Jan 28, 2011

here kitty, kitty

i've been thinking seriously for quite a while now about getting a cat.  a couple of weeks ago i was ready to go to the shelter and adopt one but things came up and i ran out of time.  i was thinking about doing it this week but decided i should wait until the weekend when i would have time to spend with the new kitty without having to leave it alone all day while i was at work. 

i was on the phone with adam earlier, talking about different adoption shelters, what sorts of things i'd need for a cat, when i could go today or tomorrow, when an email came through from my friend rachel.  the email explained that her co-worker's sister had to find a new home for her cat because her husband is going to be undergoing cancer treatment and is not supposed to be around pet dander or hair.  because of this they need to find a home for their 7 month old cat.  i heard the reason, saw pictures of the kitty and it was a done deal.  i will be driving down to cincinnati the weekend of february 12 to pick her up and bring her to chicago!  i'm soooo excited!  here are the only pics i have so far....

Jan 27, 2011

"i don't run unless someone is chasing me"

that was the motto i've lived by regarding running just for the sake of running.  that's not to say i don't run when needed, like while playing tennis, chasing my niece and nephew, trying to flag the only taxi in sight at 3am, etc.  but just to go out for a run and enjoy it has not been my strong suite.  well, i'm hoping to change that.  last year some friends and i talked about registering for a 5K together and i actually started training for it, only to be told by my cardiologist that i had to curb my exercise (even yoga!) until after i had a procedure done and we got my heart issues under control. 

here i am a year later and my friend gary just informed me that he signed up for the race again.  so, i bit the bullet and registered for it tonight.  hopefully having the race looming ahead and knowing i have to do it on a certain date will motivate me to get moving and start running.  i really have no excuse, as i am trying to get healthier, will be joining the local park district workout facility for the duration of these cold winter months, and the 5K literally goes right down my street and past my apartment. i admit, i'm nervous and for those of you who actually like to run and do 5Ks like it's a walk in the park, i'm sure that sounds silly, but like i said - i've never been a runner so it's going to be a learning process.  wish me luck!

Jan 26, 2011

restaurant review - my kitchen

so far i've managed to make the roasted root veggies and chicken pesto that i listed at the beginning of the week on my blog.  the veggies were great!

roasted root veg
1 butternut squash (cubed)
1 sweet onion, cut into chunks
1 red pepper, cut into chunks
2 carrots, sliced thickly
1/8 c. olive oil
1 T thyme
2 T rosemary
1 T balsamic vinegar

heat oven to 475.  mix olive oil, balsamic and herbs together, pour over veggies and stir til coated.  transfer to a roasting dish and roast 30-45 minutes, stirring every 15, until veggies are tender.  easy and yummy!

i made the pesto last night and had it tonight with spaghetti squash, chicken and sundried tomatoes.  fantastic!  here's a pic, though it doesn't look as good in the photo as it looked (and tasted!) in reality:

the whole bowl was only 6 points and with the wine it was a grand total of 9 on WW.  here's the recipe:

pesto sauce
2 T pine nuts
2 cups fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 T olive oil
2 cloves fresh garlic, peeled
1/2 tsp salt

place pine nuts in a small skillet and toast over medium heat, about 3 minutes.  transfer to plate to cool.  in a blender/food processor combine nuts, basil, broth, cheese, oil, garlic and salt.  process until smooth and thick.  yields about 1/4 cup per serving. 


Jan 24, 2011

weekly specials

in the spirit of continuing to try new recipes, i'll be making the following this week....

spaghetti squash with chicken, sundried tomatoes and homemade pesto

baked chicken with sauteed spinach and roasted garlic cauliflower and tomatoes

roasted root vegetables with rosemary and thyme

seared tuna with mango salsa (vegetable to be determined, perhaps roasted asparagus)

wish me luck! 

Jan 20, 2011

bag of potatoes and other assorted items

today was my weigh day for weight watchers and i'm happy to say that since i started the program on january 3, i've lost 5.5 pounds.  it may not sound like a lot but i'm happy with the results so far!  i've lost roughly the weight of a small bag (6 or so) potatoes!  next time i go to the store i'm going to pick one of those suckers up and remind myself that if i stick to this, it could be a much bigger bag i lose over the next few weeks. 

in other news, i got a raise yesterday!  when i texted the bf to tell him, his response was "did hell freeze over?" hee hee.  this is the first time in the two years at my current job that we've had a raise due to budget cuts and the economy.  i'm so excited.  it's not a ton of money but every little bit helps!

i was also given a blackberry by my boss.  while i'm so glad i won't have to use my personal phone, which i do a LOT, anymore for work, there's something about being readily available at all times that makes me a little uncomfortable.  but, now i can lower my phone plan minutes and save some money!  yay!

my friend gary just had sinus surgery and is doing well.  i hope he feels better soon!  get well gary!

adam and i are going to see "black swan" later today.  i've really been wanting to see it but everyone is warning me to prepare myself for the psychotic nature of the film.  maybe i'll post a review here with my thoughts.

i need a new book to read.  i plowed through 3 books over christmas and new year's and now i'm stumped on what to read next.  i just started re-reading "the book thief", which i love, but i'd rather be reading something new.  i have a couple of long, heavy reads on the list but i'm looking for something lighter right now.  if anyone has suggestions, let me know.

i just found out on monday that my good friends jill and nick are having a baby boy in june!!  i'm so, so excited for them!  they're going to be great parents and we're already starting to plan the baby shower.  congrats to jill and nick!

i think that's about it for today.  i'm actually having a pretty good week.  i hope you are, too.  :)

Jan 17, 2011

my obsession with ted

first off, i know i'm posting twice in one day.  i hope the earth doesn't implode because of this catastrophic and scientifically unexplainable event.  moving on.

i'm obsessed with ted.  no, i'm not cheating on the bf or stalking some celebrity.  i'm talking about ted.com, "a small nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. It started out (in 1984) as a conference bringing together people from three worlds: Technology, Entertainment, Design. Since then its scope has become ever broader. Along with two annual conferences -- the TED Conference in Long Beach and Palm Springs each spring, and the TEDGlobal conference in Oxford UK each summer -- TED includes the award-winning TEDTalks video site, the Open Translation Project and Open TV Project, the inspiring TED Fellows and TEDx programs, and the annual TED Prize."

this site is one of the best things i've stumbled upon in a while and i'm sure it's well known to those of you out there who are more internet-savvy than i.  ted.com gives you access to talks, interviews and lectures on a variety of topics from some of the top speakers and experts around the world.

i was getting ready to clean my messy apartment today and was struggling to find music i felt like listening to on my ipod/iphone.  sometimes i turn on the tv just to have background noise, but i didn't want to have daytime tv in all its glory blaring in the apartment, either.  i've been meaning to check out ted so i thought this would be a good time to do so.  i'm hooked. 

while cleaning, i listened to talks on nurturing creativity (presented by author elizabeth gilbert), why there are too few women in the workforce (presented by facebook coo sheryl sandberg), the influence of architecture on music (david byrne, musician), why the world needs wiki leaks (interview with wikileaks founder julian assange), and global power shifts (joseph nye, former assistant secretary of defense), just to name a few.  these are great because they're relatively short, about 20 minutes, and you don't really have to be sitting, glued to the computer to absorb what the speaker is presenting.  it's great to listen to while doing other tasks, especially mindless cleaning.  subjects range from art to politics to science to entertainment and everything in between.  it's sort of like audio cliff's notes for current affairs.

check it out.  you won't be disappointed.

souper sunday

i've never made soup before.  well, i've made various chilis and taco soup, etc. but i've never made the kind of soup where you have to puree veggies and make it into a liquid consistency.  i did this for the first time last night.  i'd like to try to start making soups on the weekend to then refrigerate or freeze and have on hand for the upcoming days. for this one i used a WW recipe for creamy thai carrot soup and went to work boiling, simmering and blending (thank you mom and dad for my new ninja blender/food processor!).  i actually enjoyed the process and though i didn't have any of the soup last night, i was looking forward to it today for lunch.  i have to say, i'm not as fond of it as i had hoped.  while it looks tasty:

it just didn't have the flavor i was hoping for.  the recipe calls for a pound of carrots, chicken broth, onions, garlic, salt, tofu (to make it creamy without using cream), curry paste and ginger root.  oddly enough, all i had to buy for this was tofu so it seemed like a great choice!  i tasted it after i had pureed it and found it to be a little bland, so i added some garlic salt and fresh cilantro, then re-blended.  letting it sit overnight definitely helped some of the other flavors come through.  it does have a little heat to it because of the curry paste and garnishing it with fresh mint gives it a coolness that is really nice.  however, if i make it again i'll add more broth (it came out the consistency of baby food) and spice it up a little more.  overall it's not bad and it would be fine to have a cup of it with the rest of your meal, but on it's own it's not the most satisfying dish in terms of flavor.  it is very filling, though, which is probably why it's only 2 points for a serving on weight watchers!  if i were grading this soup i'd give it a C and hopefully if i make it again i can bring that up to a B!

Jan 8, 2011

foray into food

those of you who know me well know that i am not very kitchen-capable.  more often than not, when i tell friends and/or family that i'm planning to cook a meal (aside from my staple turkey burger tacos or stir fry which i've mastered), i'm met with laughter, disbelief or the occasional offer to bring over take out when my attempt fails miserably.  the truth is, i can cook, i just haven't ever really bothered to try many new recipes and i've never exactly enjoyed spending the majority of my evenings after work in the kitchen, sweating over a stove. 

i'll admit, i did start cooking a little more frequently when the bf started coming over for meals.  on my own, i could eat a bowl of cereal, some pita chips and hummus, drink a glass of wine and call that dinner.  i was happy with that but given the fact that he can eat more in one sitting than anyone i've ever known and also thinks my cooking is great (he subsists on frozen pizza and stouffer's dinners and has never even used the stove in the apartment he's lived in since july, if that tells you anything), i started cooking actual meals for us a couple times a week and started to enjoy stop hating the task of cooking quite so much. 

now that i've started weight watchers, i've been sort of forced to start cooking more, pay closer attention to ingredients, and try new recipes and ideas.  i'm actually finding that i'm liking this new adventure into making meals that are not only healthy, but taste great and fit right in with the WW program.  so, i'll probably be posting a little bit about my cooking adventures here, not to pat myself on the back for not completely ruining some perfectly good food, but to highlight meals i've enjoyed that could help give healthy ideas to others. 

two of my favorites from this week....

buffalo chicken salad
4 oz. chicken tenders
1 T BW3 wing sauce
1 T light sour cream
1 wedge laughing cow blue cheese
cherry tomatoes
red onion

yes, i made my own low cal, low fat, low point dressing with sour cream and laughing cow blue cheese!

and last night's dinner:

chicken parmesan
chicken parm prepared via WW recipe and i added some roasted spaghetti squash to supplement for the missing pasta.  add a salad and a glass of red wine and voila! yummy, healthy dinner!

yes, that's real mozzarella cheese and normal red wine.  i'm learning that with just a few moderations and closer attention to portions and ingredients i can still have all of the things i love!

Jan 5, 2011

one little word

i was reading teresabug's blog and saw her post about choosing a word for 2011.  her word for this year is less, meaning that she is going to "focus on living with less, buying less, eating less, worrying less, trying to be someone that I am not less, trying to please other less and perfecting less so that I have time to focus on the important things in my life."

i really like the idea of finding a word that will help shape my motivation and goals for the year.  the interesting thing was, as soon as i thought about choosing a word for myself for the year, the word itself popped into my head immediately.  my word for 2011 is commit.  this year i will commit to getting healthy, commit to furthering my career path, commit to trying new things and commit to strengthening important relationships in my life.  by choosing the word commit, i feel that i am also committing to holding myself accountable for all of the things i want to accomplish this year. 

what's your word for 2011?

Jan 3, 2011

new year's resolutions

well, it's that time of year again.  time to clean out the cupboards, pitch all of the junk food, get going on healthy eating and working out.  i've decided to join weight watchers (again) in order to help me with this.  i did WW a couple of years ago and had really good results; unfortunately, i fell off the proverbial wagon and re-gained all of the weight i'd lost plus some, so i figure it's time to give it another go.  in addition to eating better i'm also pledging to work out more (aren't we all??).  i'm joining an indoor sports center that will give me access to indoor tennis courts during these frigid winter months in chicago, my great boyfriend got me yoga sessions at my favorite studio for christmas, and i'm going to utilize the workout center at my office (for which i've had a key for 2 years but have never stepped foot inside) to get in some cardio a couple days a week.  i'm really determined this time to stick with it, so i'm probably going to be updating here now and then on my progress, just to keep me accountable. 

happy new year to you all and good luck with your own resolutions!