Tuesday, December 21, 2010

a salacious love affair.

you guys, i'm in love.

this weekend, my love Michelle took me to The Most Wonderful Secret Place On Earth. i can guess what you're probably thinking, but just hold on a second. i like Michelle and all, and she has good hair. but it's not her i'm after. i'm more interested in something plush and squishy enough to toss on the floor and roll around in. something more like yards, and yards, and yards of yummy, delicious, chunky sweater knits! (hold the tears, she understands.)

anyway, while visiting The Most Wonderful Secret Place On Earth (yards and yards and yards!), i managed to just barely control myself and purchased only 1 yard each of two different yummy sweater knits, about a yard remnant of ivory jersey, and some Brazilian* zippers. (how many you ask? at least a Brazilian! HAHAHA. NEVER GETS OLD.) but back to the love story, let me tell you, this. stuff. is. scrum. diddly. umptious. no joke. (except for that one joke up there. HAHAHA.)

anyhow! it took a few days of sorting out our house before i could even access my sewing machine. [long, uninteresting story about floor cleaning kindly removed.] so the yummy sweater knits just sat there, forlornly, on the kitchen table, yearning to be used. day and night i thought about them, how carefully and gently i would usher them into their fully realized states. i snuck snuggles as often as i could, but couldn't wait to get the real magic started.

(... this is getting uncomfortable, isn't it?)

so ... long story short--i made something! in fact, I MADE TWO SOMETHINGS! (see, i had lofty dreams of turning this into a piece that might match its title. but mostly, i just really like to use the word "salacious," and Hubs is coming home soon from working out, and the dryer keeps re-tumbling the clothes again and again, and i haven't even thought about what to make for dinner. so. let's just pretend there was some really outrageously bad romance writing going on there with the fabric. or not. (you may not have to?))

so there you have it, i have indulged in completing two scarves. the first is a long infinity scarf, made from the first of the yummy sweater knits. it's super soft and has a sort of broad checked pattern knit into it. the second is a fat little cowl made from the other yummy sweater knit, which is thick, robust and flecked with pretty jewel tones. they took me a whopping half an hour, in sum, which is half the time it took me to clumsily take these photos myself. in my bathroom. at nighttime. go me.

Thing 1
also, you'll notice that i was so freakishly excited by my new, now-wearable sweater knits that i went ahead and took photos WITH MY GLASSES ON. most of you who have ever actually seen me in real life have probably not seen me in glasses since i was in my early awkward pre-pubescent phase. but the doctor told me if i didn't wear my glasses for at least 2 weeks he would refuse to give me Lasik surgery, and then i might end up decades in the future in these posts, in even uglier photos, with the same pair of yellowed, crooked glasses that i refuse to replace, having lost such hope that i've given up on things like hygiene and real waistbands. (these are already 8 years old. not looking too promising without some kind of surgery soon, folks.) so suffer we all will, for a time, but soon, there will be sight! i'll write about that, too, when the time comes. but right now i can't think about that; i'm sucking up all the oxygen in the room just trying to think happy thoughts and not being completely consumed with surgery-related panic.

Thing 2
and no, i'm not giving you the stink eye. that's just the way my face looks, promise. ♥

* the zippers aren't really from Brazil. i just couldn't resist the joke.

always late to the party.

i realize i'm always the last one to figure these things out (yes, i'm still afraid of Twitter.)

but if you guys haven't already tried this site, you really should. coming from someone who's tragically and suddenly forgotten how to find good music, this is a lovely little buoy for your work day. or any other kind of day, for that matter.


currently, i'm drinking in the Winter playlist. (duh.)  ♥

Monday, December 20, 2010

you may say i'm a dreamer. (most would say i've lost my mind.)

lately i've become fixated on the idea of commuting daily by bike. despite the fact that this would be incredibly impractical, considering my 15-mile one-way commute, i still spend far too much time studying the idea and thinking of ways i can somehow fuse this lifestyle with mine. after visiting in Munich this summer, i became obsessed, and even purchased a brandshinynew Electra Townie, named Cleo. cycling in the suburbs seems treacherous, but i'm determined to make a go of it someday. (even if Hubs does make fun of me and try to suggest new names for Cleo, like "Dusty.")

Cleo hates it.
meanwhile, my sister and i have had a running joke about  her car inevitably breaking down and her employing bike transportation out of pure necessity. i've been sending lots of winter biking tips for her, mined from the wisdom of cycling community sites like Bike Fancy and Simply Bike.

then today, she sent me this video. GUYS. THIS IS HARDCORE. that is all.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Dear Running,

Oh, how I miss you, so! I wish that you had not decided to wreck my plantar fascia, and that you took place on a much softer surface, like clouds, or maybe pillow-top mattresses.
Even though it is so very cold outside, I would like to be out there, testing my winter lungs and experiencing all your fullness and life.
Instead, I am here, inside. Stretching, resting, and stretching again. Getting fatter, out of shape.
Miss me much? Maybe next time you'll think twice about stressing out my arches.

Just a thought,

ps - don't make me replace you with swimming. it's a lot easier to drown in a pool than on the sidewalk.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

the day trail mix kicked my derrière.

recently, my Hubs and i were all snuggled into our living room with the gas stove on, blissed out on all-day football consumption and feeling pretty fat and sassy. we were a little low on the trail mix we like to make  ourselves, so Hubs went to the kitchen to gather ingredients and mix up a big bowl's worth. he came back, arms loaded with supplies, what seemed like dozens of pounds worth of bagged Sam's Club loot: mixed nuts, pecans, walnuts, almonds, cashews, mixed dried fruits, Ghirardelli chocolate chips. and all of a sudden, i was breathless. "We are SO RICH."

the weight of our blessed lives nearly knocked me to the floor. trail mix? really? we don't even consider it food, really. good enough to stave off hunger for a half an hour while dinner's cooking, or as a little treat after lunch, sure. but what we consider a mere snack some people on this planet would kill for. sure, we might have nearly 6-year-old cell phones that don't even take photos. and we might mostly use hand-me-down computers. and we don't even have cable! but we have trail mix. and look at how much of it we have! bags and bags and bags of nourishment, and that doesn't even compare to what's in the rest of the kitchen. 

it happens a lot that in times of suffering, the things we are so grateful for become so much more obvious. but sometimes we don't even need to experience times of little to be awakened to how much we're blessed.

this is going to bother a lot of you, i can tell already. the Hubs and i do alright on the income front, and we're very conscious of how blessed we've been with good jobs and a comfortable standard of living. lots of you are probably bitterly muttering, "duh." and i could probably go on and on about how everyone struggles with finances, regardless of their situation. how we have certainly had our share of challenges, and how we've worked very hard to handle our finances wisely and responsibly. how politicians have skewed the statistics in  their favor, making divisive labels that prey on everyone's general dissatisfaction with how much money they have (or sometimes, their perception of how much money they have.) i could say all those things, but i'll spare you the defensiveness, that sort of attitude would muddy the waters.*

the point is, none of it is really ours. we're just managers of God's things. and just as He once trusted us with little, He's trusting us with more and more each day. and the responsibility of that has been heavy on my heart lately. so heavy. the scriptures are packed with reminders about the dangers of trusting in one's own wealth, and certainly those verses are never far from my mind. but more than anything, especially in the midst of this holiday season, i'm so thankful. for how we've been blessed materially, for the wisdom (not of ourselves) to be good stewards, for the things we're able to give others and in doing so, point to the God who made it all possible and who tells us to take care of each other. and i'm also supremely joyful that i've been given this opportunity to know how much we have, and to still be so, so thankful.

have you even been just knocked down by a reminder of all your blessings? ... or do i need to get out of my head and into the world a bit more often?  ;)

* Also, please do not receive any of this as boasting, for i have a healthy fear of God, and know that He has to say about these things. In Jeremiah, for example:

“Let not the wise boast of their wisdom
   or the strong boast of their strength
   or the rich boast of their riches,
24 but let the one who boasts boast about this:
   that they have the understanding to know me,
that I am the LORD, who exercises kindness,
   justice and righteousness on earth,
   for in these I delight.”

Thursday, December 9, 2010

my husband hates Christmas.

poor Hubs. although, to be fair, I have hated Christmas at times, too. and I'm not totally convinced it's the Christmas he hates, as much as there are many traditions and elements of celebrating the Christmas season that he feels must be endured.

but no worries--my sister and I are working hard to turn this unfortunate situation around. starting with a Christmas tree retrieval and decorating procedure that required only half hour (!!) of his time.

Check out THAT sweet Christmas action!
lots of people have syrupy stories of traveling each year, in the snow, with their families to saw down The Perfect Tree and spend all weekend baking cookies and singing Christmas carols and decorating the tree they've so lovingly picked out together. but my husband has an equal number of demoralizing and ridiculous stories, involving sap on the ceiling and lots of shouting. so maybe we got our tree for $15 at Menards. sue me.

at least this Christmas, there will be peace on Earth (in the Lindell house.)  ♥

Extreme close-up

--- -- -

post script: i see now, after looking at these pictures more closely, that we seem to have more lights out on the tree than i realized. *sigh* baby steps, right? ;)

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

legwear. (obsessed much?)

it's becoming an issue, people. suddenly all i can think about is covering myself in as many pairs of tights and socks i possibly can. most of the time, all at one time. you think i'm kidding? yesterday i wore some SmartWool ski socks over a pair of patterned footless tights, with some knee-high boots. and then, when i had to go to the store later, changed out of the boots and into running shoes. when i realized how silly i looked wearing a skirt and running shoes, i merely changed out of the skirt and into some baggy, olive cotton pants. OVER THE TIGHTS AND SOCKS. needless to say, i might have looked ridiculous in the x-ray line at the airport, but i was rather cozy all the way to Sam's Club. (guys, what a party! if you only knew how exciting my life is every day!)

and so, if the first step to solving something like this is to admit you have a problem, then fine: i clearly have some kind of problem. but if i learned anything from my triple-leg-layered experience last night, it's that if this is wrong, BABY I DON'T WANNA BE RIGHT.

and now, some very naughty lusting:

Nep Colorblock Tights by Hansel From Basel via Need Supply

Horse Bit Socks by In God We Trust, via Need Supply

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Christmas Wish List

It's that time of year, I suppose. I've already slaved and stressed over gift lists for both my mother and my mother-in-law, so why play this sad game of want-versus-get all over again? Easy: The Internet is a fun place to pretend!

As I've grown up a little, entered and then exited the corporate world of dress codes, and made significant changes to my body, I've had some time to redefine my wardrobe a bit. Or at least, think about redefining it. Many of you probably know that the Hubs and I keep a relatively tight budget; often, we would much rather stash away our extra cash for new windows or a roof for our 100-year-old house than throw money at something as fickle as fashion. But who doesn't love to dream? Plus, being an overwhelmingly visual person, I've always felt more comfortable in situations where things are pretty. Daydreaming about tweaks and adjustments to my daily look is like a happy little mind exercise I do to keep myself surrounded with aesthetically stimulating things and new, fresh ideas. Like a total phony, most of this wardrobe analysis and construction begins and end with this thought experiment. But who can afford the time and cash to attain complete wardrobe perfection? Not anyone I've ever heard of. (Not anyone who wasn't broke, anyhow.)

So let's play pretend: If time, money, and other important life priorities weren't an issue, what changes would we make to our everyday looks, and what pieces would we add to round a wardrobe and make it more cohesive? Here are some elements I've been wanting to add to my winter wardrobe lately. (Warning: Those prone to overwhelming retail lust may wish to duck out at this moment, or keep their debit cards put safely away, as the eye candy is about to begin!)

1) More Skirts. 
I've had my eye on this stunner by Little Ocean for like, forevs. And though it's not currently in our budget, I'm always in favor of supporting local, handmade artists and craftspeople, and know a piece like this would be a wise wardrobe investment. Plus, look at those colors! *swoon*

Harvest Printed Linen Skirt by Little Ocean

2) Ankle-Height Moccasins. (Because you can never have too many moccasins, let's be real here.)

Vintage 1970's Minnetonka Leather Moccasins from Clever Nettle

These are already sold, and not to me, because I waffled and hesitated and ultimately wimped out.  *whimper* But they do represent a look I've been toying with lately--the pale, neutral ankle boot silhouette. These have leather soles, which are not a good match for snow. They would also probably not fit even my skinny jeans inside, but a pair that would might just be the perfect winter substitute for my normally not-very-weather-proof Minnetonka Kilties.

3) More tights, please!

Image via Jen Loves Kev
I don't know who got the bright idea to make tights something that grown-ups can wear, but whoever they are, I think I need to spend more time in their presence. I think I used to hate tights as a kid, thinking they were scratchy, constricting and too warm. But since I work in some kind of Office Arctic tights have become my new best friend. They allow me to dress up more even as the weather gets colder, help transition many warm-weather dresses and skirts to be more wearable year-round, and keep me from wearing the same boring jeans to work every day till they stretch out and start sagging in the rear. Plus, with fun, exciting new colors like the ones Jen models above, and at price points that allow for a small (or rather large, in my case) collection, tights seem like a no-brainer.

4) Socks. The wooly-er, the better.
It's no secret that I'm much more fond of cold weather than our hot, humid Wisconsin summers. So it's probably no surprise that I've become completely obsessed with trying to wear as much clothing at one time as possible.

Gipsy Over The Knee Socks from ASOS

Tall, ribbed, cozy socks are only a natural extension of my compulsive layering addiction. My favorite variation lately has been to layer warm, scrunchy socks over tights with shorter skirts, as expertly modeled by Tania from What Would a Nerd Wear:

Image via What a Nerd Would Wear
(post-script: I totally wanted this grey lace skirt from Target in the WORST WAY. I unwisely hesitated, then it showed up on this style blog, and another (I don't remember which one now, sadly) in the course of a week and immediately sold out. BOO. I may try to replicate it as a DIY project; if I do, I'll let you know how it goes!)

5) Green. And I mean the color. (Remember when it was only a color? Aye, the good old days...)
I've been really craving rich, deep colors lately as the weather's gotten colder. Green is one I don't have enough of in my wardrobe. I'm hoping to finish a handbag I started last winter (ha! if only you knew how common this sort of behavior was!) that's made from an old, evergreen-colored wool jacket. In the meantime, I'm trying to add it in here and there where I can.

"Green"set from my Polyvore
All in all, I realize that to be unsatisfied with my wardrobe is sort of silly; I know I have more than I truly need. But a little virtual window shopping always gets me thinking, sometimes not even about shopping for new items, but about creating new combinations in my existing wardrobe or about crafting new pieces myself. And that sort of visualizing can't be all bad. ;) (PS - I don't really need any more projects clogging up my life, but maybe someday I might be brave enough to take this experimenting to the next level and try Kendi's 30 for 30 remix challenge!)   ♥

Thursday, November 25, 2010

just in time.

alas, the Christmas shopping season draws nigh!

looking to get your Black Friday on? you're in luck -- i just dropped off two new howl. handbags this week at Carpe Diem!

Go Ahead, Take a Bow Cross-Body Bag The Campus Tote
swing by during your shopping marathon on Friday and check out howl.'s brand new collection of leather headbands; that is, if they haven't sold out already yet! (so cute guys, srsly. i'm not even joking here.)

new howl. headbands!
locally handmade from reclaimed leathers, howl. handbags and accessories make thoughtful gifts, no matter the occasion. plus, the folks at Carpe Diem are ridiculously cool. a visit with them is always worth the drive. ♥

Saturday, November 20, 2010

some times.

occasionally, there might be a day, or series of days all in a miserable streak, where everything falls apart.

sometimes the sewing machine that has been happily and faithfully sewing through leather all its life decides it's like, SO over sewing through leather and you spend hours upon hours trying to gently coax it back into working properly.

sometimes, after the aforementioned stressful hours, you throw things in your sewing room.

sometimes, you decide to take a break from sewing to dye a bear suit for the children's Christmas pageant at church. YES, THAT'S IT, DYE THE BEAR SUIT. THAT WILL BE RELAXING AND SIMPLE.

sometimes you regretfully realize that you cannot reliably dye a bear suit all one color of brown for the children's Christmas pageant, and should probably never be depended upon to do anything important ever again.

sometimes your iPod battery dies in the car and you have to drive all the way to West Bend (read: North Pole), listening to music on the radio. (HORROR OF HORRORS.)

sometimes you spend your last $10 bill on tipping your lovely hair stylist, only to realize the donut shop only takes cash. (sometimes you hold up a line full of hungry octogenarians at the donut shop while you write out a check for $2.95. )

sometimes you wait in line for 20 minutes only to have Starbucks serve you poison, masquerading as a chai latte with a shot of espresso, and make it through a very difficult series of traffic obstacles before realizing it, only to have to turn around and complete the challenge all over again.

some times are just hard times.

sometimes, it's good to know that someone is for you, and not against you. 

(song based on this.)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

ya eat in the bathroom, ya eat with the devil.

sometimes i worry that the lady in the next stall thinks that loud plastic wrapper i'm opening is some kind of yummy snack.

(for the record, it's not.)

note: Google image searches for "tampon" are horrible and scary. just trust me on this.

Monday, November 15, 2010

what to do when the camera is missing.

1. completely fail at sewing all weekend, because who will even know if you finished those new bags or not?

2. borrow other peoples' photos.

i've had a number of things i've been wanting to post about, but keep putting them off because our camera has recently gone MIA. (is October still considered recent?) but folks, no worries: i think i has the solution. (what's with your grammar there, Homestar?)

with the seasons changing slightly, and my waistline feeling rather uncooperative after weeks nursing a foot injury, i'm in search once again for new and exciting recipes. but new and exciting recipes that i can make (and eat) entirely by myself, that prep and cook in a half hour or less, or maybe an hour while i'm noshing on a rather giant salad as my first course. (between the picky hubs and the Warrior diet, i'm kind of on my own here.) my search led me to Kalyn's Kitchen, a blog so consistently stocked with healthy, scrumptious-looking recipes i feel like i can hardly keep up. i soon compiled a list of bookmarked recipes so tall, it nearly rivals my fabric and leather stash. (ha. or maybe not.)

Winter Squash & Sausage With Herbs
deciding to finally put my ... uh, mouth, where my uh... mouth is, i tested out Kalyn's yummy-looking Squash and Sausage recipe last week. AND IT WAS YUMMY, INDEED. so yummy, in fact, that i proceeded to email it immediately to my mother, my sister and my two personal trainer friends. i stopped just short of posting it on Facebook and also immediately blogging about it; but as you can see, the yumminess eventually overruled my self-control in that area.

but one of Kalyn's latest posts has be wondering about branching out and trying something new: alternative greens. in a recent Thanksgiving-related post, a recipe for Spaghetti Squash with Chard caught my attention. i've eyed greens like chard and collards historically with heavy distrust. it's not that i don't like leafy greens; i eat them regularly and rather enjoy them, even cooked, which many people dislike. in fact, i managed to rustle up a pretty outstanding sauteed spinach for my mom's birthday recently. so perhaps my only real objection is simply that i've never used greens like these. and the unfamiliarity is a bit intimidating. but recipes like these and these greens' nutritional benefits make me wonder if i've been unfair.

Spaghetti Squash & Chard Gratin
how about you, do you cook with lesser-known greens like kale, chard, or collards? are they as scary as they seem? please feel free to share fast, easy and delightful recipes you've tried and loved. we'll see if this old cat can't try (and enjoy) something new yet.
____ ___ __ _ 

All images via Kalyn's Kitchen

Monday, November 8, 2010

10 words (on why I write)

His mercies are new each morning—we must document allofit.

(go ahead and hate for the cheater word. but this was it, and i wasn't about to argue. for a short back story on why i chose to take on this little 10-word challenge, check this post out, and for a little extra context, read this.)

Friday, November 5, 2010

10 words - preview

having been in a bit of a productivity rut lately, i found this challenge rather interesting. perhaps a chance to redefine why i started (and restarted) this silly weblog, and examine my intentions for it moving forward.

i don't have anything ready yet (will probably post when i have something, or become a fake plans liar), but in the meantime, figured i'd list. listing is something i apparently used to do early in my days of internet oversharing, and after having revisited some of that writing, i've realized how effective they were in summarizing what would normally eat up much more time (yours and mine). so here goes.


- the Madison Mud Run. (very, very cold, but very, very worth it.)
- ribbed sweater tights
- being able to wear real shoes again, albeit with cushy insoles added.
- Halloween!
- Halloween candy
- Halloween being over, finally. (i work at a costume company. you don't even know...)
- running! again! oh, how i missed it.
- orchard apples
- Yogi Healthy Fasting tea. mmm...

less than stellar:

- politics. (at work, not in real life. the real life ones have been rather exciting lately!)
- plantar fasciitis
- Halloween candy
- gaining weight
- having to start working out again, after getting far too used to "resting" (read: laying around, whining.)
- hard things (that's what she said! ha!)
- earlier and earlier sunsets. (can't it just stay fall forever?)

and now, here's a dirty picture:

ha. fell for that one, didn't ya?

Saturday, September 25, 2010

my first treasury!

i was wondering why my traffic on the ol' etsy site was up this week: turns out i've been featured in a treasury!

w00t! first etsy treasury!

big thanks to Green Bridge Studio for spotting and including the U-Bag!

U-Bag, Earth, Wind & Fire Edition

and now, a few extra exclamation points, just for good measure: !!! !!!!! !

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

guys, i totally made something!

if only you knew how little effort went into this project.

but anyhow, i'm always suffering harassment for not sharing things i've made, so i figured i'd post a few photos of a skirt i made recently, and how i wore it.

seriously, you have no idea how easy this was. in fact, cutting the skirt, piecing it together, and attaching the elastic waistband all together took less time than the hem alone. maybe because i insist on hand-sewing blind hems into every skirt i make. it's a thing i do, i can't help it.

i found the fabric at a thrift store, and was immediately smitten. its yummy floral pattern is perfect for this time of year and for the looks i've been loving lately. and then there was this fantastic, lightweight crinkly texture. bonus! i keep trying to think of other potential projects, but am a little afraid of being clothed entirely in this yummy, crinkly floral, and that eventually my usually unobservant coworkers might catch on.

i wore the skirt with an old, well-worn v-neck tee, one of many well-worn cardigans (it's FA-REEZING in my office) and my favorite taupey oxfords. i'm pretty sure i'm the only one who likes these shoes, but i'm always looking for clever ways to sneak them into my everyday looks.

i've also been recently inspired by a sort of blogging phenomenon called Wandering Wednesday. this day happened to be a Wednesday, so i snapped a quick photo to give it a little try. i'm hoping to be able to include more of these in the future...

this Wednesday was spent like a lot of my recent days: working, then hurrying home to soak up the last few hours of cool Autumn daylight. mmm... Fall. ♥

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


i've been so grateful and excited about the new crisp autumn weather! a retreat to wearing pants and real shoes. making hot chili and curling up in blankets. cool evening bonfires. tights with dresses. creamy squash soup.

and being the best time of year, you'd think i'd be giddy up to my gills. but i think busy-ness, striving, hard work and big decisions are taking their toll.

but then this morning i came across this on my favorite Mennonite cooking blog (okay, so my only. but also my favorite.) perfect, timely, true:

18 "Forget the former things;
do not dwell on the past.
19 See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the desert
and streams in the wasteland.
Isaiah 43:18-19
how easily i lose my head sometimes.

so as the seasons change today, i'm throwing off all that hinders and toasting blue jeans, morning runs, salted caramel, future plans, and a God that never changes.

who's with me?

Lake Country 5k 2010

ps - the photo above was taken this Saturday, as my friend Katie and I started off on our first 5k together. we didn't quite hit our goals, but we did come pretty close, and we're looking forward to our next race!

Monday, August 23, 2010

shop's up--whatwhat!

i'll keep it quick: hey folks, i got my stuff together and listed a few items in my shop. a few newbs (at least to the internet) and a few old faves that need to find homes to make room for even more newbs! big thanks to Michelle for helping me shoot fresh, new photos for this latest shop update!

ps it looks like i may have some space to breathe this weekend. hoping to spend most of it sewing new creations and listening to Sufjan's new ep nonstop. it's the simple things, really.  ♥

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Tag -- You're It.

... which reminds me of that time we drove through the Sonic after watching the Olympics and they sort of forgot to give us half the order we paid for and we had to call the place when we got home, sadly clutching our 5 tots and 4 jalapeno poppers which we were left to share among roughly 5 adult human beings (seemed more like 12. 12 ravenous, adrenaline-hyped, fast-food-deprived adult human beings.) turns out the cashier who helped us out (more like gave us the Serious Sonic Shaft) was named Tag. that's right: T-A-G. just like where you look for the price on those overpriced sandals you've been salivating over. anyway, we explained what happened, they promised us two free double burgers, which we were free to pick up at our leisure. and remember to tell them that Tag was the one who screwed up the order. it was all Tag's fault. see? this is what happens when you give your children "unique" or "original" names. they end up getting fired after 12 ravenous, Olympic-watching freaks  lose their composure after paying for tots they did not receive. (it sure seemed like 12, anyway. what, with all the weeping and gnashing of teeth.) poor Tag. (we got our free burgers though! HA. in your face, TAG.)

the point is, i've been meaning to post something interesting for a really long time. no really, i have. it's just that, well, i'm really, really, incredibly lazy. for example, i keep showing up dressed all pretty for work, and when my coworkers wonder what big new fancy job it must be that i'm interviewing for, i don't have the heart to tell them that i just couldn't be bothered to put on pants today, so considering this dress requires putting on only one piece of clothing, it seemed like a pretty good compromise.

my point being, blogging hasn't really been high on my priority list lately. my priority list, which of course includes: eating carbs i shouldn't, laying around watching Big Love, giving up on the flower beds, and trying to avoid the sweltering, jungle-like outside at every available opportunity.

so when Erin over at Luck&Bliss tagged me on this funny little questionnaire game, i figured, aw what the heck. it's not like i've got anything else to write about! (let's politely disregard the previously promised Popeye recipe and Things I Wore In Europe posts. no, srsly. i'll get to them someday, i swears.) so, in the name of Getting Moving Again, I thank you, Erin, for your sweet thoughfulness (you always come along and encourage me when I need it most!), forget all my normal resistance to silly internet games, and present you, my readers, with a little low-key entertainment. Enjoy!

1. Is there anything you feel nekkid without? (aside from clothes!) Okay, here we go, cheeseball right from the start. But honestly, my wedding ring. It's completely grungy because to go without it to have it cleaned kind of drives me insane. Plus, there's that whole Poor Memory problem of mine, which when combined with an absent wedding ring, causes panic attacks all day long.

2. Books, magazines, games, comics, pieces of art that made you who you are today? My Big Backyard, Reader's Digest. (I'm joking. Sort of.)

3. Monkey or Robot? in the words of my adorable Hubs, "... I want a MONKEYROBOT."

4. Food you make when the poop hits the fan? Do you cook/eat for comfort? hahaha cook for comfort?? Give me a DQ Blizzard with Snickers and Reese's Peanut Butter Cups any day of the week, and I'm a happy gal.

5. How did you meet your sweetie? Is it romantic?  Folks, I'll never live this one down: We met at a Campus Crusade cookout the beginning of my sophomore year. I had just transferred there from a different school, so I could be closer to my boyfriend at the time. Hubs later told me he had been very much looking forward to finding out who this crazy girl might be that was dating that guy, and was very excited to meet me. I don't remember meeting him at all. I only remember meeting his roommate, Jake. (This would prove to be a sad theme throughout the rest of his college days.)

6. Do you have a life plan, or do you just sort of truck along? Maybe it's Dave Ramsey's fault, but I've lately adopted the (very grownup) mindset that having a plan is always better than not having a plan. But on second thought, I've always been a plan-maker and plan-needer (and fit-thrower-when-the-plan-is-abruptly-changed, but that's perhaps a post for another day,) to some extent, so having a goal, an eye on the future, and some rough estimate on how to best get there always makes me feel more together. Certainly there have been times where God has tested this area of my life, but I'm learning in my old age that the more my plans incorporate Godly principles and themes, the less he feels the need to give me a little poke. More than anything though, my husband and I are alike in our tendency to favor Things That Work, and so far, we have found that having a plan is definitely one of those things. (Now, if I could only apply this enthusiasm and planning to writing a blog! Just think!)

7. Would friends of the teenage you recognize the current you? Would you still get along? Oh, probably. Would we get along? Certainly. Although, I will say that in my old age, I have had more time to steep in my convictions and become more of the person all my friends probably suspected I was all along. (I really tried on the Tortured Young Writer look for a long time, but it's perhaps time to own up to my mostly Granny self. I had you fooled for a while there, though, right?! No? ... More eyeliner? Ok, nevermind.) I may have a tendency to attract people with many opposite opinions and completely different world views than mine, but even as I've become more rooted in my own beliefs, I've not lost the tenderness and affection I've always had for folks I should probably be fighting with. (But what are we fighting for, anyway? HA.)

8. Could you show me something pretty? Please?
I stole this from S. of AcademicChic, via her new (and awesome!) bike blog, Simply Bike. (quickly becoming one of my faves!) she posted it among many other pretties recently; it's the prettiest thing i've seen in a long time!

 Via a.pic.a.day

Next up in the silly 8-question game? 
Some of my faves: 

Michelle over at BoltedMKE, because she's clearly too cool for this nonsense. 
Tejas, My Love, because well... The Love. It's overwhelming.  
A kettlebell friend John, because he and his lovely lady Erin are always there with a Like on FB, and an  encouraging note. (So many awesome Erins! I knew I picked this name for a reason...) 
And last, but certainly not least, Sara at Cream City and Sugar, 'cause I dig her MKE style, yo. :)

I stole most of Erin's questions, because well, this post was getting to be a bother, really. ;)
Here you go: 

1. Is there anything you feel nekkid without? (aside from clothes!)
2. Books, magazines, games, comics, pieces of art that made you who you are today?
3. Monkey or Robot? 
4.Vice food? Be honest, now. (It's Fair Week up here in 'Sconsin, if you haven't eaten something disgusting by now, you're clearly in the minority.)
5. What blog do you secretly swoon over, but are afraid that if you came out of lurker status the writer of the blog would suddenly be completely freaked out and file a restraining order against you? (not telling mine, ha! okay, twist my arm, it's Dores. love her style, love her jewelry, love her minimalist posts!)
6. Is it appropriate to sign out of Facebook and pretend you didn't notice that that person you haven't talked to in 7 years just instant messaged you? Your thoughts...
7. What kind of bike are you: mountain bike, road bike, or city/cruiser?
8. What food or fitness item, concept or practice do you most rely on to keep you on track? Where do you turn when you need motivation? What can't you do without in your quest for better health? (okay, so that's a 3-parter. GUESS I'M NOT SO UNDERACHIEVING AFTER ALL, HUH??) ;)

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

at least cover your parts, you're going to work. (The Post Wherein I Go Back To The Real World)

getting dressed in the morning has been something of a challenge, ever since returning from our family vacation to Bavaria a little over a week ago. in fact, most things have been something of a challenge. upon returning to work, which, by the way, was in the throes of what some might call a Deadline Crunch (and all the subsequent freakouts and meltdowns) i told my husband that i felt quite like Peter in Office Space, right after the hypnotism heart attack scene. everyone was running around as if there was some kind of unannounced fire drill not involving an ice cream truck, and there i was, in a delightful haze at my desk while twangy tropical music floated through my head. this first day back was followed by several mild temper tantrums, in which i, at least once, declared loudly that if i was not in Europe riding bikes in the mountains, well, then life just wasn't worth living.

needless to say, getting back to normal has been a bit of a challenge. but the deadline at work has passed, and i've had some time to reflect on this trip and forget, at least for a few minutes, that i probably ought to be Doing Something.

i have very little hesitation calling this My Best Trip Ever. (i considered it for a minute, knowing this would knock my High School Junior Year Band Trip to Hawaii out of first place, but then remembered the 10-hour sunburned flight home, and well, that was that.) and not to get all mushy on you, but i believe the reason this trip ranks so highly on my very short list of destinations is not merely the Currywurst, latte macchiatos or even the Sound of Music tour, but because we never stopped moving, not for a minute. we rode bikes along the river in Salzburg, hiked to the top of Kehlstein (or The Eagle's Nest, as we, the Allied, may remember it) and spent countless hours walking to and from our hotels and the charming city centers of each place we visited. and for the first time in my life, i did not even complain about how badly my feet hurt. (okay, so i did once, but i maintain that my father-in-law is responsible for promising a cab ride home and not delivering, even though the promised cab ride home was the reason i wore Those Heels in the first place.) but seriously. for the first time in my life, i was able to enjoy a vacation that wasn't centered around eating until The Ulcer came back and loafing around Doing Nothing. and i started to think, hey, maybe this is what living an active life is all about.

my most favorite part of Bavaria, especially Munich, was how active and fit everyone there was. i wasn't sure what to expect of Germany and Austria, not being really German or Austrian at all, but admittedly knew i wouldn't be surprised by a mass of burly, solid folks dressed in funny leather pants and carrying head-sized mugs of beer. and there definitely were head-sized mugs of beer, but rather than being delivered by buxom barmaids in lace-trimmed aprons, they were skillfully carried, 4 at a time, by seemingly very small but obviously quite strong 20-something girls. (!!) guys, these things were liter mugs of beer. made of heavy glass. FULL OF BEER. half the time, they tossed in a couple head-sized pretzels too, just to show off.

and we haven't even gotten to the bikes. oh! the bikes! everywhere you looked people were using bikes as transportation, rather than driving cars or scooters. sure, there were cars and scooters, but because Munich and Salzburg are so beautifully dense, using a bike to get from place to place really makes a lot of sense. and of course there was no shortage then of yummy bike eye candy. vintage cruisers, stylish new city bikes with all the bells and baskets, sleek road bikes jockeyed by even sleeker young Europeans. guys, it was as if i had died and gone to my very own personally-designed heaven. complete with Turkish food, strong coffee and functional fashion!

so it was no surprise that having realized the pitiful state of disrepair of my old hand-me-down, white-and-teal Trek road bike from the early 1990s just before our trip, that upon returning, we'd find ourselves salivating over new beauties in the local bike shop within mere days. and now, my friends, after a quick test drive and subsequent squealing, i am saving my pennies for this charmer:

while considering this hefty purchase, my husband asked, would i rather have a bicycle or a moped? "bike, duh." i replied. "i'd rather be active than merely have an alternate transportation to work."

... wait, I said that??

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

well, wouldn't ya know, i made something.

too bad i don't have photos to show you yet. but i leave on Friday for Deutschland, and i'm hoping to gather enough pictures of my creations while we're there to provide you with a pretty peek into my very rare moment of productivity. new items may or may not include:

- brand new tote bag
- brand new cross-body bag
- brand new totally easy knit skirt
- brand new elastic waist skirt (yes, that kind everyone is crazy about. let me tell you: i now TOTALLY GET IT.)
- refashioned skirt made from and old pair of dress pants
- thrifted tank that needed mending after the stupid thrift store tag ripped a hole in it (staples? really. get with the times.)

but for now, i have a question or two to pose for our live audience.

first of all, has anyone ever traveled with sewing supplies? the last time i took a quick trip next door to Michigan, i left my emergency sewing kit and embroidery at home. but now that i'm likely to spend 16 hours on an airplane trying to distract myself from the complete and total terror of speeding over the ocean in a metal tube, i'd like to bring my happy toys along in my carry on. i've read on the TSA site that knitting needles, needlepoint items and some scissors are now allowed. has anyone tried to travel with items like this recently? how about the return flight from Germany? are they as strict with travel regulations as we are here? i welcome all informed thoughts and advice on the topic.

i want to be entertained, but i don't think i could live with myself if My Baby was ever confiscated at security:
photo courtesy of Amazon.com

my next question is for the craftiest of you. you see, a few weeks ago i was cleaning our bright white new kitchen sink with that handy spray cleaner, and about a half hour after admiring its gleaming wonderfulness, my husband casually asked "Hey, is that supposed to be there?" He pointed cavalierly at my favorite skirt, no, MY FAVORITE SKIRT, THE MOST FAVORITE, ALL-TIME FAVORITE, THE ONE THAT I HAD TO LOSE WEIGHT TO FIT INTO THAT FIT SO PERFECTLY FOR ONE WEEK BEFORE THIS DREADED DAY. and yes, i couldn't deny it: THERE WERE BLEACH STAINS. i cried. i'm not kidding. it might've been a slightly unstable day in general, but i wept like an overtired child who had just had his Huffy stolen from the bike rack at the local pool. no joke. of all the clothing i've ripped, altered or ruined over the years, this was BY FAR the most devastating. i don't think i'm still quite over it. anyhow, i've documented the carnage: 

being a spry, developing refashionista, i've done a lot of thinking on this. my first thought was to merely shorten the skirt, make it a little sassier, and remove the problem altogether. but you'll notice that the cargo pockets sort of impede a process like that. (and who wants to walk around with amputated cargo pockets? i know i sure don't.) every online forum advises the use of some kind of wacky markers to color in the bleach spot. this sounds too much like puffy paint for my comfort. my thought now is to try to dye the skirt entirely, hoping to cover the bleach spot. i wouldn't even mind trying out a deep indigo-navy color, in fact. has anyone tried dying stained clothing before? how did it go? did the bleached out portion take the dye the same as the rest of the garment? i'm wondering if i'll need to strip the color of the entire skirt before beginning the dying process. my fear is weakening the fibers, but maybe there's a safe way to remove the current color before re-dying. 

so with that, i'll leave you, Internet, to flood the comments section with your infinite wisdom.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

my first race!

yesterday, at roughly 3 pm, i got an invitation to run a 5k along the lakefront. my first race! in 4 hours.


"but i am so unprepared! i probably don't even have clean clothes!" i sure didn't, and i sure didn't have weather-appropriate clothes for the sweltering heat we've been suffering lately. i don't even own a pair of shorts. (or a cute running skirt. i gotta get one of those! so cute!) but i figured if i was going to do it, i might as well get tricked into it at the last minute, or i might never get around to it.

i had run about 2.75 miles the day before with my good friend Katie, in about 85-90 degree weather, mostly in the hot sun and wicked humidity. i figured i had run a 5k accidentally by myself one lovely Saturday, and this icky run only supported the idea that i could probably pull it off. The Hubs was SUPER supportive. he even came home, drove me to my friend Meagan's house to meet her on time to register for the race, crashed his computer and lost lots of important documents in the hurry to get out the door, stood around surrounded by bugs while we ran, awkwardly managed not to be the center of attention, and even remembered the camera when i had forgotten it! srsly guys, he is such a keeper. ♥

anyway! it was awesome! i ran really, really slowly. more slowly than usual even for me, more slowly than about half the participants over the age of 75, but i did it! and i felt pretty good about running the whole thing. even The Hill. even as i watched lots of people my age stop and walk along the way. even as side stitch kicked in at mile one, and i almost saw the whole thing slip away from me.

there was one woman along the route who was volunteering and cheering for us as we ran. she kept saying as people passed, "you're runners. that's what you are now." and as much as i am usually the one rolling my eyes at syrupy comments like that, this one really hit me. maybe it was the lack of oxygen getting to my brain, but that was so encouraging to hear. i was doing it! officially!

my friend Meagan, who spurred me on to race, even with so little notice, ran with me all the way. she, who has run marathons and triathlons and skis the top part of the mountain where the real lifts don't even go, stuck by my side the whole way. sharing stories about bad dates and awkward folks, keeping my mind occupied and my feet plodding along. and eventually the side stitch faded, The Hill was behind us, and it was all over! and i felt amazing! and i may have placed 600th out of 700-something, but now i have a time to beat! 34:02, to be exact.

"this is how it all starts," our friend Travis said to me as we got ready for the race. turns out he's right, i'm totally hooked! and i've already recruited a small army of first-timers and fellow runners to join me next time. i might even give them a whole day's notice first. :)

Thursday, June 17, 2010

guess who sucks at blogging?

hey now, let's not go pointing fingers.

but the truth is, i totally slacked on that previously promised Popeye recipe. i'll get to it, jeez. probably next week. maybe the following. ... we'll see where i can fit it in, between the work deadlines, self-made sewing deadlines, Father's Day, Jury Duty and packing for Germany. :)

in the meantime, i stumbled across this today. i haven't tried it yet, but i fully intend to (maybe sooner than i post that recipe for Popeye Salad, even! ha!) looks super yummy and refreshing.

Big thanks to the folks at 30 Bucks a Week, you always have the most intriguing recipes! Can't wait to try this one.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

celebrate good times, come on.

so often i find so much inspiration in others' daily struggles and triumphs.

here, a recent bloggyfriend (with a snazzy name, i might add) is taking a second to celebrate a year of healthier living. i couldn't NOT take time out to give her props for all her hard work and obvious accomplishments. i mean, what kind of fellow striver would i be? GIANT congrats!!! to Erin of Luck & Bliss for a year well lived. keep kicking ass, sister!

and while we're at it, her enthusiasm and much-deserved self-props has reminded me that i hit a bit of a milestone this week as well. (and i didn't even share with you all--shame!) now, see how those green and orange lines cross below? yeah, that's my muscle mass kicking the flabby ass of my body fat percentage. it's true, i'm now officially more muscle than fat. things can only look up from here, right?

Friday, June 11, 2010

Operation Salvage Lunch: SUCCESS!

we had a bit of a Diet Meltdown last night, folks. since starting this journey in November, i've developed a real Been There, Done That, Regretted It Later, Moved On mentality. some days are really good and people leave lots of happy comments ... and other days you try to make turkey burgers.

let me explain: i've had this plan of making turkey burgers for some time now. i've accumulated a small collection of recipes, ranging from Seemingly Bland to French Onion Soup Mix, Yum! but had yet to try any of them. while trying to consider the particular tastes of my current housemates (Husband and Sister. always teaming up against me. srsly all day long with the teaming up. against me.) i found a recipe that sounded pretty good: Skinny BBQ Turkey Burgers*! and to think, it was delivered directly to my inbox. by Jillian Michaels herself! i had decided it was fate. we were having Skinny BBQ Turkey Burgers that night.

folks, i've tried a lot of recipes in my time, some good, some mediocre, but not since The Great Botched Waffle Breakfast of 2006 have i experienced such total catastrophic kitchen failure. i'll spare you some of the gory details, but the night went something like this:

1. double the recipe, in order to use the whole 2.5-pound container of ground turkey purchased from Sam's Club. (i've gone over it and over it, and so far i'm pretty sure this is my only mistake. why we needed to use that whole container i have no idea. i blame it on post-workout brain.)
2. follow the recipe, completely and precisely.
3. comment that the burgers seem a little soft, maybe they need to be chilled.
4. 20 minutes or so pass, burgers are still more like ... lumps of pancake batter.
5. decide to try to grill pancake batter. FAIL.
6. move grilling surface indoors, to trusty electric pancake griddle.
fast forward through the next couple hours, wherein much crying, shouting, carmelizing, vague threats, comparisons to meatloaf and gagging ensues. 2.5 pounds of Skinny BBQ Turkey Burger Pieces (minus a small amount that was choked down) is thrown away, never to be spoken of again. ... okay, so i had to come clean first. then we'll never speak of this again.)
10. drive to mall, purchase Rocky Rococo's for Husband, Berry-Cabernet and Chocolate-Raspberry gelato for Sister, and Grapefruit-Sage and Pineapple gelato for me.
"but i thought you were on a sweets ban until you leave for Germany!"

ahhh... much better. so there you have it. win some, lose some, eh?

anyway, so considering i had planned on eating leftover Skinny BBQ Turkey Burgers for lunch the next day, and had no alternative lunch plan, i wisely boiled up a few eggs to tide me over for lunch and breakfast for the next few days. "i'll have a yummy Popeye Salad**," i told myself. (Note: This is a much toned-down representation of this event. Details such as crying, whining, gagging, self-pity and panic have been left out because the writer is in extreme denial about her ability to emotionally cope with The Diet.)

so when i got to lunchtime and realized the ingredients for said Popeye Salad were lacking, i did not panic, no. i IMPROVISED. (see! progress!) considering i only had a little bit of spinach left in the fridge, i figured we'd have to sway from the original salad concept and get creative. i was lucky to find one last remaining pita left. (they're these yummy whole grain Kangaroo pouchy things my dear friend Meagan told me about that you can get in the deli aisle. so yummy and only include a few very healthy ingredients. would highly recommend!) enter: the best lunch rescue idea to date. here's what i did:
1. chopped up 1 hard-boiled egg, tossed out half the yoke. mixed together with a little bit of cottage cheese and seasoned with pepper. voila--instant egg salad! (or at least close enough!)
2. stuffed pita with spinach, tomato slices and egg salad-like mixture.
3. served with baby carrots, cucumber slices and one big hot serving of HELL YEAH.

sometimes it's the little victories in life that keep us going, no?


* clearly, i would not recommend you use this recipe. i should have known, after reading the part where the recipe writer suggests sauteeing onions in the microwave. feel free to leave lots of nasty comments, though! (what? i'm not bitter. i swears...)
** recipe for Popeye Salad coming soon in this week's Salad of the Week feature! get pumped, it's a keeper! :)

Thursday, June 10, 2010

happy birthday, Beage of My Life!

yes, folks. today is the day my most favorite person in the world wiggled his way into existence, later to become the force he is to be reckoned with today. is there any greater cause for celebration? i submit that there is not!

if any of you know me at all, you must know, at least to a small degree, how ridiculously crazy i am for this man, what with this big, sturdy self, his yummy smell (while clean, of course) and duh, The Hair. but not only is he scrumptious and has the unanimous vote of my favorite hair salon as being The Guy Who Will Still Be Hot When He's Old and Gray (i prefer Regal), but he's also bright, witty, discerning and endlessly supportive of me and all my antics. like last night when he faithfully tried his best to grill what was, in short, the most disastrous attempt at turkey burgers in recorded history. AND THEN HE EVEN ATE A BITE. if any of you knew how persnickety he is about the foods he will allow into his body, you would realize what a remarkable sacrifice this was for him.

he's even taken to running with me lately, in my ridiculous quest to someday run a 5k. outdoors. i know, i know, it seems impossible. but with his encouragement and companionship, this has so far proved to be a pretty fun journey. and if his track record so far is any indication, have very high hopes for the future.

i'm so glad he was born, and perhaps even more glad he's chosen me as his partner and teammate. (how unworthy i feel sometimes!) i've never had a better friend.

happy birthday, my Sweet Beage! long may you run. ♥

plants, hiking, etc. 004

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

even my sewing has become more athletic.

i realized this last night as i was cutting fabric while standing. you see, the best area i have to cut fabric in my sewing area is on the floor, on one of those hard plastic mats people buy for their home offices for their rolly office chairs to roll around on, unencumbered by some pesky carpet. (ours was inherited from my inlaws, naturally, along with most other awesome items we own.) so last night i was trimming about 8 inches off the hem of a giant House on the Prairie skirt i was altering down to a cute, summery skirt. and as i cut and cut along my little chalk line, i realized i was not sitting or kneeling on the floor as usual, but standing, in Row or Wall Sit position, carefully slicing through my fabric as if this was of course the way most people cut their fabric. add this to the list of strange habits i've accumulated since starting to work out with Ryan and Meagan.

anyway! last night i finally let go of the safety, security and TV screen of my beloved treadmill and convinced my husband to go running with me. OUTSIDE. we did 2 miles plus a touch of warm-up and cool-down walking, and a couple minutes walking in between miles. it went pretty well, considering all the blisters and trickery. yeah, BLISTERS! i've never had blisters from running before, not ever, not even once. from hiking, maybe. or wearing shoes inappropriate for the occasion. but never from running. not even in my Not Running Shoes. but yesterday there were blisters. but nothing was quite as embarrassing as my sweet husband's challenge to improve my already quite impressive 12-minute mile (har har.) he was so encouraging! and ran with me all the way! pushing my pace, cheering me on. "we're at 7 minutes so far! i think you can finish this mile in under 10! let's do it!" and as i huffed and puffed and plodded up the final small hill and rounded the corner, i gasped "what's my time? what's my time?" "... *sigh*." "what? what is it?" he hung his head a little. "12 minutes."

for all you planning on signing up for a 5k race with me anytime in the future, keep this story in mind.

so in celebration of my very brave Running Outside, here's a peek at my food journal from yesterday. i had  a pretty good day, considering it was the first day after a long weekend, which usually means i'm disorganized and not quite ready for the week ahead. i think it might have been because i felt so guilty for eating ALL THAT JALAPENO POPPER DIP on Memorial Day. i wasn't going to tell the internet about that, but my shame over eating something (SO MUCH of something) containing mayonnaise (horror of horrors!) took over and now it's too late.

Supplements: pro-biotics, post-workout recovery
Activity: ran 2 miles outside w/ Adam! walked for 2-3 mins between each mile

Meal 1:    oatmeal topped w/ cinnamon & 1 white peach, sliced
Meal 2:    banana
Meal 3:    OMG SO HUNGRY MUST HAVE MORE PROTEIN EARLY IN THE DAY. 1/2 leftover grilled, marinated chicken breast w/ avocado, romaine salad w/ tomatoes, red onion, cucumbers & balsamic vinaigrette
Meal 4:    almonds, carrots
Meal 5:    burger w/ feta, black bean salsa & avocado, huge romaine salad w/ tomatoes, cucumber, red onion & homemade healthy ranch dressing
Meal 6:    1/2 glass unsweetened chocolate almond milk

Friday, May 28, 2010

salad of the week - summahtime grilled chicken berry salad!

ever wish there was a Polyvore for food?

anyway, my phone doesn't have a camera (*gasp* the horror! ... i know, i know) and the camera-camera seems to have a dead battery. so, put on your Imagination Hats, boys and girls—it's time for Lunchtime Make-Believe!

i'm always struggling with what to eat for lunch at work. i try to be frugal and not purchase lunch, especially since having to study nutrition facts and menus for healthy options tends to stress me out anyway. so i pack 4 meals each day that i consume sometime between leaving the house at 8 am and returning about 5. yes, 4. Four. the one that comes after 3. (that crazy lady using a 5-gallon reusable grocery bag as a "lunch box?" yeah that's me. )  anyway. because of its convenience and obvious nutritious perks, lunchtime often turns into salad time, which can honestly get downright boring sometimes. so i've decided to share some of the genius Salad Epiphanies i've had on my little journey, see if i can't help spice up your noontime hour. (sexy exciting times!)

last night, upon my husband's prompting, i included an extra chicken breast in our dinner preparations. that way i knew I could slice up the extra grilled chicken breast when we were finished and include it in my lunch plans for the next day or two. (see, i told you he was a smart one!) and since i was craving something yummy and sweet, full of vitamins, that would be refreshing in all this dang hot weather we've been having lately, this is what i came up with:

[pretend there is a heartbreakingly yummy Food Network-style picture of a carefully arranged salad here.]

The Summahtime Grilled Chicken Berry Salad!

this salad pulls inspiration from a number of my favorites*, but mostly just ended up being what it was based on what resources i had at the time.
here's how you make your own:

baby spinach (or other healthy greens, i just really like spinach)
1/2 grilled chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces
2 large, ripe strawberries (a handful of blueberries would also be yummy.)
pre-made balsamic vinaigrette (I use Roundy's. otherwise, plain balsamic vinegar and EVOO will work just fine)
roasted, lightly salted pumpkin seeds

The MashUp:
1. plop a couple handfuls of spinach on the plate. it's spinach, you really can't have too much.
2. slice strawberries and lay them in a pretty pile on top
3. warm chicken slices in microwave for a little while, plop those on top, too.
4. drizzle vinaigrette over top lightly (honestly, i would've preferred plain balsamic & EVOO in this salad, as i tend to really like to crank up the balsamic since it's so yummy with the berries. but i was at work, and this is supposed to be one of those make-at-work, fuss-free recipes, right? a lovely raspberry vinaigrette would've been very good also. i use one Roundy's makes that's pretty tasty.)
5. sprinkle a few pumpkin seeds on top. (okay, full disclosure: i didn't have actually have pumpkin seeds with me at work, so for a little extra nutty crunch i added a sprinkling of flax seeds and spent the whole meal wishing i really had some pumpkin seeds. but yay for Omega 3s!)
6. scarf. loudly, if possible. your coworkers are probably wondering where that vinegar smell is coming from, anyway. might as well nosh away and remove all doubt.

hope you enjoy! what's next week's salad, you ask? we fly by the seat of our pants here, folks. your guess is as good as mine!

*Note: this makes a lovely, light side salad for any entree if you halve the portion and omit the grilled chicken. (the chicken, however, makes a great source of protein and makes this salad more of a lunch entree.) goes great with steak, salmon... oh heck, anything! srsly, i eat it all the time, you don't even know.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

make believe makes the world go 'round

sometimes i play tricks on myself in order to go on living, blissfully unaware that i'm restricting my intake of certain foods i used to indulge in often, and eating almost exclusively Healthy Things. i consider this a measure required for maintaining (relative) sanity in the midst of some major growing (shrinking?) pains. sort of like trying to get to the grocery store without having to drive past either Dairy Queen or Kopp's. (IMPOSSIBLE!)

anyway. one of these sneak tactics i like to call Fake Deviled Eggs. i get sick of eggs pretty fast, considering they make up my breakfast at least 3-4 days a week. you laugh, but deviled eggs make me happy, and pretending you're having a yummy holiday appetizer is way more fun that eating Another Stinky Egg Breakfast at your desk. i felt it was about time i let you all in on this dirty little secret, so here you go. my recipe for You Can Buy Morning Happiness, As It Turns Out:

2 eggs (i like Eggland's Best. ps they're cheaper at Sam's Club.)
few spoonfuls of 1% cottage cheese (KEMPS IS KING.)

Hard boil the eggs (make lots and lots all at once if you want. i do, i'm lazy and like to plan ahead.)
Bring them to work in a little baggy, or container of your choice. Peel the shells off the eggs and split them open length-wise. Dump out 1 and 1/2 of the yolks. Srsly, just get rid of them, you don't even need them. Dump out remaining 1/2 yolk onto a plate. Spoon a couple lumps of yummy Kemp's 1% cottage cheese (can you believe i'm not getting paid for this??) onto the plate. Smash yolk into cottage cheese until the color is consistently yellow and sunshiny throughout. Fill egg white halves with cottage cheese-yolk mixture. Top with pepper or that red stuff (paprika?) if you're feeling fancy. Proceed to make a big sloppy mess at your desk, but hey, no one else gets in for another 20 minutes, so who cares anyway. Pairs well with black coffee (or tea, for you coffee haters) and a few fresh berries.

"If I wanted to bring a large number of deviled eggs, but I didn't want to share them with anyone else, can you guarantee the fridge space?"

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

listening to...

i made some adjustments to my most recent iPod playlist, and i'm pretty happy with the mix so far today.
here's a sneakypeek (click image for more detail): 

Monday, May 24, 2010

good one, Del.

i've been noticing a trend lately in life, and our good friend Del Tackett hit it right on the head in this recent blog post.

you all know by now about my journey to a fitter, healthier life, but we've been working on some other improvements in tandem with The Fat to Fit Project. a while back we decided to get a little crazy about our finances. (more like crazy awesome than crazy uh-oh!) we hopped on Dave Ramsey's baby steps to a Total Money Makeover and are currently debt-free, except for the house. it took months and months of discipline, drive, communication, and not having lives, but the freedom and peace we've gained from it have been so completely worth it. we're now working on saving several months' expenses as an emergency fund. soon we'll be able to save for home improvement projects, invest in our future and live within our means without the stress and fear involved with being in debt.

i say all this to express my excitement at how much of my life has taken on a "run the race" quality. and although i heard that phrase over and over growing up, i think until you work at something, really work and strain and strive, and see the benefits of all that hard work, you can't really know what it all means. and as much as i've been able to blow off all the hokey "and then you get to the mountaintop" metaphors i've endured in my life, i have to say, there may be something to this slow-and-steady idea. almost like someone really, really smart designed things to work best this way...

Friday, May 21, 2010

the oatmeal chronicles

it was brought to my attention by an old friend that i spend the vast majority of my facebook statuses and other public forums reflecting on food. things i eat, things i want to eat, things i really shouldn't have eaten. this is not exactly news to me; i've been very open and frank about the fact that all i think about and do all day is graze and then think about what i can shove in my face next. but before you go getting all judgmental on me, let me tell you a story.

in November of this year, my friend Ryan put me up to a challenge. see, he's a certified personal trainer, kettlebell instructor, and all-around way healthier than at least 95% of the general population of the United States, i'm pretty sure. and, as i'm learning now, when you've found the secret to success in making the food work for you, you get really evangelistic and want to make everyone hop on board with you. so for YEARS Ryan has been on our cases to make healthier choices. my husband and i being two folks who enjoy pizza, nachos and wine more than we really care for, say, carrots, this was a hard sell. but i had had it with my weight gain, my out-of-shapeness, and my general pestering feeling that Something Must Be Done. so i took him up on his challenge, started eating on a diet plan he had been working with, and ramped up my workouts to 3-4 nights a week at his studio. AND THE REST IS HISTORY. (i've always wanted to say that.)

so here's how the story ends, or in the case of this blog, begins: GUESS WHAT, THE SILLY DIET PLAN WORKED. because it wasn't really a diet, so much as it was a kick start to train my body to want healthier things and function more efficiently. and because that night as we watched Ryan shovel platefuls of salad, chicken fingers and enchiladas down his trap (and burn ALL the calories from that! right there in front of us!) and considered his offer for a better life, that night proved to be a life-changer for me.

people at work have started to comment on how i have lost quite a bit of weight. some of my Fat Day clothes stopped fitting, and then some of the more Regular Day clothes, and now i've gotten to the point where my clothes i desperately hung onto from College When I Was Thin, THOSE CLOTHES DON'T REALLY FIT ANYMORE EITHER. i still have a ways to go before i meet my goals, and refuse to buy any new clothes in the meantime, but i'm going to go ahead right now and say that whatever change Ryan has encouraged here is not so shabby.

and the compliments are nice, they're scary and uncomfortable and really exciting all at the same time. but as i've started to make changes in my own life and "get it," i've felt a great responsibility to all the people i love to spread The Gospel of Good Health. so i try to lead by example. i try to maintain my healthy eating habits even with friends and family whose eating habits are anything but good. i try to introduce new foods to them, and help them learn that healthy eating can taste good, make you feel good and overall be just as enjoyable as that giant pile of cinnamon rolls paired with spicy sausage. (mmm... spicy sausage.) and for a long time it has been a struggle. it's been a fight over every meal, usually inside my head, whether or not to stick to the plan or to indulge in a little harmless cheating just to get along with the inlaws (or whoever, for that matter. it seems every office pot luck and family get-together is clouded with ample opportunities to Screw This Up.)

And then the other day, it happened. After a trip to Michigan to visit my husband's parents for Mother's Day, he got his message from his mother via Skype:
Tell Erin she changed our lives! Dad grilled talipia and asparagus and we were too hungry to wait for her fries but we had a nuked sweet potato. wehad abottle of Riesling in your honor. It was wonderful1
from mom
You'll be kind enough to forgive her typos, she's still learning Technology. (they were too cute to leave out.)

But THIS, my friends, THIS makes all the hard work worth it. THIS is why Ryan worked so hard to wean us off our garbage diet and herd us, like stubborn cats, into a better way of living. i hope he's proud of his Little Projects. he really should be.

so in tribute to the people who have made such a difference in my life, and in celebration of My Temple and how i've finally learned to honor it, and to share with others my experience (successes and Total Fails, of course) i now, today, on the Twenty-First Day of May, 2010, dedicate this blog to these things as well.

i realized recently that my intention with this forum was first to advertise my tiny budding handbag "business," and then more broadly, to share in a community of Crafters and Sewers on the Internet. but then i never posted. anything. sometimes i didn't even make things! thus the total lack of posting. really, the blog turned out to be pretty representative of that area of my life, because NOTHING WAS GETTING DONE. and while that's changing and i'm starting to pick up more projects and actually complete them (shocking), i've had to admit recently that all i really ever do with my time is Work, Work Out and Eat. and if i'm going to have a blog based, even loosely, on my life, why not focus on the things that my life consists of? this was, of course, my husband's idea. i love that man. he smells good... but anyway, if this turns out to suck, take it up with him. did i mention he's 6'4"? and crazy. just sayin'.

so here's the plan: i write about what's going on. short (or sometimes very long) little reflections on Food, Fitness, Fashion or Fabric. but no things that start with letters other than F. ... ok, kidding! lots of things. i no longer plan on restricting this forum to Things That Might Make Me Seem Cooler, and instead just throw it all out there. i guarantee, it's not as salacious as it sounds. but if you're lucky, i might even toss in an entry from my food diary for you, to boot.