Archive for June, 2011
Well, hello there. *Wink*
After my rough evening last night, I felt like I really treated myself well today.
My lunch went undocumented because I scarfed it up so quickly. Seriously — you gotta make this Greek quinoa salad. It’s easy as pie, keeps well, and tastes incredible!
And for the record, Trader Joe’s organic pea shoots are SO TASTY. They’re like a cross between sprouts and sugar snap peas.
I left work a little early because I needed to get to a doctor’s appointment by 5:15. As I mentioned before, I was dealing with some health issues that were really stressing me out. Well, after today’s appointment, I finally feel like I can rest a little easier.
I’ve always had a lot of moles all over my body, but never really thought much of it. Recently, though, I have noticed that several were oddly colored, oddly shaped, or would get raised or itchy when I would get a sunburn. After silently stressing about it for far too long, I finally went to my doctor and asked her about it, thinking she would shrug it off as nothing.
Unfortunately, she didn’t do that — she told me to make an appointment with a dermatologist right away to have them looked at. I was super freaked out, but didn’t let my fears get too out of control before seeing the derm. Two weeks ago today, I headed to the doctor, unsure of what she would say. After looking at the three or four that I pointed out, she told me that two were unusual looking, but not overtly cancerous-looking. She wanted to remove them anyway and have them biopsied and sent off to a lab to check for cancerous cells.
I don’t know if I’ve told you guys, but I am completely, utterly, absolutely terrified of needles. It’s a legitimate phobia — one that I know is totally irrational, but one that I can’t seem to shake. I’ve gotten much better about it in recent years, but it’s like no matter what my mind says, my body just totally freaks out. What that means? I faint.
Yep, I faint every time I get a shot. So after they injected the lidocaine into the two spots to be biopsied, I laid there patiently in my paper gown, waiting for the procedure to be over, breathing deeply — in and out, in and out. That is, until I started to feel lightheaded…I’ve fainted enough times to know what it feels like before it happens, but let me tell ya — you don’t have much time to get that message across.
Before I could finish my, “I think I feel lightheaded..” sentence, I was out cold.
Oh, and I pissed all over the place.
Yes, let’s just sit here for a second and let that sink in. I peed all over myself and the exam table at the dermatologist’s office. For the record, I was unconscious, so it wasn’t inentional. I feel lik this is obvious, but just wanted to, ya know, throw it out there. I debated for quite awhile whether I wanted to post about it, since it was pretty embarrassing, but ultimately it was more hilarious than anything. I think the
most humiliating best part was having to throw out my underwear, and then being sent home with a pair of bright blue paper underwear, reserved for liposuction patients. In white jeans. My life really should be a sitcom sometimes.
Well, I went back today, two weeks after the pee incident, and received the incredible news that the lab results came back negative, meaning nothing showed up cancerous. One of the moles had “abnormal architecture,” which basically meant it could potentially have turned into something down the road, but it was removed completely so it won’t be an issue. Needless to say, I am so incredibly relieved.
After leaving the doctor’s office feeling like a million pounds had been lifted off my shoulders, I had planned on meeting up with a few friends for drinks and dinner. Sadly, our plans fell through, but I had a serious hankering for pizza since our plan was to hit up Piece in Wicker Park. So… I decided to improvise.
I toasted a FlatOut Wrap in a cookie sheet in the oven for 5-7 minutes in a 350 degree oven. Then I added all the goodies.
And cooked it for 7 minutes or so in the oven at 375 degrees. This bad boy started with some Whole Foods marinara, then I added a hefty layer of baby spinach, some sliced red pepper, halved cherry tomatoes, crumbled goat cheese, garlic gold and red pepper flakes.
It was SOOOOOOOOO good. Just what I wanted, and healthy to boot. I didn’t calculate the calories, but now I’m sort of curious. Certainly it’s gotta be better than restaurant pizza, anyway ;)
After taking some time to clean up (but I’m still not even close to being finished) and letting my food settle, I got myself ready for the gym and headed out the door. Unfortunately, the sky was green and I felt a few rogue sprinkles coming down, so I dashed back inside and grabbed my umbrella. The last time we had a big storm, I was unprepared…
I thought I looked too hilarious and SOAKED not to take a picture. Check out those sexy raccoon eyes! ;) Hubba hubba.
Anyway, I got about ten feet down the street toward the gym when it started to pour. The sky turned black and the wind picked up out of nowhere, it was so neat. I love storms, so instead of giving up and going back home, I decided to wait under an awning for the storm to pass, or at least for the rain to slow down. It took a good ten minutes before my umbrella would have even made a difference, so I was really proud of sticking it out and keeping up wtih my commitment to hit the gym.
Because my legs are still having issues (shin splints, IT band and knee pain, blegh), I decided to take it easy and read my new issue of Women’s Health on the recumbent bike for a good 40 minutes, then I hit the elliptical for another ten. By that point, it was actually hailing, so everybody at the gym was just glued to the windows, mouths agape. Let me tell you — this was good motivation to stay at the gym and keep working out! Haha.
I did some wall squats, which I’ve read are easier on your knees and also strengthen your gluteus medius, which is supposed to help with knee pain. I also did some hip raises (I’m pretty sure my hips are super weak because my running gait is all sorts of wrong) and shoulder + chest exercises. Finally, I finished off with a good ten minutes with the foam roller of death. It hurt, but I could tell I needed it badly. I really need to get one of my own for home.
When I got back, I needed a snack and couldn’t figure out what I was craving at first. After looking through the fridge for a minute, I decided to top a toasted Kashi waffle with some whipped cream cheese and a little fig spread, then topped it with a sprinkle of chia seeds. This was beyond delicious — I think I could eat this every day of my life and not get sick of it.
Sorry my pictures are kind of blurry — I’m not quite sure why I’m still so sucky at snapping my food!
Speaking of which, I realized I never posted pictures from my dinner with Allie and Mel at Karyn’s the other night. I had two undocumented (aka too delicious to remember to take their picture) drinks — a caipirinha and a Sazerac, and we shared an arugula, potato and Daiya pizza to start.
I had two slices, and while I’m not a huge fan of Daiya, this was pretty tasty. The heaping mass of fresh arugula really made it fresh and delicious.
For my main meal, I had their “chicken” drumsticks. They were served with barbecue sauce, which was sweet and delicious, and reminded me of Sweet Baby Ray’s, and some spinach and sweet potato hash. I ate the whole thing! The chicken was made out of seitan and was perfectly crispy on the outside, and very “meaty” on the inside. I was surprised by how good they were.
Again, sorry for the blurriness. But how lovely is that presentation?? I think I moved it around a little bit before taking this, so it didn’t look quite as asymmetrical when they first brought it over ;)
Anywho, I’m going to get a little work done, then hop in bed with my book. I’m currently splitting my time between The Hunger Games and More Than It Hurts You. They’re both excellent and I can’t wait to finish them.
Thanks for all your kind words and comments lately — you guys are so great :)
Hi friends — happy Thursday!
I had another impossible time waking up this morning. I stayed up late talking to the guy I just ended things with for a couple grueling hours. He informed me yesterday afternoon that he may be moving to Portland in a month and I was completely flabbergasted. He is still intent on becoming friends, and while I really do care about him, I’m just not sure I can do it. We’ve been doing this awkward back and forth for awhile now, and it’s getting exhausting, so I’m really not sure what to do. I think I still see him as someone I dated, and don’t know if I could maintain the distance to be okay with being just friends. You know, not kissing or holding hands…etc. :(
Have you ever decided to become friends with someone you dated longer than a quick fling, but not long enough for a full-fledged relationship?
Anywho, I’m totally exhausted. We finally got off the phone at 1:30 in the morning, and after that I proceeded to tackle the horrific mound of (stinky) dishes in my sink. I don’t like this living alone thing — I’m turning into a freaking slob! I’m rarely home these days because who wants to sit home by themselves in the summertime when you could be out having fun? But that means I’m dashing in and out, and never spend any time cleaning up. Who wants to come over and help? :)
After getting the news about the guy’s potential move, I was totally bummed out, so naturally, I went grocery shopping.
You guys, I am a food hoarder. Some people stockpile shoes (although I do tend to do this too…) — I stockpile groceries. I have enough food to feed 50 people for a week. It doesn’t help that it’s nearly impossible to leave Trader Joe’s without spending at least $50. I left with lots of tasty produce, some quinoa (theirs is always cheaper), some frozen fruit for smoothies (ditto — you won’t find cheaper pineapple and mango anywhere else), their amazing chicken meatballs, some Kona coffee (!!) and a few other random things that I can’t remember. I think the bill was something like $83….ugh. But I can’t help myself!!!!!
I also picked up this nifty reusable insulated bag, even though I already have like 38492340239450 reusable grocery bags. Again, friends — hoarder, I tells ya. HELP ME STOP.
After feeling crappy about everything all day (despite being able to work from home – aka Starbucks), I headed home, noshed on a small banana, cleaned up a bit, and tossed on my gym gear after winning an internal battle of whether to go or not. It was absolutely insanely gorgeous out last night, so it would have been the perfect time for a run, but I’m starting to think that I overtrained and gave myself shin splits.
I’m not exactly sure how one can overtrain for a freaking 5K, but I guess these legs are not ideally suited for running on hard surfaces. This totally bums me out, because for the first time in my life, I’m actually enjoying running outside. I’m considering asking my GP to refer me to a physical therapist so we can take a look at what is causing my knee pain, as well as this shin-splint-y feeling. Have any of you guys ever had shin splints?
I got on the scale this morning for the first time in ages. I’d been avoiding it because, due to my total (okay, not total, but certainly not up to par) lack of exercise commitment, I was almost certain that I had gained some weight. I’ve also been feeling pretty down on myself, self-image-wise, and my clothes have been feeling a little snug, so I really haven’t wanted to stare those numbers in the face. But I think it’s important that I know so I can get myself back on track.
Bad news: I had gained some weight, as I thought.
Good news: It wasn’t that much. If I can hop back on the exercise train and get my freaking act together, I think I should be okay. Right now, I just want my goals to be about eating and feeling better (e.g. getting more protein so my hair stops clogging up the drain in the tub — ugh, gross) and fitting comfortably (and feeling fabulous) in my clothes. Eventually I think I do need to set a general poundage goal, but I’m still unsure of how I feel about that. We’ll have to wait and see.
So, um, I’m kind of thinking I need to get myself out on some dates again. But I’m tired of meeting morons and jerkface buttheads (I’m so mature). Chicago ladies — where should I go to find some eligible bachelors that aren’t of the John Barleycorn persuasion? I live in the ultimate no-man’s-land, straddling Wrigleyville and Boystown. To the east, there are gay — albeit gorgeous — men as far as the eye can see. To the west, it’s the land of the Bro-skis, a class of men so undesirable that I’d rather spoon my cats for the rest of my life. Waaaaah.
I’m crazily excited for my lunch today. I packed a salad consisting of butter lettuce + radicchio, a Greek quinoa salad I threw together, tomatoes, leftover avocado and some organic pea shoots. I grabbed a banana to have on the side. Here’s how you make the Greek quinoa salad (makes about 4 servings):
- 1 cup dry quinoa, cooked
- a bunch of full-fat feta (as much or little as you want)
- 1 cucumber, sliced/diced
- 1/2 can cooked chickpeas, rinsed and drained
- 1/2 can artichoke hearts, rinsed, drained and chopped
- 1 cup sliced cherry tomatoes
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped
- juice of 1/2 lemon
- drizzle of olive oil
- drizzle of red wine vinegar
- sea salt and pepper, to taste
Mix everything together in a large bowl and keep in the fridge, covered. It should stay good about 4-5 days. This stuff is great because it makes packing a lunch SO easy. I topped my salad with it today and can’t wait to try it out with some olive oil vinaigrette as a dressing. Lots of fiber and protein, too — yum! Feel free to tweak the recipe as desired — you can add onions, olives, whatever floats your boat. I recommend using the full-fat feta for two reasons: 1) I think low-fat cheese is disgusting, and 2) low-fat cheese doesn’t have enough flavor, so you end up using more anyway. If you really like the low-fat stuff though, go for it.
I’m off to finish the day. Have a good one!
Hi, friends! Hope you’re having a great Tuesday.
I had a crazy start to my morning today. Since my work hours are somewhat flexible, I have the freedom to sleep in a bit and start my day later than most office monkeys. I hate staying at work until 7pm, so obviously I try not to do it all the time, but sometimes a warm bed and a chubby, cuddly kittie are hard to say no to…
Mojo is such a chunky bugger. This was taken after I came home from the gym (note the headphone cords under his fat butt) and I couldn’t help but take a picture. He usually sleeps like this, or in some sort of contorted pose with his legs in the air. Love this little guy <3
Anyway, this morning I woke up pretty early (for me) around 7:30, but just stayed in bed dozing in and out. Before I knew it, it was 9:15 (WHA?), and my phone started beeping — it turns out, I had a meeting at 9:30 that I had forgotten about. AHHHHH!!! Talk about panic mode. I leapt out of bed and did the “bare minimum” routine: wash face, brush teeth, hair in ponytail, tinted moisturizer. Contact case went in the purse, along with makeup bag, and I hopped in a cab about five minutes after getting up. My outfit (mostly) matches, but it is not a pretty sight. And I HATE taking cabs to work…ugh, it’s such a waste of money, but there is no way I could have made it to the Loop from my north side apartment in less than 40 minutes. Poop.
The meeting was called a “team breakfast meeting,” so naturally, I expected breakfast to be available. Reasonable assumption, right? (This kind of assumption becomes much more important when you leave the house within five minutes of waking up without eating a thing). As it turned out, “breakfast” meant a small box of freakin’ Dunkin Donuts Munchkins on the table, and NO COFFEE. I nibbled on four Munchkins throughout the 20-minute meeting because I thoroughly believe that eating something, anything — even if it’s fatty, sugary crap for breakfast is better than nothing at all. Unfortunately, I know the sugar crash will be coming later to haunt me.
Since it was Pride weekend in Chicago, my eating habits weren’t any better — I alternated between Mexican food, beer, nothing at all and race food — aka free bananas and bagels :D Oh, and there was our victory breakfast afterward at Ann Sather, which consisted of mimosas, eggs benedict and hash browns!
(am I awkward, or what? but I don’t care — I just finished my first 5k!!)
This whole, lack of a shower thing is going to be an issue since I have a Chicago ladyblogger meetup for dinner tonight (!!!) at Karyn’s on Green, a totally vegan restaurant serving up chic, classic American food that, “makes vegan sexy.” I’m nowhere near a vegan, but I do love my veggies so I’ve been wanting to try this place out.
AND, I am so so excited to meet up with some Chicago blogger ladies for the very first time! Since I’m still relatively new to the “scene,” I kinda feel like the awkward kid who’s still trying to make friends (don’t laugh, damn it), so I was over the moon when Miz MmmStories invited me to come along. And this time around, I won’t even feel awkward about busting out my gigantic camera throughout the meal, ‘cause everybody else will be doin’ it too! :)
So I bet you’re wondering about this 5k, huh? Well, it was the annual Proud to Run 5k run/walk and 10k. I opted for the 5k run since I had never done a race before. I won’t lie, I was so nervous from the time I signed up, right until I was standing there at the starting line. I have never been a good (or fast) runner, so the fact that I’ve been running at all is still a miracle to me.
My lovely friend Amy signed up with me, which I think was key to my success with this first race. Although we didn’t train together at all (hah! seriously, the first time we ran together was AT the race), we vowed that we would do the whole thing together and finish at the same time. Each time one of us would get nervous or discouraged, the other would offer some inspirational, motivational, or get-your-fucking-act-together (my personal favorite) words to keep ourselves on track. We were nervous, but excited, and I’m so so glad I had her by my side to finish this awesome (albeit not that huge) first step.
On a side note, I’m sure you’ve noticed our awesomely rainbowed-out outfits. Proud to Run benefits and supports Chicago’s LGBTQ community, specifically its youth. With many friends of mine being part of the LGBTQ community, as well as being an “ally” myself, this is an important cause to me and I was so honored to be able to support it with my first race. Check out Pride Youth if you’re curious about the program.
So back to the race. The very first mile flew by. Amy and I both kept grinning from ear to ear, saying that we couldn’t believe we were actually doing this. Let me repeat — I am not a runner. I couldn’t even run a mile a few years ago. I may not be much farther, but it has been an uphill battle, so this was a big step. You can see our goofy, ridiculous smiles in this shot.
Hahahah, see us in the middle there? It’s obviously the beginning of the race :) this totally cracks me up!
Before we knew it, we were passing the first mile marker and the course started to wind back around over to the lake. It was a gorgeous morning, full of sunshine, so it was really neat to take that turn and run along the lake. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m in love with Chicago and am pretty much hypnotized by Lake Michigan. Any chance to run, walk or simply sit by the lake makes me a happy lady.
One thing I didn’t really expect was the incredible buzz and energy that I felt while standing at the start of the race, as well as that first mile where everybody is packed in tightly. I’ve heard other runners talk about it before, but I always assumed it was just nervous energy. But there’s just this almost indescribable feeling of camaraderie that you sense, where everybody is excited and there for the same great reasons that you are. It was so neat!
After getting into mile 2, Amy and I started to “feel the burn.” There were some uphill spots that really bothered my bum knee, and it started to get pretty warm at that point (this was probably not helped by my polyester leg warmers…d’oh!). We started gettin’ sweaty and huffing and puffing, but kept going. We slowed our pace a bit and took a walking break or two (just about 30 seconds), and that seemed to help. There was a water station that we hit up for a quick gulp of Gatorade (no water!), and it was at this point that we started to encounter all of the spectators cheering us on.
I could never understand why people would want to come out and cheer on runners — I thought it seemed so boring. But I have to tell you, I have never been so grateful for “cheerleaders” in my life. There were city workers, SUPER FAST runners (who had already finished), friends and family members of the participants, members of the LGBTQ community, and regular, random people who just decided to show up. People would be slapping us high fives, clapping and hooting, and screaming “Keep going! You’re doing a great job!” At a few points, it even brought tears to my eyes… I know that sounds so hokey, but it felt so amazing that these people had offered up their mornings to support me in this huge personal challenge. Their words of encouragement added serious fuel to my fire, and gave me some extra energy to keep putting one foot in front of the other. I can’t thank them enough.
It seemed like mile 2 would never end…Amy and I kept asking where the hell the 3 mile marker was…it seriously felt like it was going to go on forever! We got to the point where the 5k course and 10k course split off, and after what seemed like an eternity, we finally saw the 3 mile mark. That was really the point where it got exciting. More and more people were lined up along the sides cheering, especially younger kids, which I thought was really cool. People were even saying, “Thank you! Thank you for doing this!” which brought another tear or two to my eye :) It felt so good to be doing this!
We didn’t have any music and hardly chatted, which I also thought was pretty neat. Both of us were so focused on getting to this goal that we hardly said a word. We had set a modest and almost embarrassing goal for ourselves of 40 minutes because we had no idea what we were capable of, or how things would go. I knew that I could probably beat that, but I was just so determined to finish that I really wanted to give myself something to work toward, but also something I knew was achievable. After we got into mile 3 and saw that the time was still in the 20′s, I knew we were going to beat it and I really got excited :D
Finally, we began to hear music and loud cheering, so we knew the finish line was close. More and more people were cheering us on and shouting, “You’re almost there! Finish strong, guys!!” Amy and I picked up our pace and started giggling and grinning, even though we were both beet red in the face and out of breath. At that point (since I am still a slow runner), I felt like my lungs were going to explode, but we pushed on anyway. And then, with the finish line in sight, we sprinted as quickly as we could. And we crossed.
I’m not a huge fan of how big my butt looks in that middle picture, haha, but hey — if there’s anything you can do to make your butt look smaller, it’s running, right? ;)
We are SO sweaty here in this last picture, but you couldn’t wip away those smiles if you tried. I’ve experienced plenty of runner’s highs before, but nothing topped this one.
Just because my mom is awesome, she caught this ridiculous picture of me after grabbing a water. I was trying shrug and make a funny face, but she caught me mid-expression. Love ya, mama.
I am so sexy. But not as sexy as this lady on the left. Not sure how she ran in that tutu…
The post-run atmosphere was so neat too, with all the goodies that one of the sponsors, Whole Foods (!!!) brought like whole wheat bagels and nanners. I chugged some water, had half a banana and a slice of orange because I knew we’d be going out for breakfast soon after.
All in all, I’m so so glad I decided to sign up for this race. It was not easy, and I really had to bust my butt to be able to get to this point, but I am beyond proud of myself. As I said before, there was a time in my life where I couldn’t even run a mile despite being able to chug away on the elliptical for an hour. Running is truly its own beast that requires a lot of hard work, mental focus and determination, and I can’t wait to keep pushing myself to see what else I am capable of….
Amy and I beat our goal of 40:00 with a time of 37:23, and didn’t even finish dead last in our age division. Priorities. :D
Oh, and did I mention we’re already signed up for our next one? ;)
No, I’m not referencing Joaquin Phoenix’s highly publicized and ultimately fake meltdown.
Just letting y’all know that I haven’t fallen into a ditch somewhere, or possibly lost my mind. (Okay, the latter may be true, but only a little bit)
Life is a little cray-cray right now, and despite the fact that I feel like my life is always a little nutso, it has been more difficult than usual lately.
- I’m having some health issues that will (hopefully) be resolved by the middle of next week – in the meantime, waiting is really tough
- A close family friend just started chemo for her second cancer diagnosis, and it’s horrifically scary :(
- I’m at a turning point in work where my initial training period is coming to an end and my performance is expected to increase significantly
- My 5k (and very first race) is Saturday morning
- I’m attempting to wade my way out of moderate (but substantial for me, who has never had any) credit card debt
- I’m still working to get over a break-up
- Horrible allergies and a messy apartment are making all of the above significantly more difficult
I have also been feeling significantly fatigued recently — moreso than my usual lazy self — and I’m thinking that my diet is lacking, so therefore my iron is lacking. I have all the necessary supplements at home, but my messy apartment and lack or organization makes it tough to get my act together.
On the to-do list tonight: get in a 2 mile run with Amy, pick up my race packet, hit up Trader Joe’s or WF for groceries (I have been eating random canned items for dinner…times are getting desperate), update the blog with a few funny stories, a few sad stories, and a few really great recipes (this may have to wait a bit longer :( sorry guys!), do the painfully huge mound of dishes in my sink, fold and put away the OTHER painfully huge mound of clothes atop my bed, and last but not least — get to bed at a decent hour.
I’m surprisingly cheerful for this level of craziness, but I may just be hiding from reality…who knows. Anyway, just wanted to pop in and say hello — I promise I’m here and will be back soon. Missing my bloggies!
Sometimes I have to laugh at the ridiculousness of my life. I was in the middle of my lunch and realized that I needed to go downstairs to switch my laundry out. Since my cats are fatty vultures, they will immediately jump up and sniff/lick/consume any food or drink that I leave out, regardless of what it is. For this reason, I am always balancing or hiding my food in weird places when I walk away. Today, my lunch was perched on top of the fridge for ten minutes.
I had a delicious open-faced turkey sandwich with TJ’s sliced goat cheese and 1/3 of an avocado, and a salad with chopped romaine, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, yellow bell pepper and TJ’s champagne pear vinaigrette. I just picked up some sliced turkey from the deli yesterday after finishing off the gross pre-packaged turkey I bought last time when the deli was closed. It was the natural, no preservatives kind, but still — that stuff is so slimy and just not tasty. I prefer Boar’s Head ovengold much more :)
See the little flecks of Gorgonzola in the dressing? Mmmm! It’s pretty low-cal too, I think only 45 calories in a serving. I always keep this stuff in the fridge because it makes any salad taste like it came from a restaurant.
Half a banana was also enjoyed on the side.
I was able to sleep in and work from home today (yayyy work-from-home Wendesdays!) and it’s a good thing too, because it’s bleary and rainy out! It seemed like it was actually pretty nice out up until about 1 o’clock, but I was a good little worker bee and stayed inside near the computer, so I can’t be sure. Now it’s raining pretty steadily though, and it’s nice to have the sound in the background while I’m working away.
Yesterday after leaving work, I hopped on the bus to find that it was uber-crowded, so I had to stand up at the very front next to the driver, and it felt like I was playing a video game or something. I was RIGHT up against the windshield. Traffic was bad, so I downloaded a new phone app that is similar to the Hipstamatic for the iPhone and played around with it. Here is an overly-Hipsteresque shot of my ridiculously treacherous-looking spot on the bus.
Crazy, no? That happens from time to time on the bus because it’s the very last stop before it runs express up Lake Shore Drive. It was a beautiful day with tons of people running and biking along the lake shore path, with lots of sailboats out on the water too, but I couldn’t snap a decent enough shot. Sorry! Here’s another.
This app is so neat, I can’t wait to play around with it more. Expect many more hipster-y, vintage-looking pictures in the future!
When I got home, I made a quick run (hah!) to the grocery store to pick up some supplies for the evening’s activities. I seriously don’t think I can leave a grocery store with a bill under $50. Honestly. I think it’s impossible. Thankfully it was still lower than it would have been normally, because strawberries were $1.50 a pack!!! Talk about a kid in a candy store — I went nuts, and left with four packages :D
My friend Laura met me in front of my apartment soon after, and after dropping off the groceries, we walked over to a new restaurant that just opened in the neighborhood called Taverna 750. Immediately after seeing the signs and menu go up a few weeks ago, I knew I had to try this place. It had lots of small plates, homemade cellos (limoncello, orangecello, etc) and a fantastic drink list, all with an Italian twist.
I started off with their signature 750 cocktail, which was very similar to a cosmopolitan, but was made with homemade limoncello and came with a sidecar!
It was STRONG, but very delicious. And how cute is the little sidecar in a bucket of ice? The drink was $10, but I felt like I really got my money’s worth with the extra little carafe. Of course I shared with Laura, and she got a shooter of homemade pistachio-cello. It was sweet and very smooth!
Next we each received our own antipastos. She got a chilled carrot soup, and I got a mozzarella dish wrapped in phyllo dough…they were both amazing.
We shared two small plates after that: a slow-roasted pork shoulder in a tomato sauce with creamy polenta and a pesto drizzle (OMG), and a “pizzette” with brie, figs, pepperoni and poppy seeds (OMG!). This is my kind of restaurant.
The polenta was SO creamy and amazing, and paired with the savory meat and sauce, I thought I had died and gone to heaven. I will never turn down slow-roasted pork shoulder, it’s one of my favorite dishes. The pizza was amazing too, and I thought the poppy seeds (typo alert – I wrote “poopy seeds” at first…heh) were such a neat and unexpected addition. I can’t wait to come back and try everything on their menu!
For dessert, Laura and I planned on making strawberry rhubarb pie (!) after I texted her earlier in the day saying that it sounded really good (drawback of looking at food all day for work). When we looked at some of the recipes, though, it seemed like the combination of a few tired girls and my very small kitchen might mean we should pick something a little easier. We decided (after a stiff cocktail, of course) that Emeril’s Strawberry-Rhubarb Crumble with Irish Whiskey Butter sounded perfect to these two lushes.
I have to admit, this dessert was very good, but it was far too sweet for my tastes. I have never been a big dessert or sugar person, and hardly eat much of it from day to day, so when I try something really sweet, it usually turns me off. While the taste was fantastic, I had a hard time adjusting to the sweetness with that first bite. The sauce was also very sweet, so I needed to gulp down a gigantic glass of water after a few tastes.
I think next time (if there is a next time), I’d make this with 1/3 of the sugar or even less, since the strawberries were so naturally sweet. I would also try to figure out a way to make the sauce with less sugar, because once that melted into the crumble, it was just that much more sugar. If you’re a big sweets fan though, this would definitely be for you!
I decided to have dessert after my lunch today, and mixed a small portion of leftover SR crumble into a big blob of Fage 0% and sprinkled a little cinnamon on top — I think this was the key here. The yogurt’s tang really set off some of the sweetness of the dessert, and the insanely indulgent creaminess of the Fage (seriously, this stuff is worth the splurge — it is leaps and bounds beyond every other Greek yogurt out there) contrasted nicely with the crunch of the crumble.
You better believe I licked the bowl clean! Yum.
I have a bit more work to do today, and I’m multitasking by doing some long-overdue laundry that has been staring at me for weeks. There are about nineteen piles of clean clothes on my bed, and every hanging surface available is covered in clothes hanging dry. I’d like to get to the gym at some point before it gets too late, but I have a feeling this is going to take a looooong time tonight…wish me luck.
Catch ya later!
I was browsing though the dictionary, looking for the antonym of punctual — and it turns out that it’s actually “unpunctual.” Hmph. I hate that word, so I have decided to confirm what many people already know with the word “laggard.” It means someone who takes more time than necessary, or constantly lags behind.
I was super late to work today. My sleeping schedule is completely off (think washing the dishes and folding laundry at 2:30 last night) so I have had a really hard time getting up in the mornings. Since I am running my first 5k in less than 2 weeks, I really need to kick up my exercise schedule a notch if I plan on not…well you know, dying during the race. I know I can run 5k, it’s just a matter of how embarrassed I’ll be with my time.
But since there are so many amazing things to do in Chicago in the summer, it’s really hard to commit to doing anything after work, since usually there are a thousand free concerts, festivals, happy hours or simple icy-cold drink-fuled hangouts to be had instead. Why the hell would I want to be huffing away in the gym when I could be drinking an Oberon by the lake? Pfft!
I’ve been able to work with this problem a little bit by scheduling a few runs with friends after work, which is a great way to catch up and chat while getting some huffing & puffing in (not to mention being able to wander around the city, one of my favorite activities!), but I can guarantee that those runs will ALWAYS take a back seat to booze, music and sittin’ outside in the sun.
What’s a social butterfly like me to do?
This is why I need to exercise in the morning. Duh. But um, how exactly can I do that when I can’t even get up on time for work? I’m completely stumped — how does everyone seem to be able to juggle a social life (read: staying out late) while still being able to wake up and be a functioning adult? This isn’t me waxing poetic here, I need some advice — Help!!
I had a pretty decent weekend. Friday after work, I met up with a few friends for beers at one of my favorite bars in Chicago, Guthrie’s Tavern. It’s a bit divey (just how I like em!), has a great (and cheap!) beer list, and provides board games for you to play for free! We snatched up Scrabble and chatted for a bit before diving in.
Somehow, I grew up without ever having played Scrabble (criminal, right?) so this was only the second (third?) time I had ever played in my life (the first being on a date….with a guy who was VERY good at Scrabble. He thought I was a complete moron and never called me again. Oops). I killed though! I still lost, but only because my friend stumbled into a ridiculous coincidence of a word and won in the last five minutes. I still won in my head!
Saturday was sort of a crapshoot of a day; I was supposed to meet some friends for the Old Town art festival, but apparently AT&T’s reception crapped out because there were so many people there (shocker), so no one could get any calls through. I ended up sitting at home for a good chunk of the day waiting to hear from my friend who I was supposed to meet, but got really frustrated and annoyed because I never heard from her. I did get a good run in (perfect running weather — 60 & breezy!), and ended up walking across the street to do a few hours of work at Caribou, so the day wasn’t a total loss.
That night, I met up with Amy and we grabbed dinner at The Chicago Diner, a vegetarian and mostly-vegan restaurant with the slogan, “Meat-free since ’83!”
It’s right by my apartment, so I’ve walked past it a zillion times and had never been in it before. There’s always a huge line outside, and I’ve heard nothing but good things, so I was really excited to try it when Amy and I couldn’t agree on anything else except this place for dinner :) I love you Ames!
We both got veggie burgers — mine was a BBQ Bacon burger made out of seitan, and I topped it with Montery Jack cheese and avocado. It was SO GOOD. The texture of the seitan wasn’t weird or gross at all, and it was so flavorful and filling. It was also served with a side of sweet potato fries that were super crunchy and salty, the best and only way to serve them, IMO. I wish I had thought to take a picture, but I was too hungry and scarfed it down before the thought had even occurred to me!
I had an Oberon on the side, and since Amy and I had both heard about their amazing desserts, we decided to split a chocolate peanut butter cookie dough milkshake, completely vegan. Yes, you read that right.
It was made with a soy-based frozen ice-cream, and was TO-DIE-FOR. Not only was this bad boy rich, creamy, and free of any weird soy aftertaste, but the best part was that I didn’t feel gross, bloated or sick to my stomach at all afterward (since I am lactose intolerant). I’ve never been able to enjoy milkshakes, so this was VERY exciting! If you’re ever in Chicago and want to try an amazing veggie-friendly restaurant with classic diner food (they do offer eggs and dairy cheese, just no meat!), you’ve gotta give this place a try!
After dinner, I met up with some of my close friends who were in town for a bachelorette party, and hit a few bars with them. The bars they went to weren’t really my scene and were pretty overpriced, so I only had a few drinks and ended up going home in a bad (aka sad) mood.
I tried to sleep off the bad mood on Sunday, so after spending far too much time in bed, I got up and met Amy to head down to BluesFest! It’s a tradition for me to go every year since my Dad has been taking me since I was little, so I was psyched that Amy wanted to join me. We wandered around the fest a bit and picked up a few free samples (some not so great ZONE Perfect bars and some sickly-sweet soda — blegh!), then laid our blankets out in the sun to enjoy some of the great live music. It was a perfect way to spend the afternoon :)
We both were craving a drink afterward (but didn’t want to spend $13 for a nasty Bud Light at the fest), so we went out for tapas and sangria at Twist! after leaving the festival. We had a great meal and some seriously tasty peach sangria, but had the funniest/most awkward moment when we paid the bill. Apparently both of us had neglected to deposit enough money into our accounts over the weekend, so BOTH of our cards were declined at the same time (we split the bill). The waitress came back and tried to insist that something must have been wrong with the machine, but both of us knew better and just started cracking up. One of the reasons we are such good friends is that we have a problem with expensive dinners and shoe shopping :D
Awkward, yes. Embarrassing, yes. But totally hilarious? Of course!
I’ve got some more work to catch up on, then I’m planning on either meeting up with a friend for another free concert in Millennium Park, or a nice long run before the hot weather comes back to torture is (high of 70 today! love!). Hope you’re having a great Monday!!
Okay, I don’t really think I’m a fatso (most of the time). I’m just feeling super bloated because I’m dealing with lady issues. Blegh.
What better way to combat that nasty, puffy feeling than heading to the gym? (Bonus points if this is the first time you’ve exercised in a week).
I wore the free t-shirt I scored from Zipcar at SausageFest last week (thanks, Zipcar!), and did about 25 minutes on the
lazy person’s recumbent bike with Fitness mag, then did a quick and sweaty 2 miles. I hit a 11:57 pace!!! (I know this is pretty slow for many of you, but getting under 12 for me is still an accomplishment).
I hate how up and down I’m feeling lately…I kid you not, I was doing dishes the other night and out of nowhere, just burst into sobs. So. Pathetic.
(Maybe it’s because I hate not having a dishwasher?)
Thankfully I was in better spirits yesterday, but I’m not really sure why. It might have been that asked the ex-fella to please stop contacting me for the time being because all it did was make me feel worse, yet hopeful at the same time. Conflicting emotions + lack of sleep = bad.
It’s frustrating because I can tell this is affecting my work a bit…thankfully, we’re in the middle of a huge slump, so I have very little work to do and my lackluster motivation and energy likely isn’t an issue. But had this been a busy period, I’m not sure how I would have managed.
After getting through the day with no major emotional leakage (hah), Amy came over for dinner. I whipped together some buffalo pulled chicken that had been in the slow cooker all day.
Sidenote: when I first walked in the door, my apartment smelled like cat food. Apparently slow-cooker chicken smells like cat food? Gross. I kinda wanted to vom, or just throw it out…
I decided to take my chances with the cat food/chicken and I’m glad I did. Easy peasy: I just popped two frozen chicken breasts and a splash of vegetable broth in my standard-issue, $10-from-WalMart Crock Pot before leaving work, and turned it on low. When I took it out for dinner, it started to fall apart immediately — success! I pulled the rest of it apart with a fork and smothered some of this stuff on it:
It was a little different tasting than I had expected — more vinegar-y and quite a bit of bite, but it was good! I served the pulled chicken along a chopped romaine salad with red pepper and cherry tomatoes, and a bit of whole wheat linguine with olive oil, salt and pecorino romano cheese. I actually ended up putting the chicken on top of the salad and eating them together — delicious! I love putting pulled chicken on salads :D
After chowing down and watching a HORRIFICALLY DEPRESSING episode of 16 & Pregnant, we needed to introduce some levity back into the evening and decided to paint our nails and get froyo. Four lovely colors and $14 worth of froyo later (cake batter, strawberry, dulce de leche and cookies & cream for me), we were happy ladies :)
Just as we finished up, the sweltering heat started to finally break and before I knew it, I was battling some seriously epic wind gusts on the walk home. Minutes later it started thunderstorming, which was an excellent way to end the night curled up in my bed. I always sleep better when it rains. It sure makes it harder to get up the next day though…maybe that’s why I accidentally woke up at 9:30 this morning. Oops.
Back to (not really) working for now, catch ya later kids.