Posts tagged ‘summer’

Sometimes, it’s the little things

Hi, friends!

I am currently up late, icing my knee because it is throbbing. It has been all day. It’s kind of starting to freak me out how much this pain has progressed, so I’m really glad that I have a physical therapy appointment on Monday. A healthy 24 year-old should not have this much knee pain. Blegh.

I kept up and iced last night too, while watching the presidential address.

I didn’t have much energy to make a fancy or involved meal, so I rolled with some gluten free Amy’s mac and cheese. I’m not sure why I had GF instead of regular or whole wheat, but I like rice pasta so it was fine with me! I made a big serving of Brussels sprouts to have on the side. Perfect quick but relatively healthy (as opposed to takeout, which I would have done in this situation in the past!) meal for a takin’ it easy kind of night!

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Last weekend I had originally planned on joining some friends over in Michigan to celebrate a birthday on the beach, but the plans were a little too last minute and ended up falling through. I didn’t mind so much though, because my brother and sister-in-law had invited me over to their new apartment in Old Town for some barbecuing, drinks and chillin’ with my parents and my sister-in-law’s parents, who we all get along with very well. It was such a blast — the perfect day :) Sometimes, it’s the little things.

There was lots of food, including Lisa’s (my S-I-L) delicious homemade caprese pasta salad, along with some orzo and quinoa salads as well.

It was so good, I had to actively prevent myself from devouring the entire gigantic bowl she had prepared. Props to the chef!!

While the boys worked the grill, I had some tasty chilled  Riesling.

Before long, Lisa had brought out the fixin’s for the grilled food. Again, I had to watch myself as not to drool all over the food.

The chicken kabobs came out first. I didn’t know they were an option so I hadn’t requested one, but thankfully my mama let me have a bite…or three :)

My brother’s amazing corn recipe came out next. It smelled so good!

By this point, I was ready for the main event — my mouth was watering!

Thankfully, the burgers were ready!

The delicious smells invited some visitors of the canine variety.

That’s Mason, my nephew :) He gets his good looks from his auntie Laura! :)

…Perhaps that’s where he also gets his mischievous and sometimes naughty behavior from…

That’s their neighbor’s dog, Jake. As I snapped a picture of Lisa petting him, Mason decided to make himself the star of the shot. Check out that sneaky little devil!!! What a punk!

After Mason had his own pee incident, more drinks were served.

And I insisted that everyone pose for some more pictures. Say cheese!

Hi, momma!! She looks too cute in my hat :)

My wonderful dad. It’s hard to get him to do a normal smile, so I was thrilled with this picture!

My brother, however, wasn’t as thrilled.

He may or may not still think of me as his annoying little sister :D

Aren’t they such handsome fellas??

Mason came in for some more glamour shots.

He really is too adorable. Tough to photograph, though! Lots of blurry shots, and I had to lure him with the promise of blueberries to get him close enough!!

Our friend Andrew stopped by.

We had some amazing dessert…brownies with fresh berries!

They were so good! I definitely had two or three. Nothing beats summer berries. Well, okay…brownies are a close call!

And as it got darker, a few more drinks were had ;)

All in all, it was the perfect day and evening full of friends, family, laughter, and delicious food. I couldn’t have been happier. Life is good :)

July 27, 2011 at 3:09 am 9 comments

Dare I say…healthy bread pudding?

Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeew. Hi guys! Hot and sticky here in Chicago. The weather has been sorta all over the place — 108 degrees yesterday, 102 today, then it cooled off significantly after work when the clouds rolled in…then rain! I didn’t turn the AC on when I got home because it’s cool enough outside, but it’s still sweltering inside my apartment. Blegh!

would love to dive into a pile of these right now

I actually did my heaping mound of dishes last night (!!!), but still have a giant basket of clothes to put away, then an even bigger pile of laundry to do. Sometimes, being a grown-up sucks.

After getting home from work and immediately changing into some sweat wicking clothes, I noshed on a Gardenburger topped with goat cheese and avocado while joining in on the #fitblog chat that was tonight. It was so much fun! This was my very first one and while it was totally brain-melting (soooooo many tweets bombarding you at once!), I had a great time “interacting” with so many healthy living bloggers at the same time. I highly recommend doing the next one to anyone who is curious! You can learn more about #fitblog chats here.

I never thought I would use or love Twitter as much as I do…It’s so much more social than just sitting behind a screen — I even got to meet Allie and Mel via Twitter! :)

So I promised I would give ya a certain recipe, huh?

 

That’s bread pudding!!! I love bread pudding, except I can’t handle the super heavy, creamy, over-sweet versions you often find in restaurants or at stores. I also don’t like the idea of making a huge pan of it since I live alone, so the only solution when I was craving it a few weeks ago seemed to be making my own mini-bread puddings!

Unfortunately, it was so good that I may have had two of them and a bite each of the remaining two…whoops :)

The base recipe is very easy, and the best part is that you can customize it with any toppings/flavors/mix-ins you want. I did two maple cinnamon walnut, one with dried wild blueberries and one chocolate chip! But I can imagine adding fresh/frozen fruit, cocoa powder, nut butter…the combinations are endless!

all cooked! bloo-burries

ready for ze oven!

Laura’s fantabulous, individual healthy bread pudding:

Ingredients:

  • 4 pieces whole wheat bread, torn into small pieces (you can use gluten-free, but I didn’t try this)
  • 3 fresh, organic eggs
  • 3 T honey (you can use agave too)
  • 3 T sugar
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk (you could use sweetened or flavored almond milk, or other milk of your choice as well)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • cinnamon to taste
  • pinch sea salt
  • fresh lemon zest (optional, but this will really perk up the flavor!)
Directions:
  1. Heat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Tear up bread into bite-size pieces if  you haven’t already and place in large bowl.
  3. Beat eggs in small bowl. Add vanilla, sugar, honey, cinnamon, salt and lemon zest.
  4. Spray 4 small ramekins (mine are about 1 cup capacity) with cooking spray.
  5. Pour almond milk and egg picture over bread, and gently fold mixture together with spatula (or your hands!)
  6. Evenly distribute bread and custard mixture into the 4 ramekins and top with any leftover liquid from mixing bowl. It’s okay if you don’t use all of the bread mixture, and the ramekins also don’t need to be all the way full.
  7. Top each pudding with whatever toppings you like — you can leave them in on top of the pudding, push them inside with a spoon, or if you want one uniform flavor, you can fold them in while mixing in the larger bowl.
  8. Fill a large square or rectangular oven-safe pan with about 1-1.5 inches of water. Gently place ramekins in pan so water reaches about halfway up outside of ramekins.
  9. Optional step: I topped mine with brown sugar to form a crusty top.
  10. Carefully place dish in oven and bake for about 45 minutes, or until tops of pudding start to lightly brown.
  11. Let cool for 10 minutes and dig in!
I promise you’ll love this stuff, and although I haven’t calculated the calorie count of each, I don’t feel bad about eating them at all! Best of all, they’re super easy to whip up in case you’re having company over, or if you’re just randomly craving something sweet. Just make sure not to make them on a hot night like tonight, or else you might overcook yourself inside your apartment ;)
Happy baking!

July 13, 2011 at 12:04 am 4 comments

Ch-ch-ch-chia!

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

Hiatus

Friends, I have a confession to make…

I’m sure you’ve noticed I haven’t been posting much lately. That I’ve gone MIA from time to time. There’s a reason for this.

It has been..gasp…an entire month since I’ve worked out.

Gulp.

I could explain to you how life has been hectic and stressful (it has), with starting a new job and moving to a new apartment. I could explain how I simply feel burnt out, and couldn’t get myself excited or motivated with the usual tactics. I could even tell you about the knee pain that has been plaguing me, with the only solution being a seemingly expensive trip to the physical therapist that I simply cannot afford at the moment.

Unfortunately, these are just excuses. I haven’t exercised (vigorously) because…well, because I haven’t. I’ve chosen not to. There have certainly been days (say, the two weeks I was very sick with a nasty cold/sinus infection) where working out wouldn’t have been an option, or at least a good one, but there have been other days where I simply said, Eh, I don’t feel like it today. I’d rather watch TV and lay around the apartment.

I need to cut this shit out.

I’m running my first 5k in a few weeks, and thankfully I had been training enough beforehand where I feel I’ll still have plenty of time to do just fine, but this is the point where I need to shake some sense into my lazy ass and get it back in gear. I know a huge part of this has been feeling sorry for myself, not being able to fit in all the fun social activities brimming from every corner of Chicago in the summertime AND get my workouts in. Oh, well if I work out after work, I can’t do spontaneous things after work, like beers on the patio or concerts in the park. Well, Laura, figure it out.

I can’t lie to you — I’m freaked out. I’m worried that I’m going to continue to lose my diligence and totally suck at (or even completely bail out of) this 5k, especially after telling almost everyone I know about it. I’m worried I’m going to lose a grip on the progress I’ve made from making healthier portion and food choices, resulting in a ~10ish lb. weight loss. I’m worried I’m going to slip on a bathing suit and feel terrible about myself (again). I’m worried the lumpiness I see creeping up on my thighs is going to get worse.

I don’t like how I feel when I’m not working out, but sometimes — well, I’m a lazy piece of shit. It’s go-time, and I need to keep my eye on the prize and come up with a solution that will work with a) my tendency toward skipping workouts in order to lay on the couch or grab dinner/drinks with friends, b) my busy schedule, and c) my utter hatred of mornings/total inability to wake up early.

I have no idea how to do this. If you’ve been reading for awhile but never commented, now is the time…any and all tips, suggestions, stories or motivators are welcomed….Oh hell…PLEASE TELL ME HOW TO DO THIS, GUYS! I NEED HELP!!

Hmph. Well, that’s that :D

In other news, I’m still totally addicted to Greek yogurt. Seriously, this stuff is my crack — I go through a giant tub per week. It’s so delicious! And ya know what else is in abundance in Casa de Laura?

image

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STRAWBERRIES. Oh. Mah. Gawd. I can’t get enough.

image

I had some with oatmeal the other day, but it couldn’t hold up against the creamy Fage 0% I usually roll with…There is almost always a healthy sprinkling of cinnamon, Milk + Honey Cafe Mix Granola and walnuts involved as well.

I’ve also been rolling on the salad wagon lately. Below is my unbelievably tasty mustard maple chicken atop some butter lettuce, cukes, goat cheese and Sabra roasted red pep hummus. Despite the fact that I was pretty hungry a few hours later (no carbs, maybe?), this salad was GOOD.

image

Today I mixed it up a bit with butter and torn-up red leaf lettuce, cukes, some pinto beans, goat cheese, baby carrots and some organic chicken breast that I slow cooked last night with thyme, TJ’s 21 Seasoning Salute, garlic powder and veggie broth. The chicken was insanely flavorful, and all the flavors mixed together perfectly. As a bonus, the added beans really gave this bad boy some sticking power, but because I am a fatty and seriously can’t understand how anyone can eat JUST a salad for lunch (wtf??), I swiped a can of Campbell’s chicken noodle from a friend, watered down half the can with some hot water from the Keurig, and had at it (only 70 calories! nice!). It was a perfect lunch for a wet, dreary day. I love gloomy weather from time to time, but Chicago has been testing my patience recently…

Anyway, I’m off to finish up the work day. I did some seriously ill-advised shopping last week and came home with far too many adorable dresses, so I’ll be sure to share those coming up here. Thanks for reading my nutty rant, and please do provide feedback if you have any, I’d love to hear from you!

May 26, 2011 at 3:30 pm 4 comments

Hot & cold

I thought about posting one of those pictures that show how many tiny particles of saliva/snot explode when you sneeze, but it was a little too gross — even for me. I thought this one was a nice substitute :)

It’s finally getting warm out in Chicago (oh hey there, May) and of course, I caught a cold. As I mentioned before, I pushed myself too hard in the previous few weeks, and haven’t been eating my normal (mostly) nutritious meals, so my body just crapped out on me. I’m certain now that it’s a cold because I’m still sick, and colds have that wonderful habit of sticking around for two weeks. There are few things more frustrating than not being able to breathe/taste things/go five minutes without blowing your nose when it’s 80-something degrees outside. Bleh! I have been resting up a lot (aka not going to the gym) and sleeping in the hopes that this thing will get lost soon. Keep your fingers crossed for me.

BUT — in case you didn’t understand, it’s EIGHTY-SOMETHING DEGREES OUT. Hallelujah!

I’m convinced there is no better place than Chicago in the summer.

Ohhhhh, I can’t wait.

Considering the fact that I’ve been sick and tired for two weeks, I’ve still been in a pretty excellent mood most of the time. That is, until yesterday. I had a rather unsavory conversation that left a stormcloud over my head most of the day, and through the night. After being exhausted, sad and stressed out most of the day, I finally just let loose and let myself have a good cry after getting tucked into bed. It sucked, and it made me sad, but it was also somewhat cathartic. I know not everyone agrees, but sometimes it can be very therapeutic to just let yourself be sad, let out all the emotion/frustration/embarrassingly deep sobs and just cry. It needed to happen, and I’m still sad, but I’m a little more at peace now that I’ve come to peace with the fact that this specific issue is bothering me.

I’m wondering if maybe I need some yoga in my life right now? (Pardon me for saying this, but who am I?)

As if by magic (or clever scheduling, same thing), I have a massage appointment scheduled for after work and could not be more thrilled. Honestly, I rarely treat myself to massages/pedicures/etc. (I’m broke and cheap most of the time), but this time it is sorely (hah!) needed.

I just noticed I’m making a lot of bad puns here; thinking this means it’s time to wind this post down…

Anyway, just wanted to pop in and say hello. I’m thrilled with my new job and mostly pleased with my new apartment, so aside from the noted issues above, life ain’t all that bad right now. I get my first paycheck Friday in ages (which, unfortunately, is already accounted for in the form of bills), so I won’t be (as) broke soon either.

Oh yeah, and did I mention it was 80 degrees out?

Have a great day, y’all :)

Up next: look out for some musings on cooking in a tiny, tiny kitchen/apartment.

May 11, 2011 at 12:15 pm 4 comments


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