where have i been?

Royal Wedding of William and Catherine Duke & ...

Image by Defence Images via Flickr

I was on such a roll with posts, and now it’s been almost a week since I wrote. I must say that I kind of missed not putting some stupid random thoughts down for random people to read about.

So, where have I been and what have I been doing since last week?

  • I went to my sister’s in Temecula for Easter lunch. Yummy! And my Yum-Yum cake was a hit!
  • I went to RPM class on Monday, but skipped trying out BodyCombat due to my lingering shoulder impingement issue.
  • I think I made a decision regarding¬† a new job/career opportunity at my company. ūüôā
  • I went to Indianapolis, IN for work and had a really great meeting/training. And I got to see one of my very favorite people.
  • I bought myself a new Vera Bradley tote in Deco Daisy. Thank goodness for getting to the Indy Airport early!
  • I had lunch with my girlfriends at an airport on a beautiful day, The Landings at Palomar Airport in Carlsbad. Good food, slow service, fun view of the tarmac, and it was a gorgeous day.
  • I watched the Royal Wedding after work today on DVR. I didn’t think I would be so captivated by it, but I was. Although thank goodness for DVR,¬† 6 hours of coverage turned into about 3 to 3.5 hours. I know my oldest sister was probably watching and loving the long ass aisle Kate had to walk down. (My sister was always obsessed with long driveways and long church aisles perfect for weddings. No idea why. At least she had a somewhat long aisle to walk down for her own wedding, and a carriage ride from the Four Seasons to the church. Yup, she was the princess in our family. ) The dress was nice, not my style, but appropriate for a royal wedding. Kate was beautiful, Wills was looking good (although Harry is much hotter) and the hats were ridiculous. Can you imagine having to sit behind someone with a hat that obstructs your view, I’d be ticked!
  • I watched The Voice. I already love it! So much better than American Idol, and we don’t have to suffer from the ridiculous auditions. Faves so far are Vicci (amazing rendition of Adele’s current hit), Javier (such a cutie), and Jeff (kind of an underdog).
  • I know you’ll want to know this, but I have an infected big toe. It is causing me a lot of pain and I can’t wear closed toe shoes. Which means, no RPM or BodyPump, or really other physical activity right now. It is such a little thing, the big toe, but it can really wreak havoc on one’s active life. I won’t go into details of how I believe it became infected, but let’s just say, I will not be walking through airport security without the little booties on again, especially when I have a cut on my toe. I think it is clearing up, so come Monday, I should be back to my regular workout schedule.
  • I fell off the wagon with healthy eating. Burgers two nights in a row! A chicken sandwich smothered in cheese! Frozen Pizza! Candy bars for dinner! Ice Cream! Man, travel totally screws me up! So tomorrow is a new day, let’s see what it brings.

Thank goodness tomorrow is Saturday because I have had a full bottle of wine while watching the Royal Wedding, and I need my beauty sleep if I’m ever going to find my Prince! I’m thinking I may at least try to walk a bit, with my bum toe and all. And if I can’t do a workout where I burn 600 calories in an hour, at least I can return to healthy eating. I’m also going to work on a couple of new posts, I think. It’s always nice to get my ideas down on the internet and I hope you’ll enjoy reading them, or feel free to mock them ;).

Have a great Saturday!

Watching: The Voice (love it and can’t wait to hear the talent next week!)

baking adventure: vera’s yum-yum cake

I skipped BodyPump class this morning. I feel so bad now. I should of just sucked it up and gone. Plus I ate Oreo’s for breakfast, seriously, what is going on with me?!?! I guess it’s not too late to go for a walk to the beach. It is a beautiful day here!

Tomorrow is Easter! What a wonderful holiday it is, celebrating that Jesus has risen. I can’t wait to go to church and then head to my sister’s to enjoy an Easter lunch together. I was assigned the dessert, so I looked through all my cookbooks and settled on Vera’s Yum-Yum Cake out of Vera Bradley‘s Cooking with Friends. This cookbook is divided up by the seasons, so of course I chose one suited for Spring! I can’t wait to eat it tomorrow!

Vera’s Yum Yum Cake

Serves 15

ingredients

  • 1 (2-layer) package yellow cake mix
  • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 1 (4-oz.) package vanilla instant pudding mix
  • 1 cup milk
  • 16 oz. whipped topping
  • 2 (16 oz.) pkgs. fresh strawberries or frozen strawberries, thawed
  • 2 cups shredded coconut
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts

Prepare and bake the cake using the package directions for a 9×13 inch cake pan. Cool in the pan on a wire rack.

cake batter

Beat the cream cheese in a mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Add the pudding mix and milk and beat until smooth.

before beating the pudding in

Fold in the whipped topping. (This makes ALOT. You might be able to get away with just 12 oz. of whipped topping. I had leftover and used it to dip my leftover strawberries in! Delish!)

i started to fold in the whipped topping, but decided mixing it would work well too.

Spread over the cooled cake. Arrange the strawberries evenly over the cake. Sprinkle with the coconut and walnuts.

finito! (half without coconut and walnuts since i don't like coconut!)

Chill, covered, for 4-6 hours before serving.

***This recipe was super easy! I just hope that everyone likes it! I was going to make some mint brownies too, just in case, but I may just pick up some cookies. Kids can be pretty picky, and I know 2 people don’t like strawberries (which I hope they just pick off).

I’m also making Sparkling Raspberry Lemonade (from the same cookbook). I think it would be super yummy with some vodka. Maybe next time, since this time it has to be kid-friendly for Easter.

About to Watch: Love & Other Drugs

two workouts, one day

Oh yes, you read that right! I did two workouts today. I hit up the 6:30am BodyPump and the noontime RPM. Yup, yup, I’m a rock star! And now I’m pretty darn exhausted. I got up at 4:45am, a whole hour before the alarm was set for. This has been happening quite a lot lately, so I figure maybe I should just get up and do something instead of checking twitter, facebook, and playing klondike on my phone. (I’ve given up on trying to fall back asleep.) So that’s my new goal, get up and do something productive when I get up before the alarm goes off.

I learned the power of social media today. I was heading to RPM and the instructor saw me and asked my last name. I told her, and she was like one of the members had e-mailed her about me. I was kind of freaking out, like did they not like my grunts during RPM, or that I wear flip flops to class before changing into my cleats, or that my gut sticks out? The instructor for this class manages all fitness classes and instructors at the gym, and last week I had posted on 4 square/twitter a check in at the gym and added “worst yoga class ever.” So that got someone’s attention. Not sure if the person was mad about it, or just bringing it to the attention of the club. I was a bit mortified and was thinking I’m never posting on twitter again! The fitness manager said it is things like this that she wants to know about, and this time it just kind of came in an unlikely way, and that in-person, phone, or e-mail is preferred. I guess the member was making it out to be a bigger deal, like that there was a whole blog related to it. And while I obviously have a blog, I don’t remember writing about the class, until today.

So I’ve learned my lesson…don’t post your real thoughts on 4 square, twitter, or any of the other social media sites! (ok, that isn’t going to stop me, but I will try not to come across as so mean!) Throughout today’s class I was starting to feel really bad for the instructor that taught the yoga class, even though she may not have seen my tweet. Maybe she was just having a bad day? I know it could upset people, and some in the class maybe really did enjoy the instructor. But, to each her own, right?! We are all entitled to our opinions.

[new thoughts on the yoga class:¬† So it wasn’t the worst ever, it was just frustrating as I thought I understood vinyasa yoga, but this class just didn’t have it. I haven’t taken yoga in months, and rarely take vinyasa (i prefer ashtanga) but this seemed more like a gentle yoga class. Plus the instructor wasn’t helping out with poses or offering modifications, which I’m used to them doing. I’ve hurt my shoulder, so some of the poses were a bit more difficult and luckily I knew modifications, but it was just frustrating. And we did shavasana (corpse pose) for all of 30 seconds, ok maybe a minute.]

And I have to say, I think I am back on track with workouts. I’ve doubled up a few days and skipped some other days, but it is all fitting into my schedule. I am going through a pretty stressful time right now, and thank goodness for exercise, or I would probably be hiding out and not able to face the world. Now, to just get my eating under control. I did great on Monday, Tuesday, I stuffed my face with double stuf Oreo’s, and finished them off today. I think the culprit (aside from me of course!) is Diet soda. Monday I didn’t have any, and Tuesday I did and kept going to my colleague’s desk for her chocolate jar, plus the Oreo’s after work. And today I did not have soda, and I had one mini Snickers bar (plus the Oreo’s after work, ugh!). So maybe it’s not entirely the diet soda, but I know there’s been a lot of not so good research results. Oh well.

Alright, I’m done rambling on.¬† Have a great night/day!

Watching: One Tree Hill. Does anyone still watch this show? I’ve been watching for a few years, and I can’t figure out why I keep getting sucked in.

last night’s dinner: that’s shallota flavor spaghetti

Cover of "Rachael Ray's Big Orange Book: ...

Cover via Amazon

I am finally back to taking pictures and able to get back to this little series on my blog. Yeah!

A few months ago I got Rachael Ray’s Big Orange Book cookbook. It’s ok, although I’ve found most of these recipes online. While I like to find recipes online, I think searching through cookbooks is still the best. My mom was always searching for new recipes when I was little. For birthdays or holidays she would always ask for the latest Junior League cookbook or one from a place she had just visited (usually a southern one!). So, I have a growing collection of cookbooks now, and am working my way through this one now.

That’s Shallota Flavor Spaghetti (Rachael Ray Big Orange Book, p. 29, or online here)

Directions

Made with 10 shallots per pound of whole wheat spaghetti, you cannot believe the flavor of this pasta dish. It’s like a bowl of French Onion Soup, hold the broth. It’s a knockout.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 10 shallots, halved then thinly sliced
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 1 pound whole-wheat spaghetti
  • A generous handful flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Heat the extra-virgin olive oil with the butter over medium-low heat in a skillet with high sides.

melting butter and oil

Add garlic and shallots and season with salt and pepper then cook gently until caramelized about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

shallots cooking

Meanwhile heat a large pot of water to boil for pasta, salt the water very liberally then add spaghetti and bring to a rolling boil. Cook to al dente.

Add 2 ladles of starchy cooking water, about 1 cup, to the shallots and stir. Drain pasta and add to shallots. Add the parsley and cheese and more black pepper, to taste. Toss 1 to 2 minutes for liquid to absorb and serve.

almost finished!

And the finished product!

yum-o!

The recipes says it makes 4 servings. This would make 2 cups/serving. At that, the calories were a bit high (I calculated it on fatsecret.com but can’t fully recall, 600-800 sounds about right). I actually managed to get 8 servings out of it, 1 cup/serving.

¬†This recipe gets a 4 out of 5 stars from me! It was fairly easy, except for the cutting of all the shallots. I don’t have a mandoline, but I wonder if that would have made it easier. Anyways, it was pretty good, and might be even better with chicken and more veggies mixed in.¬† It’s good stuff! As Rachel says, it’s YUM-O!

starting over

I’m sitting here, wondering how many blog posts I have done, or will do in the future, that have the common theme of starting over. Each time I think my mind has made the shift (and my stomach), has decided that it is ready to follow my heart and start to take care of myself and live healthily, deep down I know it hasn’t. I discovered a new blog, Honey, I Shrunk the Gretchen!, through her guest post on fAnnetastic food today. (I just recently found fANNEtastic too and it’s a great blog!) I read her story, saw the pictures, and just thought, wow, that was me a few short years ago. I’ve started to wonder how I’ve lost so much of what I had thought I had gained on my 50 lb. weight loss journey. I was fun and confident, I appeared in a weight-loss/diet book, but by the time that came out I was up 30 lbs. already. It happened so quick, the weight gain. I know there were several stressors going on when I stopped following the “diet,” but you would think someone who has spent 6 months taking off 50 lbs. would know how to handle these. But I didn’t. And I think that is maybe what scares me now, how will I react, mentally and emotionally when I start to lose the weight. So, here I am again, starting over, committing myself to a healthy lifestyle, making goals and wondering how in the heck I’m going to reach those. How am I going to control my cravings? How am I going to emotionally handle situations where I’ve always turned to food? Who is going to be my support system in this? Do I need a dietitian, do I need a support group, do I need my hand held? What’s the best way? What will work for me? How do I control the cravings? There is so much going into making the mind shift (that’s what I’m going to call it), that maybe I just not think about it. Maybe I try the intuitive eating method, but that even takes work! I’ve always felt that eating less, exercising more is the best thing to do (and eating less, but eating the right things, non-processed foods). And I’m starting to ramble…
I’m not really sure where I’m going with this. I guess I’m trying to say that starting is hard, and maybe I shouldn’t see it as starting over, maybe I see it as just another step in life. Maybe I realize that now is the time to work on myself. I’ve had a very emotional week at work, and I may be feeling those effects as I post this and that I’ve eaten a whole tray of Oreo’s within 24 hours, or that after I finished them off tonight I ordered pizza and ate 3 slices. Maybe just writing these down for the internet to see, and noticing how I’m feeling right now, will make me wake up and notice and shift the mind. I don’t know. I realize that this is just a discombobulated (wow, I spelled that right!) post, and thanks for putting up with it if you’re still reading. I thought I was making some progress on my blog with better writing, but I guess this is what happens after a bunch of oreo’s and pizza and I have to get up for an 8am BodyPump and a 9:15am RPM class. Yup, I’m a glutton for punishment, although I am looking forward to kicking ass on the spin bike tomorrow.

And maybe I just need to post these pictures to realize something…what that is, maybe I’ll discover one day…

Now I just need to figure out how to get back to that girl in the middle.

Good night, here’s to starting over!

vacation recap: day 3 & 4

Catch up on days 1 & 2, here, here, and here.

Day 3 was Saturday, and we lounged around until about noon! We missed breakfast, so for lunch we decided we wanted TexMex, so off we went to the Iron Cactus. Umm, nothing special. I got tacos and beer. After lunch, we walked down a rather calm 6th Street to a souvenir shop. On almost every trip I take, I try to get a magnet or an ornament, or if I’m lucky, both. I got both on this trip!

Since it was the Saturday of the Final Four, we knew we would need to find a sports bar to watch the games. Champions Sports Bar was just a block away, so we settled into a table for the next 5 hours. A bunch of VCU fans were in there, but I was rooting for Butler, so glad they won! And I was glad UK lost.

So, we had a great day of laziness because I knew we were in for some fun that night. The Spazmatics were in town at Cedar Street Courtyard and I convinced Julie that we had to go see them. They are an awesome 80s cover band, and they played at my company’s national sales meeting. The place was packed. And it was still a thousand degrees out! I didn’t get great pics of the band, but here they are. They are so fun!

Day 4, Sunday

Another morning to lounge around! We hit up the executive lounge for breakfast and then it was time for Julie to catch the shuttle to the airport. I was so bummed to see her go. We had a lot of fun, and it was so great to catch up! I still had a few hours to kill, so off I went to Buffalo Billiards for lunch. This would not have been my first choice, but once I entered I was committed. The beer was cheap, the food was cheap, and the bartender was awesome.

After BB, I headed to the University of Texas spring football game. I am a huge football fan, not really of the Longhorns, but I wanted to see the stadium at the very least. I took a cab to the stadium, and the cabbie was trying to be all Cash Cab like. He said if I could guess where he was from, I’d get free cab fare, or else he would double it. I agreed to play, and of course lost. (He was from Cameroon.) He didn’t’ really charge me double fare, but I tipped him extra. It was a fun cab ride to say the least.

Made it to the game in the 1st half and shot lots of pictures. Here’s just a few.

I won’t bore you with details of my experience with SuperShuttle. Let’s just say that I got to the airport 15 min. before my flight was to board, and the security line was about 30 min. (I snuck into the first class line and made it with plenty of time to spare.) I will not pre-order/pre-pay SuperShuttle ever again!

So, that was my vacation to Austin, TX. I highly recommend going there at least once. It was the perfect destination for a long weekend, and it was easy for both Julie and I to get to.

Until the next vacation…

 

vacation recap: day 2, part II

Check out Day 1 and Day 2, part I.

Julie and I both conked out when we got back to the hotel on day 2’s afternoon. We needed it!

After our electric bike tour of Austin, we decided we wanted to hit up South Congress Avenue for the evening. And along the way, we would stop and check out the largest urban bat colony in the world! The Mexican free-tailed bats migrated to the South Congress Bridge in the 1980s. The reconstruction done on the bridge made it the perfect place for these bats to live. And turning the warm months, at dusk, the bats fly out from the bridge. We wanted to see this, so we made the trek to the bridge area and to the grassy knoll near the Austin-Statesman newspaper building.

There were a few people already waiting on the bridge…

waiting for the bats

There was a street entertainer in the area. He was kind of funny, but you could tell people were getting annoyed. He tried to be cool with this trick…

street performer with fire

I was more entertained by this guy…

isn't he cute?! he would be best buds with my dog!

More people arrived on the bridge…

more people waiting for the bats to emerge

And finally around 8:10pm, the bats emerged. A few came at first, and then all of a sudden you could see a huge ribbon of these bats in the sky. Pictures aren’t that great, since it was getting dark and they were fast!

the bats starting to come out

here they come!

Here’s some better images of the bats. Do a search on google images and you can find more.

After the bat spectacle, we made our way to South Congress Avenue district. They were having the Lonestar Rod & Kustom Round Up in town and this street attracted way too many hot rods,¬† so it was super loud with all those old cars, souped-up cars, and crazy cars. I honestly do not care for these kind of things, so I was rather annoyed. There were tons of people out, it was a very eclectic mix. We finally made our way to Home Slice Pizza, which I had heard was the place to get pizza in this town. No kidding, it was an hour wait! I told Julie that we had to try this place, and the hostess said that it was worth it. We headed to their back patio (where they have a ping-pong table!) and I ordered a Fireman’s #4 Ale beer. Yummy! I think I ended up with 3 or 4 of them! We also ordered garlic knots (these were just ok), and finally we got our table. It was 9:30pm and we were able to order slices instead of a whole pizza. I got pepperoni and it was quite clearly the VERY BEST pizza I had ever had!

picture does not do this pizza justice

Julie got the margherita, and then we split a second slice, which was the margherita. I loved both. Oh so good! Next time in Austin, I am so going back to Home Slice. Crispy crust, just enough cheese and tomato sauce, perfection!

The next step was to find a cab! We never did. We walked the whole 1.5 miles back, after taking a slight detour to see if we could find a cab. The main street was pretty much a parking lot, and there was no chance of finding a cab, so we went down a side street, before deciding to just walk it back.

What a fun day! Stay tuned for day 3 recap!!! I was really loving Austin.