Archive for April, 2011

Busy bee

To say that this month has been crazy would be the understatement of the year.

After telling my roommates that I would officially be moving out at the end of the month a few days ago, so began the mad dash to find and secure a new apartment. The two that I had considered subletting both fell through, and I was beginning to worry that nothing would work out. So I took a huge chance and decided to sign a one year lease on a studio apartment.

That’s right folks, I am finally going to be fulfilling my dreams of becoming a cat lady living in a studio apartment with two cats. This should be interesting.

The plan is to sublet my new place (the apartment company actually lets you put someone else on the lease, so it would technically be a re-let) when my friend Amy and I find a new apartment when her current lease is up. I feel like I’m playing a giant game of musical apartments!

But now the thought of packing my entire apartment up in a week and moving, all while starting my new job, is daunting to say the least. I am a seriously stressed girl right now. But I know that this will be the best thing for my sanity, or whatever is left of it. So…wish me luck!

Yesterday was my last day of work at my old company, so they sent me off with a lovely tradition called “B&D,” which stands for beer and Doritos. BEER AND DORITOS!!! Really, how awesome is that? The office gets together around 4 o’clock and socializes with a few cases of brew and bags of chips. After the beer ran out, we decided to keep going and headed over to a nearby brewery for a few more beers. I spent some time chatting with my former boss about the power structure at the company and had to hold in the laughter a few times — it’s always so interesting what goes on behind the scenes among the higher-ups at companies!

After that, a few of us split off to go meet Amy for more beers (are you seeing a pattern here?) and get dinner at DMK, an AMAZING grass-fed beef burger place that also happens to have incredible fries. I would have snapped a picture, but my phone was long-dead after a day at work (I tell ya, smartphones are great, but you REALLY need to carry an extra charger around with you if you want to be able to use it!).

I got the incredible #2, which had onion rings, blue cheese and their house made ketchup. The way the cook their burgers leaves them super crispy around the endges and…oh…I can’t go on, I’m drooling here.

source

As if I hadn’t had enough at that point, we decided (after drinking since 4, save for Amy) to go to another bar! But as we were leaving, I realized that my coat had disappeared! We looked all over the restaurant, but it seemed as if someone had either stolen it or taken it by mistake. Fortunately I only had my mace (hah) and my Chicago Card (public transit pass) in the pockets and not keys or my phone, but it was a nice coat and now I have to pay to replace my card, which I use multiple times per day. So frustrating!

At this point, I was upset about the coat and, again, had been drinking since 4….I had half a dreamsicle martini, spilled the other half all over the bar, then was given a free replacement by the very nice bartender — I thought that was so sweet! She probably shouldn’t have given me that second one though, as I proceeded to spill it all over my pants. Oy.

After getting shoved into a cab to ensure my safe arrival home, I stumbled into my bed and passed out.

Hi, my name is Laura and I’m a hot mess. Nice to meet you! :)

I’m off to do some shopping with my friend Allison in the hopes of finding a dress for a concert date I have tonight. Wish me luck, and please don’t call an intervention on me just yet!

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April 16, 2011 at 1:16 pm 2 comments

This…

..is what I’m doing right now:

Snugglin’ with this goofy lookin’ guy and catching up on blogs. Aren’t we quite the pair?

I was just reading Julie’s sweet post about how, no matter how foul her mood, she is always cheered up instantly by her Viszla pup, Sadie. While I’ll admit that having two cats can sometimes be a slight (okay, a huge) pain in the ass, I’m still thankful for them most of the time. They are such sweet, playful and cuddly kitties, and they are always there when I need company or just a good snuggle buddy.

Okay, I know — I am a crazy cat lady. Bear with me anyway?

I’ve been very stressed out this week due to my shifting living situation. The apartment that I will be moving into (or would like to be, at least) isn’t 100% available yet (the current tenant is still waiting on word from her new apartment…it’s so complicated!), so I am on pins and needles waiting to hear that my rental will go through. If it doesn’t, I may be homeless in a few weeks!

It is also the last week at my current job, which I absolutely love, so I am stressed and sad and not handling it very well. I’m so grateful and thrilled to start my new job, but it will be hard leaving a place and group of people (I’m looking at you, Kara) that I have grown to love.

Thankfully, though, the gym is always there. After receiving a particularly horrible text message from my particularly horrible roommate, I was furious, stressed out and wanting to strangle someone. So I hopped on the treadmill, turned up my iPod and ran my fastest mile to date! It was awesome. I have never felt my blood flowing through my body like that, and I felt like I could squeeze every ounce of energy from the day’s stress into energy for my legs. After two more, I hopped off feeling lighter — physically and mentally.

Sweat > therapy.

I have been lazy and haven’t been cooking anything exciting this week. I’ve also been eating much less than usual due to stress (this is unusual for me — it takes a LOT to get my mind off of food!), so I don’t have too many exciting eats to share this week! On the way to a friend’s house tonight, though, I did stop at WF and picked up some delicious-looking and in-season strawberries and mangoes! I also grabbed some salad fixins. VERY excited to incorporate those into some meals, ASAP — my body needs fruits + veggies, stat.

While I was strolling the lovely WF aisles, I also snagged a quickie dinner at the hot/cold bar. I had some marinated green beans, cauliflower, broccoli, sweet potatoes and carrots, a bulgur + quinoa salad, some rosemary-garlic tofu and some yellow daal. The daal was definitely my favorite! It was so flavorful and creamy, I wished I had gotten more. Next time! I also sipped a guava Kombucha. All was scarfed up much too quickly to snap a pic :D

Thanks for hanging in here with me while I get my life figured out, guys….I hope I haven’t bored too many of you to tears! More fun stuff to come soon, I promise!

April 12, 2011 at 11:51 pm 2 comments

Deep breaths

Hi friends.

Forgive the radio silence. I’ve had a rough few days, and a particularly rough evening. Thanks to a few great friends, though, I’ve made it through to the other side. It may be Monday, and it may not be 80 degrees or sunny, but it’s a better day already.

I’m not feeling too well today, so aside from a cut-up bell pepper and some diet soda, I’m having trouble finding something that my tummy can handle. Any suggestions?

Bear with me…I’ll hopefully be back and running soon.

April 11, 2011 at 1:53 pm Leave a comment

Big changes

Howdy!

This is my friend Amy. She makes me smile :)

Hi Amy!

We decided to put on some cheap (and not so flattering…) sunglasses after a few beers and have a photo shoot. This is why we are friends :D

My life is going through some crazy transitions right now, and one of which involves this lovely lady above! I will be moving out of my current apartment soon, and Amy might be a new roommate. Thrilled doesn’t do justice to my excitement about this!

The issue, however, is that my current lease is not up until August 31. Amy’s is not up until July 31. And, well….as I may have mentioned before, I don’t exactly love my roommates.

I’ve been trucking along and doing the best I can to get by though, and for the most part things have been fine. Recently, however, things have taken a turn for the worse. I’m naturally somewhat of an anxious person when things get stressful, and the relationship (or lack thereof) between the troublesome roommate and I is making me physically ill with stress. Not only does coming home when I know she is there put a knot in my stomach, but she is also disrespectful and even took something of mine (a coach purse), then lied about it when I asked (nicely) for it back.

I’m feeling like I can’t live here anymore, but am not sure if I can afford to move out.

BUT. I am a happy, goofy, hilarious and fun person that is generally positive an optimistic about life.

Those last two are pretty weird, huh? I was trying to emphasize the “goofy” part, hah! Say hello to my friend Amanda in that last one — she is pretty fantastic!

I truly believe in the mantra that if you don’t like something, you should change it. Instead of sitting around feeling miserable, you can get up and do something about it! Life doesn’t always (or really, never does) go as planned, but if you are flexible, positive and willing to go along for the adventure, everything will be okay and turn out exactly like it is supposed to.

Because my current roommate situation has gone from “nuisance” to something that is actually interfering with my happiness and living of my daily life, I have decided to look for a new place to live ASAP as a temporary solution.

This freaks me out for a number of reasons: 1) moving is expensive, 2) living on your own is expensive, 3) I have a lot of stuff and moving is a HUGE pain, and 4) I’m not sure how exactly this will work out. I will have to coordinate the timing of my moving out with someone new moving in to takeover my lease (and who knows how difficult a person will be to find), and I also have to talk to my roommate about doing this. Since she is the type of person that seems to need to control everything, I’m not sure how this will go. I just know that I need to get out of there for the sake of my sanity, and that I cannot afford to pay for 2 apartments at once.

Wish me luck.

Another big change that I’m beyond excited about is that I (officially) have…

…drumroll…

A NEW JOB!

I’m keeping the company name under wraps (at least for now) because I haven’t really ironed out how comfortable I feel about sharing that sort of thing, but it’s for a large and well-known company in Chicago that I’m thrilled to be joining. My start date is April 25; I’ll be part of the editorial staff and will finally be back on salary, something I haven’t been on since I moved from Madison and switched jobs back in June. It’s been a looooong time coming, friends.

Big changes, but happy changes. I hope I can keep improving my life everyday and continue to be the happy, downright KICKASS chick that I know I am (she’s just been hiding from satan roommate).

I’ve had some delicious eats recently, but I’ve scarfed most of them down before thinking to take a picture! (bad blogger!) Salads are back in my life, and I’m so happy about it because I think a big salad a day is what makes me feel the best. In today’s mix:

  • huge handful of arugula
  • huge handful of TJ’s organic broccoli slaw
  • sliced leeks (soo crunchy and add a huge pop of taste without being too onion-y)
  • sliced 1/2 bell pepper
  • 1/4 avocado cubed
  • a few shakes of ground flax
  • 3 oz grilled chicken
  • TJ’s lemon pepper seasoning
  • big dollop of TJ’s Mediterranean hummus

It was DEEELISH. It was so crisp and fresh tasting, but I feel totally satisfied afterward. I also have an orange to munch on later. I’m sorry I didn’t take a picture, but I’m sure I’ll have the exact same lunch tomorrow! :)

I made an internet pact with my buddy Mike last night that we would both hit the gym today, since we’ve both been slacking this week. The universe must have answered my prayers yesterday when I was talking about lacking motivation, because it arrived to my doorstep yesterday in a shiny little package!

I wish it had been SHAPE or Women’s Health, but hey, I’ve always said that the ladymags are the best way to get my butt to the gym when all else fails.

See ya on the flip side!

April 7, 2011 at 2:40 pm Leave a comment

It’s been a few days…

…since I’ve been to the gym (due to a cold and plain old indifference) and I am in a slump. Big time.

While I know I will feel 1000x better after a workout, the mere thought of tying on my sneaks and hitting the treadmill is torture. I’ve hit a wall.

What to do, blog friends?

April 6, 2011 at 4:53 pm Leave a comment

Mama’s date night steak!

Hi loves!
So for a date night awhile back, I made flank steak.

It had sugar…

Spice…

…and everything nice…

Mama’s Date Night Flank Steak

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup canola oil
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice (you can use bottled but it won’t taste as good!)
  • 1 cup green onion and tops, chopped
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 3 tbsp honey
  • 1 1/2 tsp garlic powder (I didn’t measure this, just poured it in)
  • 1 1/2 tsp ginger (I’ve used both fresh and dried – I think fresh tastes better though)
  • 1 flank steak (mine was just under a pound)

Instructions:

Combine all ingredients (except steak) and mix well. Place steak and marinade in rectangular dish or large ziploc bag and marinate for 24-48 hours in refrigerator.

chillin'

I had a little helper

Can I have steak too?

To cook on the grill, cook for 4 minutes, turn 90 degrees, flip and repeat. To cook indoors, heat a cast iron grill pan slowly over medium heat. Grill steak for 6 minutes, flip and grill for 5 minutes. Let rest on a plate covered with tinfoil for five minutes (both methods), then slice against the grain at a slight angle and serve. Bravissimo!

I didn’t take a picture because…well…it was date night! ;)

And remember my crazy caprese?

That’s some pink Himalayan sea salt right there!

Is that gorgeous, or what?!

Here’s the maple mustard chicken I had with it.

On the side, I had a New Glarus Spotted Cow.

And some strawbs + dark chocolate for a little sweetness :)

I have another dinner date tomorrow, and I’m still up doing laundry and cleaning — and have NO idea what I’m going to make! Any ideas?

Night, all!

April 4, 2011 at 11:45 pm Leave a comment

Ultimate hangover [+ easy peasy caprese]

Hi friends! I hope you had a lovely weekend, full of relaxation time or crazy time. Mine was a strange combo of both.

My “ultimate hangover” had two parts — food and booze. Let’s just say I was not so good to my body this weekend…

Last week was one of the most stressful weeks  in recent memory. I was waiting to hear about the fate of my current job and whether it would be continued, and if that wasn’t in the cards, whether another position I had interviewed for would give me an offer. My plans for a date were also rescheduled twice then canceled, which not only bummed me out, but brought out some serious insecurities that I struggle with whenever I’m dating someone. I’ve been lied to too many times (in my opinion, once is too many), so I was feeling very vulnerable.

I wouldn’t call myself an emotional eater. When something bad happens, my first urge is to swig a glass of wine, not eat a piece of cake. (Hmm — does this make me an emotional boozer? Haha). Luckily I’ve leaned that a trip to the gym is usually a good substitute that will usually, at least temporarily, chill me out. I am, however, much more inclined to go totally lax on my eating habits when I’m stressed. I tend to tell myself that I don’t care, or that at this point that bowl of pasta bathed in cheese is necessary. Or I’ll go out to eat instead of making something healthy at home.

This was one of those weekends.

Thankfully (and I am thrilled to announce) that I got a call Friday morning with an offer for a new job! Unfortunately, I had stressed myself to the breaking point by Friday, and was in bed with a seriously congested head and a fever when I got the call, but it made my day nonetheless. While I was thrilled (and officially called back to accept the offer a few hours later), my stress levels were still through the roof.

I can say with near complete certainty now that I rarely get sick unless a) I pick something up from riding the bus every day, or b) I am completely stressed out, which is usually coupled with little sleep and not enough fruits, vegetables and other healthy stuff. Alcohol is sometimes thrown into the mix as well. This weekend, my main sources of “nourishment” comprised of mac and cheese, shrimp and cheese grits, buttermilk fried chicken, a steak sandwich and a giant bowl of pasta. There were no vegetables to be seen. But there was lots of beer. LOTS of beer.

Thankfully, these weren’t all in entree size and were instead enjoyed in tastes and sharing sizes, but needless to say, I still felt like…well, shit. I also dealt with two serious hangovers.

Are any of you emotional or stress eaters? How do you get yourself back on track?

After sleeping in to catch up some desperately needed Z’s, I finally got myself over to the gym. Since my cold is still lingering around and preventing any use of my nose, I kept it light to 20 min on the recumbent bike (set on random hills at level 10) and 20 minutes on incline intervals on the treadmill (speed 3.3-3.5 with inclines from 1.0 to 11.0). I tried to complete one of my WH workouts, but after one superset, I realized that there was no way I could do these without doing them half-assed, and that just seemed pointless to me, so I plopped down on the mat and stretched out instead.

And then…Trader Joe’s happened.

While Chicago has gloriously acquired a new Trader Joe’s pretty close to my house (and on my way home from work) on Diversey, it hasn’t been completed yet, so I have to rent a Zipcar if I want to buy more than a backpack’s worth of food and take two buses to get there.

Yesterday was a Zipcar day, and boy did I stock up.

How can you not get completely excited and overwhelmed at TJ’s? They have a zillion new things every time I go, and they have my favorite foodie finds at ridiculously low prices — things like goat cheese (in spreadable, sliced, medallion and every other form you can think of), smoked salmon, frozen shrimp, endive, pre-cut and washed leeks and more. Their produce isn’t always the best but beyond that, TJ’s is essentially my dream come true.

My bill (take a deep breath) was $170. I was almost ashamed of myself, but after a particularly veggie-deprived weekend, I felt good looking down at the four-bag bounty in front of me, full of fresh lemons, avocados, fresh basil, salad fixins, peppers, salt-free spices, white bean chili and even some frozen (!!) brussels sprouts. I also had some goat cheese in there :)

Last night, I was craving something light and fresh since Chicago experienced a freak evening of seventy six degree weather!!! It was damn near balmy outside, so while I cooked some of my mustard maple chicken with the porch door open, I threw together an incredible caprese salad. Into the mix went:

  • 2 vine ripe tomatoes (that needed to be used ASAP)
  • a crap ton of fresh basil, torn + chiffonaded (new word?)
  • good olive oil, as much or as little as you like
  • a good sprinkle of sea salt
  • red wine vinegar
  • balsamic vinegar
  • white balsamic vinegar
  • 4-6 asparagus spears sliced into 1 inch pieces, sauteed in cooking spray and blanched in cold water immediately after
  • 1/2 of a red bell pepper, chopped
  • as much fresh mozzarella as you like

Mix everything together, add more olive oil if you like and DIVE IN. You can play around with the ingredients and portions in this recipe as much as you’d like, because I imagine it would be delicious in nearly any combination (for example, some chilled grilled zucchini or some cukes), but any way you spin it, it’s unbelievably easy, fresh and light. YUM!

Pictures of dinner to come later tonight!

April 4, 2011 at 12:05 pm 4 comments


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