Archive for the ‘Health’ Category

No Excuses

March 6, 2009

So there’s no point in trying to make up for lost time here. I haven’t had a real post in close to three months. That’s crazy. I miss my blog. I haven’t been as good at uploading pictures and whiny entries with no pictures are pretty booooring.

Okay, let’s recap a little bit:
I totally went off the South Beach way of life over the holidays. Like WAAAAYYYY off. Like, gained back a lot of weight. It was not happy, but all the delicious food I ate was happy. And all the wonderful baking that I did was really pretty awesome. But now I’m back on the wagon. I’ve been pretty good the last couple of weeks, even though I’ve been sick a lot. It’s hard to find the energy to eat healthy when you’re sick. But I’ve managed, and I’m getting close to the weight I was when I fell off the wagon. Once I get back to that weight (180-ish) I will be really happy and vow to make it much closer to my goal weight by the time Christmas comes this year.

Baking: My enemy and my love.
I love baking. I can’t get over it. I love trying out new recipes. I love when something comes out more perfect than anything you can buy in a store. I love the way it makes my house smell. I love everything about it. Except for the fact that I want to eat ALL OF IT. Not just in a “quality control” way before I send it off to coworkers. As in, I would like to put a cake in front of me and eat it for each meal of each day.

And so, on that cake note, I took a cake decorating class! It’s the Wilton Course, offered at Michael’s. This was Course 1. It was pretty cool! I’ve been wanting to learn about actual decorating and how to make certain designs. I had a really nice instructor and got to take it with my friend and her mom. We had a great time and we still actually learned some stuff.

The first class was easy. The teacher told us about the stuff we’d learn and gave us tips on cakes and icing. She showed us some basic stuff that we’d be learning in class 2. We had to bring a cake that was frosted for Class 2, the next week. An excuse to try out a new cake recipe? Yes please!! I will post my recipes soon.

We started by learning some basic maneuvers with a pastry bag. The Wilton method is very structured and the teacher did a good job of making it interesting. She did cheat a little bit by showing us the whole rose the first day. I was so happy with this. The Wilton book says you are supposed to learn a little bit each class, and then put it all together at the final class. I think that’s dumb. This way we got three classes (and three weeks) to practice the rose before the final cake.

I feel like my roses at my first class were the best. My frosting was a little stiff, and I overcompensated at the next classes, where it was a little thin.

One of my first roses:

At the end of class, we got time to decorate our cakes using the techniques we learned that day.

I used the zig-zag border, roses, writing, and stars.

For the second class, we could bring cupcakes instead of a cake. I opted to do that, so I could practice all the techniques, without the final product looking too crazy.

We learned more shapes and how to use more tips and worked more on our roses. We learned grapes!

And we practiced our roses some more.

We also learned shell borders and drop flowers. I tried to use all our techniques on my cupcakes. They looked bright and vibrant:

For our final class, I actually considered using a box mix because of time. But I decided to stress myself out and try out Dorie’s Perfect Party Cake. It was beautiful and delicious and made my kitchen smell amazing. And, including frosting and my variation to the filling, used 4.5 sticks of butter. Like I said, amazing.

This was my first time making a Swiss Meringue Buttercream, and I had zero problems! I was kind of surprised, but I’m not going to question it. It is my new favorite frosting.

Ready for class:

We learned leaves and sweet peas and vines and got a long time to decorate our final cakes in class. My frosting wasn’t perfect for roses, again, but I managed quite well.

My final cake:

I used roses, leaves, shells, sweet peas and vines. Here’s a good shot with the sides:

And a close up of my roses (and leaves). Not perfect, but I understand the theory:

And my luscious layers. Instead of just layering it with buttercream and raspberry jam, I made a lemon curd, and folded that into some of the buttercream to put between the cake layers.

While only 6 of my cupcakes got consumed at work, over half of this cake was devoured, so I think this is a winning recipe!

I can’t wait to start Course Two, though it will have to wait until April. I’d be missing a class due to Las Vegas (OMGINTENDAYS!!!!) so I had to skip out on March.

I love this stuff! I feel more determined than ever to some how, some way, some time, make a little money on the side from my baking adventures. If only to offset the cost of ingredients! In the meantime, I’m cutting back my baking. I’m going to try to bake only for certain occasions, and not JUST because I saw a super awesome recipe that I NEEEEEED to make right this moment. That should help my wallet and my waistline. Which is good, because just thinking about that last cake made me gain some weight.

It’s Me Again

November 12, 2008

Am I too talkative lately? It’s probably because work is insane right now and I’m training on new stuff, and in my few spare moments, I just bubble over with thoughts.

Right now, it’s about how my dad is awesome.

When I had to buy a “new” car last year, he helped me out with a loan. My bank’s loan wouldn’t cover the cost of the car, and combined with my own money, I was still down about $1,000. So he covered the rest of it. I’ve been SLOWLY paying him back via “his bank” of no interest. $50 a month, which was really nice and easy for me to handle. Things were fine until my major dental bills of late. Suddenly I realized I hadn’t paid him in three months and was quite broke in all my accounts. He had talked about helping me with the bills for my root canal and crown, and so finally I confessed that I was struggling and didn’t know what to do.

He said don’t worry about the car. We “argued” about it for a few minutes, but he wasn’t having any of my protests. He told me to forget about the money I owed him and to use that to pay off my dental bills. Amazing.

Today I got an e-mail from him, asking about plans around my birthday. Nothing has really been talked about yet, and I told him so. He told me to keep my birthday afternoon open. He says that if the stock market goes up, he will have some extra money and wants to take me shopping. WHHEEEEEE!

That would be so much fun! I could really use a couple high quality pieces, like a good sweater and a great going-out shirt. And I have no work pants that fit me well right now.

And if that’s not motivation to drop another size by my birthday, then I don’t know what is. Guess who’s going to be going to the gym ever day at lunch from now on!!

Sunday Food Wrap

November 9, 2008

I got a little out of hand with my baking, I know. Anyway, I’m back on the strict Phase One of the South Beach Diet, again. I know I’ll stick to it because in just a couple weeks I’ll have plenty of indulgences. Thanksgiving, my birthday, and Christmas are just around the corner!

David and I have started a little Sunday tradition. We try a new food or a new preparation and watch Iron Chef America and The Chef Jeff Project on the Food Network. It’s so much fun to cuddle up on the couch while eating and watching yummy food. It’s the best way to end a weekend.

A couple weeks ago I experimented with a soup. Soup is not something we make from scratch very often. Like, ever. We made this Zucchini and Yellow Squash Soup with Parmesan. It’s South Beach friendly, and it was delicious. It made a huge amount and we had it for lunch and dinner many times afterwards.

On the theme of soup, I made this Roasted Red Pepper and Red Lentil Souplast week. Also South Beach friendly, this had an amazing Southwestern and Mediterranean flavor. I will most certainly be making this one again. I made some changes from this recipe. I don’t have coriander, and didn’t want to spend $5 on it, so I used some black pepper and curry powder instead. Instead of onion, I used shallot. Instead of garnishing with cilantro, I used some Italian flat-leaf parsley and powdered Parmesan.
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Today we went to a birthday/bon voyage party for our friend Marion who is leaving on a trip to France in a few days. (Jealous!!) I was asked to bring fruit. I went to Metro Market thinking I’d buy some berries and grapes and put together a fruit tray. Well, they didn’t have ANY berries! A fruit tray of apples and bananas didn’t seem that interesting. They had a big variety of tropical fruit, however, and much of it was on sale! So I decided a tropical fruit salad would be delicious.

And it was. I mixed it up with a Vanilla Dressingcourtesy of Alton Brown (instead of lemon juice, I used lime, and I didn’t use the mayo). I had the following: pineapple, papaya, kiwi, persimmon, Asian pear, mango, and pomegranate seeds. OMG YUM! And pretty…
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Tonight was back to the South Beach approved food. David butterflied some chicken breasts and gave them a nice sear, and finished them in the oven. With a few minutes left to go, he smothered covered them in some dried herbs and cheese. YUM!
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We apparently had a white theme going on, as we roasted cauliflower (our new ingredient for the night) for a side dish. I tossed it with a little olive oil, salt, garlic powder, pepper, and powdered Parmesan. I roasted at 400 degrees for about a half hour, stirring every 10 minutes or so, or until golden brown and delicious.
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I never thought I’d look forward to a Sunday night!

Money Thoughts

October 14, 2008

I just had two little cavities filled yesterday. And I’ll have to have TWO more appointments for cavities. It was my first time getting a filling, and I’m not looking forward to having it done two more times. I’m getting so sick and tired of having my mouth messed with. I know it has to be done so it doesn’t turn into something worse, but ENOUGH already!! I’ve always had problems with my teeth. I had braces for a long time and had teeth pulled to make room for adult teeth when I was little. Now it involves wisdom teeth and cavities. Fun stuff. Expensive stuff.

David’s birthday is “coming up.” I use quotation marks because my birthday is before his! But as much fun as I like to have for my birthday, I will be happy with a nice dinner and lots of cake. HIS birthday is the big thing. It’s his golden birthday! And we want to do something cool. He’ll be 27 on March 27th. If you’re big on numbers and numerology, that’s turning 27 on 03/27/09. Neato!

So we’ve been discussing what to do. First we were considering a week in Disney World, but are thinking it’s too expensive. So now we’re thinking about a long weekend in Chicago. Rent is coming to Chicago the first weekend of April, and that is when we want to go! We’d go on a Thursday and stay until Sunday. We’d go to a couple of museums and possibly go to a taping of this radio show David loves, Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me.

Between hotels and transport and sights and food (trying to keep it cheap but splurging on one nice meal) it could cost about $950, not including spending money. That is a lot of money. Wow. About half of what Disney could cost, sure, but it’s only for three nights!

Plus we want to do something in Milwaukee on his birthday night. We’re thinking Potawatomi Casino. We could do a reasonable dinner for just the two of us, and then meet up with a bunch of friends for some gambling fun. It would be awesome to go with more than the $50 we have brought in the past. Maybe $100 each? We also have enough time to learn how to play more than slots. I’d love to spend a long time at the gaming tables, maybe playing craps and blackjack.

I feel like I always get special stuff and good presents and that David just takes such great care of me. He deserves an awesome time like this. Like a lot of guys, he’s not big on the birthday stuff, but he is excited about this. And he should be! It’s an exciting birthday and an excuse for a birthday celebration like he has never dreamed of.

He should be getting a decent tax refund, and I am due to get a nice bonus in March (if this economy messes with that, there are not words for how pissed I will be). I have about $500 in a CD that matures in February. So none of this will really have to go on a credit card, which is nice. I just have a mental block about spending all that money in one go, especially when I know it should go towards my credit card debt.

Okay, so here are numbers… we’re optimistically guessing David’s refund to be around $1,000. My bonus should be around $1,200. So if we take his refund and my $500 CD, I could put my whole bonus as a credit card payment, and we could have a $1,500 birthday bonanza. I guess that’s not the end of the world. As long as I don’t daydream about ALL that money ($2,700[!!!!]) going towards my credit cards. But it wouldn’t anyway, because that refund is HIS refund. If he’s putting it all in for birthday fun, the least I can do is contribute the $500.

Okay, I think I just needed to type that all out. It’s still a little scary, but I think it’ll be worth it, right? It means my credit cards won’t be paid off immediately, and maybe that “dream” wedding will be pushed back (though lately, again, I’m considering the whole eloping/destination thing) but I have to find that balance between living in the moment and planning for the future. And I think we could do a lot worse than this.

Am I being stupid with my money? Feel free to tell me if you think so. It’s hard to take a step back from a personal situation like this.

Cupcake Crazy

October 8, 2008

I am feeling obsessed with cupcakes right now. I’ve spent the last two days at work feverishly pouring over recipes. Sometimes I get distracted by brownies or cookies, but I always work my way back to cupcakes. I like them because I love cake and they’re individually portioned. I’ve always liked the cake part better than the frosting part, even when the frosting is rich and delicious buttery buttercream, and a cupcake generally has a better cake-to-frosting ratio for my tastes.

Of course, there are many factors that would go into my decision to eat a cupcake or a piece of cake, but that is neither here nor there.

I like the easiness of cupcakes. I mean, they’re mini cakes!! While I might not bake a cake for a casual party or get-together, I would definitely bake cupcakes. There really isn’t any other treat that is both individually sized, and cake.

And so, I think I have finally found the recipe I will make for my mom’s Halloween party. I thought about making those Apple Pie Cupcakes again, and tinting the buttercream frosting orange, and I found a recipe for Pumkin Spice cupcakes, but there was no clear winner.

Until now. I present the Vampire Cupcakes. Not only are they appropriately creepy, but I think that touch of cherry pie filling will be tasty. I’m not huge on fruit pies, and I’m especially not huge on fruit pie filling from a can. But I think this small amount hidden inside each little cake will be okay.

If I’m brave and have the time, I might try to figure out how to create a filling from my mom’s homemade strawberry jam. The recipe as is claims to have a somewhat runny filling that still doesn’t get totally absorbed by the cake. I’m thinking I could do that with some slightly watered down and pureed jam… maybe cooked with a little melted butter? Hmmm… I’ll experiment. I might also change the “marshmallow frosting” to something with white chocolate and/or cream cheese, though I don’t want to lose any of the whiteness.

My mom’s party is on Friday, October 31st. Incidentally, that’s also her birthday! That means I need to get her a birthday present! My standby has always been a spa gift certificate, but it sometimes feels like a cop-out. I’m sure she’d appreciate a gift card to REI, but I just don’t know if I can get a gift card for my mother. It just doesn’t seem right. So inbetween obsessing over cupcakes, I have been obsessing over potential gifts. It’s HARD!

Despite constantly looking at pictures of amazing baked goods, I have been GREAT on my South Beach Diet so far this week (and yes, I know it’s only Wednesday). I started over with Phase One on Monday, and haven’t cheated, except for a couple tiny bites of Vosges’ Red Fire Bar. I’m proud, because this week my company is celebrating “National Customer Service Appreciation Week.” This means there is food and candy and treats EVERYWHERE!! Yesterday there was a cookout for lunch, and I ate a burger and brat without buns and skipped over the entire dessert section. And I ignored the cheesy potatoes. I have not touched any of the candy bowls spread out across my department. I hope to remain strong for the rest of the week.

When David mentioned Taco Bell a couple days ago, and Cubanitas as a possibility for dinner on Friday, I remained unmoved. I am yearning for Cubanitas, but I will do without. The desire to get back on track and lose weight is again greater than the desire for all that yummy food. I still plan on reaching 170 by the end of the year, but I have to get my act together! With all the food and holidays yet to come this year (not to mention my birthday, where I will eat LOTS of cake!) I really need to get to 170 by December. 10 pounds in two months? I can do it!!

Can’t Stop Eating

September 9, 2008

Ever have one of those days where you just never feel full? I’m having that right now. My tuna-with-lettuce lunch did not sound good to me. So instead I have consumed half a bag of cheese curds and the better part of a package of Anna’s Ginger Thins. I suppose, of all the things I could be stuffing my face with, these aren’t the worst items. But if moderation is key, then I just lost it.

I don’t know what is up with me today. I’m trying not to get too upset or beat myself up over it. Especially considering I’m restarting my South Beach diet and going back on Phase One on Monday. I let the summer get the best of me and I haven’t lost a pound in about a month. Time to change that. One day of overeating is not going to ruin me forever, but this binge session was a little frightening. It doesn’t help that work just got CRAZY this afternoon. Seriously, there’s about 15 times more stuff in our inbox right now than any other average afternoon. WTF?

Hopefully I will soon experience one of those days where I’m just not hungry at all. Because this is downright annoying. Or maybe that’s “was” annoying. I think writing about it helped me out. I just looked at my cheese curds and wanted to barf. There’s a pretty combination.

Gym-Shoes

August 28, 2008

I’ve been lax about my daily workouts in the past couple weeks. Until Monday, I hadn’t worked out in two plus weeks! Bad, especially with the kind of food I had been eating.

I haven’t quite made it back to total Phase One foods yet, but I’m doing pretty well this week. I have had indulgences, but they’ve been small, and not overboard. My home scale is still hovering at 180 as of yesterday.

I also weigh myself at the YMCA, when I go at lunch. I try not to pay too much attention to the number, but I do notice when the number goes up and down. The lowest I’ve seen that scale is at about 183. When I stepped on it on Monday, it said 187. Today, it says 184. Hurray! I’m going to go again tomorrow, which will make this week five-for-five. I need it, since I will be having pasta tonight.

In my defense, it will be Dreamfields Pasta (low carb) and it will be loaded with yummy, healthy veggies that we bought at a farmer’s market over the weekend. David and I are having our friend Lisa over to watch the final night of the Democratic National Convention. Yes, we are dorks.

So my search for affordable shoes for Clue turned into a search for pretty, nearly unattainable shoes. Feel free to ignore me as I pine…

First I came across these Cole Haan beauties:

I like the shape and the color. I think these could be dressed up or down as much as I wanted. To me, that says useful and efficient and worth the $165!

The fact that Prada is even still selling this shoe makes me slightly desperate to buy it RIGHT NOW. I like the pump style more, but that is gone.

It’s pretty plain from the front, but I think that flower heel is just so pretty and interesting. I have a strange draw to shoes as art…

Like this one. There are many shoes I’d buy, with my millions of dollars when I win the lottery, before these, but I still think they’re cool. I’d wear them with long, dark blue jeans.

How about orange shoes? Orange is not a color I wear very often. But I would wear these babies all the time.


Jeans, skirts, dresses, you name it. There is not much in my closet that I wouldn’t wear with these. I think they’d be fun with THE BLUE DRESS too, though not so much my navy blue party dresses, because that’s just too close for comfort with the Chicago Bears’ colors. I would learn how to walk in 5 inch heels for these!

Some outfit inspirations:

Blarg

August 15, 2008

I think maybe I’m dehydrated. I just realized that the only thing I’ve had to drink today was a sugar-free vanilla latte from Caribou this morning. Perhaps that’s why I’m feeling totally emo and panic-attack-y?

I forgot I took these pictures, and thought I’d share them because they bring a smile to my face. David went out and got soup and pudding for me to eat after my root canal.

And this:

He said it was the best they had at a grocery store. It is pretty silly, but it brought as much of a smile to my stroke-face as was possible. And it still makes me smile. It’s the little things.

Numb Numb

August 13, 2008

I’m home from my root canal. I survived. But it was terrifying. I have never seen so many dental tools moving in and out of my mouth. My claustrophobia and fear of suffocating really flared up at times. I was just stuck in that tiny chair. As of now, I have no pain. The most painful part was getting poked and shot up with Novocain. Except for that, all I could feel was pressure and movement.

The drills were awful, like nails on a chalkboard. I could tell they were INSIDE my tooth, and they made this horrible high pitched grinding noise. Sometimes some really awful tastes got into my mouth. One was almost like drinking bleach and felt like it was burning my throat. Another one was incredibly bitter, like if you tried to chew up a tablet of Advil, only 20 times worse. I don’t know if that’s supposed to happen, but it’s not like I could talk and ask what was up.

I was upset that I had to pay for it all right there. I had a little flyer from my dentist that said I would be billed for the remaining balance after my insurance copay. I was not prepared to pay $260 right now!! Ouch!! I had to put it on my credit card, which makes me very unhappy. I’m not sure how much my crown will cost, but I hope my dentist will send me a bill for that, because it’ll take me a while to get all that money together.

For now, I will lay on the couch and suffer with my stroke face. I’m not in pain yet, but I’m starting to feel more and more sore. I hope I feel better by tomorrow. I am dangerously low on vacation time.

Pictures

August 7, 2008

 Some pictures from the last couple weeks…

What is it about alcohol that brings out maturity?

Also, alcohol makes me suck at darts. This is the game where you have to get to zero. Guess which player I was!!!

A couple weeks ago, I saw my own FAIL:

Have I mentioned “Clue” yet? I am playing Miss Scarlett when the Warped Cast  shadow cast’s Clue in a couple of months. I’m still new to this, so I’m a little honored to play such a big part.

Miss Scarlet is on the far left of this picture. Her dress hurts my brain when I try to think about making it.

Knee length, low cut, off the shoulder, and TIGHT. Fun…

I found and purchased this pattern. It’s not perfect, and it’s not easy, but I barely sew WITH a pattern. No way was I freestyling this. I think this will serve as a decent base that I can work with. The girl who does Scarlet in the Chicago cast has a PERFECT costume. I would swear to God she stole it from Leslie Ann Warren herself. I don’t think there’s any way mine will be as good, but I will try. It’ll be fun. I just need to start working on it. Like, two weeks ago.

I will not have the 14 inch waist Ms. Warren seems to have in the movie, but I’m looking better. I pulled some old dresses out of my closet and was completely blown away by the fact that they fit. Like, fit better even than when I bought them! Mostly, this red dress. I’ve only worn this once, to a work Christmas party. Two hours into it, I started to get sick. I came down with the worst flu ever. Two days before Christmas. It was awful. But the dress looked great, even though I had to stuff myself into it.

But now… I slipped it on, without even wearing Spanx! The amazing details about this dress… It was bought at Bloomingdales at the Mall of America a few years ago. My mom opened a credit card (to buy Spanx) and we shopped around the whole store. I wanted to look at fancy dresses, and then I saw this dress. ON SALE. I tried it on, and it fit, almost perfectly. With my mom’s credit card discount, the clearance price, and the lack of sales tax at the MOA, it was about $60. From around $400!! That makes it that much better! And now, it fits again. I just need to find a place to wear it. That’s difficult, because it’s pretty fancy and a little scandalous in the neckline. I cut my head off this picture because I was making a funny face.

Speaking of modeling new clothes, I made David do a fashion shoot with me in our new jeans. Thanks to the constant shoot mode on my camera, we made like fashion models and showed off our hot new looks. Kind of.

Playing it cool:

Heroin chic?

Ass-tastic:

Yeah, we’re goofy.

Tonight has been a totally chill night at home. We both needed that. I’m freaked out of my damn mind with this tooth stuff. So I ate a McD’s double cheeseburger and two cookies and a cupcake for dinner. Oh, and a handful of Life cereal. Yeah, soooo not sticking to the diet this week. I’m such an emotional eater sometimes. We watched a whole bunch of episodes of 30 Rock on Netflix’s instant view thing. Then I watched a rerun of Project Runway from last night. Wow, some of those outfits were so hilarious! Good night, huh? It may be lame, but it was the best I could hope for right now.

I need a massage. Or about 40 hours of sleep.