Posts filed under ‘Favorite products’

Like, OMG! Fashion!

FASHION! HAH!

While I definitely think I manage to make myself look at least somewhat presentable most of the time, I’m certain I rarely warrant a, Oh my gosh, you look so cute!  Totally guilty of having a “uniform” and sticking to it. Religiously.

Behold.

+

+

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or

Yeah. I am pretty much guaranteed to be wearing some combination of this outfit 8 times out of 10. It’s partially because it’s amazingly versatile — it can work for almost any season, and you can mix and match everything in your closet. But it’s also because it’s what I feel the most comfortable wearing…Cardigans, if picked out and worn correctly! — can complement curves and hide….lumps? Haha.

My favorite spots to score cardis and camis are LOFT, Banana, Gap and J. Crew. All known for their plain — albeit adorable — styles. Eeep.

My work “dress code” is very casual, so while it’s totally acceptable to show up looking super adorable and dressed up — just as it’s totally acceptable (but still unfathomable to me) to show up in ripped jeans and old sneakers — I’m looking to strike a happy medium using clothes I can also wear on the weekends.

BUT.

My other problem is what I wear when I’m not trying to look good and simply aiming for not homeless. My day off/working from home/pre- or post-gym/it’s-Saturday-and-I-have-things-to-do-but-don’t-want-to-shower-because-I’m-going-out-tonight-and-don’t-feel-like-showering-twice-in-one-day … *INHALE* … look is going out in my “nicer” gym clothes (aka Lulu) with brushed hair and some makeup on.

I totally look like this when I hit the gym. NOT.

Are you guys guilty of this? I feel like I’m totally copping out by admitting this, but it’s totally acceptable because it’s all, “Hey! I’m active and physically fit! I ran 77 miles before you even woke up this morning so it’s totally legit to walk around in my gym clothes! Why YES, my hair DOES always look this perfect after I work out…why do you ask?”

Don’t you guys love me? Haha.

Should I just stick with what works? Or try and branch out with some new styles? But I don’t know what to wear. What do normal people wear every day!?? WHAT THE HELL IS A JEGGING? OMG LIFE IS HARD.

(For the record, I totally have a bunch of dresses that I regularly wear in the summer, but haven’t yet mastered the winter dress and tights look, and can’t seem to find a single skirt that doesn’t make me look 1000x ridiculous, so that’s not really an option).

Also, sometimes I wear this.

This was fun.

Please help me.

Love you all.

September 22, 2011 at 6:30 am 5 comments

Fire + ice

Good lord, has it been hot in Chicago lately. I have taken to wearing either next to nothing (while at home only, of course), or workout/wicking clothes most of the time because it’s literally like an oven outside this week. Yesterday’s heat-inspired outfit at least looked somewhat put-together:

I feel like my head looks awkwardly huge here…but yeah, that’s my new Lululemon CRB (cool racerback), a hat to cover up the major sweaties/greasies and some cool, comfy LOFT shorts. Flip flops were obviously worn as well.

This was worn as a work from home outfit, but my working was intended to be at the Caribou nearby. Unfortunately, I got there and paid for a drink before finding out that their WiFi wasn’t working! I feel like that is kind of a big deal for a coffee shop where people sit around and work, so I was pretty annoyed that they didn’t have some sort of sign up or something. Small potatoes, but still. Hmph.

I decided to just go back home and finish my work there. I had rented a Zipcar at 6 o’clock to run some errands, so I didn’t want to waste time walking around to another coffee shop when my apartment was much closer. Still though, I hate being cooped up inside all day. At least it was a good day to hide out in the AC.

It was also a beautiful night for colors in the sky.

Isn’t that incredible? I couldn’t believe how gorgeous it looked at dusk.

Even though I have AC in my apartment and it stays pretty cool because it’s so small, I haven’t wanted to use the oven at all — something about hot food or standing over a steamy pot just makes me want to gag. Tuesday night, I made an Amy’s frozen veggie lasagna that was actually really good. I can’t remember what I ate on the side, but it was some sort of vegetable….

The portion size seemed just right (enough to feel slightly indulgent and filling, but not too huge where it was overly filling or had too many calories). The veggie filling was also nicely bulked up, and while I would have preferred whole wheat pasta, the organic ingredient list was nice. I highly recommend it!

Last night, I went all cold and picked up some sesame tofu (marinated but I don’t think they were fried) from the Whole Foods prepared foods case. For some reason I don’t really like the way sesame oil smells, even though I like how it tastes, so the smell kind of put me off and I wasn’t sure what to expect. I’m so glad I tried it though — it was AMAZING!

(Sorry for all the crappy camera phone pics). I know this doesn’t look like much, but I promise it was delicious. If you see these, definitely give them a try! I also picked up a lemon-lime Zevia because I was craving soda. To continue with the no-cook theme, I made another massaged raw kale salad. This time, it was just kale, olive oil, sea salt, white balsamic vinegar and garlic powder. I topped it with grape tomatoes.

I love how easy this is to make, plus I feel like I’m eating superfood when I make it (I guess I am!). It’s perfect for hot nights.

So this morning, I finally got to see my doctor regarding the knee pain I’ve been experiencing. I’ve had knee problems for a long time, but they’ve never really interfered with my life like they have been doing lately. I know it’s in part due to my increased running, but I know that that’s just what intensified the problem, not what caused it.

I got up early to work from home for an hour or so, then headed out to see the doc before going into work. My doctor confirmed my suspicions in that it’s not my IT band and likely not my actual knee that’s causing the problem, but it’s actually “further upstream” in my hip. My right hip is tighter and slightly higher up than my left, causing a misalignment and subsequent knee pain. Some physical therapy focusing on hip stabilizing and strengthening, as well as strengthening my gluteus med muscles, should really help, so she wrote me a scrip. I can’t wait!

Doesn’t she have such nice handwriting for a doctor? I seriously love my doc — she is a D.O. as well as a licensed clinical social worker, and puts a lot of focus on holistic health, and always recommends natural and healthy alternatives like yoga, whole foods and natural supplements. Please let me know if you live in Chicago and would like a recommendation! I can’t speak highly enough about her!

When I got to work, I had not one, but two Amazon packages waiting for me. I seriously have a problem! I worry someone is going to nominate me for Hoarders soon…

One item was super-relevant to the doctor’s orders today.

She told me I need to be icing both sides of my knee for 15 minutes every day, twice a day (wow!) so I’m glad this came in the mail. I know I can use frozen peas, but it will be nice to have at least one “real” ice pack since I don’t have any. I still got a bunch of other stuff too though.

I know, I’m insane. Look at all those boxes! But I got some fun goodies, including:

  • The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, a book I’ve been wanting to read forever
  • A kitchen scale which will not only be useful for cooking/baking (weight is much more reliable than volume), but also occasional portion checking
  • A 4-pack of dark chocolate roasted almonds that were WAY cheaper than at the store. Can keep some at work for afternoon snacks, some in gym bag, some at home!
  • A (not pictured) locking glass shaker bottle that I will use for transporting smoothies!
  • Another fun surprise that will be revealed soon!

Love. Love love love love love. This is a clear case of the wild hair syndrome, but whatever – I know I will use all this stuff, and I am really jazzed about the new book. I’m also super excited that Mel offered to lend me her Hunger Games books! Thanks, Mel!! :)

Just for fun, here are a few more 5k pictures.

This was my post-race brunch:

Not sure if I remembered to mention the bacon in that brunch or not, haha.

cutie-pie Amy

Amy's face describes exactly how we felt at the end

anguish!

I am going to get back to work, but I hope you are all having a wonderful day and aren’t melting in this heat. I’m going to try to make it to the gym tonight as my knee is finally feeling a little better, but I’m still wary of busting it up even more. See ya!

July 21, 2011 at 1:54 pm 7 comments

Candy + My Second 5k

I wanted some candy the other day, so I busted out my candy bowl.

My kind of candy doesn’t look like most candy, though.

There is just something about a big bowl of fruit that makes me smile :D

Oh, hey — you know what else makes me happy? Did I mention I ran my second 5k on Saturday?

It was H-O-T outside that morning, oh my. The race started at 7:30 and it was already at least a good 80 degrees out. I ran with Amy again this time around, which again was such a wonderful part of the experience. We seem to be able to push each other at just the right times and in the right ways — she likes to go faster than I do, and I tend to take fewer breaks, so with that push and pull, we do better together than I think we would apart.

We pushed through the first mile without stopping, but needed a break soon after that because it was so hot out and we were both needing a break. There was an air quality alert over the whole weekend, so the air felt very thick and smoggy — blegh, not the best weather for running.

Thankfully this time around, I had a new tool in my arsenal…

please excuse the scary post-gym look I have goin' on

That’s right — I got a Garmin!!! I feel like a total poseur wearing this behemoth around, but it really motivates me to see my pace while I’m running, and pushes me to kick it up a notch when I slow down. It also really surprised me to see how fast I run when I’m on the road and not on the treadmill!

After working my way up to faster and longer runs for months and months at the gym, I can actually keep a pretty decent pace — for me, that is (I am in no way fast, and probably never will be). I had always thought I was much, much slower out on the road though, so it really surprised me to see that my pace wasn’t that far off when I took the Garmin out on its first run the other night. It’s still not as fast as I am on the treadmill, of course, and I need to take more frequent jogging or walking intervals, but I don’t suck as much as I thought I did! Who knew!

So back to the 5k — the Garmin helped keep us from taking off too quickly after our walking intervals, which was important because again — IT WAS HOT AS HELL OUTSIDE. There was a decent breeze, but the sun was really just beating down. The distance indicator was what really helped, because for whatever reason, there didn’t seem to be a 2 mile marker! When you’re new to doing races, that 2nd mile mark is a really important motivator.

Even though we stopped at the water station almost at the start of the second mile, Amy and I started to feel a little lightheaded and she even said she started to shiver by the end of the second mile, so we really had to step it down a notch which was somewhat disappointing to both of us. Before the race started we had both said we wanted to beat our last time, but would still be thrilled just to finish. At this point, we were both saying how glad we were that we hadn’t committed ourselves to beating the first time, haha.

A few walking breaks and lots of back-and-forth inspirational yelling, we got about halfway through the second mile and really started to slow down.

On a side note: Amy kept thinking I was saying, “You’re doing great” when I was actually saying “We’re doing great!” which cracked me up because had I said “you’re,” I think it would have sounded so condescending! If anything, she is a better runner than I am!

This was where the people started lining up along the course and were cheering us on, which as I explained after my last/first 5k, meant the world to me. I wanted to hop over and kiss them, I was so grateful!!

Unfortunately, there was also a huge soccer game or some sort of event going on, so at certain points around the course, we would pass a big tent of people grilling hot dogs and burgers. Seriously, guys — when you’re hauling your semi-out-of-shape ass through the last leg of your second ever race at 7:45 in the morning in 90 degree heat, the absolute last thing you want to smell is a friggin’ smoking piece of meat. I kind of wanted to vom.

I did, however, enjoy the smell of meat at SausageFest

When we finally got to 2.75 mi, we started to perk up again, and then — like magic, we passed a setup where a group of people were playing Johnny B. Goode by Chuck Berry, and as we were passing them, we heard, “Go, go go go Johnny, go!” Amy and I both got huge grins on our faces and got ready to finish strong. Even though we were huffing and puffing and feeling like we were going to absolutely die, we ran our fastest to the finish line.

And then, we immediately collapsed onto the ground.

They had medical personnel ready at the finish because it was so hot, and they also had fan/misting stations and tons of water and ice waiting. Amy and I both said we felt like we might puke or pass out (not really, but kinda….), so we grabbed some water and just sat immediately to catch our breath. We must have really looked like we were in bad shape, because some guy ran over and asked if we were okay. We half panted, half answered him yes, but apparently didn’t sound very convincing, because he asked us again! Haha. Had I had the energy, I would have laughed, but all I could do was chug water and, you know..not die.

He offered to grab us popsicles, which we gladly accepted, so after he bolted in the other direction and returned shortly after with the 911-popsicles, we hoisted ourselves up and found some shade to cool off. Amy’s temporary roommate (who is from Paris!!! How neat!) was nice enough to come out and cheer us on, so she joined us for a popsicle and some post-race treats as well. The poor girl had to sit there and watch us pant like overheated dogs though! Hah.

Estelle, Amy and me

Aren’t our pink race shirts fun?

I still can’t believe how sweaty we were! Holy unflattering picture.

sweaty beasts

I am so, so glad I bought that visor last week; it really helped to keep both the sun and sweat out of my eyes, and it’s from my favorite brand — Mizuno!

We walked around for a bit and took in the post-race sights and goodies. I stopped at the New Balance tent where the guy on staff told me I desperately need physical therapy because my glute meds are insanely weak. He was super attractive and was sitting there telling me that my butt muscles were inadequate. This was sooo awkward.

When I finally got home around 10, I immediately hopped into an ice cold shower and rinsed off, then climbed into my bed and positioned myself directly next to the air conditioner. After sleeping for a good hour and 45 minutes, I climbed out of bed and made myself the perfect post-race treat: a Fitnessista Green-a-colada!

Into the blender went Fage 0%, unsweetened original PureAlmond, a stevia packet, unsweetened organic shredded coconut, frozen pineapple chunks, frozen mango chunks, vanilla SunWarrior and a big ol’ handful of spinach. It was so insanely tasty I could barely contain my delight. I totally slurped this bad boy down. What do you think of that color? Gross or delectable?

After some putzing around the apartment, I cleaned up a bit then met up with my sister-in-law Lisa and my friend Allison for brunch around noon. We hit up Jack’s on Halsted and I feasted on 2 poached eggs, a piece of whole wheat toast, some fruit and some breakfast potatoes. I also snuck a few of Allison’s fries, and treated myself with a victory mimosa :) I earned it!

Allison and I wandered around DSW for a bit after to escape the intense midday heat, and I walked outta there with two pairs of shoes! One was a pair of sandals that were on clearance that I have already worn three times. The other was a pair of Saucony running shoes that I thought were great in the store, but I realized after testing them on the treadmill that they don’t provide the cushioning/shock absorption I need on my forefoot, so they will have to be returned. I’m not at the point in my running yet where I can run in a minimalist shoe, so the bouncier, the better!

Because I am out of my mind, I went home, changed, and went to the gym! I had so much energy after the 5k and nap that I really wanted to hit the treadmill and do some body resistance exercises. Probably not the smartest choice, but oh well. I only did about two miles and kept it really leisurely on the recumbent bike while reading Redbook. The real magic happened when I did some glute med-isolating exercises, per Mr. Sexy New Balance Man’s instructions, and then some serious foam roller torture therapy. My IT band was obscenely tight, as were my hips, so I could tell it was desperately needed. I took my time and stretched after, and felt immensely better. I think that’s why I’m not really sore today.

Thankfully, this guy arrived in the mail while I was at work today:

That’s a Tiger Tail! I got one per Tina’s recommendation so I can foam roll in-between gym visits, and I’m so glad I did. It can’t quite match up to the giant foam rollers they have at the gym, but I just don’t have the space for one of those right now, so this works great. As a bonus, it works on my neck and shoulders, which feels like a great, deep-tissue massage!!

After the gym yesterday, I made a nourishing meal that my body was really craving.

Salmon! I defrosted a wild Alaskan salmon filet from Whole Foods while I was at the gym, then when I got back, I preheated the oven to 375 and heated up a skillet. After warming up some Pam spray, I seared both sides of the filet for about 30 seconds, then popped it into the oven on a foil-lined baking sheet.

Before putting it into the oven, though, I crushed some black pepper and sea salt on both sides, then topped it with a simple lemon butter sauce:

  • 1T butter, melted
  • juice of half a lemon
  • salt + pepper
  • 1T honey
It was sooooo tasty. I used about half of the sauce before cooking, and put the rest on after. It made the salmon so flavorful and a little sweet, which really made it special.
The broccoli had some spritzed olive oil and a sprinkle of Pecorino cheese.

 

Well, this was a looong post and I need to get to bed and snuggle with a very impatient kitty. Keep your eyes peeled for a seriously sweet recipe on my next post…

Have a great night, and if you’re from Chicago, make sure to look at my Chicago Blogger Meetup post!

July 19, 2011 at 3:11 am 9 comments

Grown-up responsibilities

Hi there.

This is staring me in the face tonight. So is this:

Recognize the Magic Bullet cup in there? ;)

Aaaack, I haaaaaaaaaaaaate doing dishes. I definitely need to move into an apartment with a dishwasher sometime soon.

I just got back from a stroll to the grocery store. I decided to stay in for a “date night” with myself Friday night (geez, how lame does that sound) and picked up a few items (wine, strawberries, almond milk — you know, the makings of a really sexy evening…*eyeroll*). When I opened up the strawbs package today, they were already moldy! :(

Luckily I saved the receipt, so when I brought them back after dinner tonight, they were happy to exchange them! Yay! I know that’s not a huge deal, but it’s the little things like that which make a huge difference in a customer’s experience. Keep up the good work, Treasure Island! :)

Guess what has two thumbs and will be having strawberries for breakfast tomorrow? This gal.

Apparently a huge portion of Chicagoland is still without power right now from the crazy storms and winds that blew through this morning. I love storms, they always totally relax me, so although I woke up briefly when some thunder came through, I fell right back asleep and snuggled peacefully deeper into my blankets :)

Thankfully I wasn’t outside like the last time we had a major storm when I was on the way to the gym!

Stuck under the awning...this was around 7pm!

the sky got scary dark

I’m a little stumped right now. I know I need to do my dishes and make my lunch for tomorrow, but I also could do some work, or clean my apartment (it seems it’s perpetually messy these days); I also want to continue reading my book, on top of watch the latest episode of True Blood. So many things to do, so little time! I could just solve the dilemma entirely by going to bed, but what fun would that be?

I still I might get all the dishes out of the way since it feels good to be on my feet at the moment. After dinner, I had a hankering for a little something sweet, so I scooped up a small ramekin of So Delicious soy peanut butter-chocolate “ice cream,” I’d say about 1/2 to 3/4 cup.

source: Organic Test Kitchen

It’s relatively decent in the calorie count, so I felt fine about it as long as I kept the portion small. You may remember that I’ve discussed my lactose intolerance before, so regular ice cream is out of the question for me, and since I’m not huge on sweets, I rarely crave it anyway. I find that if I keep a bar of dark chocolate in the freezer, it will last me weeks because a small square every once in awhile is all I need.

Sometimes, though, I want something different so I picked this up for a change of pace. Taste-wise, it was pretty decent — I definitely liked the peanut butter flavor better than the chocolate, and it wasn’t overly sweet which I really appreciated. On the other hand, though, it had a subtle but very noticeable (at least to me) soy flavor that is more pronounced in soy milk. It didn’t really bother me since I’m used to it, but it wasn’t exactly adding to the flavor either. I’m not sure I’d buy this again, but I’m glad I gave it a try.

Unfortunately, though, I now habe a tummy ache! Ick. It’s a lot less uncomfortable than I feel after eating real ice cream, but I still feel kind of uncomfortably full and just sort of yucky. I think this is just more evidence that my body doesn’t like processed sweets and dessert foods — that’s okay, I’d rather have the strawberries anyway :)

Although…maybe I can bend the rules just a little for this stuff.

More on this stuff next time :)

Have a great night!

July 11, 2011 at 10:49 pm 4 comments

No greens

Hi, peaches.

Is anyone else absolutely dying from allergies today? I haven’t been able to breathe normally for most of the day, and I’ve only just now regained the use of one nostril. I know I’m not sick because I don’t have any other symptoms. Just, you know, a total inability to breathe.

Blegh!

In case you can’t picture this accurately enough, I took this little gem earlier and posted it on Twitter. Shield your eyes if you’re squeamish.

You know, sometimes I stop and wonder if these blog pictures will come back and haunt me someday….In the meantime though, I’ll just keep stuffing more Kleenex up my nose.

Mojo is currently passed out peacefully on his back, next to me, limbs sprawled. It’s making me feel sleepy and peaceful :)

this is from when he was just a little guy!

teeny Molly too, please excuse the messy room

I came home rather late tonight after running around Lincoln Park post-work to take care of some business. There may be some (more) exciting changes afoot, so I have yet another task on my plate. It’s funny — just as I was saying that I didn’t have anything going on, this new event pops into my lap. More info to come later.

When I finally got home, I whipped up a super quick  dinner. While boiling some pasta, I baked three Trader Joe’s chicken meatballs alongside some sweet potato fries in the toaster oven. No green foods in dinner today, but I didn’t feel so bad about it since I had a huge salad for lunch and a big green monster for breakfast.

After the pasta was cooked, I topped it with the new marinara I bought, and sprinkled some pecorino on top. It was sooo tasty and just the kind of simple comfort food I was craving. I munched on the fries while reading…

I finished The Hunger Games! I’m not going to go into a long review because I’m already boring myself just thinking about writing a “book report,” but it was awesome and I’m not usually into science fiction, or even really fiction for that matter. I usually read lame (not really) non-fiction and autobiographies because I’m weird like that. I can’t wait for the next one in the series, Catching Fire!

I’m debating whether I want to buy it for Kindle (a.k.a on my phone since I don’t have a Kindle — sadface) or wait and buy the paperback. I’m VERY impatient, so this will be a tough decision…

Anyway, just thought I’d pop in and say hello. I just finished a small cup of chocolate froyo I picked up across the street (mad chocolate cravings, uh oh..), and I’m going to hop into bed and call it a night. So glad it’s almost the weekend! See ya!

July 7, 2011 at 10:56 pm Leave a comment

Crazy eats, good friends, and life’s ups and downs

Hi friends.

I was still sort of in a funk today. I got to work from home, which was nice, but right now I’m having trouble shaking these yucky feelings.

One thing that did totally make me smile was a slew of Twitter conversations from some of my favorite bloggers :) I’m starting to realize that it’s almost impossible for me to get anything done if I have Twitter open in the background (as Angela noted today on Oh She Glows), so I’ll have to check in a little more sparingly in the future, but today it really did the trick.

On a similar note, I tweeted at Tina, asking if she would blog about how to be productive when working from home. I can’t wait to see what she says!

After running a few errands and wasting a ton of time reading blogs finishing up the working day at Caribou, I called it quits and headed home to drop off my computer. I texted my friend Allison to see if she wanted to join me for a walk since it was so nice out (and the fact that I hadn’t seen her in awhile!), and she jumped at the chance, which totally made me smile. In an earlier post, I mentioned making fitness dates to keep up with your social life — I am a perfect realistic example, right here!

We strolled around the neighborhood while chatting about our respective weekends, then passed some of the tennis courts nearby. Apparently Allison is really good at tennis and has some rackets, so we’re going to try to get a court sometime soon and play! By “play,” I mean having her embarrass me horribly while I run around, red-faced and panting. Even though I totally suck at tennis (poor hand-eye coordination, or at least that’s what I keep telling myself), I’ve always thought it was fun, and it will be a nice change from the run-gym-run routine.

It was a beautiful evening.

After passing though the park, we walked over to the lake and Al showed me how to use my fancy schmancy camera. I still have no freaking clue how to use any of the manual settings on this thing.

I love living so close to the lake, and it’s amazing in the summer when all the sailboats are out :) If this is exercise, count me in!

After strolling around  and chatting a bit more (including some serious discussion over the Casey Anthony trial), we decided to head back. We made plans to get together this weekend though, which I’m super excited over because I never see Allison enough — every time we hang out, I’m reminded about how much I enjoy her company.

As I was walking back home, I realized how hungry I was for dinner. My eats are always a little wonky on work-from-home days because I wake up later than usual and either spend the day parked on the couch in my pajamas, grazing away, or head to a nearby coffee shop and end up getting coffee, iced tea, or occasionally a baked treat.

For example, this was a work-from-home breakfast one week:

deceivingly healthy!

And here was a lunch from last week:

turkey, swiss and spinach -- NOM

nom nom

See? Wildly inconsistent. Today I had a bowl of Kashi Go Lean! Crunch for breakfast with some unsweetened vanilla almond milk. Lunch was my leftover massaged kale salad alongside a small bowl of whole wheat rigatone topped with a spritz of olive oil and some pecorino romano.

A short while later I was hungry again, so I had a bowl of blueberries. They were SO good though, that I had to have more, so I finished off the pint. I seriously can’t resist summer berries, mmmm.

After working some more, I hit the point where I needed to get out of the apartment so that’s when I went to Caribou. Before walking out the door, I had a Kashi waffle topped with that same cream cheese, fig spread and chia topping to tide me over. While running post-work errands, I nibbled on a mini cherry pie Larabar (not my favorite), then did the whole walkin’ thang with Allison. See! Eats all over the place!

Guess what I had for dinner, though? :D

EAT MEEEE

Yep, another FlatOut pizza. I am so obsessed with these, and I’m getting really good at making them! This one started with a new-to-me type of marinara sauce — it was Bella Terra Organic‘s Tomato Basil, and it was SO GOOD. It had just the right balance between savory and sweet, and tasted super fresh. I wasn’t thrilled about the 25% daily value of sodium in one serving, but I eat too much salt anyway so I was able to look past it, haha. Overall I highly recommend this brand!

Next, I topped the toasted wrap with the usual spinach, then added some sliced roma tomatoes, a few leftover sliced grape tomatoes, yellow bell pepper slices, creamy goat cheese, a few shreds of mozzarella and a sprinkle of pecorino romano. I made sure to do less cheese this time around (although it doesn’t look like it) to see how it would fare without as much fat, and I was so glad I did! The runniness of the marinara, cooked spinach and tomatoes made it super juicy, so you better believe I licked the plate clean. I’m obsessed with these pizzas!

On the side, I cooked up some Alexia spicy sweet potato fries. Note to self: your oven is very small, so it cooks things (and therefore burns things) much faster. Plan accordingly.

I totally burned these, but they were so good I ate all of them anyway! Well, okay, maybe not that one on the left side…But seriously, the combination of the sweetness from the sweet potato and the chipotle seasoning is to-die for, and at only 130 calories and 4 grams of fat, along with loads of vitamin A per serving (30 fries!!!) these are totally a great bang for your nutritional buck. Go out and buy these. Now.

So I got about halfway through this post when I realized that I left my computer charger at Caribou — d’oh! Had to call and frantically run back to retrieve it, but thankfully people in my neighborhood are awesome and neighborly, and someone turned it in to the register. Phew.

Earlier today I got some fantastic news — I called my insurance company about a bill I had received from Quest Diagnostics, a medical testing lab, for $400. Not only do I believe that medical insurance exists to pay things like this, but I also believe it’s insane that they would charge me for super important tests of the female persuasion. After chatting with the lady for about five minutes, she offered to call the company and check into it. As it turns out, there was just a paperwork error on their end, and I never should have gotten the bill. I was SO SO happy to hear this news, I can’t even tell you. I do NOT have that kind of money, plus — where would that leave me to be able to tame the wild hair? ;)

Sadly, I also got some really awful news about half an hour ago, but I’m going to hold off on posting about that, as I still need somet time to process it. If you have a spare second, please send some positive thoughts out into the universe…Not for me, though. Lately it seems as if bad things keep happening to good people left and right. Gotta push the negative out with some positive thoughts.

I’m off to bed — last night I stayed up way too late again reading The Hunger Games, but it’s so good that I can’t put it down! I’m almost finished!

What are you guys reading lately?

July 7, 2011 at 12:37 am 3 comments

The wild hair

My dad has this ridiculous phrase he is always tossing after me: “Laura, you’ve got to comb the wild hair growing out of your ass.”

Yes, my dad is ridiculous. And very gross. I’m pretty sure he was the original #shitmydadsays.

What he means with this phrase is that once I get an idea in my head, it’s nearly impossible for me to focus (at least fully) on anything else until I get/do whatever that thing is, or if something else (aka another “wild hair”) comes along.

Well, guys, I have a serious wild hair growing right now, except it’s not just for one thing. I don’t know what my deal is — maybe it’s the warm weather, but it’s like I have this voice in my head screaming, “SPEND! SPEND! SPEND MONEY!” Every day I’m reminded of something else I want or need, but then I remember the sorry state of my bank account, the reason behind my lack of funds being this exact silly voice!

At the top of my list:

A Kindle. This is nothing new — I’ve been ranting and raving all over Twitter and the blog about how badly I want a Kindle. Unfortunately, I have too many unread books waiting for me to justify this expense right now, despite how frequently I read. I’ll probably save this one for my Christmas list.

An iPod touch. I’m pretty sure my full-size iPod was stolen on the train (along with my Michael Kors watch!), but I have a nano and a smartphone, so this isn’t a huge necessity.

A Garmin ForeRunner. Obviously not a necessity either because I’m not a super-serious runner, but now that I know that I can run a few miles without totally dying, I would like to work more on improving my pace and learn more about splits and how different elevations + mileages affects me. This might also have to go on the Christmas list.

Some new clothes and shoes. Because you can’t ever have enough, right? (Wrong). In all seriousness though, I desperately need jeans that don’t have holes in them. Not a pressing issue in the summer, thankfully.

A new pair of running shoes. I love my Mizunos, but I might have to retire them sooner than I had planned because they just feel a bit too big because I’m in between sizes in the Wave Rider’s new release. This makes me sad :(

Lululemon’s Cool Racerback (aka CRB) and Groove shorts. The CRB is brand new and it looks sooo amazing. I’m not big on wearing tanks when I exercise (they make me feel a little too exposed), but this one looks too cute and comfy to resist, plus it’s longer than most wicking tanks, so my ample chest won’t give it the illusion of a midriff top. Their Groove shorts are also amazing.

Some Tarte cheek stain. Cause it’s cute :)

This. No explanation necessary.

 

 

New running gear always gets me super excited to hit the gym or the streets, even if it’s something small like a headband. What are you currently coveting?

 

July 6, 2011 at 5:20 pm 5 comments

Burning a hole in my pocket

Afternoon!

I am totally beat today, guys. My weekend certainly gave me a beating. I’ll do a more in-depth rundown later (complete with a couple hilarious pictures), but I wanted to pop in and say hello first. (Plus, I totally can’t focus at work right now…heh).

Part of the reason? PACKAGES!

Confession: I’m totally obsessed with Amazon. I use it to buy almost everything I need, if it can be found on the site. I have purchased everything from chia seeds, to bedding, to appliances and, of course, books. Most recently, I ordered a fabric shower curtain liner (because the makeshift, plastic-y gross one I bought was overstaying its intended temporary welcome), a lunch bag, and a spillproof bottle for smoothies when I take them to work as breakfast. I can’t help myself when it comes to Amazon — their one-click ordering is a TERRIBLE, yet oh-so wonderful invention. Whenever my bank account is burnin’ a hole in my pocket, I go wild with the ‘Zon.

Side note: I’ve noticed that the Fitnessista, Allie (FFF) and Tina (Carrots n Cake) all have really neat to-go-smoothie bottles (especially Fitnessista). Mine are lacking. Anyone else have any other cool finds?

I picked up this guy:

I got it in this nifty green color, although now I’m sort of wishing I had gone with the pink ;) I haven’t tried it out yet, but I can’t wait to give it a test run soon! Should be a great addition to my collection, where I already have a Life Factory and a Camelback, and can be used for the gym too. I love fun water bottles :)

I’m super-duper excited about the lunch bag. Since I bring my lunch to work almost every day now, it’s starting to look a little pathetic when I roll in with a plastic Walgreens bag. I figured I should splurge a bit with the money saved from packing a lunch, and get myself a proper lunch tote. It finally got here, and I’m so pumped!

Please excuse the crappy camera phone pictures. I don’t usually have my good cam with me at work.

This is from Built, and it’s  the “Gourmet Getaway Lunch Tote.” It’s insulated, which is great.

the inside

for size comparison, next to my giant 6-cup OXO container

all together now

It seems like this will have room for everything I need and more, but won’t get too bulky or cumbersome (even though it looks huge in these pictures). It has several folded areas that helps it conform to whatever shape it takes from the stuff inside, and the handles are also obviously very handy (ba dum chhhhh! zing!). I can’t wait to carry this in every day!

It should be able to hold all my goodies, like this:

And these:

Seeing a common theme here? ;)

I finally snapped a pic of my Greek Quinoa Salad + salad combo, since this is like the bajillionth time I’ve had it for lunch. It’s just so good!

How scrumptious does that look?? With this batch, I subbed cannellini beans for chickpeas, because it was what I had on hand, but I didn’t like it as much. I also brought some black cherry Chobani and blueberries to have on the side, but haven’t eaten them yet since I’ll be at work late.

Not posting the pic of the shower curtain liner because…well, it’s a shower curtain liner.

Really though, is there anything more exciting that getting fun stuff in the mail?

I actually ordered this stuff weeks ago, but it came in two separate shipments (there is an additional re-usable travel cup still on its way), so I didn’t think much of it when I didn’t receive the stuff right away. Usually when I order “essentials” or housewares on Amazon, it’s not urgent, so I don’t mind waiting around for the stuff to get there. When I finally got around to wondering where my stuff was, I logged onto Amazon and saw that my package had apparently already been delivered, to my apartment, over a week ago.

Whaaaa?

This didn’t make sense because I definitely didn’t see the package in our mailbox area. I tried to call USPS to figure out what was going on, but I quickly learned that their automated phone system is THE ABSOLUTE WORST, akin to what you would expect from post office service. I must have gone in circles through the same menu six or seven times before hanging up. Ugh.

I called Amazon, and they assured me that the package had been delivered according to the records (I told them that yes, I saw this too when I looked it up, but I definitely didn’t have the package). Having worked in customer service for years, I really make a strong effort to be nice and courteous to the person on the phone (unless they are a total asshole and/or rude to me) because I remember how much easier that made it for me to fix problems when people would call in. The lady on the phone had to put me on hold several times, so I was expecting them to apologize and tell me that I just had to suck it up and eat the cost of the lost package. But to my surprise, she came back and told me that if the package didn’t arrive on my doorstep by that night, they would ship out a replacement, no questions asked. I was so happy! Amazon seriously has the whole customer service thing nailed — they won’t fight with you, you’ll get a human being on the phone within 15 seconds of calling, and they always follow up to make sure they’ve solved the issue. I was so happy and will continue to buy things through Amazon if their price is best (which it usually is!).

On that note, US Postal Service: YOU SUCK. I wish it were easier to avoid using them, but at least I can do so for most packages.

I ate lots of crap this weekend. I kept portion sizes in check, which felt great, and also made sure to compensate by eating clean and smaller portions throughout the day when I knew I’d be eating junk later in the day. On Saturday night, my friend Megan came into town and we hit up DMK since she had never been there before. Like my last visit, I ordered the #2. We also split the bacon + blue cheese fries (small portion) and the fried okra + pickles (YUM). I also had a delicious fancy drink before dinner came, but I can’t remember the name. Again, please excuse the poor photos — it was so dark inside!

I walked away a very happy girl, mmm.

On Friday night, some of this stuff was consumed while relaxing with some new friends on a torch-lit back patio:

Even though there were lots of festivities, I kept my drink consumption to 1-2 drinks each night, with the exception of Saturday, which was a girls’ night ;) That’s a whole different animal, my friends.

I’ll update ya on my comings and goings on Sunday and Monday later, as well as some more info about the latest running injuries I’m dealing with :/ Blegh!

Have a great rest of your day! And just for laughs, a hilarious post-5k picture in my full Pride gear. Enjoy :D

July 5, 2011 at 5:10 pm 4 comments

Grocery woes + Greek quinoa salad

Hi friends — happy Thursday!

pretty, huh?

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.

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

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!

June 30, 2011 at 1:37 pm 5 comments

Rainy day + sugary sweets

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.

That’s truffle honey drizzled over the top!

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.

makin' whiskey butter

pre-cooking

ready for the oven! see all that berry goodness at the bottom?

the finished product

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!

June 15, 2011 at 5:13 pm 6 comments

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