s support, I know we will get through it. I can’t really say which TV show I am most excited for – but I am pretty pumped up about the ABC shows starting back up again, but it is slightly bittersweet with this being Desperate Housewives’ last season. Also looking forward to old favorites ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ and ‘Private Practice,’ and I plan to check out the new ABC drama ‘Revenge.’ The previews make it look really good, but we shall see if it passes the “Katie test.”

Ok for real this time… school, focus, now!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

My first real 5K - Race for the Cure

Alright, so I signed up for the non-competitive portion, but we all have to start somewhere, right? I have done two other 5K's in the past, but never had the intention of trying to run one.

In my last post, I made a verbal commitment to a new life goal. I received an email today through work that they are organizing a team to participate in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure 5K. So I signed up! I was not going to set a goal to raise money, but I really do believe in this cause and decided to set a very small goal of raising $50.00 to go towards breast cancer awareness. Since I have this very public forum of a blog, I figure I might as well put the request out there. I frequently hear from a few loyal readers (thank you!), but I know there are more out there - so I am not sure how much of an impact I could even make. This is a great cause. One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime. This is a reminder of how important it is for us women to make a commitment to health; getting regular checkups and performing self exams. Even if we aren't old enough to get mammograms... It is our job to remind our mothers, grandmothers, and other women in our lives over age 40. Prevention is part of the cure! Being aware of our own bodies is so important in keeping ourselves healthy. Speaking of, I have a dermatologist appointment tomorrow to get my skin checked out by a professional... Don't forget the importance of these doctor's appointments, please!!!

Back to Race for the Cure: from my page, you can donate via credit card. Any small amount would help me get to my goal! If you are in the Charlotte area, from this page you can also join my team for the race! You will get a shirt and some other goodies provided by my company. While I don't necessarily anticipate being able to run the entire race (I just started running in the beginning of August in case you are a new visitor), I am surely going to train in preparation (and hope for minimal hills).

Speaking of getting involved, I am thinking about joining the Young Affiliates of the Mint - basically a social club here in Charlotte. You basically are a "donor" to this museum and then become a part of this group! I think it will be a good way to meet people and get involved in the community while having fun. To anyone that is reading, what do you think of this organization? Have you ever been to any of their social events?

Ok, time to get on with my evening. Making a pasta primavera with veggies that really need to get eaten and I have my first group meeting of the semester at 9 PM. I hope it goes well - I have a good group, and we are all graduating in December so we have the same level of motivation... well, I surely hope they are all motivated more than me! But we are all in the final push to meet our end goal.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Confessions of a shopaholic

So it has been requested of me to write a new blog post by my estimated 4 fans out there. If you haven't liked Katie's Pirate Booty yet, get your act in gear and just do it!!!

Just warning you guys... nothing very exciting has happened to me since the last blog post, except I ran 1.5 miles (in a row) on Saturday and 2.0 miles (in a row) yesterday. For those of you who don't know me... I probably look super ridiculous jogging. For those of you who do know me, laugh now - I ran.

I was the child huffing and puffing and praying that I made it around the track 4 times when we had to run the mile in school. Remember that? When you would get a popsicle stick each time you completed a lap? Or maybe that was just my elementary school because they thought: #1 we were too dumb to count or #2 we were smart enough to cheat (I so would have). Pretty sure I had never run an actual mile in my entire life until recently. My walkjogging has become a nice hobby of mine - I always used to say "I wish I could run because I could get places so much faster." I always was jealous of people who could run. Now I can! It's amazing! I still have a lot of work to go, but one of these days I would like to run a 5K. New life goal.

I still feel like I look ridiculous jogging. Most of the time I wear yoga pants - so what, I only have one pair of running shorts. Also, I have that monstrous 1984 ipod to drag around. Ipod shuffle should hopefully ship soon, and I am going to buy some new running shorts/tanks/maybe shoes this weekend.

In other news, I have gotten to do a little shopping in the past few days (both in the mall and online). I had almost every credit card I own out on my desk this morning in an attempt to order this from Citibank Extra Cash rewards. All I wanted was this pretty purse. Everyone seems to have one of these satchel thingys, and based on my complete obsession with Michael Kors, I found this one to be perfectly suitable.

I have like $600 of "extra cash" to use. Said extra cash is a pain in the a$$ - you can't use it for much of anything for "free", you have to pay a significant portion of almost everything you buy, and everything you have to pay for, you must pay with your Citibank card. Now I don't use this card anymore and don't care to use it ever again for good reason. They changed my billing address without telling me (I am guessing they got my new address from USPS) and I tried for a good two days to order the purse, my card being declined each time. Prior to ordering the purse, I had to call customer service like 4 times. I finally got a hold of people there that spoke limited English and was able to find out my billng address was wrong and that's why the card was being declined. They have "high security" and it has to be typed in exactly correct. So I pulled old billing statements to get exactly what my billing address was according to USPS postal standards. Eh. Declined again. Running around in circles on the phone with more people, I then discovered my billing address was now in NC. Purchase successful. This was exhausting and all happened post-coffee (thank God for that), pre-breakfast (PB&J english muffin nom nom).

I also ordered 4 years of Rachael Ray magazine thanks to this coupon from Coupon Divas. Do I like Rach that much? Not really, but she has good recipes and they are easily adaptable to be healthy. Also, each year was $4.49 and I have a magazine addiction. One day I will list the ones I subscribe to. This could take the remainder of the blog post, and I have more important things to talk about.

Like my new perfume. So I splurged? So sue me.

I need a "signature scent." I have never stuck with one perfume long enough to have one. I also don't wear it every day. Well people, things have changed.. whenever you smell Versace Bright Crystal, you will think of me! I had a Visa gift card from my apartment complex as my move-in gift... and I spent it on a gift for myself. I had been toying around with the idea of getting this perfume and just decided to go for it - the big bottle too! I found a few other scents I like (BCBG Max Azaria's new perfume for one)... but I will get the rollerball version of that and save myself a few pennies. For air travel purposes, I need to get a sample of my Bright Crystal. Oh, the things I worry about... I don't have expensive taste in clothes; however I have been blessed (cursed?) with expensive taste in handbags and accessories. Designer only please. Future suitors, all family members and friends, and other miscellaneous gift givers, take note. There is no faster way to my heart than a designer handbag (or sushi, or Subway breakfast for that matter... there, 3 tiers of gift giving ideas).

Speaking of travel - I am taking Amtrak home this weekend. We shall see how this goes - the last time I took Amtrak, I was with a friend and it was a long haul trip (Cary to Baltimore). This is a bit shorter but still could be interesting. The ticket was about the same as gas prices, and the beauty of mass transit is that I can do other things (read for school, read for fun.. nap... eat... drink... the list goes on). Perhaps I will have some good stories for Katie's Pirate Booty. Until next time...

Friday, September 9, 2011

Last Friday night...

... I was at my apartment, eating cheezits (reduced fat, of course), watching the VMA's (re-play, I forgot to watch them live) and impatiently awaiting the arrival of one of my best friends from High School.

This Friday night... I plan to go walkjogging (this is my new name for my workout: "jog as much as I can until I have to walk, then jog more"), tidy up my apartment, watch bad TV, and eat Outback curbside to go. My life is so thrilling - these Friday nights will become more of a regular thing once Fall TV starts again (Grey's Anatomy and I typically spend our Friday nights together, thanks to my sweet dear TiVo). I have not done nothing at my apartment on a weekend in so long - I have hardly been at my apartment on a weekend since I moved here. Believe it or not, I am looking forward to my super lazy Friday. It will be nice to relax (unless someone wants to take me on a date, just sayin'). The weather is cool enough now that I haven't had to have my AC on, just windows open (my wallet will thank me when the power bill comes). Warning: more random thoughts to follow.

So, yesterday I went walkjogging and had several ipod fails. I have a 75 year old ipod, the first generation video. Yes, that big bulky thing and I still lug it around. It just has so much good music on it! I don't think an armband holder for these ipods exists anymore, so I went with the alternative.

I decided to get me an ipod shuffle. One of those teeny tiny things that just clips on to wherever. No more shoving the ipod in the awkward back pocket of the yoga pants, or down the sports bra or wherever it so will stay put for an entire workout. These are pretty cheap, but I got mine for free! Thank you Wells Fargo credit card points - I probably spent far more money to accrue the points than the ipod would have cost, but hey - it's free.

On the note of spending money, I bought myself some new Bumble and Bumble shampoo today. I am obsessed with Bumble and Bumble products. OBSESSED. They make the best shampoos, conditioners, and styling products. And they usually have some good giveaways and free shipping on their website if you sign up for their emails. I've been having some scalp issues lately, and per some reviews on this shampoo, I hope it helps. I am also going to the dermatologist next week (so close to meeting my deductible for the year...) so hopefully I'll have a better solution to my scalp woes. Oh, my whole point to this story was that B&B does free gift wrapping - so I ordered a present to myself and got it gift wrapped. I love getting packages in the mail! I love getting mail in general.

In other news, I am really feeling good about my new healthy living plan. Walkjogging is making a difference - the scale hasn't budged but I have noticed that things are tightening up in the right places aka I am creating new muscle! I just need to keep it up. Part of a healthy living plan also is to treat yourself and I am certainly doing that today.

Lunch was Eez Fusion & Sushi - I honestly was a little peeved. As soon as I got the menu, I said "why do I even bother to open this anymore?" since I always order the same lunch (yellowtail hosomaki combo, side of spicy mayo, side salad with ginger dressing). Well thank goodness I opened it. I immediately noticed that they raised their prices and changed their options on their lunch combos (lunch was up $1.00 and there was an additional $1.00 upcharge if you wanted miso soup or ginger salad). I still ordered the yellowtail hosomaki but got seaweed salad instead. Their sushi is some of the best I have ever had, but the price increase and lack of selection really has me down.

Needless to say, Eez will no longer be my lunch spot of choice. While they do have the best sushi around, I am a bit irritated at their price increases and the selection decreases. Also, the service sucked (today - it usually isn't this bad). Our waiter dilly-dallied for like 45 minutes, we were just (im)patiently awaiting our checks. Finally he goes, "oh are you guys on your lunch break?" and picked up the pace and actually swiped our cards. I am usually a 20%+ tipper - not today. I drowned my sorrows in a bowl of TCBY froyo. It's not my fault it was within view of the lunch venue. Needless to say, today is a "treat myself" day and tomorrow is back to normal (ideal but not realistic)... Guaranteed back to normal on Sunday :-) As long as I keep up my walkjogging, I feel like I can eat reasonably and healhfully and have some splurges. I am less tempted with cravings than I ever was while I was on Weight Watchers - not that I deprived myself then... and I am not now. I just need to be less focused on the scale and more focused on the fitness. Slowly but surely transitioning my mindset in that direction.

Hopefully my weekend will officially start soon - the faster I can get walkjogging with my jumbo ipod out of the way, the faster I can start my relaxing on the couch!

Yep. That's my couch/nesting area. Doesn't it look so comfy? What is everyone else doing this weekend to relax??

Thursday, September 8, 2011

I baked?

So yesterday I gave myself a mission. I never bake. I am not very good at it due to the necessary preciseness of the measurements... I'm more of a "throw stuff in to a pot/skillet/bowl kinda gal" and see what comes out. Usually, that turns out well.

Well I got overenthusiastic based on the hint of Fall weather (which I love, but I will miss you, Summer - especially when Fall weather turns cold.) I decided to make Pumpkin Spice Muffins and Vegan Banana Everything cookies.

I ran to Target to grab the few things (I thought) I didn't have in my pantry and proceeded to go home. I talked myself out of working out and in to baking instead. I got all of my little ingredients out on the counter, and my bowls, and my measuring cups, and spoons. And I ate dinner (so I didn't eat all of the batter/dough and actually had an output from my baking to prove that I did it).

And then I realized. I didn't have any sugar. Splenda with fiber was not going to cut it for this cookie recipe - I needed the real deal. I decided that God was punishing me for not working out, so I walked to the CVS (which is the closest store to me that sells anything resembling groceries. Also, they sell beer which is super important). I managed to snag the last sack of sugar they had - of course I paid a premium, but that's why they call it a convenience store right?

So now I am back at my apartment and I have EVERYTHING I need now. For real this time. First come the pumpkin spice muffins. Again, this is a super duper easy one bowl recipe. This picture looks a lot like mine (except these muffins don't puff up quite as much), but I didn't bother to take a picture of them this time around...

Photo credit

Pumpkin Spice Muffins

1 box of spice cake mix
1 can of pumpkin puree
1 individual container of applesauce

Mix up. Pour in to muffin tin. Bake according to directions on spice cake box for cupcakes.

Easy enough for ya?? Anyone can bake these muffins.

Now on to the Vegan Banana Everything Cookies. So so so delicious. I was skeptical of a Vegan cookie recipe. I mean, the sugar/butter mixture at the beginning of every cookie recipe is totally the best part. But, my new outlook on eating healthy and homemade is allowing me to try new things. This recipe is a winner!!

Vegan Banana Everything Cookies

Nonstick cooking oil spray

1 very ripe medium banana

1/3 cup canola oil

2/3 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, or as needed

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 cups quick-cooking (not instant) oatmeal or rolled oats

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

1/2 cup chocolate chips (vegan, if desired).

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray two baking sheets with oil. In a mixing bowl, mash banana well. Add oil, sugar and vanilla, and mix with a strong fork. Add flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon, and mix until just moistened.

2. Add oatmeal, walnuts and chocolate chips. Using your hands or a sturdy spoon, mix well, making sure oats are well moistened. (If dough is very slippery, add one or two extra tablespoons flour.)

3. Using clean, wet hands, re-wetting as needed, roll dough into balls slightly smaller than a golf ball, about 1 1/3 inches in diameter. Flatten slightly and place 2 inches apart on a baking sheet. Bake until lightly browned, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool for 2 minutes, then transfer to a rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container.

Yield: About 2 dozen cookies.

I would say that I followed this recipe to a T (translation: I mostly measured correctly and only estimated a little bit), with the exception of rolling the dough in to balls. I kind of slopped it on the cookie sheet and made sure any outlying dough crumbs were put in to a cookie. This recipe yielded exactly 2 dozen cookies minus the dough I ate out of the bowl (so much for having dinner before baking...). I also ate way too many cookies after they were taken out of the oven. So, I brought some cookies and pumpkin spice muffins in to work to share (aka so I don't eat all of my baked goods in the next 24 - 48 hours).

These cookies turned out delicious, only used one bowl for mixing, and are relatively healthy! I think next time I am going to do half oil, half applesauce and see how that turns out.

What are some of your favorite fall recipes??

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

It's farmshare day!

Tuesday afternoon around 4:30 PM is quickly becoming one of my favorite times of the week.

Reasons why:
#1 - It's not Monday anymore
#2 - It's almost time to go home
#3 - It's Farmshare Time!!!

For those of you that somehow don't know about my farmshare from Know Your Farms, my coworker Elizabeth and I split it each week. It is delivered to the office at 4:30 PM on Tuesdays, with all of the fruits and veggies from local farms within 100 miles of Charlotte. It is AWESOME. For the price of about $15.00 per week, I get more produce than I should be able to handle (but don't you worry... I handle it just fine).

Part of this farmshare is the reason I have taken on a flexitarian diet - I am not opposed to eating meat (and Friday night's scheduled dinner is a big ol' steak from Outback... I have a coupon.), I just choose to eat a mostly vegetarian diet. I eat meat on occasion throughout the week (mainly deli meat or turkey/chicken sausage). Anyway, due to this new diet change and my newfound love for working out, I have decided to take a little Weight Watchers hiatus and see if I can lose weight on my own by living a healthy lifestyle. I seem to have plateaued since umm March with Weight Watchers and essentially keep gaining and losing the same 3 lbs. While frustrating, I know I need to make some more lifestyle changes in order to get these last 10 lbs off.

I digress - the whole point of this blog post was to discuss (as promised) what came of my farmshare this week!

After work, I made myself workout - went on an enjoyable run/walk (I put run first this time because I think I did more running!!) and did some strength training. Came back, showered, and got down to business in the kitchen.

Let me first address that I am trying to grow an herb garden - or rather, keep an already grown herb garden alive. I can hardly keep myself alive let alone plants or other living creatures - so this is an experiment... See my cute little herb garden below: thyme, oregano, and basil. I included some fresh herbs in my recipes tonight. Shout out to my mom for giving me the moral support it took to make the $8.00 investment in these plants :-)

Recipe 1: Sauteed Peppers and Onions - very simple recipe. I diced up fresh green pepper, onion, and seasoned with Mrs. Dash Southwest Chipotle seasoning.

Recipe 2: Veggie and rice deliciousness - I do not have an official title for this recipe, but it is definitely delicious.

First I put a pot full of brown rice on to boil (1 cup of dry rice cooked according to directions). I diced up eggplant and onions and sauteed in a large pot with a little olive oil and garlic. Later in the cooking process I added fresh basil and cuban oregano (courtesy of the farmshare) After the veggies were softened and appeared to be fully cooked, I added some sliced green olives. Here is where I usually add a can of diced tomatoes. I did not have a can of diced tomatoes, but fortunately I had a container of homemade tomato sauce courtesy of my lovely coworker Elizabeth. I added the rice and the sauce and voila! Veggie and rice deliciousness. The beauty of this dish is that with a rice and tomato base, basically any veggie could be added and taste yummy. The first time I made this recipe, I happened to use what I had on hand which happened to be the components I continue to use due to their deliciousness.

Note to self: need to restock the garbanzo beans... Side comment: I ordered some fun pantry organizers (can holder and small shelf) as well as new food storage containers (yay for new Rubbermaid Glass!) from our employee purchase website today. Can't wait until they arrive!

Recipe 3: Gnocchi and chicken sausage pasta sauce - I cheated and pulled the sauce out of the freezer (pasta sauce, spinach, and garlic and fontina chicken sausage from Trader Joe's). I also bought the Whole Grain Gnocchi from Trader Joe's and put it all together. Not a farmshare recipe, but this was my dinner tonight - carbloading after my workout :-)

Recipe 4: Roasted Potato and Onion - diced potato, onion, fresh garlic, fresh thyme roasted in the oven until it appeared to be cooked. It's as simple as it looks. Finished off with a bit of salt and pepper to taste.

As you can tell, I was busy in the kitchen today but now I have lots of food to last me the rest of the week! My potato and onion dish turned out kind of like hash - I might have that for breakfast tomorrow morning with some grits. Yum! Lunch tomorrow is at Flat Iron Kitchen in Davidson. If you haven't been there yet, you should... the staff is very attentive and the food is delicious. I already know what I am getting and it is what I had last time (boring, yes. so what? delicious, definitely.) A shrimp salad with a basil citrus vinegarette, goat cheese, picked beets, and some peppers over spring greens served with a side of multigrain bread. Nom nom. Tomorrow, the week will be halfway over!! Dinner tomorrow night is my refried bean "tostada" with arugula instead of spinach... or should I have a hummus wrap with arugula? Sigh, the decisions...

Monday, September 5, 2011

Blogging from bed.

Alright so I have been MIA for a while - don't be mad! I'm back!!

The past week or so has just flown by. I'd like to say how happy I am that today is Labor Day and that I have spent the majority of the past 24 hours in bed or on the couch watching TV. So, I did some school work, grocery shopping, and laundry here and there but I have mostly been relaxing - I don't know when the last time I just relaxed was. I have been going, going, going since I moved here that I haven't even really had a weekend here.

This weekend was great, but let me back up first... the week was pretty good. Like I said, it went by really fast. One of my friends from work came down from Chicago and several of us went out on Tuesday night to the Rusty Rudder, which is a restaurant/bar on the lake. Definitely a fun atmosphere, but it has an amazing view. The food was pretty good, and the drinks were deliciously cheap. See photos below:

The rest of the week was pretty basic: work, workout, cook, sleep, repeat.

Check out one of my latest creations - a veggie "tostada." I couldn't figure out a better name for it. Basically its a tortilla with fat free refried beans, sauteed peppers and onions, a light sprinkling of cheese, spinach, salsa, and sour cream. This is my new favorite (easy) meal. It basically has no prep involved.

Ok so life was pretty routine until Friday! My friend Keena from DC arrived for the weekend and brought her friend Jacci from college with her. It was so great to see Keena - we go all the way back to high school and she is a very special friend to me. It meant a lot that she came here to spend her long weekend in Charlotte.

Friday night Keena and Jacci went out; I opted to stay in and go to bed early because I knew we had a big Saturday ahead of us. Also it was raining and gross out. Woke up pretty early on Saturday (they did too - yay for working..) Keena and I got Subway breakfast (read my love for Subway breakfast here). We then went to the pool - unfortunately it was shady and kind of cool, but it was a great opportunity to use the hot tub and we had the pool all to ourselves. My friend Kristen who lives here was able to join us. The pool was short lived. We decided to go get ready for the tailgate extravaganza. Tailgating is definitely the most fun part about a football game - ECU was playing USC at Panther Stadium. Gave me an excuse to pull out my purple dress and celebrate.

Disclaimer: for some reason I was not camera happy on Saturday and I unfortunately do not have any pictures.

We first went to Tavern on the Tracks where we all got the infamous black bean burger as well as chips and salsa. So delicious. I have realized I just need to split that burger with people - half is the perfect amount to keep you full for a long time. So after our meal, we went next door (literally) to The Gin Mill. I love living in close proximity to delicious food and fun bars. They were having a tailgate party and yes, I was forced to play cornhole. I didn't fail miserably, but let me again reiterate, any games involving balls/bags/bats/throwing are not my forte. Definitely had fun though. Then we ventured out to the actual tailgate and wandered around for a while. Came back to my apartment and we had a tough decision to make: stay in or go back out? Well for some reason we decided going back out was a good idea (and it was so fun... I am glad we did). We were going to go back to the Gin Mill but ended up at RiRa uptown. Super fun bar, nice rooftop porch. Since we had been out and about alllll day, we decided to call it an early evening and left there around midnight.

Yesterday we ordered pizza for breakfast (nom nom) and veg'ed out basically all day. It was wonderful. Jacci hit the road to head back to Raleigh and Keena and I got in bed to watch lifetime movies and other bad TV. It was exactly what I needed!!! I really enjoyed our girl time together this weekend. Also, Keena and I have a mutual love for food. Good food. So we decided to cook!

This recipe from Gina's Skinny Taste was absolutely delicious: Chicken Rollatini Stuffed with Zucchini and Mozzarella. If you haven't been to this blog yet, go there now! She has such great and healthy recipes... granted I ate more than one serving of this one ;-) but, it was still good. Keena fixed us some tomato and mushrooms sauteed in garlic butter and I tossed up my "almost-famous" Spinach and Raspberry Walnut salad.

Now I am laying in bed, watching bad TV and blogging. I put in my dues of cleaning, housework, and schoolwork today so I am going to take the rest of my day off to relax and listen to the storms. Thank goodness this week is a short week. Let's hope it flies by and I can enjoy another relaxing weekend.

Tomorrow I get my farmshare - expect more recipes this week... every Tuesday is like Christmas when I get that thing!!!
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