Posts filed under ‘Music’

Makin’ my heart happy

A few wonderful things to start off the morning:

This was playing on XRT on my way into work. Nothing gets me going like the blues…I am flat-out obsessed.

The auction results for The Great Fundraising Act — holy moly!

Jojo’s kind words.

Getting tagged in Ashley’s 7 links.


Happy Tuesday!

July 26, 2011 at 11:27 am Leave a comment

Mini chocolate doughnuts – taste (and look) naughty, but they’re not

Oh, hey. Did ya see that I made some doughnuts the other night?

Sidenote: which spelling do you prefer — donuts or doughnuts? I switch back and forth…can’t make up my mind!

My friend Laura and I decided to stay in Friday night and watch movies/make doughnuts with the new mini doughnut pan I got last week! Don’t they look super neat??

I modified an EatingWell recipe for healthier chocolate donuts, and it went down like this:

Laura’s Inappropriate-but-Healthy Mini-Chocolate Doughnuts

Modified from EatingWell Sept/Oct 1996

If you’re wondering why they’re named as such, see my prep video.


  • 2 tablespoons plus 1/2 cup granulated sugar, divided
  • 1 1/2 cups flour: half oat, half whole wheat, or whatever mixture of whole grain flour of your choosing
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, preferably Dutch-process
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg white
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 1/4 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt + squeeze of fresh lemon juice (this makes a buttermilk-like taste!)
  • 1/4 cup canola or grapeseed oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • pinch or two of coffee grounds — this will bring out the chocolate flavor


  • 1 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2-3 teaspoons milk of choice — I used vanilla soy, but will use almond next time

Doughnut-makin’ time:

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. If you are using regular size and not mini doughnut pans, bump this up to 400. Thoroughly coat the molds of mini-doughnut pans (I only used one, but this made ~3 batches) with cooking spray. Sprinkle molds evenly with 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, shaking out excess.
  2. Whisk together flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a mixing bowl. Whisk egg and egg white in another bowl until frothy. Add brown sugar and the remaining 1/2 cup granulated sugar; whisk until smooth. Add yogurt, oil and vanilla and whisk until blended. Add the dry ingredients and stir with a rubber spatula just until moistened.
  3. Scoop batter into each prepared mold, smoothing the surfaces with a small spoon — you will want it to be about 1/3 of the way filled. Bake until the tops spring back when touched lightly, about 8 minutes. If you are using regular doughnut pans, you may need to cook slightly longer. Loosen edges and turn the doughnuts out onto a wire rack to cool.
  4. To make glaze: Whisk confectioners’ sugar, vanilla and enough of the milk to make a smooth, thick glaze. When the doughnuts are completely cool, pick them up with your lovely fingers and dip them into the glaze and let stand until glaze has set. For a thicker glaze, repeat .
These were tasty and not overly sweet. I think I might experiment with the recipe a bit, but this is a great base recipe and is quite easy to modify to fit your tastes and whatever you have on hand (e.g. buttermilk can be used in place of yogurt, applesauce can be used in lieu of oil, a flax egg to make them vegan, all-purpose flour can be used in place of whole grain, etc.). I’d really like to figure out how to ma these with stevia to cut down on the sugar content, and I think next time I might add some melted baking or bittersweet chocolate to make them taste a little richer. Different flavors for the glaze, shredded coconut or sprinkled toppings would also be good too!
I brought my camera to document the process, but forgot the CF card. D’oh! So the phone was the only thing around — sorry, peeps!

whaaa? all the ingredients together now!

we ran out of counter space, so...we used a footstool. shutup.

giving Vanna White a run for her money

still stirring....yogurt makes it thick!

scooping into a well-oiled pan...that long turd-like thing is a knife covered in batter, hah

tasty batter!


These guys turn out pretty little, so I had more than my fair share of them. I ended up staying over at Laura’s that night so as not to get lost in the mega-storm of the century, and had a few alongside some coffee for breakfast in the morning. Delicious! :)

Yesterday I had a pretty decent day. I slept in, spent some time lounging around and reading in bed, went for a long and schwetty run (it’s sooo humid in Chicago!), then showered and met my friend Dan at Wicker Park Fest. I showed up kind of late because I didn’t want to deal with the crowds and the heat, but I did manage to see two great performances: Joe Pug (I love his name, hehe) and Blizten Trapper. Both bands were awesome — we had such a great time singing and dancing along. (I was standing directly to the right and behind the girl at the very front in the picture on Blitzen Trapper’s website…so bummed I didn’t make it into the shot!)

It was a neat evening.

Hope you’re all having a great Monday! I’m off to get some more work done. On the agenda tonight: finishing up my laundry (blegh), cleaning, making some Greek quinoa salad for lunches this week, and stopping by my friend’s open mic night to say hello. Catch ya later!

July 25, 2011 at 4:28 pm 4 comments


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.

*Raises hand*

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.

source: Proud to Run

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!

source: Beersurfing blog

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!”

source: Real Estate in Chicago

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.

source: Chicago Reader

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 :)

source: xfx the mag

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!!

June 13, 2011 at 2:41 pm 2 comments


Hi friends! Hope you’re having a great day.

If you haven’t already heard, it has been SWELTERING in Chicago these past few days. Seriously, walking outside in the morning is like walking directly into an oven. It has not been fun!

One of the things I really love about my work is that we have the option to work from home every Wednesday as long as we get our work done (obviously). I planned on sleeping in this morning since I was pretty tired from the concert last night, not to mention that it was already like, 800 degrees already by 9am (okay, more like 90 degrees, but still!).

Unfortunately, we got an email from our tech guy saying that the VPN connection was down since our company is still working out some server changes, and everyone who was working from home had to come in. What a bummer, dude. I lost some time commuting since I planned on starting a little late anyway, so I think I’ll have to be at work late tonight. Oh well, it’s too freakin’ hot to do anything outside today anyway…

Millennium Park Crown Fountain...wishing I could be cooling off here!

source: ChicagoNow

Even though it was a BAGILLION degrees when I met up with my brother to head over to the park yesterday, I was super excited for Mr. LaMontagne. After work, I changed into some sweat-wicking workout clothes and couldn’t have been happier that I did.

Of course there were all these girls looking super cute in their colorful sundresses and maxis, but I was perfectly happy in my ratty t-shirt and Nike shorts :) I could have been mistaken for someone who clearly didn’t belong there, but thankfully my brother held up his end of that whole, looking stylish thing.

what a neat venue, huh?

source: PlaybillArts

The show was a blast and I had such a good time hanging out with my big bro. I’m so glad we don’t hate each other anymore like we used to :) He TORTURED me when we were kids…Farting in my face regularly, doing the “I’m not touching you!” game, and just about anything else he knew was guaranteed to drive me insane. Ahhh, siblings…

This morning, I took my time getting ready since I thought I would be working from home, so I decided to brew a fancy cup of Joe with the French press. The AC has been on non-stop (I don’t turn it off when I leave the house on super hot days, because I worry the kitties might overheat — my electricity bill most likely thanks me for this…), so hot coffee wasn’t a dealbreaker, even in Hades Chicago today.

Unfortunately when I got the word that I had to go into the office, I needed to hustle my undressed and unkempt self, so I decided to have Julie’s famous chocolate chia pudding for breakfast. I had prepped it for a post-work snack s. Not my typical yogurt, granola + fruit or cereal + almond milk for breakfast, but at least I started off the day with some protein, fiber and omegas.

I didn’t take a picture because honestly, this stuff looks SUPER nasty, but I swear it tastes amazing and the texture is really neat! As Julie said, it’s sort of like tapioca, but a little crunchier. I love it. In my mix:

  • 3-4 tbsp chia seeds (didn’t measure)
  • 1/2-3/4 cup original almond milk (didn’t measure either)
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tbsp sunflower butter
  • packet stevia
  • pinch cacao nibs

All you do is mix everything together in a bowl the night before, and the next day, you’ll have a gooey, gelatinous mess to tantalize your taste buds. Oooh yes you will.

I just tried sunflower butter for the first time and this stuff is INCREDIBLE! I can’t believe I waited so long after seeing Tina and Kath having it to try it out. It’s savory and salty and just has this delicious flavor that is really unique. Yum :)

Off to finish some more work. Stay cool, kiddos!

June 8, 2011 at 2:00 pm 2 comments

Hey, I put some new shoes on and suddenly everything was right…

Retail therapy, much? (Mr. Paolo Nutini sure knew what he was talking about)


I’m thinking I like ’em. They’re a little funky/unusual for me, but I kinda dig em. The only issue is that, while you can’t really see it in the photo, they’re feeling a tad bit large. When my foot moves back into that little molded heel-cup thingie, there’s a lot of space between my toes and the rest of the shoe, and I hate how that looks (do you know what I’m talking about? Where there is too much…sole showing…?)

Thankfully, I have this hideously pukey-colored green carpet to walk around on and test em out :)

My other “therapy” plans for the night? Seeing Mr. Ray LaMontagne in Millennium Park with one of my best buddies in the world — my big bro! I CAN’T WAIT!

Ray Lamontagne “Jolene” (Directors Cut) from Ben Unwin on Vimeo.

June 7, 2011 at 2:20 pm 1 comment

Linked: Beyonce does Limbs

I’m pretty sure this is my favorite thing. Ever.


February 23, 2011 at 11:59 pm Leave a comment

Currently listening to…

To Make You Feel My Love – Adele


Three More Days – Ray Lamontagne


…on repeat :)


Anyone else glad that it’s Friday? I need a damn beer.

February 18, 2011 at 4:10 pm Leave a comment

I wish it were Friday

Good afternoon, lovelies!

One of my New Year goals that I didn’t list (I have quite a few — I only wrote down the biggies) was to really make an effort in cutting out artificial junk in my food/diet. For a long time, I’ve struggled with trying to understand why we read so much research about HFCS and aspartame and blah blah blah everything else is bad for you, yet you find it in EVERYTHING. Everything! I don’t think I’ve ever worked in an office where the coffee area wasn’t stocked to to the brim with miniature coffee creamers, NutraSweet, etc. And for a long time, I used them because…well, they were there. It was convenient. I was lazy.


I’m starting to reach the conclusion that, while it may be better than NutraSweet (although maybe not!), Splenda still isn’t good for me. My goal isn’t to replace one “artificial” sweetener with another, but I’ve switched, at least temporarily, to Stevia. It really wasn’t that hard — I picked up a big ol’ box of Stevia extract (it’s illegal as a sweetener in the US still, so they have to call it a nutritional supplement — silly, right?) at Trader Joe’s and keep a handful of packets in my desk drawer. That’s it! Simple, right?

half of my coffee already gone...but you get the idea!

I still try to use sugar in my coffee, but that is going to take some work since, as the Beastie Boys said, “I like my sugar with coffee and cream.” I like it ridiculously sweet and creamy. I know — why bother drinking something that’s so dark and bitter then, right? Yeah, not my train of thought. So until I can wean myself off the sweet coffee, I’m stickin’ with some Stevia instead of Splenda and that gross NutraSweet crap. I haven’t used it in years, but it really makes me angry that it’s in sodas, low calorie yogurts…low calorie anything really. A big reason why I don’t eat “diet” foods.

Back to the coffee creamers. That stuff is GROSS! Seriously, have you read the ingredients list?


(Non-Dairy Product) Water, sugar, palm oil, corn syrup, contains 2% or less of each of the following: Sodium caseinate* (a milk derivative), dipotassium phosphate, natural and artificial flavors, mono and diglycerides, sodium stearoyl lactylate, carrageenan, salt.
*Sodium caseinate is not a source of lactose.
Contains: Milk.

Needs No Refrigeration.

Come on. Are you kidding me?? Anything using the terminology “cream” should REQUIRE REFRIGERATION. I don’t even know what half of this stuff is, but it certainly does not belong in my coffee — something I put in my body every day. Full fat half & half may not be the lowest calorie option, but if I’m careful about my portion, it’s certainly much more natural than this stuff. Ick. I encourage any of you to take a look at the creamers you use and consider doing the same thing.

not real food

This week has been a little low on the gym attendance, but understandably so. I’ve been fighting off some sort of illness and wake up feeling yucky. I still went Monday, but Tuesday I had promised Samantha from the amazing Bitches Gotta Eat that I’d show up to her short prose reading (hilarious, by the way!) and met up with Laura for some beers, dinner and girl chat before the “show.” As much as I love my exercise routine, this is the kinda stuff that makes me happy. I wish I could figure out a way to fit in my exercise schedule and still have time for my social life on the same day (cough cough working out at the crack of dawn….ew), but for now, this was worth it. Plus, this hipster bar served up some CHEAP DRINKS. Holy crap. I told Laura I was considering getting a shaggy haircut and wearing some mismatched thrifted dresses if that’s all it took to get a cheap drink in Chicago.

Last night I had a late doctor’s appointment and tonight I’m meeting up with the girls for some pizza and wine (aka therapy), so the gym ain’t happenin today, either. Hrm. Worth it? I think YES. Tomorrow it’s gotta happen though — it’s been written in the planner, so it’s set in stone.

I’ve got a vicious headache again today. I’m hoping a tall, icy glass of water will nip it in the bud. We’ll see!

On a side note, I have been reading One Fit Foodie a LOT lately. One of my favorite things to do when I find a new blog is to go back in the archives and work my way forward from the beginning. Good reading material if you need a break from books or just want something to do when you’re laying in bed at night with your laptop on your stomach like I do ALL THE TIME. Check out Naomi though, she has tons of great advice about meal ideas, workouts, playlists, everything!

January 13, 2011 at 11:43 am 1 comment

I’m back!

It seems like every time I sat down to blog, some reason or another came up that prevented me from doing so….bleh! But alas, here I am!

It has been an eventful two weeks: new year, new job, new resolutions and even a new date. Life has kept me busy but I’ve been making a concentrated effort not to let the things that are important to me slip by the sidelines. As an added New Year’s goal, I’ve decided that each day, I should aim to be a better person…whatever that may mean for the day. Yesterday, it meant cleaning up my apartment and sweeping the porch for my neighbors after my stupid garbage bag RIPPED open on a nail and spilled cat litter everywhere. GROSS.

Despite having a rather full calendar lately (for example, tonight is my only “free” night until Friday! Yikes!), I’ve managed to keep my eating and exercise mostly in good shape. I’ve continued bringing my gym duffel to work most days which really helps, despite how much I still hate it. (Once I make a little more money, I might look into renting a locker at the gym, just for convenience’s sake). I’ve also gotten back into eating salads after taking a long break from them, and I’m glad they’re back! I love how I can eat a huge salad for lunch with tons of yummy flavors and colors, and feel totally full for relatively few calories.

My usual salad lately goes like this:

  • heaping plateful of mixed greens (organic if I’m feeling fancy)
  • halved cherry/grape tomatoes
  • a few walnut halves
  • a quick shake of sunflower seeds
  • a quarter of an avocado, cubed
  • half a bell pepper, sliced
  • alfalfa sprouts
  • half a cucumber, sliced
  • a sprinkle of feta or blue cheese if it’s around

Today’s salad didn’t have any cheese on it but it was deeeee-licous. I should have cut up the cucumbers more though, because it was all over my face and I made a huge fool out of myself, making a mess. Like I always do…oh well.

I complemented my tasty salad with a Wild Organics Natural Chicken Burrito from Jewel.


It was delicious and I started slowing down toward the end, taking tiny bites so it would last longer. Needless to say, my lunch companion Kara laughed her ass off. Bitch.

( Just kidding Kara, I love you :D )

Breakfast was somewhat disappointing. I was too tired this morning to make something at home, and while I usually just make oatmeal at the office, I was out and hadn’t yet picked up more to re-stock. By the way, if you haven’t tried this stuff, you MUST:

breakfast in a pinch!

In its place, I decided to grab a coffee to wake myself up, and Caribou has a promotion where any of their breakfast sandwiches are $2 along with a coffee. I tried their turkey bacon, egg white and spinach “Daybreaker” (lame name, no?) because it sounded like it would be the healthiest, but I really would have rather had the chicken sausage and cheddar :D

I looked up the calorie count when I got to the office, and it actually wasn’t bad at all, but the sandwich was just so-so. It was on a whole wheat brioche bun that was pretty good (not sure if it was 100% or not…guessing not), and had an egg white (duh), Swiss cheese, a paltry crumb of two of turkey bacon and a shmear of some spinach florentine goo-type spread. It was bland, and not that filling, but I was feeling tired and lazy and it served its purpose. I guess it was only two bucks…*shrug* I think I almost would have rather had an Egg McMuffin.

There’s a good review here…it looks like I should have gotten the chicken sausage one after all! Their review of the one I had is spot on.

Mine is in the middle...but it didn't look quite as nice

While we’re on the topic of my laziness-induced takeout binge, I might as well share what I had for dinner Friday night — PORTILLO’s. If you’re not in the Chicagoland area, you may not be familiar with this small chain, but if you’re hankering for some fast food, this is the place. I was feeling particularly naughty, so I got a cheeseburger with all the fixins (save the mayo) and some tasty cheese fries. And because I’m disgusting, I dumped the remainder of the cheese-fry-goo on my cheeseburger. Heaven.

my burger didn't have bacon but it looked just as tasty!

If milkshakes are your thing, they have this cake batter chocolate shake that is CRAZY good. I’m lactose intolerant (oh don’t act surprised…everyone knows that cheese fries don’t use real cheese!), so I dare attempt this lactose-ridden beast once in a blue moon, but it is THE BOMB. Try it. For reals.


in case you’re wondering, yes — that is CAKE MIX blended in

(This is not my lovely hand modeling)

On Saturday night, I went to Buddy Guy’s Legends to see….Buddy Guy! It was a birthday present from my brother and I had a great time. Of course we had to sample the Southern fare (read: fried) that they served, so I had a chicken fried chicken sandwich with gravy and fried crawfish on the side. It was good, but not really worth all the calories and sluggish feeling that followed. Needless to say, I was so full I couldn’t even finish my beers during the concert afterward. The music was amazing though, and I had a great time with my brother and sister-in-law!

The rest of my meals have been relatively saintly to compensate for my dietary choices resembling those of a 400 lb. man. I’m trying to incorporate more smoothies into my diet, especially before or after a challenging workout, and have been blending spinach into them! It’s surprising that you really can’t taste it at all!

I’ll upload some more pictures once they come through via email (too lazy to track down a cord), so check back for more action!

January 10, 2011 at 2:13 pm 1 comment

Hi, I’m Laura!

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