A Roo Update, Among Other Things

There are a gazillion things swirling around in my head today. Well, most days. But anyway. Here’s a random smattering of what I’ve been up to and what’s on my mind.

Roo

Saturday was Roo’s first birthday. Girl is hard to shop for—mostly because she chews the bejesus out of everything. We’re talking destruction. She kills these toys, ripping the stuffing out of them within minutes of receiving them. Most of the time, I’ve taken to letting her chew on empty Gatorade bottles because they’re cheap and disposable. Oh, and she has an absolute field day with them.

But since a puppy only turns one once, I got her a Tuffy Octopus Toy. She really does love soft toys, and she’s played with Tuffy’s Lobster before without mutilating it, so I figured we’d give the octopus a try.

This happened within an hour:

At least she had fun with her $20 toy. Then she accidentally swallowed a piece of stuffing when I wasn’t looking and threw up in the middle of the night. The joys of motherhood.

Oh, she was also featured in my company’s newsletter last week as the pet of the month. She’s basically famous.

ENERGYbits

A few weeks ago, I got in touch with ENERGYbits about trying a sample of their algae tabs for—what else—energy! I was a little skeptical. After all, the recommended dosage is 20-30 little tabs, and I am not a huge pill swallower. The alternative is to chew them. I chewed one and immediately had to brush my teeth and rinse my mouth. To say that is an acquired taste is putting it mildly.

However! The bits? They work. Rather than taking them to power me through a workout, I popped them during my mid-afternoon slump. You know, the hours between 3 and 5 pm? Yeah, probably my least productive time of day. Early in the day, I’m good, but at 3, I hit a wall. So I popped some bits, and I was more productive than I’ve been in a long time—so much so that I lost track of time and was surprised to look up and see it was time to go home! While the Bits are a little on the pricey side, I think they’d be nice to have on hand for those days when you just don’t think you’ll make it another 2 hours.

Apple Sesame Panini

Lately, I tend to find one food I like and eat it like it’s my job. Right now, it’s this Panini:

Jarlsberg or Beemster, thinly sliced honeycrisp apples, thyme, sea salt, and pepper on sesame baguette. The combo is just ridiculous. Please try it. Especially on the sesame bread. Toasted sesame seeds are the jam. And I don’t say things like that.

Tumor

Despite Paula’s protests, I am still convinced I have a tumor. I’m happy, like, all the time. It’s weird. I don’t know how to handle it. Not that I want to go back to feeling dark and twisty, but still. Also, I’m not all that interested in drinking. Or dessert. And I’m sleeping really well. Told you. TUMOR.

Who else has a crazy chewer dog? What toys hold up?
Have you tried ENERGYbits? What gets you through the afternoon slump?
Did you make my panini yet???
Do I have a tumor? (I’m pretty sure I have a tumor.)

Hot Date!

Oh yes!  I certainly had a hot date tonight!  I even got all dolled up . . . more on that later.

I wasn’t expecting much today, but I did get some Valentines!  A very sweet student made me these delicious Oreo balls covered in chocolate, which I expertly polished off before 10 AM.  I proceeded to have a stomachache and feel generally “blech” for the rest of the day, but they were totally worth it!

Then I came home to this!

A Valentine’s care package from my fam!  YAY!

It included a signed copy of Pull, which my mom got from another author at her writer’s conference a couple weeks ago.   Since it’s a young adult novel, I’m sure I’ll end up sharing it with my students.

Valentine’s socks are a must, of course!  You should know that I have quite an impressive collection of holiday socks, but I think Valentine’s socks make up most of ‘em!

Then came these darling shot glasses!  They’re promos for my mom’s debut novel, The Wrong Guy, which comes out in early March!  So exciting!

 

Gotta dig the sentiment!

And don’t forget the cards!  First, a darling one from Mom and Dad.

 

Happy Valentine's Day, Gorgeous!

And then, a cheeky one from my lil’ sis.

I miss her!!!

My calves wanted down dogs and my hips needed pigeons, so I did a little Body by Bethenny on Exercise TV before heading out on my Hot Date!

That’s right, kids.  I treated myself to dinner out!

I am so fancy.

Don’t worry, I made sure to get dolled up before I went out.

We don’t have Chik-fil-A in Michigan, so I had actually never tried it.  But I’ve heard such good things and they make a point of advertising their “fresh, quality ingredients” so I gave it a shot.

First up, a side salad with honey roasted sunflower kernels and honey mustard dressing.  Check out the goods.

 

Hello Fresh Veggies!!!

This was not a salad I would expect to get at a fast food joint!  It was really tasty!

And then, a Chargrilled Chicken Sandwich with Honey Roasted BBQ Sauce!  And pickles!  On a Golden Wheat Bun!  I didn’t really look at the menu much before ordering this, so I was pleasantly surprised by all the little extras on here.

Honestly, it was delicious.  I had no idea.

It was flavorful, fresh, and totally satisfying.  I am officially a Chik-fil-A convert!

I put it on a real plate to maintain my fancy theme.

 

V-day Dinnah

Luckily for me, this little guy wanted to be my date.

Ah, Miller Lite . . . I can always count on you!

So Valentine’s Day was pretty much regularly scheduled programming for my Monday, but I’m 100% OK with that.  So tonight, I will be working on Rachel Wilkerson’s Lesson #18 . . . I think I may even be on #6! ;)

Hope your Valentine’s Day was wonderful!

A Q for you . . .

How are you spending your V-Day???

 

 

“Guilty! I say guilty!”

“You can see it on his smug little face!  Guilty!  I say guilty!”

Let it be known that I am in love with The Incredibles.

source

Easily one of my favorite movies.  I love a good animated flick.  I missed Megamind in theaters, but I can’t wait for it to come out on DVD!  What can I say?  I’m a sucker for some good PG entertainment. :)

Before I explain what it is I am guilty of, I must let you know that I do not feel guilty about this . . . I am merely using this particular forum to profess my guilt.  The source of my guilt causes me to feel no guilt whatsoever.

Do you get it?  OK, good.

Moving on . . . I saw an amazing recipe for an individual portion of Eggless Cookie Dough over on Iowa Girl Eats a couple of weeks ago.  Being that the recipe was individually portioned (which is key for me), & I had everything on hand, I knew I had to make it immediately!

It also gave me the opportunity to use my new measuring spoons!  How cute are these!?!

Precious!

This recipe couldn’t possibly be easier.  It’s got everything I love about a recipe–comes together in minutes, makes a portion size that doesn’t leave me feeling overly full, & tastes amazingly delicious!  I also hate love that the recipe is crazy easy to remember.  You will memorize it instantly.

You want some, dontcha?  Thought so.  Here ya go:

Eggless Cookie Dough

1 T. Smart Balance Light –softened in the microwave for ~8 seconds

2 T. brown sugar

3 T. flour

sprinkle of salt

a few drops of vanilla

chocolate chips, nuts, coconut, butterscotch chips, oatmeal, dried cherries–essentially whatever mix-ins you like in your cookie dough! ;)

  1. Put everything but the mix-ins into a small bowl.

    Admittedly, not much to look at. Patience.

  2. Give it a little elbow grease & get everything totally combined.
  3. Add in your mix-ins.

    I may get a little heavy-handed with my mix-ins.

  4. Give it another whirl.

    Hello, lover!

  5. Devour.
  6. Repeat.  I may or may not do this step; I’ll leave it up to your discretion.

I like to make mine in a plastic container so that if I have some leftover (ha!), I can just pop a top on it & stick it in the fridge.  Doesn’t happen ever often, but it’s nice to have the option.

So where’s the guilt, you ask?  I am totally, 100%, unapologetically guilty of making this every night for the past week.  I am a dessert every day type of girl.  I love that this is a single serving because dessert tends to be something I binge on pretty easily when unlimited amounts are available.  It keeps my sweet tooth & my self control in check.

Please, for the love of God, go make yourself some cookie dough.  You need this cookie dough in your life.  I promise, you won’t be sorry.

Along with my cookie dough, I’m off to settle in for some Wednesday night comedies on ABC & this little lover that came today.

A Q for you . . .

What are you unapologetically guilty of???

 

Alrighty Then

Alllllllllllllllrighty then, folks!  How was your day???

I think I may be in a slump at work.  Today was OK, but I am generally feeling frustrated.  Harumph!

In the interest of doing some good things for me, I worked out & made a tasty lil dinner!

First up, just under 5 miles on the treadmill in a “pyramid” of sorts.  My 10K training plan called for 4 miles with strides at the end, so I mixed it up with this workout:

Minute Pace Incline
0-5 6 1
5-10 6.5 1
10-15 7 1
15-20 7.5 1
20-25 7 1
25-30 6.5 0 –> got a tiny bit winded after those faster intervals :(
30-35 6 0
35-40 15 seconds at 9 followed by 45 seconds of recovery at 6 (X5) 0
40-45 4 4

When I run on the treadmill, I tend to become a bit obsessed with how much time I have left, so I always cover the display!  Yes, I’m that girl.

Gah! Staring me in the face!

Presto!  My little workout notebook comes in quite handy!  Sometimes, I’ll use a hand towel, but this works mighty fine, too. ;)

Ahhhhhhhh much better

 

For the record, that workout totally kicked my boo-tay!

I was starving when I got home, so I whipped up some Mini Eggplant Parm for myself!

When you love to cook, but you live alone, a girl’s gotta get creative!  Otherwise, as much as I typically enjoy my own cooking, I get sick of eating meatloaf or soup for days on end.  Even I have my limits. So I invent individual meals & desserts for myself.  Hey, a girl’s gotta eat! ;)

Mini Eggplant Parm

The cast of characters:

We’ve got

  • 1/2 cup orzo pasta
  • ~ 1/3 cup marinara sauce (Trader Gionni’s!!)
  • 4 eggplant slices
  • 1/4 cup Italian cheese blend
  • 1 t. Smart Balance Light (or butter or whatever you happen to have)
  • 2 T. freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 T. Italian seasoning
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 egg white (not pictured)

Preheat your oven to 350* (aka, don’t be like me & forget this step).  First, cook up half a cup of orzo pasta in salted boiling water.  Make sure it’s just al dente because you’re going to bake it.  If it’s even the slightest bit over done, it will be rubbery & disgusting.  It would be in your best interest to just trust me on this one.  You’re welcome.

While that’s happening, season your eggplant with the Italian seasoning & a sprinkle of garlic salt.

Then, spray 2 individual ramekins with nonstick cooking spray.  Mine hold about 1 cup each.

Mix the drained orzo with the Italian cheese, Smart Balance, egg white, & garlic.

Now, the fun begins!!!  Layer 1/4 of the orzo mixture in the bottom of each ramekin.

Awe, aren't they cute?

Top with a lovely slice of eggplant.

Hi, Eggplant! I heart you!

A tablespoon or two of marinara on top . . .

Trader Joe's . . . mmmmmmmm

Repeat!  Top the whole shebang with freshly grated parm & pop ‘em into a preheated 350* oven.  As is my habit, I realized at this point that my oven was not preheated.  Fail. :(  But happily, I used this time to clean up!  Dirty dishes stress me out.  I may or may not have been known to clean up my dishes while hot food sits on my plate because I can’t really relax & enjoy my meal unless they are done, & I don’t have to worry about them.  I know.

So, assuming that your oven is preheated, bake these little lovelies for ~45 minutes or until the eggplant is cooked through. PS–if you’re starving & don’t want to bake it this long, just pre-cook the eggplant in a skillet & bake for 15 minutes.  Equally delish!

Mini fo Me!

Please excuse the bite out of my garlic bread.  What can I say?  I’m an animal.

Top with some more parm & gobble!  Totally downed both of these minis & now I’ve got my eye on some frozen hot chocolate a la Jessica.  The sweet tooth cannot be tamed!

A Q for you . . .

What are your favorite “single serve” dinners?

 

Bummersauce

Work today was totally, completely, 100% frustrating.  Bummersauce.

I’m not going to lie, sometimes I have a day like this & come home to comfort myself with a pan of brownies, pajamas at 4 PM, no exercise, & an evening of general self-loathing.  But I know from past experience that this only makes it worse, so I powered through & did some good things for me!  YAY!

After putting on some play clothes, I sipped on a lovely cup of peppermint tea from my Valentine’s mug.  I am a total sucker for anything holiday themed.  I love decorating for any & every holiday.  Makes things so much cheerier, dontcha think??

Isn't she precious???

 

When in doubt, I also recommend taking jumping photos of yourself with your camera’s self timer.  I swear, it totally cheered me up!

Wheeeeeee!!!

On today’s workout agenda were a couple shows from Exercise TV! I LOVE having these workouts at my fingertips.  There are SO many of them, so I never get bored, & it’s a heck of a lot cheaper than going to a gym.

First up, Jackie Warner’s Total Body Power Circuit.  Girl is legit!  Sometimes I get a little scared that she’s going to reach through the TV & whip my butt if I don’t keep up!  Seriously, though, I love this workout because it really works my muscles, but I never get to a point where I feel like quitting.  Plus, I get that “good hurt” the next day.  :D

source

Next, a little yoga with Bethenny.  Now I must profess my love for Bethenny Frankel.  She is so wonderfully blunt; I adore her.  And not to get all schmoopy on you, but I find her really inspiring.  As a 31 year old single woman, I feel a little jaded in the love/marriage/career department.  When I look at how far Bethenny has come in her 30s, it gives me hope for myself.  I’m nowhere near as driven as she is, but she really makes me believe I can give it a go!  Her book, A Place of Yes, is coming out soon, & I honestly can’t wait!!!

Right in the comfort of my own living room!

Anywho, onto the calming wonderfullness (yes, I just made up that word) that is yoga.  I rarely take the time to stretch after working out, so I love that this totally relaxes my muscles while also working them.

My workouts were really good today.  Definitely glad I made myself do them!  I was super hungry when I got done, though, so I whipped up a Roasted Veggie Salad inspired my Kristin, one of my favorite bloggers!  My version went like this:

Roasted Veggie Salad

Spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray.  Peel & chop a small butternut squash & put it on the pan.  Spray the squash with more cooking spray & sprinkle with 1/2 T. brown sugar & some ground cinnamon.  Toss it all together until it’s coated.

Then, chop up a small eggplant.  Spray with cooking spray & sprinkle with garlic salt & pepper.  Throw it on the pan next to the squash.  Pop the veggies into the oven at 425* for about 30 minutes.

While the veggies roast, slice up half an onion & caramelize it over medium low heat.  While the onions are doing their thing, add about 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar to a small saucepan & reduce it down until it becomes syrupy deliciousness.  I would tell you how to do this, but I’m not all that great at it.  Google it.  Practice.  You’ll find your way.  And when I master it, I’ll post about it then. :)

When there are about 10 minutes left for the veggies, throw a handful of grape tomatoes onto the pan.  Put some romaine lettuce into a bowl & toss it with Garlic Gold Lemon Vinaigrette.  If you haven’t tried this stuff, it is life changing.  Order it.  I promise you won’t be sorry.

The veggies should be about done roasting by now, so take ‘em out.  Throw about half the squash & eggplant & all the tomatoes on top of the romaine.  Top the whole thing with your onions & balsamic syrup.

OMG!  The balsamic & onions totally make this!!!  I die!

Paired with my beer of choice, cuz it was a rough day & it couldn’t hurt, right???

Totally hit the spot!

Ha!  Take that, Bad Day!!!  Off to enjoy some How I Met Your Mother . . . I’ve got my eye on something sweet in the kitchen, too!

A Q for you . . .

How do you undo a bad day?

 

 

Do I Even Know What Vegan Means?

Well hi there.

I’m having a lovely little Sunday, how ’bout you?

Today started out with a gorgeous 5 mile run around Richmond with my running group, The Pavement Pounders! I am a little new to group training, and not at all used to chatting away while I run, so I opted to rock out to my ipod while I enjoyed the sunshine. 

After, a bunch of us met up for brunch at The Republic.  I am amazed at how many places around the city offer Sunday brunch, as it wasn’t really a big thing in Michigan.  However, this does present a bit of a problem for me because, as much as I want to be social, I tend to feel like puking my guts out if I eat within an hour or two of running.  I have no idea why, but nothing more substantial than fruit or a granola bar seems to sit all that well.  In the name not being lame, I powered through and split a breakfast pizza with my friend, Jessica.  I didn’t eat too much, and it seemed to work out ok.  Plus, it was pretty freakin’ tasty!

This afternoon, I couldn’t stay inside on such a gorgeous day, so I ventured out to spend my Groupon at Barnes & Noble, browse through Stein Mart, and pick up a few groceries.

Dear Sunshine, I heart you. The end.

I am super excited to dive into these two loveys:

I have heard great things about both books.  When I saw Portia de Rossi on Ellen and Oprah, I knew I needed to read her book.   And I can’t wait for the movie version of Water for Elephants, but I have to read the book first!  Does anyone else feel like they need to read the book before they see the movie?  It’s a thing I have.  I think other people have it, too. :)

When I got home, I felt like doin’ a little bakin’, so I got to work on a recipe for Vegan Banana Bread that I have been wanting to try.  I found it over at The Baking Bird, which incidentally is a darling site and you should visit it as soon as humanly possible!

I am no where near vegan (do I even know what vegan means???), but I do like to eat healthfully and vegan sounds pretty dang healthy if you ask me, so I whipped up my own version of this bread.

My recipe went like this:

Peel a few bananas.  When you peel your bananas, do you use the monkey method?  I’m not sure it works any better, but I did it anyway!

Mash ‘em up.

I find the mashing to be oddly therapeutic.

Add in 1/2 cup of applesauce and 1/2 a cup of brown sugar.  I felt very smart using my individual pre-portioned applesauce container to measure my brown sugar, too.  One less dirty dish?  Score!

Recycling + fewer dishes to wash = awesomeness

 

Then, the recipe had this cute little detail:

Sift? Probably not.

Darling, really.  Sift?  Um, no.  My modest little kitchen has no sifting implements and even if it did, who am I kidding?  The likelihood of me ever sifting anything is slim to none.  So I dumped it all in.

I know, I know, real bakers who weigh their ingredients on tiny kitchen scales and do things like sifting are totally cringing right now.  Sorry real bakers!  (It was at this point that I actually remembered to pre-heat the oven, too.  I may not understand about sifting, but I get the whole hot oven part).

There was another cute suggestion to use a wooden spoon to mix everything together.  Wooden spoons, however, are hand wash only items.  I just couldn’t commit.  So I used a regular spoon.  Will you still be friends with me?  OK, good. :)

A few walnuts later and into the oven she went.  And can I just say this about nuts?  I like nuts.  One of the perks of living alone is that if I want nuts in my baked goods, I can just add the damn nuts.  No asking anyone else’s permission, no making half and half.  Nope.  I just add the damn nuts.  Next time, I might add some damn chocolate chips, too.  I’m feeling like such a rebel now!

Baked at 350* for 45 minutes, this bread is totally amazeballs.  Yep, I went there.  For serious.  Make it!

Vegan Banana Bread

3 very ripe medium bananas

1/2 c. applesauce

1/2 c. brown sugar

1 c. all purpose flour

1 c. whole wheat flour

3/4 t. baking soda

1 t. ground cinnamon

1/4 t. ground nutmeg

1/2 t. salt

1/4-1/2 c. chopped walnuts (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350*

Spray a loaf pan with cooking spray.

Mash up bananas in a large mixing bowl.  Add applesauce & brown sugar & whisk to incorporate.

Add your flours, baking soda, spices, & salt to the banana mixture & stir everything together gently until just combined being careful not to overmix.

Pour batter into loaf pan & bake for ~45 minutes or until center is set & a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

In theory, you should let this cool.  I have a problem not diving into baked good the second they come out of the oven, so do what you need to do.  I won’t judge.

I realize that the blogger-y thing to do would have been to take a lovely photo of the finished product.  My greedy self just cut right in.  So you get this instead:

I have absolutely no self control. Forgive me? K, thanks!

 

Oops.  Not much of a looker half-eaten & all cut up like this, but tasty to be sure!

The best part is that it clocks in at about 225 calories a slice.  Not too shabby.  Have you used the Recipe Calculator over on Spark People?  Love that thing!

A Q for you . . .

Can you let your baked goods cool before diving in or is your self control a little, um, lacking?

Who ME?!?!

I have been toying with the idea of blogging for quite some time . . . a few years, in fact!  I think my reluctance lies in the fact that I sort of hate to be the center of attention.  It’s true.  Birthdays freak me out.  The idea of being a bride and having all eyes on me?  Totally puts me over the top.  Even a family going away party my mom threw for me last year gave me serious anxiety.  Needless to say, the idea of devoting an entire blog to ME seemed impossible for a long time.  My turning point?

Who ME?!?!

Who ME?!?!

 

Recent events have put me back on the dating scene.  And you know what?  I think I might be a lousy date!  I feel like my anxiety about being the center of attention has caused me to completely and entirely lose myself.  :(  A guy I went out with a couple of months ago asked me what I liked to do.  Lamest date ever had no answer.  What do I like to do, anyway???  Sheesh.  This is a problem.

Shoot!  Am I lame???

Shoot! Am I lame???

 

So here I am.  The idea behind my blogging is to find me, focus on me, and discover what I want, value, and enjoy.  I think I already have some of the answers, but learning and growing will only make me a better, stronger person.  I’ll try not to get too mushy on you because it’s really just not my style, but I can’t promise a super peppy post every day of the week.  I am a (fairly) normal person; I have up days and down days.  But I do promise you this: I will be real with you.  If you have a question, ask it.  I’ll be honest.  Afterall, how am I going to find myself if I’m not being honest?

Alrighty then!  If you’re still reading, here’s a few things you need to know about me (would these be acceptable things to share with a first date???):

I have an unnatural obsession with Victoria’s Secret PINK.  I have sweats, hoodies, bags, water bottles, you name it.  Love!

My sis & me on Christmas Eve in our PINK jammies!

My sis & me on Christmas Eve in our PINK jammies!

I like running.  Really.  I have horrible knees and probably shouldn’t run at all, ever, but running makes me happy.  So I do it.  I have never gone running and thought afterwards, “Man, I really wish I had stayed home on the couch.”  Nope.  Makes me feel better every time I do it!

Why, yes, I did pass that guy!

Why, yes, I did pass that guy!

Wine is delicious.  The end.

YAY for wine!

YAY for wine!

 

Last, but absolutely NOT least, I love love love to cook and bake!  Living alone makes baking a pretty dangerous undertaking given the fact that I have pretty much zero self control around baked goods.  But I love it, so I bake.  And then I run. :)

Cookie Bakin'

Cookie Bakin'

There ya have it.  A little bit about me.  Hope you come back!!!

A Q for you . . .

What do you like to do???