Archive for June, 2008

Frenetic Food

June 30, 2008

I feel like I spend way too much brain power on food. Between thinking about what to buy, what to eat, what to make, what do I feel like, what to bring for lunch, etc, I get exhausted. If it weren’t for David, I might eat the same thing every day, because it’s hard to be creative day after day.

I have been looking at Pick N Save’s weekly ad, hoping for some sales that will inspire something healthy and delicious. Not much this week. There are a lot of picnic and cook-out foods are on sale, for obvious reasons.

We always manage to eat delicious and somewhat healthy meals. We rarely go out to eat based on desperation and necessity. But at the beginning of the week, looking towards the days ahead, I feel overwhelmed. I can only handle so much salad. Bringing a salad for lunch feels like a last resort. My salads are usually more than just lettuce; my current favorite being a chef salad with chunks of cheese and turkey breast, so it’s delicious and filling. But I can only take so much!

I much prefer to make a big dinner and take in leftovers. Some dinners, however, don’t work so well for that. I don’t really like reheating ground beef, so our mini burger and taco salad dinners are out. I don’t think leftover fish sounds very good, so large portions of that are out too. Reheating steak or pork in a microwave can often make it dry and not nearly as tasty. I think the best things to reheat are meats that are cooked WITH other ingredients, like stirfry or some sort of veggie casserole.

I’ll still take dry leftovers over dreading salad every day. If we weren’t on a dinner time limit it would be easier. We could go to the grocery store after work and pick up some fresh veggies and cook whatever sounds good to us that day. But planning meals for the week is a job that I find difficult, especially when my list of foods that I am eating is so limited. I’m still scared to add back carbs. I’ve had some fruit and high-fiber cereal. Maybe I’ll take the leap and make some cous-cous for dinner this week. Also, it would be nice to be able to take a sandwich for lunch in a whole wheat pita.

I hit 183 this weekend, for a moment. I weigh every day, and this morning I was a pound higher than that. I’m not surprised or disappointed, but I’m still saying my current weight is now 183. I looked at myself in the mirror today while getting dressed and I kind of liked what I saw. I saw waist!! And my stomach wasn’t sticking out as much! And I could swear my butt and thighs look just a TINY bit smaller. But there’s still a long way to go on the thigh and hip area. South Beach really cuts into the belly-fat, so I can only hope that as more weight comes off, it will come off other areas as well.

Here’s a body peeve of mine… Chubby knees. I feel like I have chubby knees! I DO.  I feel like my calves and ankles are pretty enough, but I don’t like anything cut above my knees. I feel like my legs look like thick tree stumps up there. Again, I hope some of that goes away with continued diet and exercise.

Okay, and I’m going to add this here. It’s about breasts. Specifically mine. They’re not small. And I don’t really want them to be SMALL, exactly. They’re mine and I like them the way they are. But they got bigger as I gained weight. So I expected them to, um, deflate a bit. They haven’t. Like, not really at all. Like, I’m still wearing the same undergarments. The bands don’t dig into my diminishing back fat as much, but they still fit. Um, what? I was was honestly a little worried that I’d lose weight there and no where else. Apparently I worried them into staying the same?

Sagging is a BIG fear of mine. That, and breast cancer. My breasts have, in many ways, become a huge part of who I am. I could write a whole post on my self esteem as related to men and my boobs, but that’s for another day. Anyway, I don’t wear many skimpy tops and I even usually sleep in tank tops that have that built in shelf support. I was kind of hoping for a little of that, ahem, weight to be lifted.

Whatever. I’m honestly loving my body a little more every day and it really feels fantastic. At some point, you just have to accept things that you cannot change. Or at least things you can’t change without a big bag full of money.

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The Plants

June 26, 2008

First things first. I’m freakin’ buying the dress. I went to see if it was still there today. They had ONE size 14 left. Everything else was 8 and under. Not only that, but it was marked down to $80!! My mom is going to pick it up for me tomorrow. After her discount, it will only cost me about $60! AWESOME!

Oh, and I tried on a dress in a similar style, in a hot fuchsia pink. In a size 12. (!!!!!!!!!!) It was really pretty too. I was really torn for a while, but I stuck with the blue. The pink was a tiny bit tight in the bust. Whatever.

Okay, so on to my plants. I’m a little worried, especially after spending so much money on so many plants. My fingers are crossed that they haven’t all drowned.

My thyme and parsley is completely dead. The tarragon thrived, but I didn’t really care about that one!

My lettuce is looking good. I don’t really know when I’m allowed to pick it though! It hasn’t grown a lot. I’m hoping since it’s not pouring rain anymore, the leaves will start to get bigger.

The basil is exploding! Rosemary and mint are doing fine, but the basil looks awesome. I can’t wait to eat some of it. I’m thinking a tomato/mozzarella/basil salad. Yum!

I’m still worried about my tomato plants. They’ve got flowers, but a lot of yellowed leaves. They seem to keep flowering, and even the one with the most yellow leaves has a little green testicle tomato growing! I hope those babies keep on growing!
 

The Dress(es)

June 24, 2008

Well, I thought I was maybe over THE DRESS that I posted about just the other day. But thanks to your comments, I’m not.

I thought, it’s too expensive, it’s not casual enough, it’s not exactly what I’m looking for. But it is such a great dress, that it kind of makes up for all that. David, upon hearing the price, said it wasn’t worth it. Oh, but it IS worth it! That’s just the problem! It’s worth it, and yet $75 or $100 is not something I have laying around.

I’ve been meaning to make a waxing appointment, and that will total upwards of $50. I need to get a haircut and color next month that will probably set me back over $100. Do I push these services back and spring for the dress?

I thought I had decided not to, but now I’m debating again! Grr! I stupidly went shopping with my sister on Saturday and tried on another super cute dress that bore an original price tag of $148!! Why must I torture myself??

Here are the two dresses. Keep in mind that dressing room light is bad, but please feel free to tell me if these in fact look awful, and my mind is deluded, and my wallet should stay closed.

 Pic144- Dress Love

Pic145- Sundress

Yummy Recipe

June 23, 2008

I’ve got to recommend THISrecipe that I made last week. Because David is in rehearsal, our dinner time is crunched. We like to eat together, so we have to make dinner in about a half hour. The peanut sauce we made last week was more than enough for the stirfry, so I searched for inspiration for another recipe we could make to use it up.

This Steak Salad with Peanut-Lime Vinaigrette was perfect. My local grocery store did not have a flank steak that was smaller than 3 pounds, so I opted for a package of small minute steaks. I heated my cast iron skillet to medium-high heat and seasoned the steaks with salt and pepper. I seared them for about 2-3 minutes per side. While they were cooking, I heated the leftover peanut sauce in a saucepan over low heat and squeezed in the juice of one lime.

I let the steak rest for a couple minutes and then sliced it into thin strips. I laid it out on plates over lettuce, tomatoes, and bean sprouts, poured on the peanut sauce, and sprinkled the chopped peanuts on top. Squeeze on a little extra lime for flavor, and you have a great, quick dinner. It was filling and totally delicious. I imagine that we’ll be making another batch of that peanut sauce soon.

Hulk Smash Dream

June 20, 2008

Boston Store, why must you crush my spirit and will to live?

I have been on the lookout for a cute summery dress. Preferably something casual, that I could wear out to the movies, or a picnic; but something that I could wear out to a nice dinner or a show would work too.

In losing 20 pounds, I feel like things are finally fitting me better. But better doesn’t always mean it looks good. I spent my lunch break at Boston Store searching the clearance racks for something. Anything. A nice pair of summery pants, a pretty shirt I could wear to work, THAT dress I’ve been searching for.

I marathon shopped all the Yellow-Dot racks I could find. I became annoyed at shirts that looked cute on the hanger but made me look like a clown. I got frustrated at seeing shapeless dresses that I knew would make me look like a frumpy cow. Or pregnant. Just as maddening was finding something potentially cute in the “L-XL” sections, and seeing it was actually a size 6. WHY?! I cried out to the gods.

I think I am in between sizes or something. The jeans I’m currently wearing are a 16. They’ve got stretch in them, but they are loose on me. I tried on a couple pairs of pants that were a 16 and were too tight. I could button them, but it was not cute. 16!!! I feel like I should be able to fit into that by now. It’s my darn hips. I am NOT shopping in plus size. Even size 14 that I’ve tried on at Lane Bryant before is not right on me. It’s cut all wrong. Anything plus size that I’ve ever tried has made me look bigger than I am. Maybe another 10 pounds will do it…

Anyway, I made my way to the dress area. The place where I have spent many minutes drooling over the bright and beautiful summer dresses. Kind of like some of these. If you’ve entered Boston Store at Brookfield Square through the mall entrance, you might have seen the dresses I’m talking about. Popsicle colors!

I found a few dresses that were OKAY on the Yellow-Dot racks. There is so much BLACK in the 14-16 size range. And so much empire waist. Sometimes that works out. But lately I’m finding that it just makes me look pregnant. And that’s not really what I’m going for. I blame the boobs. Anything that hangs off my boobs serves to make me look bigger, NOT “hide my stomach and hips/thighs” like the magazines say.

Then, there among the mediocrity, I saw THIS:

One of the very dresses I had yearned for in the prior weeks. I checked the size. 14! I grabbed the tag and looked for the yellow dot and reduced price. There was none. Maybe they didn’t mark this one?? I knew in my heart that wasn’t true, but I grabbed it off the rack to try it on.

I saved it for the very end, after I had tossed all the sub-par and ill-fitted dresses aside. Then I slipped this beauty over my head. I am not vain and I have a very critical view of myself, but HOT DAMN!!! If I didn’t know any better, I’d say I looked better in it than that model up there.

It was a near-perfect fit. It’s a tad on the bridesmaid-y side, but I think it overcomes that. There was waist definition, and just enough of a skirt to give me that 50’s/Stepford Wives look that I love. And yet, the cut was modern and, dare I say, slimming. It just felt good.

I fell in love and died a little right there, knowing it could not ACTUALLY be 60%+ off. And yet, I had hope that it might my lucky day. I hung out in it for a few minutes, grabbing my camera to snap some pictures. Trust me, if I had my cord, I’d have uploaded them to my work computer and be posting them right now.

I checked the time and reluctantly unzipped myself. I looked at the tag again. $128.00. No yellow marking. I took it up to the woman at the register. My face must have told her that I was in turmoil and asked if I needed a price checked. I said yes and said I found the dress on the clearance rack as she told me she thought that it was full price.

She scanned it. It was on sale. For $99.99. I couldn’t bear to turn away from it, though, and so I asked her to put it on hold. You know, in case I find a hundred dollar bill on the ground. She was super nice and told me she’d try to hold it until store close tomorrow. I thanked her, then turned and walked away.

I can’t afford it. Even with my mom’s employee discount, it would be $75. I mean, technically, yes, I can afford that, but that money should go towards other monthly expenses. But I have until tomorrow to wonder what I can go without in the next two weeks in order to have that gorgeous dress.

Sigh.

So that was my over-dramatized lunch hour. But really, it’s pretty!!

More “Diet” Food

June 16, 2008

David and I made some delicious food over the weekend. We had plans to have a chicken stirfry combined with THISrecipe from Kalyn’s Kitchen. However, when we stopped by our local grocery store, they did not have Tahini. There’s a Middle Eastern grocery store that would have it, but we weren’t anywhere near there. So we improvised. And it turned out to be AWESOME.

The peanut was really what interested me, and while browsing the Asian food aisle, we came across some Thai Red Curry Paste. We picked that up and a can of unsweetened coconut milk, and headed home.

David made a delicious sauce with our natural peanut butter, coconut milk, and just enough curry paste to give it a slow, sweet burn of an aftertaste. I’m sure there was other stuff in there, but he likes to improvise. I think this sort of sauce lends itself to that.

We had cooked chicken the night before, and I threw strips of that into a big heavy saucepan with some canola and sesame oil to give it a bit of a sear. After it was seared and heated through, I removed it and threw in our veggies- sliced red bell pepper, mushrooms, watercress, and snap peas. I stirfried those and then covered them to let them steam through.

Meanwhile, a big bundle of asparagus was roasting in the oven, according to that recipe from Kalyn’s Kitchen. It had been a long, long time since I’d had asparagus, and when I tried a piece to test it’s done-ness, I was rewarded. It was tender and flavorful. I wish I had tried this sooner. I’ve been missing out! Hopefully asparagus will be on sale again soon at our grocery store. When the asparagus was just about done cooking, I took it out of the oven, and tossed it in with the rest of the veggies. We threw in some soy sauce and the chicken and mixed everything together.

We put the stirfry into our bowls and scooped on a generous helping of the peanut sauce. It was awesome! It really brought back memories of Thailand. I had an amazing chicken satay on the beach at Koh Samet. Our peanut sauce was less spicy, but the flavors were all there.

YUMMY!!!

Tonight’s dinner was really simple. We made little mini cheeseburgers and served them over a salad with tomatoes and avocado. We drizzled it with a mustard vinaigrette. It’s a great dressing that we’ll probably use again, and I think it would be a yummy marinade for chicken or fish.

I combined about 3 Tbsp of mustard (I used dijon, because that’s just what I had) and about 2 Tbsp of apple cider vinegar. I slowly drizzled in about 1/8 cup of Olive Oil. You can use more or less to taste. That’s it! You can add to it, salt, pepper, herbs, onions, garlic, chives, etc. I kept it simple.

It was a fast, delicious dinner. Like a loaded cheeseburger, but without the bun.

Again, I’m on a diet?!

And that diet is going well. Even with all my, ahem, “distractions,” like booze and “bad” food, I am officially down TWENTY pounds! Over the weekend I hit 185! I celebrated with a gyro and popcorn. It was worth it. I’m really feeling better about myself. It’s nice to see my waist again! I think my goal was 170 by the end of the year. I’m feeling really confident that I will be able to meet that. If I keep this up, I think the chances are good that I will drop even more than that. I am SOOOO happy!!

Daddy!

June 16, 2008

My dad is pretty awesome. I’ve always been Daddy’s Girl. I have more in common, both in looks and personality, with him than my mom. We’ve had our unfriendly moments, but for the most part, we get along great.

We have close to the same sense of humor. We’ll laugh at anything. I remember one year, when I was in college, I told him this joke:
“Why was 6 afraid of 7? Because seven ate nine!”
He laughed for minutes on end. We laugh at everything, but we’re not too quick to come up with witty responses. My mom and Samantha have that part covered. He and I are usually a step behind.

I get more of my features from him. I’m the only one with brown eyes to match his and my hair has the same texture as his (NOT A GOOD THING). My dad is kind of my hero. He came over to the USA when he was 17. He finished high school and college here and worked hard to give us a great childhood. He is now high up on the corporate ladder and he did it thanks to hard work. I find that to be amazing.

My sisters and I spent most of the day with him, watching his movies and looking at pictures from Iran. They were incredible. And he’s serious about trying to take us there. He wants us to meet our relatives over there, and especially our Great Grandmother.

After that, we walked to Jacobus Park to take some pictures with the new Canon 870IS camera he just got. We had a little too much fun!

After all that fun, we went to Hector’s for a yummy dinner on their patio. And got attacked by a water balloon. I kid thee not. We got drive-by water ballooned. My dad and one of the waiters went running after the truck, but couldn’t get a license plate number. Too bad. I didn’t even know what happened at first. It didn’t soak anyone, but it splashed our table and the table next to us. Ridiculous! I did some stupid, obnoxious stuff in my teen years, but never anything like that. 

We went back to my dad’s place and watched the Tony’s for an hour. Samantha took me home at 8:00 so I could finish watching them with David. My family wasn’t too into it. David and I had a lot of fun squealing over people we recognized and have seen on stage before. And now of course, we want to go to New York City to see some of these shows. If you’re interested, I would recommend checking out some songs from Passing Strange or In The Heights, both very new, and bold musicals.

My dad tells me he really enjoyed his Father’s Day. And that’s what it was all about!

Internet Ads

June 13, 2008

I’m sure we’ve all seen our share of weird, random, internet advertising. There seem to be a lot that really don’t make sense, advertising insurance or mortgages.

This was at the top of my Hotmail window just a few moments ago. WHAT?!?!

If you click on it, you might notice her leg is a little blurry. That’s because it moves, kicking the word insurance. Huh?!

 

Me Me Me

June 13, 2008

I’m feeling very wedding plan-y today and I don’t really know why.

I read a post on a wedding blog, and suddenly realized something. Weddings are SO self-centered. How do you plan a wedding without being all ME ME ME!!!!?? I can be vain, and certainly enjoy being the center of attention, but it’s weirding me out to think about planning a giant party to honor ME. Well, me and my groom of course, but US.

I think that’s why, when I think about what I want, it focuses on the guests. I mean, of course I want to look outrageously beautiful, but I really want my guests to eat great food and to have a blast. I know, that’s what everyone wants, right?

That seems to be the “problem,” because if I cared less about my guests, I could put them in some cheap place and serve them crappy food, and spend more money on ME. I don’t want to do that. That is most definitely not ME.

Would I give my pinky finger for an amazing designer gown? Yes, probably. But I’d rather take that $4,000 (or more…) and be able to invite an extra 50 of my friends and family.

Unfortunately, a $4,000 dress sounds just as unreasonable as our 200 person guest list right now. We’re doing well in paying off our debt, but we won’t be debt free for almost a year. And then we’ll only have a very small savings. If any. We were planning on Disney World for David’s golden 27th birthday next year. But his sister wants us to come to Europe with their mom in a couple years. I’d love to do these things, but then how will I afford the kind of wedding that I want?

I do not want a location that looks like a gymnasium or an 80’s prom hall. But I don’t need the Calatrava/Art Museum (though I’ll tell you, I WANT IT). To me, a wedding has always been about all your friends and family and loved ones being in the same room to celebrate and wish you love and luck in the start of a new chapter of your life. For me to take a chainsaw to the guestlist would be so painful. So how do I throw a nice reception for THAT many people? I guess that is the question I will be trying to answer.

My parents aren’t exactly throwing money at me. And not that they should! I am thinking of approaching them with a plan… maybe they could match everything I save? Even half of each dollar would be such a huge help.

My parents divorce could, and should, be it’s own entry. It’s final now. And they seem so much happier and alive. But let me tell you, having your father take you to lunch to tell you that he’s moving out, just a few weeks after your engagement is HARD. It hurt. It completely shook everything I’ve ever believed. I’m still dealing with it. My parents were married for almost 25 years! And the vast majority of those years were happy. They were happy.

So not only did my dad often tell me how much he thought marriage was pointless and weddings were stupid, but I had constant doubt. Am I doing the right thing?! Will we still feel this in love after 25 years?  I guess nobody REALLY knows those answers, but I finally figured out that my answers are YES! I am madly in love, and I can’t imagine that ever going away. And to me, that’s as close to a sure thing as I can get.

My mom bought my sister and I each a set of Waterford Crystal Toasting Flutes. She saw them at work (Boston Store) and bought them. While the pair she got for me are just a tad over the top, the fact that she thought about me, and David, and our MARRIAGE was amazing to me. I almost cried.

So now I finally feel like I can talk to my mom about the wedding. I always felt like I had to avoid the subject. But she gets along with David really well now, and with that gift, I feel like she’s opened the lines of communication back up.

What I’m really excited about is that I think I’ve found a church. I don’t have many ideas about the ceremony. I want it personal and romantic. I’ve always pictured outside. But I never tossed out the idea of a church. Though we did toss out my mom’s Catholic church hopes. I was raised Catholic, but haven’t felt like I fit there lately. Religion has become too politicized, and that’s unfortunate. Religion is not connected to politics in my mind, but I just feel uncomfortable when I walk into my Catholic church and see tables full of anti-choice and anti-homosexuality books in the back. I believe God loves all of us. I really do like Catholic Mass, but I can’t do it every week. And so often it’s just depressing! And makes me feel guilty.

But I think I’ve found a church that practices what it preaches. And it’s preaching is not preachy, it’s practical. I still feel a strong sense of God and Jesus in the building and their service filled me with hope and strength and motivation to go out and be a GOOD person. David and I are now seriously thinking of joining Plymouth Church, part of the United Church of Christ. Their slogan alone is enough for David: “Our Faith is 2000 Years Old. Our Thinking is Not.” I love it!

Sitting in church a couple weeks ago was fantastic. I felt at home. And I could see us getting married there. Being raised religious, having a little God talk in the marriage ceremony is important to me. But I had to make sure David could handle it, as he was basically raised as an atheist! He likes this church and that makes me so happy! The people there sure do help. An older couple talked to us for 5 minutes after the service because they figured we were new. They talked about how much they love the church and went and got us a “welcome” package and made sure we knew about the coffee and tea gathering going on in another room.

I don’t think we’re doing anything this Sunday morning. I really want to go again.

Cake Attack!

June 12, 2008

Whew, I made it through. I know you were really concerned.

I pass Le Cakery in Elm Grove on my way to and from the gym. It was hard to drive by, especially as I gazed lovingly at the windows as I passed. And then visited their website as soon as I got back to my desk. I guess I love to be miserable.

OHMYGOD my coworker just came over with a piece of cake. Apparently someone brought in cake. Marble cake. Another favorite. It’s here, in my area. The world is against me today.

I don’t know why I’m spazzing out today. I have no desire to actually work. I’m distracted. I blame it on the totally fun night I had last night. With internet people. Bloggers. At The Wicked Hop. I had a yummy chicken cutlet covered in artichokes and mushrooms. And I did not eat the potatoes. But I did drink alcohol. Cherry vodka and diet coke might rival the Limon and diet coke for me now. Yum!

We were there for over three hours. And there was lots of laughter and sharing stories. I was worried it might be awkward, and although most, if not all, of us were a little nervous, one would never have guessed that it was our first time meeting each other. It sure is interesting and fun to put a face and voice and real life experience with the words you’ve been following.

I don’t have the patience to link to everyone’s blog right now. But I think I remember everyone’s name… going around this picture… Julia, Erin, Julia, Sierra, Kelly, Andrea, (me), Harmony, and Katherine. I had met three of them before, so this really wasn’t too hard.

So HELLO new friends!