Friday, August 29, 2008

Worst vacation day EVER

I did not have a very good day today. It started out pleasantly enough (despite the fact that it's been gray, rainy, and dreary all day... at least it wasn't cold out!). I woke up, enjoyed a nice bowl of Barbara's Multigrain Shredded Spoonfuls (my new love) with a banana (super-ripe, just how I like 'em!), some skim milk, and cinnamon. I ate in my pjs while channel-surfing. This was exciting for me, because I never sit around in my pajamas and eat breakfast, because on the weekends I'm usually so on-the-go trying to get everything done, so I normally get up, get dressed, make my bed, get all organized, then eat breakfast and am out the door ready to tackle the morning. well, not today. I was lazy and leisurely and it felt great! I'm definitely going to try to do that more often... there's no need to be on such a schedule on the weekends, you know? I don't know why I do that. My new philosophy should be, hey, it's the weekend... it'll get done when it gets done! :)

I can't get enough of this cereal, seriously:

DSCI0528 DSCI0536 (It gets all soggy at the bottom too... just like Life cereal!) :)

After breakfast, I did have some stuff I needed to get done though, so I got dressed, hit the gym and did a 1/2 hour on the epliptical while catching the last half of The Rachael Ray Show, and stopped by the optometrist's office to pick up my new reading glasses, which are so cute! And then I stopped at the library to drop off Mad Men because it was due today, and I picked up a few magazines to read at the gym, and as I was leaving, I BITCH-SMACKED a curb. I mean, hard. I thought I had hit something or someone at first. And of course it was my back right tire (my back tires were already dying; I knew that they weren't going to pass inspection in October, but I figured I'd worry about it then because the mechanic said the tires would be fine until then). I didn't know what to do. I was right by the Wal-Mart (which was my ultimate destination), and the car seemed driveable, I didn't feel my tire going flat or anything, plus the Wal-Mart has a Tire and Lube Express station, so I went there anyway. Of course, the Tire and Lube Express station was closed (I guess because of the holiday? This was Friday morning at 11 a.m., so I don't know what else the reason could be), picked up the few things I needed, high-tailed it out of there, and immediately drove to my auto mechanic, which isn't too far away from Wal-Mart and very close to my apartment. I explained what happened, and they took a look and said I should probably replace the tire today, and since I was replacing the one, I might as well replace them both since they were both in stock now, and it's better to replace them at the same time anyway. Since they weren't going to pass inspection anyway, I said to go ahead and do it. They did it very quickly- in about an hour, maybe less- and they were so nice about it, but still... this was not how I wanted to spend my vacation day! And it cost me $200! Argh!

Plus, I cried. I was so embarrassed that I did this, but I cried. Right in front of the mechanic. Like a total idiot. It just happened so quickly, and I was so frustrated because all I wanted to do was have a nice, relaxing vacation day (at the time I cried, I didn't realize it would only take an hour, I thought I would be there for, like, five hours), and instead I had to deal with this. I must have looked like a total idiot. Luckily, the mechanic was really nice about it- I apologized for being such a girl about the situation, and he said this was nothing compared to some of the women who came in, and that it was the tears that did him in anyway, LOL- but still. I was MORTIFIED. I still am. But at least now it's taken care of and they'll pass inspection in October. Plus I got a discount (they give my company's employees a discount because they get a lot of business from us), and now the tires will pass inspection. And I needed to get it done anyway, so it all kind of worked itself out, I guess.

Then I got home and got situated and unloaded the dishwasher, and put away all my stuff from Wal-Mart, and didn't end up sitting down to lunch until about 2:45 or so. I made a vegetarian hot dog and was going to have baby carrots on the side, but I found a moldy baby carrot in the bag (infuriating since I bought them not even a week ago and their expiration date isn't until mid-September), and that made me wary to eat any of them, so I threw them out. Luckily I have frozen crinkle cut carrots in the back, but I was still pissed. And the rest of the day was just blah from there. This didn't feel like a vacation day at all! Grrr.

At least I managed to put together a yummy dinner for myself: Chicken Stir-Fry:

DSCI0542 It's just boneless skinless chicken grilled up with a bit of TJ's Chili Pepper Sauce, some frozen Oriental blend veggies, and instant brown rice, with more chili pepper sauce (I can't get enough of this stuff!). With some pineapple tidbits on the side. Yummy goodness!

And finally, here's a pic of me in my new reading glasses!

DSCI0539 (Forgive the lack of makeup, haha)

Anyway, time for some rest and relaxation... hopefully the rest of the weekend is much better than today was! Hope you all had a great Friday night!!!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Labor Day Weekend already???

I can't believe that it's Labor Day weekend already... where did the summer go??? I'm so bummed... summer is hands-down my favorite time of the year! Fall's nice too, but to me, it's just a reminder that winter is around the corner, and I... hate... winter. I really do. I hate being cold (I have a really low cold tolerance, seriously... it gets to the point where I'm physically nauseous sometimes from being cold), and I hate ice and snow and all the gray blah weather and the fact that it's dark by 5 p.m. I hate all of it. I leave my apartment as little as possible in the winter... work and the gym... that's it! My roommate jokes that I should move to California, and believe me, I've thought about it more than once!

Does anyone have any fun and exciting Labor Day weekend plans? I don't really, although I have a four-day weekend!!! Yay! I'm not really doing much of anything though. Tomorrow I'll probably hit the gym in the morning, and then I have to pick up my new reading glasses from the optometrist (they're so cute... I'll post a pic tomorrow!), and go to Wal-Mart, probably do laundry and read, and I might bake some banana muffins. We'll see! My sister is probably coming up this weekend for one more sisters' summer slumber party before she has to go back to school (not that we won't get together during the year, of course, but she'll be a lot busier with school and work and all that fun teenager stuff, haha) and we might go see The Rocker. On Sunday I have exciting plans to sit on the couch and watch the Season 2 marathon of Mad Men. And no plans on Monday! Maybe the gym for a small workout, and definitely reading and relaxing!

Speaking of reading, I finished Two Little Girls in Blue last night. I told you it would be an extremely fast read! Mary Higgins Clark's books are always fast reads and always a bit on the predictable side. I liked it. I pretty much figured out how the story was going to play out, so there were no surprises, but it was a decent book. So I picked a new book to read from the No Book Left Behind Box, and at first, I picked Like Water for Chocolate, by Laura Esquivel. But I thumbed through it and decided not to read it- it just didn't really look like a book I'd be that into. So I picked again, and selected this!

DSCI0519 Bitch, by Elizabeth Wurtzel (she also wrote Prozac Nation, which I've never read, but is supposed to be very good). I picked this up at the last used book sale I went to a few months ago. Here's a synopsis of the book from goodreads:

Elizabeth Wurtzel, an ex-rock critic for The New Yorker, won controversial fame with her bestselling 1994 memoir Prozac Nation: Young and Depressed in America, which described how Prozac saved the precocious Harvard grad from suicide. Her second book, Bitch is a celebration of the defiant, rock & roll spirit of self-destructive women through the ages: Delilah, Amy Fisher, Princess Di, and hundreds more (including the awesomely reckless Wurtzel). There is no comprehensible central line of argument, perhaps because the author did her exhaustive research and writing on a speedy Kerouacesque drug binge that, by her own admission, sent her to rehab upon the book's conclusion. But Wurtzel has the remains of a fine mind: her insights are often sharp, sometimes bitchy, and always shameless as she zooms in a very few pages from The Oresteia to O.J. to her first crush on a fictional character (Heathcliff) to Jim Thompson's The Killer Inside Me, Richard Pryor, Chrissie Hynde, Leaving Las Vegas, Gone with the Wind, Sylvia Plath's "Daddy," Schindler's List, Oliver!, Carousel, and Andrea Dworkin. Most pop culture pundits incline to grandiose blather, but Wurtzel is punchy, and her quotes are more often apt than pretentious. Bitch is like a Mr. Toad's Wild Ride in a library, with frequent rampages through the film and music archives. Like rock music, Wurtzel's prose style lives for the moment. She glories in breaking rules to bits, is never giddier than when she's saying something shocking, and apparently has no moral code except self-expression--with the attitude volume knob cranked up to 11.

I love sociology books, and I love womens' studies, so this is right up my alley! I've already read about 30 pages. You can definitely tell it's an older book, because it's a little outdated- in the first 30 pages alone, it talks about Courtney Love, Gwyneth Paltrow and Brad Pitt's breakup (I had completely forgotten they ever dated!), and Hillary Clinton in her pre-Senator days- but the key message of women and society will be the same. Here are some quotes from the book that have stuck with me so far:

*"I intend to do what I want to do and be whom I want to be and answer only to myself; that is, quite simply, the bitch philosophy, and it seems particularly refreshing in the face of all the contortions women are taught to put ourselves through."

*"In all likelihood, the only man who will ever like me just as I am will probably need to believe I'm somebody else at first."

*"What if you want to be large in a world that would have you be small, diminished?"

*"I think, quite frankly, that the world simply does not care for the complicated girls, the ones who run too dark, too deep, too vibrant, too opinionated, the ones who are so intriguing that new men fall in love with them every day."

I could go on and on just from the first few pages that I read. This is probably going to be a pretty empowering book. Go women!!!!

I tried something new for dinner: Vegetarian Sloppy Joe!


DSCI0522 This was soooo good! I combined 1/2 package of Boca Ground Burger crumbles, 1 tablespoon relish, 1 tablespoon Trader Joe's BBQ sauce, and some chopped onion in a pan, then topped on a Matthew's All-Natural English muffin. Along with my latest obsession, steamed broccoli with melted reduced fat Colby Jack, and a side salad and pineapple... very tasty! This is definitely a repeat dish! Good thing I have more Boca crumbles in the freezer!!!

Okay, off to watch the last ep of Mad Men and then rel-ax!!!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

I joined the cult today.

I officially joined the cult today. The official cult of the Peanut Butter Cookie Larabar Lovers. I'm one of you now. :-D I officially understand what the obsession is with these bars. I had my first one today as my pre-workout snack.

I must confess, I was excited to try it, but a little worried it wouldn't live up to the hype, which is how I felt when I tried the Cherry Pie Larabar. I liked it, but wasn't in love with it, you know? Well, this experience was totally different... I was in love with this bar from the first bite. It tasted just like a peanut butter cookie. It was like eating peanut butter cookie dough... healthy peanut butter cookie dough, at that! I couldn't get enough of this bar. Literally. I experienced physical sadness when I was done eating it. I looked for crumbs and ate all the ones I could find (anyone else find those bars a little crumbly?).

The one drawback I have is something that is entirely my fault. I did not expect the bar to be so heavy, and I ate it right before a big cardio workout. And I mean literally right before the workout. I swallowed the last bite (very sadly), and changed and hopped on the Epliptical right afterwards. I was definitely feeling the bar sitting in my tummy about halfway through my workout. Oops. The Cherry Pie Larabar wasn't quite so dense (probably because of the lighter, fruitier ingredients), so I didn't really think about it. I ate this bar about three hours ago and I am still definitely feeling it in my tummy. Dinner is definitely going to be on the lighter side tonight, I think. My own fault, though. The Larabar did nothing wrong. So next time, I'll either give myself more time to digest it properly by eating it earlier and then working out, or I guess I could eat half of the bar, but it was so damn delicious, I think that would be near impossible. I don't think I could make myself stop!

So two very very very enthusiastic thumbs up for the Peanut Butter Cookie Larabar. This will be a repeat purchase. I still need to try the Banana Cookie and Apple Pie flavors, because those are the ones I bought. (I eat almost all of my bars in my bar stash before I go out and buy new ones... more economical, I guess!)

I tried two other new products over the weekend- Chobani Nonfat Greek Yogurt (Peach flavor) and Barbara's Shredded Spoonfuls cereal:

1. Chobani Nonfat Greek Peach Yogurt (no pic; I threw away the container)- very good! I liked it much better than Fage and Trader Joe's brand. Definitely my favorites of all the brands I've tried! I cut up a few pieces of mango and threw them in for some extra fruity fun. I still have a strawberry one that I have yet to try. Definitely a repeat purchase!

2. Barbara's Shredded Spoonfuls Multigrain cereal:


Verdict: A-MAZ-ING. I love Barbara's Peanut Butter Puffins, and I've been eyeing this cereal for some time now debating buying it for a while, and finally decided to give in and treat myself and make it my new weekend cereal (I bring Kashi GoLean and FiberOne to work- they keep me going for hours!) It looks and tastes identical to Life Cereal, only healthier! It even gets all soggy at the bottom like Life does, LOL. I tried my first bowl with blueberries and sprinkled cinnamon on top, and sat on my balcony and ate it, and with each bite, I felt like a kid again! Cinnamon Life was my favorite cereal growing up (that and Honey Nut Cheerios), so this totally took me back to childhood. I can't wait to try it again, only this time with a sliced banana and cinnamon (I love bananas in my cereal much more than berries... I just happened to have an abundance of blueberries in my fridge this weekend, and no bananas, boo). The nutritional stats aren't too shabby either- a 3/4 cup serving is 120 calories, 1.5 g fat, 5 g sugar (now that's impressive), 4 g fiber, and 4 g protein. Not too shabby! Definitely my new favorite weekend cereal. Normally I don't eat cereal on the weekends- I have oatmeal or pancakes or eggs- but my kitchen's definitely going to keep this cereal in stock going forward! Yum!

I also retried Lightlife Smart Dogs. I wasn't liking them too much at first, but I promised my coworker (who is an enthusiast of them) that I would give them one more try, and if I didn't like them, he could have the rest of them. I tried a new method of cooking them- the old-school method of boiling on the stove- and it turned out to be not too bad! I'd tried microwaving them before and using my grill, but neither method was very effective and I didn't really care for them. But I guess the tried-and-true method of boiling was the way to go! I don't know if I'll buy them again, but I'll at least finish out the pack I bought. Sorry Ira!

Other than my exciting new food finds, not much going on here today. Work was boring. My training class was painful. I'm sad I have to go back tomorrow. But at least it's only a half day! I definitely did not enjoy my earlier schedule today... it's thrown my body clock off, that's for sure. Everything was thrown off for me today... my sleep, my meals, my workout...oh well... just one more day of it and then it's back to my usual routine! I am a creature of habit, and I like my routine, so I'll be glad to resume normalcy on Thursday!

I did some more reading today, and I'm about one-third of the way into the book. The plot just picked up significantly (it was dragging out for a while- I think because each chapter is only a few pages long), so it was hard to put the book down on my lunch break! The kidnappers have just picked up the ransom, and were going to drop off the twins at an arranged location, but here's where the twist comes in. And that's all I'm gonna say for now... pretty much because that's all I know right now!

Oh wow, it's already past 8. Try to go eat some dinner (I'm thinking just a veggie burger or veggie hot dog, and some broccoli and a big salad and some fruit, because I'm still not hungry at all but need to eat something for dinner and it's getting late!), and then read and watch The Office.

Hope you all have a great Tuesday!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Embracing your inner princess

Hello Blogland! I hope that everyone had a fantabulous weekend. I sure did! I watched almost the entire second half of the first season of Mad Men this weekend, which is awesome, because I'll be all caught up just in time for the second season marathon that AMC is airing on Sunday afternoon (forget the Labor Day barbecues... you know my ass is gonna be on the couch on Sunday watching this marathon! I'll grill a piece of chicken on my George Foreman grill while I watch it, haha!). I am so loving this show!!!

But even better, I had such a blast with my sister this weekend. We had so much fun just hanging out. The weather was gorgeous all weekend- sunny and warm but not humid. We took the train into Philly with no set "plans", just to wander. We grabbed lunch at Cosi and I got my Cosi favorite- the Bombay Chicken Salad- and she got her favorite- the Turkey and Brie sandwich- and we met up with one of my best friends, Gary, and we ate lunch in Rittenhouse Park, and just talked and talked and enjoyed the beautiful weather and each others' company. Then we went to Barnes and Noble to wander, and I found two bargain books that I had to own- The Rest of Her Life, by Laura Moriarty (I read another book of hers, The Center of Everything, and loved it, and I'd heard about this book and wanted to read it, so I figured finding a hardback copy for $6 was fate's way of saying I needed to own it- plus I have a B&N gift card from my birthday, so really, it was free!), and Tripping the Prom Queen, by Susan Shapiro Barash. It's a sociological look into female rivalry. It was $5 and I liked the title, plus I thumbed through it and it had lots of pop culture references to things like Mean Girls and Gilmore Girls. I love books like this, so I figured, why not add two more books to No Book Left behind? What's two more? LOL, at this rate, I'll never be able to go to the library ever again because I'll be spending the rest of my life trying to read all the damn books on my bookshelves! Oh well. We pretty much just spent the afternoon wandering around Rittenhouse Park. We saw three just-married couples having their wedding pictures taken in the park. It was so cute... all the couples looked so happy and blushy, and the brides were all so beautiful... it's funny, I'm not really sure if I personally ever want to get married (I know- it's rare to hear a girl say something like that! But to be honest, I'm just not sure it's for me... that's a whole 'nother blog entry for a different day!), but I love weddings. I love wedding shows, reading about the history and sociology of marriage, going to weddings, all that jazz... I'm just not sure I really want to do it myself. But I appreciate being a spectator!

Later in the afternoon, we wandered back to the suburbs and hung out with my roommate for a bit. I don't know how this chain of events occured and I don't remember how exactly the conversation got there, but at some point, the three of us ended up wearing tiaras on our heads. Haha. Like I said, I'm not sure how exactly we ended up there. We were just having a silly girl Saturday night moment, you know? Anyway, we decided to leave them on, and we wore them all night. My roommate took hers off eventually because she was going to the movies, but my sister and I left ours on the rest of the night. Yes, indeed, we sat there, in our pajamas and tiaras, and watched St. Elmo's Fire. And it was awesome. We all decided that there was just something about putting on a tiara- even a silly $2 plastic one- that just made you feel better about yourself. It made you feel silly, and happy, and girly, and pretty, so why not wear it and wear it proud, and embrace your inner princess and celebrate who you are? Why not? It's like the episode of Friends when Phoebe, Monica, and Rachel sit around in wedding dresses, because it just made them feel good, you know? We should all being channeling our inner princess every day in some way or another- maybe not by donning a tiara, necessarily, because people will look at you funny (and try explaining to your boss why you are wearing a tiara at work!), but in some way or another- treating yourself to a new nail polish, or putting a little extra strut in your step when you walk down the street, or pulling out your most comfy cozy pjs and reading in bed- whatever. Whatever you need to do to feel like a goddess, do it, because you deserve it! I've already decided that the next time I need to do laundry or unload the dishwasher, I'm going to put on the tiara. That was the lesson learned from Saturday night.

But the weekend's over now, and this princess is back to the daily grind that is corporate cubicle life. I did get a lot of reading in today on my lunch break- I'm about 75 pages into Two Little Girls in Blue. It's pretty good- it's the typical Mary Higgins Clark story that I expected it to be. It's keeping my attention, but without that can't-put-the-book-down-must-keep-reading-the-hell-with-sleep-and-work sensation. I'm liking it. I anticipate being done with it within the week. Those stories are pretty fast reads.

Well, it's getting late and I need to get up even earlier than usual to get to work even earlier than usual, because this princess has training tomorrow and Wednesday. But the beauty of going in half an hour earlier means leaving a half hour earlier. Hurray! And getting to the gym half an hour earlier, which is awesome because it will be less crowded. Yay!

Annoying CM comes back to work tomorrow. Boo. I was enjoying the solitude. Although it'll be nice to have Annoying CM #2 go back to bothering her. Today she came up to me, tugged at her blouse, and decided to educate me on the fact that the laws of gravity are against her when it comes to her chest. What do you say to that? I gave the most obvious awkward laugh possible and refused to make eye contact. I'm not sure she got the hint.

I'll be back tomorrow with some food product reviews! I tried a few awesome new products over the weekend, and tomorrow I am trying the critically acclaimed Peanut Butter Cookie Larabar that I have been hearing so much about! Goodnight!!!

Friday, August 22, 2008

I <3 Weekends

Who doesn't, really? ;-) Here's why I'm psyched about this weekend in particular:

*I have been on a waiting list for a month for the second half of the first season of Mad Men, and it finally came in today! I rented the first half of the first season from my library to see what all the fuss was about, and I got completely hooked on this show! I love it! I'm dying to get caught up with the first season so I can start watching the second season on TV... they're only two or three episodes in, so hopefully I can catch the reruns and get all caught up! Anyway, I've been waiting and waiting, and it finally came in today! Woo-hoo! I ran out and got it right away on my lunch break. So you pretty much know how I'll be spending my evening tonight!

*My sister and I are spending most of the weekend together! I'm picking her up tomorrow and taking her back to my place, and then we're going to take the train into Philly and hang out there for the day, then we'll come back and watch a movie and she'll spend the night. She's sixteen and I don't get to see her that often, so we want to get in some extra bonding time before she has to start school again. We used to not be very close because we're so far apart in age- she was only seven when I left for college- but we've gotten a lot closer throughout the years, because we've gone through a lot of stuff together with our family (let's just say that we did not grow up with Mike and Carol Brady, and just leave it at that for now... one day I'll get more into it, I promise!) and it's brought us a lot closer. There are things in this world that I've been through that literally no one could ever understand but her, and that gives me a deep love and appreciation for her. So I really enjoy spending time with her! She is such a sweet person- laid-back, very honest and real, and she loves to read as much as I do- we hit used book sales together all the time! She's also an amazingly talented artist. She has been since she was a little girl. She's been taking art classes since she was little, and she is just truly gifted. That's just one more reason that the world's a better place because she's in it, LOL. That was sappy. She will read that and make fun of me for eternity. Whatevs. She also wants to be a tattoo artist when she gets older, which I think is great- they'll always be in demand, she'll probably make good money (and then she can support me), and even better, it means I get free tats! I have one now and I want more, I have them all picked out and everything, it's just a question of money and geographic location on my body (I like having them in places where they're hidden, yet I can see them, because if I'm going to drop a lot of money on permanent ink on my body, I want to be able to see it whenever I want! The one I have now is on the lower left side of my back, so when I twist and look over my left shoulder, I can see it fine. I'll post a pic sometime. Anyway, she's so much fun, and I can't wait until she's eighteen! (Even better, twenty-one! Haha) We'll probably take pics and I'll post them on the blog this weekend.

*I am quite low on groceries, and will end up hitting all four of my stores this weekend- Giant, Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, and Wegmans (my fave!!!!). I'm actually not going to Whole Foods myself... I have a "personal shopper". One of my coworkers works there part-time, and he offers to pick things up for us and use his employee discount, and how can I refuse an offer like that? So I gave him a list! It's short but sweet: Matthew's All-Natural Whole Wheat English Muffins (for my latest veggie-burgers-on-English-muffins obsession courtesy of all my food-blogging buddies out there!), Chocolate, Chocolate Cherry, and Chocolate Mint Jocolat Bars, and Banana Bread, Apple Pie, and Peanut Butter Cookie Larabars. I have seen this Peanut Butter Cookie Larabar pop up on everyone's blog lately, and I've read how it's the best bar they've ever had, and anything that is guaranteed to taste just like a soft fresh-baked peanut butter cookie and is healthy for you needs to be tried. I tried the Cherry Pie Larabar and wasn't too impressed, but I have high hopes for the others. I already stopped by Giant on my way home from the gym- I only go there to pick up a few items that Wegmans either doesn't carry or charges more for- and found some exciting new items to try: Strawberry and Peach Chobani Greek Yogurts, Health Valley No-Salt-Added Spicy Vegetarian Chili (I love their no-salt-added soups... I tried the no-salt-added Minestrone last weekend and it was delish! My favorite is still the Lentil, but they were out of it, boo-hiss), and Chocolate Vitatops (I almost didn't buy them, but they were on sale and will be perfect for nights where I must have chocolate for dessert). And some other stuff, but those are the exciting finds. I also get to go to Produce Junction for fresh fruit, and a quick trip to Target or Wal-Mart. Oh, yes... life is good! :-) (P.S.- can you tell that I got paid this week? Haha!)

*Last but not least... I get to pick a new book tonight! I actually finished Beautiful Bodies today at the gym! It was such a fast read, it really did read like a play. It just flowed. Anyway, it was pretty good! A nice story about the complexity of female friendships, especially with those friends you've had forever. I wish they had gone more into their history, and I think the ending wrapped up too nicely given all the drama that went on throughout the book- I feel that a lot of stories and questions went unresolved and unanswered (which is another reason it would make a fabulous play), but hey, it entertained me for a few days. There were a few great quotes in there about life and relationships that I wanted to pull out and share:

*"Sometimes you have to go broke to get paid: the sucking void primes the pump."

*"You know, with men or without men, we make our own lives."

*"I didn't even want to resent him anymore. I wanted to be more than some catalog of injustices, a record of hurts... of what he'd done, what I'd done."

*"Maybe some of us are still looking for whatever it is you look for... when you don't like what you are looking at."

They made me stop and think, how true, you know?

So two thumbs up for Beautiful Bodies. Not a must-have for my collection- I probably would have been fine borrowing this from the library- but for a bargain book from amazon, not too bad at all.

And now, the moment you've been waiting for. It's time to pick a new book. Drumroll please...

DSCI0503 I started reading Mary Higgins Clark in middle school and have read her off and on throughout the years, and I've really liked almost every book of hers I've read. They're always fast reads, so I anticipate being done this sometime next week. I picked this up at a library paperback book sale last year for a quarter. Here's a synopsis off goodreads: When Margaret and Steve Frawley come home to Connecticut from a black-tie dinner in New York, their three-year-old twins, Kathy and Kelly, are gone. The police found the babysitter unconscious, and a ransom note from the "Pied Piper" demands eight million dollars. Steve's global investment firm puts up the money, but when they go to retrieve the twins, only Kelly is in the car. The dead driver's suicide note says he inadvertently killed Kathy.
At the memorial, Kelly tugs Margaret's arm and says: "Mommy, Kathy is very scared of that lady. She wants to come home right now." At first, only Margaret believes that the twins are communicating and that Kathy is still alive. But as Kelly's warnings become increasingly specific and alarming, FBI agents set out on a desperate search.

Should be a quick interesting read. I don't know how much I'll get to this weekend, but I'll probably start it at some point tonight. But for now, it's time to whip up a quick dinner (grilled chicken breast with all-natural barbecue sauce, sweet potato fries, and carrots... probably won't post a pic, you all know what that looks like!) and start Mad Men. I can't wait!!!

I hope everyone has a fabulous weekend!!!!

BTW... did anyone else catch Margaret Cho's new reality show last night on VH1- The Cho Show? My roommate and I watched it last night, and we thought it was hysterical! If you like Kathy Griffin and her reality show, you'll definitely like Margaret Cho's show too!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Tried something new!

For your viewing pleasure, I bring you... Shrimp Vegetable Fried Rice, healthy-style!

DSCI0496 DSCI0492The last of my Egg Beaters (about 1/4 cup) scrambled, instant brown rice, frozen oriental veggies, and frozen precooked shrimp (with different sauces on the side to dip my chopsticks in- Wasabi, Chili Pepper Sauce, Hot Mustard, etc). This was yum. Definitely a repeat dish!

I am 2/3 of the way through Beautiful Bodies- so far still good! All six girlfriends just got to the party, and so the story is really getting underway now. This book could easily be a play, because the entire story takes place over the course of just one evening, plus the main event takes place in a loft- center stage! Haha.  :-)

Today was hectic at work. Tomorrow doesn't look much better. The downside of Annoying CM being out of the office is that I get twice the work. But I'd rather have twice the work than have her there!

Hope everyone's Humpday went well! Hang in there- the week's almost done!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Truckin' along!

So I'm actually about one-third of the way into Beautiful Bodies already! I did a lot of reading today on my lunch break, and at the gym while on the epliptical machine (well, it's not exactly like the epliptical machine, but I don't know what it's called... this machine really works your booty like a stairmaster would, and it doesn't have "arms" like an epliptical machine does for you to hold on to, so it's kind of like if the stairmaster and the epliptical machine had a baby, it would be this machine, LOL). I should really ask someone at the gym what that machine is called. Anyway, they're a great workout, and the arm rests are the perfect size and lengths to prop a book open on, so when I use that machine, I normally take advantage of that and read a book- it makes the time just fly by! But, I totally digress).  The whole point of that ramble was that I'm already about one-third of the way into the book, and I only started it yesterday! I'm so efficient.   :-D

Anyway, so it's pretty good. It kind of reminds me of Friends meets Sex and the City. It's about six best friends living in New York, and the trials and tribulations of their everyday lives (including their love lives, of course!). They're getting together for a party to celebrate the recent news that one of them is pregnant, and has decided to raise the baby on her own as a single mother. They're best friends but they all are going through big changes in their lives that they're keeping secret for the night, so that they don't take away from the mama-to-be's big night (this isn't giving anything away; these are the first few chapters of the book, so don't worry... I don't believe in spoilers! In fact, I hate them!) So far I've been introduced to four characters- Jessie, the hostess of the party, a journalist who just fell head-over-heels in love while away on a business trip; Sue Carol, a struggling "wacktress" (waitress/actress- I love this term, haha) who literally just left her cheating husband while on the way to the party; Nina, who is caring for her dying mother; and Martha, a materialistic self-centered realtor who's obsessed with having a baby of her own (although, in my opinion, I don't think she'd make a very good mother, as she seems to be more interested in cashmere sweaters and expensive shoes, and she actually has a French chandelier in her bathroom... can you tell she's my least favorite character so far?) Anyway, since the characters are still being introduced to the book and each making their way to the party, so I'm interested to meet the other two characters (Lisbeth and Claire), and see how they interact with each other and how the story starts playing out. But so far, we're just getting introduced. But it's pretty good so far! I'm definitely into it.

Work was low-key today... no complaints here! In fact, my annoying cubiclemate (It is way too late and I am way too tired to get into why she's so annoying- I could go on for days with stories! Don't worry, I'm sure her anecdotes will appear on the blog every now and then) is on vacation for the next week- woo-hoo! I'm looking forward to the peace and solitude! The downside to that is that my other annoying cubiclemate, who normally latches on to the other annoying CM, will now latch on to me. Which means that for the next week, I'll get to be entertained with even more stories than usual about her menopause and various physical (and the occasional mental/emotional) ailments. Sigh. Thank God I'm allowed to listen to headphones at work!

Goodnight all!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Quick Weekend Recap

So I had a pretty good weekend for the most part... on Saturday morning, I had to take my car in for an oil change, and was told that I would definitely need new rear tires soon... I'll be fine until inspection (which is in October), but I'll need to get them then or my car won't pass inspection. Boo-hiss. Tires aren't cheap. Sigh. Well, at least it's only two of them, and not all four.

On Saturday night I saw Pineapple Express with a few girlfriends. I love Judd Apatow films and I love Seth Rogen, so I thought it would be pretty good... but I didn't really like it! It was confusing, and weird, and there were definitely some funny parts, but for the most part, I just thought it was weird. My friends didn't really like it either. At one point, I looked over at one of my friends, and she was asleep! Oh well. The next movie I want to see is The Rocker, with Rainn Wilson. Now that looks hysterical!

Today I got up and did my usual trip to the produce store and Wegmans. And it was such a beautiful day here, sunny but not humid... I just couldn't sit inside. So I read outside for a while, and then later on in the afternoon I took a long stroll around my neighborhood. I must have walked around for about an hour... I want to soak up as much as this weather as I can before September hits!

I made some interesting meals over the weekend too, that I thought I'd share for my foodie readers:

DSCI0457    DSCI0462  This is the breakfast burrito that I made for dinner on Friday night. I used egg beaters (I bought them for the first time, and they are awesome!), frozen pepper and onion mix, reduced fat Colby Jack cheese, and a vegetarian breakfast pattie, topped with black beans. My wraps always, always fall apart no matter what, so Chandra over at Chandra's Shenanigans gave me some helpful tips on how to successfully roll up a wrap. The first time I tried it on Thursday night, it totally fell apart, but I think it's because I put the black beans inside the wrap, and I think they made the wrap too soggy. So I tried it again for dinner on Friday night (because I'm stubborn and wanted to try it again, plus, it was pretty damn delicious), this time putting the black beans on top of the wrap, and... 98% success! (I say 98% because it did tear a little tiny bit, as you can see in the first picture). Still... it's my most successful wrap to date! I'll never work at a sandwich shop with these subpar skills, but at least they're better than they were before! Thanks, Chandra! You rock!  :-)

I tried a stir-fry for dinner on Saturday night before the movies:

DSCI0467 DSCI0472 It's frozen pre-cooked shrimp, instant brown rice, frozen Oriental blend veggie mix, the rest of my black beans (I was trying to use them up), and TJ's chili pepper sauce all mixed together. Very yummy! In the back there is a little dish of pineapple, to go with the theme of the movie (yes, I am lame!).

And I made the best sandwich for lunch today:

DSCI0481 DSCI0483   I loved this. It's 3 oz smoked salmon (defrosted from my freezer), with arugula and Laughing Cow light Swiss on an English muffin, with a big bowl of strawberries and blueberries on the side. Soooo yummy... the perfect summer lunch!

I hope that everyone had a fun and fabulous weekend, and hopefully Monday isn't too stressful for everyone. I have one meeting tomorrow and a project to finish up but that's about it. I have a lot of meetings and training sessions lined up for the rest of this week and the rest of the month, so I'm fine with having a low-key Monday- the calm before the storm, right?   ;-)

Finished the book!

So I finished Me Talk Pretty One Day last night- it was great! I'm definitely now a Sedaris fan! I love his dry, sarcastic humor, and I love the observations he makes about everyday life, and how he points out the irony. Like there's this one short story that talks about how Sedaris walks into a coffee shop and sees multiple posters around the store telling customers not to take too many napkins because they're wasting and killing precious trees, yet the posters are printed on paper, and Sedaris also points out: "The cups, of course, are also made of paper, yet there's no mention of the mighty redwood when you order your four-dollar coffee. The guilt applies only to those things that are being given away for free. Were they to charge you ten cents per napkin, they would undoubtedly make them much thinner so you'd need to waste even more in order to fight back the piping hot geyser forever spouting from the little hole conveniently located in the lid of your cup." LOL, I loved this! This is so true! And this is pretty much the tone of every story.

CONCLUSION: This book was awesome! I'm looking forward to reading more of Sedaris's short stories in the future!

And this means... drumroll please... I get to pick a new book!

I picked a name out of the box (if anyone wants to help me name it, I'd love some input! I'm drawing a total blank at what to call it, but I feel that it should be named something, you know?) and came up with this:

DSCI0475Beautiful Bodies, by Laura Shaine Cunningham. Here's a synopsis from amazon: Serious journalist Jessie invites her five best friends for dinner and a celebration. The thirtysomething friends met when they first moved to New York and lived in the coop Theresa House. They become snowbound at Jessie's downtown loft during what is being touted as the storm of the century, pull an all-nighter, drink all the wine in the house, and bare their collective souls. Sue-Ellen, now working more as a waitress than an actress, has decided to leave her philandering husband; sensuous Nina is nursing her dying mother and depressed about her romantic relationships; frail Lisbeth thinks that she still has a psychic bond with her married boyfriend, whom she hasn't seen for a year; free-spirited Claire is single and pregnant; and successful real-estate agent Martha has more money than she knows what to do with but is unbelievably miserable. Cunningham excels at characterizations, drawing deft portraits of six women whom you will feel like you already know. This is a guilty pleasure of the first rank--impossible to put down and enormously entertaining.

I bought this off amazon a few years ago, and to be honest, the only reason I picked it was because I was buying some other books and I only needed a few more dollars' worth of items to qualify for the free shipping, haha. This was one of the bargain books available at the time and it cost just about what I needed to meet the free shipping requirement, and it sounded like a good book about female bonding, so into my shopping cart it went. So it's been sitting on my shelf for about three or four years unopened, and waiting to be read (incidentally, so are the other books I bought with this shipment... I told you I had an addiction... sigh. Well, they're all getting read now! Better late than never!!!). So it finally gets its turn!

It's too nice of a day here today to sit inside, so I think I'm going to sit on the balcony and start my book now. Then I'll make myself some lunch, and then maybe do some yoga and go to the pool, because it's just too beautiful outside not to be out enjoying it! I can't believe summer's almost over... I'm not ready to say goodbye.  :-(

I might post later with some weekend highlights, but for now, have a great day!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Yes to Sedaris; No to new KIND bar

It turns out that everyone was right... David Sedaris is quite a funny guy! I'm about 70 pages into Me Talk Pretty One Day (five short stories), and I'm really liking it! A total opposite of Protect and Defend. His writing is humorous, witty, sarcastic, and insightful... all things I love. And for some reason, he reminds me of my friend Gary a lot. (That's a compliment, Gar-Bear!)

Now, the not-so-great find. I tried my new Banana and Oatbran KIND bar today as my pre-workout snack. I think maybe the Walnut and Date flavor set the bar too high (no pun intended!), because this one was just, well, not so much. First of all, I didn't taste a trace of anything resembling banana or oatbran. All I tasted was sticky, sweet coconut. Now, I like coconut, so this didn't really bother me. I checked the nutrition facts to read the ingredients, and it certainly claimed to have banana and oatbran flavors in it (in fact, it listed dried bananas above coconut... I find that hard to believe!). I was also shocked to take a closer look at the label and see that my "healthy" nutrition bar had a whopping 6 grams of saturated fat. Yowza!!!! I didn't like it nearly enough to make it 30% of my daily dose of saturated fat. So needless to say, it won't be making it into my usual rotation of energy bars.

Plus, I noticed a typo on the packaging! In the ingredient list, this caught my eye: "....vitmains (B1, B2, Niacin, Folate)..." Vitmains!!! LOL. That cracked me up... but also kind of makes me a little wary of KIND's credentials. They need to hire some better proofreaders! :-D

Tonight is a random dinner concoction I made up a while ago that I absolutely love and hadn't had in a while:

DSCI0443 DSCI0444 It's Trader Joe's Meatless Meatballs (Turkey Meatballs also work very well), brown rice, spinach, and a plethora of spices- chopped onion pieces, garlic powder, crushed red pepper, chili powder, a dash of curry powder, and Trader Joe's Chile Pepper Sauce (a new find that I love love love!) all mixed together. Followed by a few pieces of pineapple and some cherries to help my mouth recover from all the delicious spicy goodness that was dinner.

Now I'm off to relax! Hope everyone had a good Wednesday! We're halfway through the work week- yay! :-)

Monday, August 11, 2008

Reunited and it feels so good...

So I've been going through extreme Gardenburger withdrawal over the past few months. I LOVE Gardenburger products- especially their BBQ Riblets and California Veggie Burgers- but they haven't been on the shelves for months now, due to a "voluntary recall" when they were bought out by Kellogg's earlier this year. They were supposed to come back earlier in the summer- believe me, I've been on this. I e-mailed Customer Service at and everything. They told me that the products were taking longer than anticipated to return to shelves (they were originally scheduled to come back in July) and to look for them to return later in the summer. It's been very rough on me. I've been buying Boca burgers for a while, and they're tasty and I like them, but they're not the same. Plus, a lot of Boca products were pulled for the same reason. I find the Morningstar products a bit too greasy for my taste, plus they're kinda expensive, and Amy's is good, but definitely on the pricey side! So it's been a difficult few months for me.

I was at Trader Joe's last week, and I was perusing the frozen burgers, and lo and behold, I saw Gardenburger BBQ Riblets! I seriously did a double take. I thought they were a mirage, that I'd been so deprived for so long that I was imagining they were right there next to the vegetarian bacon. I tentatively reached for a box- they were real! I was scared there was some sort of fluke, so I bought two boxes, and as soon as I got to my car, I called my friend Kristy to tell her about my exciting find, because she's a vegetarian (I'm not- I could never, ever give up sushi/fish or chicken; I just love lots of vegetarian products) to tell her about this, because she loves the Riblets as much as I do. This gave us both hope and confidence that Gardenburger was coming back!

And sure enough, what did I find at Wegmans this weekend? Gardenburger products!!! Not many- either they're coming back slowly or people found out about it and stored up like the apocalypse was coming. I don't blame them. I saw two boxes of the original veggie burgers in the waaaay back. At first I grabbed both, but then I thought about it, and I put one box back for someone else to enjoy (good karma), and bought a box of Boca Tomato Bruschetta burgers as well.

I should probably hold on to them, just in case, but there's four to a box, so whatever- screw it! I had one for dinner tonight. I've been deprived for way too long!

See how happy I was about it?


A very yummy dinner- a Gardenbruger veggie burger on a whole wheat English muffin with organic ketchup and chopped onion pieces, carrots, broccoli, sundried tomato and basil hummus (not pictured), and a little bowl of cherries. Because now that Gardenburger's back in my life, my life is suddenly like a big bowl of cherries. :-)

DSCI0435 This. Was. Amazing. Oh, Gardenburger, how I missed you. Don't ever leave me like that again. I might have to bust open a box of the riblets sometime this week.

So, I have book-related news. Drumroll please... I have finally decided to quit Protect and Defend. As Greg Behrendt would say, I just wasn't that into it (sidebar: that's an awesome book and every woman in the world needs to read it, if not own it). My roommate watched me try and read it all afternoon, and I maybe got three pages the entire day. It just couldn't keep my interest. Not even enough to find out the ending. A coworker said the same thing today. And while I tried to give the benefit the book of the doubt- Richard North Patterson is supposed to be a great author, and it got pretty good reviews on amazon and goodreads- I just couldn't get into it. Life is too short, and there are too many other great books on my shelves, waiting patiently to be read. So I gave it to my boss. Plus, a part of the book was literally falling out of the book- it was about to fall out altogether. My coworker said that was an omen. Maybe he's right.

So the debut book of No Book Left Behind was a washout. Oh well. It isn't the first book that I didn't like, and it certainly won't be the last. I just hope that Richard North Patterson's books get better, because I have a few more of his book on my shelves that are unread. I'll certainly give him another shot. There are plenty of authors who I've read and enjoyed, but they have a book or two that I just didn't care for. It happens.

But here's the exciting part... I got to pick another book! This time, my roommate was home, and she watched me pick another title. And I struck GOLD with this:

DSCI0432 You have absolutely no idea how excited I was to pick this book from the box. I never ever read David Sedaris, but everyone I know raves about him. And I'm really into the whole memoir and short story genre lately. I've read a few great ones this year- Moose, I Was Told There'd Be Cake, In My Skin, Smashed- so this is perfect! See? THIS is how No Book Left Behind should have kicked off!!!

So now I know that the secret to picking a good book is to having my roommate witness the random drawing. Obviously the task is too daunting to complete on my own. I'm sure she's thrilled to hear this! Hahaha.

I started the book while I was eating dinner. By page 7, I was laughing so hard that I cried, and almost choked on a cherry pit. I have a feeling that I am going to LOVE this book!!!! I'm psyched.

Along with reading, I have a very exciting evening of TV watching lined up (the Monday night CBS lineup, Intervention, and Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives), some blog-reading to do, getting my breakfast and lunch ready for work tomorrow, and enjoying a big bowl of strawberries and chocolate bunny grahams for dessert. And going to bed with my head on my brand-new fluffy pillows. I slept very well last night... once I actually got to sleep. I stayed up later than usual, but once I was asleep, it felt amazing! It was like having my head rest on a big comfy marshmallow. Maybe all I needed to get a good night's rest was better pillows! Now I just need to learn to master the fine art of going to bed at a decent hour. Not having my annoying cat scratch at my door sporadically in the middle of the night would be wonderful too, but I know that's just wishful thinking (I seriously, no kidding, use earplugs and an oscillating fan to try and tune him out! It kind of works, but I still hear him. He is a relentless little bastard when it comes to wanting attention, and he always wants attention at 2 a.m. and 5 a.m. for some reason).

Hope everyone had a decent Monday! One day down, four to go!!!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

A Sex-Filled Sunday...

... not for me, you dirty minds. But Carrie Bradshaw and friends got a lot of action in my apartment today, that's for sure.

So that gorgeous, amazing, need-to-be-outside-and-soak-up-the-sunshine weather was replaced today with a torrential downpour, complete with thunder and lightning. This happened almost all day. It never really let up. It was cold and gray and dreary and blah.

And guess who got stuck smack-dab in the middle of it, while leaving Produce Junction, en route to Wegmans? That's right. Yours truly. And it was unpleasant. It did stop momentarily when I got out of Wegmans, but started up again- badly- but I was only a few minutes away from my apartment. But like an idiot, I had taken back roads, and they were flooded, and a tree must have gone down or exploded or something, because there were branches and all this debris everywhere amidst the flooding. I was able to navigate around a bit of it, but still, that couldn't have been good for my tires, which aren't that great to begin with.

But on the bright side, I FOUND PLASTIC PATIO CHAIRS!!! It only took a year, and a trip to two different stores today alone, but I found them! They were hiding at KMart. It makes sense they were there- I hate KMart and avoid shopping there as often as possible. Well, I underestimated them! Not only did they have them, but they had hunter green ones (whites ones get so gross and dirty!), and... wait for it... wait for it... they were on CLEARANCE! So two points for KMart- one point for each chair. Although this experience hasn't suddenly turned me into a KMart shopper. It'll probably be a long time before I go back.

I did not, however, find a plastic patio table. KMart didn't have them (but they can keep their two points). Home Depot didn't have them. Target didn't have them (although they were having a great sale on pillows, and I desperately needed new ones, so I bought two). I even checked the Dollar Tree, which is right by Produce Junction. They didn't have them either. They did, however, have a really nifty drinking glass with vintage 60s Coca-Cola advertising on it. I love retro/vintage advertising, and so I was forced to buy it. I mean, it was only $1! I was in line to pay for it, behind a really scary looking lady (the kind you see at Friday night church basement bingo) who was buying eyeglasses and cat food, and she actually looked at me and said, "I don't know how you can come in here and only buy one thing!" I seriously had no idea what to say to that. So I just smiled politely and shrugged.

Anyway, I digress. So I got home and managed to get my perishable groceries inside, and left the chairs and pillows and non-perishables in the car. The sun literally came out for about fifteen minutes all day, so I took advantage of that to get the rest of my stuff. And that was the last time I left the apartment for the day! The weather was just way too miserable and way too unpredictable to be out in.

Our cable and internet were down all day. So my roommate and I spent most of the day reading, lounging, and watching Sex and the City on DVD. There were probably a million little things I should have been doing instead. My bedroom carpet desperately needs to be vacuumed. My bathroom probably would have appreciated a wipedown as well. I have old mail that really needs to take a field trip to the paper shredder. But you know what? I feel like I'm always running around, always on the go, always busy, always multitasking and doing ten things at once, and I have a really hard time just sitting and relaxing. And so doing that today felt great. It felt just to sit around in really comfy clothes and slippers, being a total girly-girl with my roommate, and watching SATC. For once in my life, it felt really good to just chill.

And now it's time to try and get some more reading in (still waffling on the book- I even contemplated giving up, even picked a new book from the box and everything, but honestly, it really is just interesting enough to skim at the very least, at least to see what happens to this poor girl, if nothing else... pus, the lawyer and female Supreme Court judge's stories are interesting too. So I put the other title back in the box, and am going to try to keep going with this one!), enjoy a yummy snack (I went a little crazy at Produce Junction today, and got an abundance of stuff, so I'm thinking of having strawberries and blueberries for dessert, with whipped cream and some crushed chocolate cookies... yum!), and then go to bed and hopefully get a good night's sleep on my brand-new pillows!

Hope everyone had a good weekend! Let's hope Monday comes and goes quickly!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Fun Saturday

Where did today go? How can it be almost 11? Saturdays are my favorite, yet they always seem to fly by and are over before I know it!

I had a great day! It started out kind of blah... I went to bed late, and got up early to check out a "multifamily yard sale" a few blocks over. The sale was supposed to be from 8-1, and I'm on a quest for cheap plastic patio chairs and a table for our balcony (believe it or not, I've checked Target, Wal-Mart, etc. and I can't find them anywhere! How is this possible??? Everyone in the free world has these!). Anyway, so I set my alarm for 8, got up, and drove to this yard sale... which was nowhere to be found! WTF? That was annoying. And weird. I drove up and down the block twice. Nothing. Strange. So I came home and dozed for about half an hour, and then I decided just to get up and get a head start on some errands and beat the crowds. I went to Trader Joe's, checked Five Below and Linens and Things for these chairs (nothing! Insane!), grabbed a Vanilla Caramel coffee from Berwyn Coffee Company (sooo yummy), and came home and fixed myself some oatmeal with a banana for breakfast, cause I was hungry. Then I read for a while, and walked around town to do some errands by foot because it was such a nice day outside today. So I figured I'd walk instead of drive. I walked to a nearby shopping center, browsed several stores, got a haircut (just a trim, nothing special!), etc. It was so nice just to walk around and enjoy the beautiful day that I took my sweet time doing everything.

After lunch and a shower, I decided that I was still tired but didn't want to take a nap, so I walked to Starbucks to get a cup of coffee. I rarely go to Starbucks- I prefer to support independent coffeehouses- they're usually more eclectic and fun and interesting; plus, they have flavored coffee, and Starbucks doesn't, and I love flavored coffee. But my aunt gave me a $10 gift card, so I figured, why not use it? So off I went. I didn't want to get a plain cup of coffee, but I didn't want to waste half my card on some frou-frou fancy $5 drink either, so I compromised and got a nonfat Cafe au Lait/Caffe Misto, with a shot of sugar-free vanilla syrup. Why not? It was free.

And damn, was it tasty!!! I see now why people like Starbucks. I know it was just coffee and steamed milk, but it was pretty damn good!

And can we just talk about foam for a second here? The barista asked me if I wanted foam, and I just looked at her. No one ever asks me that. Whenever I get coffee, I'm just getting a plain coffee. I never order lattes or cappuccinos or anything like that,  plus they come with foam anyway. Foam is never presented to me as an option. So I said sure. Why not? And oh my God, was it delicious! I know it's just frothy skim milk, but for some reason, I could have just eaten a cup of it with a spoon, that's how much I liked it! I don't know what it was, seriously, but I was just digging the foam. And in general, it was just a really tasty drink. I wouldn't pay $2.50 for this drink on a regular basis (it is just coffee and steamed milk, plus the shot of sugar-free syrup), but at least I'll get a few more out of the gift card! I'll just have to ration the card. Hahaha. Now I want a cafe au lait maker!

I saw the movie Stepbrothers tonight with my friend Karen. It was pretty funny! Silly and stupid, in a good way, like all Will Ferrell movies. Not my absolute favorite Will Ferrell movie (that would have to be Anchorman, followed by Talladega Nights and Blades of Glory), but I definitely enjoyed it! Plus we saw a preview for a movie starring Rainn Wilson (Dwight from The Office) coming out in two weeks called The Rocker that looks downright hysterical. We've already made plans to see it over Labor Day. Haha.

Now I'm home and tired from lack of sleep last night. I'll probably spend the rest of the evening doing some reading and writing in my journal while watching a few episodes of Sex and the City, and then go to bed, definitely earlier than I did last night. I don't want to sleep in too late tomorrow, because I want to get up and go to the produce store, Wegmans, and check K-Mart and a few other stores for these damn plastic chairs! I do not understand why I am having such struggles finding these, because I see them everywhere on everyone else's balconies! This is crazy!

Hope everyone had a great Saturday! Goodnight!   ;-)

Friday, August 8, 2008

Happy Friday!!!

TGIF!!! Another weekend has arrived! And this is a particularly nice one, because it's payday! And while Fridays are always nice, payday Fridays are always just a smidgen nicer in my book.  :-)  Hopefully everyone has fun and exciting weekend plans! My agenda includes a trip to Trader Joe's, a trip to Wegmans, hitting yard sales to look for patio furniture, watching the Phils hopefully beat the Pirates, writing in my journal, meeting up with friends, a haircut, Pilates, laundry, cleaning the fridge (I have some stuff I need to toss), and reading, of course!!!

Here's a random list of the ten things that made my week pretty awesome:

1. Samantha Brown: Passport to Great Weekends. I just started watching this a few days ago, and I love it! Samantha Brown is like a less-annoying Rachael Ray. Don't get me wrong, I like Rachael Ray, but sometimes, she's a bit too much.

2. Watching Sex and the City on DVD... I borrowed the entire boxed set from my sister- I never had HBO, so I've really only seen the edited episodes on TBS. The unedited eps are much, much better!

3. Trader Joe's Lentil Rice Biryani. Yummy and good for nights you don't feel like doing real cooking- it only takes 90 seconds to make!

4. Meditiation.

5. Self-acceptance.

6. Appreciating and savoring the little things in life.

7. Clementines.

8. My new sparkly hot pink water bottle that I bought at Wal-Mart, on clearance for 75 cents. It's cute AND I'm helping the environment!

9. Alanis Morrisette. I just read an interview with her in this month's issue of Women's Health magazine at the gym today. She is so cool! That's one chick who has self-acceptance down pat!

10. Clif Kid Bars, chocolate-chip flavored. These aren't new to me- I love these things- but they're on my mind because I ate one today on my way to the gym, and, YUM! I've had the Chocolate Brownie and Peanut Butter flavors (I can't find the Honey Graham and Blueberry ones anywhere!), but the Chocolate Chip is by far my favorite. Does anyone else think that they taste just like Entenmann's Soft-Baked Chocolate Chip Cookies??? Plus it gave me energy for a great workout on the epliptical today- 50 minutes of hill interval, while I read this month's Women's Health magazine (which was very good!)

So that's my week in review, LOL. Not too shabby.

I didn't post last night because, well, I didn't really have much to say. Plus I wasn't home. For the past few Thursday nights I've been going to free concerts in a nearby park with some girlfriends, and last night was the last one. The last shebang was a big band orchestra. They actually had to stop for a while because for a few minutes, there was light rain, and a bit of thunder and lightning, which was so weird because the sun was out. Very odd. My friends and I decided to stick it out, and walk around the park until it cleared up, which eventually it did. And the band played on. And fun was had by all.  :-)  

Dinner tonight was simple, and basic: my last Amy's Texas Veggie Burger on an English muffin with half a Laughing Cow swiss wedge, arugula, chopped onion, organic ketchup, and barbecue sauce; the last of my arugula (because I needed to use it up), and some baby carrots w/light balsamic vinaigrette, and some broccoli. Oh, and a few pieces of pineapple:


I've been seeing other people eating veggie burgers on English muffins on their blogs lately, so I decided to give it a whirl. It was much tastier than a regular hamburger roll! Much more doughy and satisfying... I have definitely been missing out all this time. I don't think I'm going to be able to eat veggie burgers on anything other than English muffins from now on! (I used a Trader Joe's Whole Wheat English muffin). I ate dinner while channel-surfing and reading.  I can't decide how I feel about Protect and Defend. I'm about 130 pages into it so far (it's 603 pages- I'm a fast reader, and I'm skimming the boring political stuff). Just when I start getting into the story, it gets boring, and just when I start getting bored with it, it picks up again. Argh! What's a reader to do? If it was a flat-out yawnfest, I'd give up altogether; but it's just interesting enough to at least TRY to get through... you know? Especially when the story focuses on the poor pregnant fifteen-year-old girl and her lawyer... I don't see how she'll even be able to have an abortion once the case goes through the notions of a trial and everything; trials can stretch out for a long time, and she's already more than five months pregnant, if not more, and getting more pregnant by the day... so won't she be nearly full-term once the trial is over? I don't know. I don't know enough about abortion OR the judicial system to speculate on either one. The trial just started, so I'm hoping that the story is going to really pick up from here. I definitely intend to get some reading done over the weekend. I love to wake up on the weekends and read outside on my balcony for a while, especially before the humidity and heat kick in, but there's a lot of stuff I want to get done tomorrow, so that might not happen. Oh well... there's always Sunday!

Okay, time to watch some TV and read. And obviously have ice cream right before bed. I'm still pretty full from dinner, but not too full for dessert! Plus I only have a scoop or two left anyway, so that's a perfect before-bedtime snack.

Enjoy the rest of your evening!   :-)

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Free stuff + meditation seminar + self-acceptance+ french fries= a good day

So I had a pretty good day today. I started off the day by scoring five free packets of Quaker Weight Control Instant Oatmeal in two different flavors- Maple Brown Sugar and Banana Bread (my fave!) from a coworker. I haven't tried the Quaker Weight Control Instant Oatmeal yet, so I was pretty excited. I also procured this month's latest issue of Women's Health magazine. This is the perk of working in the same building as the Advertising Department- they get their names put on a bunch of subscriptions and they get a ton of free magazines, and they never want any of them, so they put them out in the mailroom for people to take. The magazines are normally very, very, very boring- they're usually all investment or finance magazines, but once in a while, a fun one trickles in, like Women's Health. Which I love. Woo-hoo!

And then today at work I went to a meditation seminar. This is another cool perk for working for a big corporation- they want to keep their employees healthy, so they do a lot of health and wellness stuff- fairs, seminars, a weekly e-newsletter, etc., covering all sorts of different topics from nutrition to disease prevention to mental wellness to fitness tips. I try to go to as many of these events as I can, because this stuff is right up my alley! And I figured that any event called "Meditation: How to Relax by Calming Your Mind" certainly couldn't hurt to attend.

It was pretty cool! We learned about breathing, posture, daily affirmations, chanting, visualization, we did a "walking meditation" exercise where we walked around the room and just focused on each step, being present in each step, stuff like that. That was pretty interesting, and I got really into it.

The presenter also talked a lot about incorporating meditating and being "in the moment" with food, and eating. She gave each of us a clementine, and we used all of our senses to really engage in the act of peeling the clementine, feeling it, eating it, savoring it, smelling it, etc. She talked about this for a while- about how so many people just inhale their food, or eat on the go, and they don't take the time to savor their food, and enjoy it, and appreciate it. I thought it was interesting that she spent so much time on this subject, because I am a very healthy and conscientious eater, and I really try to apply this principle and method of eating into all of my meals- to really take the time to sit down and savor my meal, and eat slowly, and really enjoy it. I HATE eating fast, eating on the go, eating in a hurry, etc. I don't feel satisfied mentally or physically after eating a meal that way. By eating slowly and being "in the moment", I find this pleasurable and enjoyable- and it makes me feel full not just physically, but mentally and emotionally as well. I don't know... there's just something about taking the time to really sit down and enjoy a meal that brings me satiety on many levels. Not too many people understand this- in fact, I've been faulted and critiqued for this recently by someone. Which is why I found it really interesting that it was touched on so thoroughly today. That made me realize something about myself and about others. I realized that everyone is different, has a different way of doing everything, different interests, different ways of finding joy and happiness in their everyday lives, and that's awesome, but that people who try to make you feel bad about something, anything, that brings you simple joy and happiness- whether it's savoring a meal, or reading, or doing a specific hobby or sport that you love that others might not be into, or anything that brings you happiness by your own terms- even if someone else doesn't understand it, they should still respect it, and if they don't, or they can't, or they fault you for it, and they try to compromise your happiness or make you feel bad about it, then these are not people worth having in your life. I'm not even talking about anyone specific here... just people in my life who have come and gone, or people in general, really. And I'm not specifically talking about eating here- I'm talking about anything, and everything! Do what makes YOU happy in life, no matter WHAT it is. If someone else doesn't understand it or doesn't appreciate it, that's their problem, not yours! And anyone who tries to make you feel bad about what you enjoy or what brings you happiness in your life is not worth a minute of your time. And that's what I'm going to do- live my life, on my terms, and do what makes me happy, and I refuse to apologize for who I am or change who I am or what makes me happy for anyone. Anyone who has a problem with that can kiss my fine booty! (Speaking of which, I finally got a turn on the booty weight machine today! Hurray! I had an awesome workout today- hard b/c I did a lot of cardio and weights, but I felt great afterwards, and I'm hoping that the intense workout will help me pass out later on tonight so I can get a good night's sleep, LOL! Anyway, totally off-subject there- sorry!)

I left the seminar feeling really relaxed, happy, good about myself and who I am, and smelling like a clementine (I might have to buy some the next time I go to the grocery store!). On my way back to my building, I passed by the cafeteria, which was in full swing because it was lunchtime, and they had just made a new batch of french fries, which smelled downright amazing, which brought on a massive french fry craving. Right away, I knew that whatever I made for dinner tonight, french fries would need to be included on the menu.

Luckily, I have these bad boys in the freezer for such emergencies:

DSCI0414 In my mind, sweet potatoes might just be the best vegetable ever. So you can imagine how I feel about sweet potato fries.

So I threw a Trader Joe's frozen boneless skinless chicken breast on my little George Foreman grill, steamed up a few broccoli florets, threw together a side salad w/light balsamic vinaigrette on the side, and finished the meal up with the last of my raspberries (because they were on their last leg). Along with some TJ's All-Natural Barbecue Sauce for the chicken and organic ketchup for the fries (I always put sauces and stuff on the side because I'm a "dipper"- I love to dip!):


DSCI0415 I was a very happy girl after eating this. And I took the time to savor, enjoy, and appreciate every single bite. Because I can.  :-)

Now I feel satisfied on many levels (but not too satisfied or full to enjoy some ice cream later before bed, obviously!) Now I'm going to hop in the shower, surf the web, watch TV, and read.

Hope you all had a great Wednesday!!!!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

I think I need to break up with my bank...

So last night, I got a new debit card in the mail from my bank. This was a bit confusing to me, because my debit card isn't set to expire until 2010. I chalked it up to a simple processing error. We're all human, right? I also noticed that it had actually been sent to my old address, but the post office had forwarded to my "new" address (I put "new" in quotes here because I've lived in my current apartment for a year now).

So I call up my bank this morning and get on the phone with a customer service rep, and apparently, the card had NOT been sent in error. Apparently what happened was that I WAS supposed to get a new debit card, and apparently a letter had been sent to me explaining that my card, along with others, may have been compromised through an unauthorized release of information from a vendor or a retailer (and I realized later today, I had used it at Marshall's a few weeks ago to buy coffee, and they are under major investigation for this, so that makes sense. So I'm never going THERE again!). I said that I had received no such letter. Upon further investigation, it had been sent to my old address. Now, I've been to my bank, more than once, and changed my address in person (you have to, they require a signature). While I cannot remember the exact date I went in there, I know that I did- and further proof is that my current checks have my current address on them. I had to physically go to the bank to order my checks; therefore, one can conclude that I needed to change my address in order to get checks with my updated address. Right? And I remembered filling out a form and everything. Well, the customer service rep didn't care. She told me that I needed to go to my closest branch and straighten it out. So I had to actually leave work and drive to my closest branch (which, luckily, is only about five minutes away from work).

It. Was. An. Ordeal. I asked to speak to a supervisor, because I was really upset about the fact that I never received this letter, and that mail was still going to my old address in the first place, despite coming into the bank and changing it in person. As a result, I never received an important piece of mail regarding my debit card and that a new card would be sent- what if the card itself had been sent to the wrong address (which technically, it was), and fallen into the wrong hands? I could have been so, so screwed. And I was really upset about it.

To call the supervisor "incompetent" is a compliment. She could not keep track of which was my old address and which was my new address. I had to correct her several times. She could not locate a change of address form and tried to imply that I never filled one out, but I showed her my checkbook and asked her how I could have gotten checks with my current address if I'd never filled one out, and she could not answer me. She prefilled a new Change of Address form for me on the computer, and spelled my street name wrong, and then she got my apartment number wrong. She said that there was no phone number for me on file, but I could see my cell phone number on my account on her computer. She didn't know today's date. The whole thing was maddening.

But this is, flat out, the worst part. This is the part where I officially had a mini-stroke. I asked to see my account transactions over the past month, just so I could review it and verify all of my transactions. I keep track of my bank account very closely, and hadn't noticed any unusual activity, so I wasn't too concerned (this had happened to me a few years back- I received an identical letter and a brand-new card, and my account hadn't been affected). So she printed it out and handed it to me, and I looked it over, and I didn't recognize any of the charges- $60 to a minimart, a check made out to someone named James Buchanan, an electronic overdraft fee because the account had a balance of -$11 at one point! I started to get really scared and I started to panic- I have never, ever been overdrawn a day in my life- I keep meticulous track of my finances. The supervisor takes the piece of paper from me, looks it over, and breezily says to me, completely unapologetically, "Oh, wait. This isn't your account. This is someone else's." I swear to God, my heart officially stopped beating for a minute. I was so pissed off.

And she had the NERVE to try and upsell additional banking services/products to me! I was like, are you effing kidding? You can't even keep track of the ones I have now! Why would I entrust you with even MORE responsibilities regarding my money???

And so, I think the time has come to break up with my bank. My local branch doesn't even have an ATM. I'm not kidding. I had to go to the Wawa to activate my card. What kind of a bank doesn't have an ATM?

At least everything is squared away for now. But I definitely intend to switch banks. This is ridiculous. I want to shop around and do some research first. If anyone has a bank to recommend, please let me know!

The rest of the day was relatively drama-free. In fact, I received a great compliment from a coworker. I was making fun of a news story involving two reality stars getting into a brawl at the airport over saving seats in the terminal, and she said to me, "I don't know how you do it, but you take the most mundane things and make them sound so funny." That totally brightened my day. Humor is the one thing I like to think I have going for me! Another coworker said that I was "prolific". I'm prolific, AND I find humor in mundane situations! In the same day! Yay me! 

I went to the gym after work and pedaled out my frustration and anxiety on the stationary bike, while I read an issue of Health magazine. And then I wanted to do some weights, and I waited around for a specific machine (I don't know what it's called, but it works your booty), and it was finally available, so I made a beeline for it, and some bitch cut me off to get there first. She KNEW I was going for that machine. Oh well. I didn't feel like waiting any longer, so I decided to call it a day and head home. The gym will still be there tomorrow! Then I stopped at the supermarket to pick up some items I was low on- coffee, half-and-half- and treated myself to two fun new products that aren't stocked at my precious Wegmans- Health Valley No-Salt-Added Vegetarian Chunky Chili, and another KIND bar in Banana and Oatbran flavor:

DSCI0412 I am very excited to try both of these in the near future! (Not at the same time, though- I don't think they'd go well together.)

Now I'm at home, ready to heat up my leftover Lentil Rice Biryani with steamed frozen veggies (which I am so happy to have tonight, because I am drained and do not feel like doing any cooking beyond steaming vegetables and microwaving leftovers!!!), take a nice long hot shower, watch The Office , eat some ice cream, and read some more of Protect and Defend. Since I haven't gotten any further in the book, I have nothing new to report. The legal case is really interesting and controversial- about a fifteen-year-old girl who's pregnant past the point of abortion, but she wants to have one anyway, because she just had an ultrasound and found out that her baby never developed a brain, and so when he is born, he will die, and she needs an operation to have him because she's so young, she can't have him naturally, and the operation is risky and could affect her life, and her ability to have children. So she wants an abortion, but her parents are extremely pro-life and will not consent, plus it's past the point of termination anyway, so she's suing for emancipation, and it's going to go to the Supreme Court- that's where the political backstory will come in at some point (they haven't yet), because there is a newly elected President in office, and if that isn't stressful enough, he needs to appoint a new Supreme Justice ASAP, because one just died unexpectedly of a heart attack. And the new President has some skeletons in his closet, along with the woman that he is trying to appoint to the Supreme Court. I'm glad it's getting better... I was getting concerned that the first book of No Book Left Behind (technically the second) was going to be a huge disappointment... but I'm going to stick it out and see where it goes. It's definitely captivating my interest more. I'm interested to see where the story is going. 

All right, that's enough babbling for tonight. Sorry my posts are always so super-long. Chatterbox + Fast typist= very long posts!

Have a great evening!!!!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Slow starts and slow endings...

This morning actually flew by pretty quickly at work, but then the afternoon just draaaaaged on. For some reason, the hour between 3 and 4 p.m. just feels like the absolute longest hour in the workday for me, even when I'm really busy. I don't know if the after-lunch sluggishness is kicking in (I take lunch from 1-2), or the fact that my workday is close to ending (I work until 4:30), or what, but I just lose all energy and focus during this hour, and I feel like it goes by painfully slow. By 4 I get some of my energy back, just in time to pack up for the day, haha.

I skipped the gym today and did a yoga tape at work instead. I usually skip the gym and work out at home on the first Monday of the new month. I do this because my gym has a Pizza Night on the first Monday of every month, where they bring in pizzas and it's $1 a slice for gym members. (I find the fact that my gym hosts a Pizza Night every month an oxymoron! They also have Bagel Mornings on the second Tuesday of every month. I guess that way you have to come back and work it off!) Since my gym is, literally, only one huge room of cardio machines and weights (which is why the membership fee is only $10 a month!), I have discovered that it is very, very difficult to concentrate and get in a good, long workout with the smell of hot, fresh pizza drifting throughout the gym. And it's not even good pizza- it's generic plain pizza from a generic plain pizza place- but the smell of pizza is always good, even when the pizza itself is not so great!) So long story short, that's why I skipped the gym. But it was nice to come home and do my yoga tape. I always feel calm, relaxed, and happy afterwards.

After I finished my yoga tape, I went outside on my patio and read for a while. Protect and Defend is slowly starting to pick up speed. At first, I wasn't really digging it, but it's slowly starting to get better! Let's hope it keeps getting better!

I tried out a new product for dinner, that's been sitting in my kitchen cupboard for a while now:

DSCI0407 It was pretty good! I'd buy it again. I had some spinach and crinkle-cut carrots with it, and sprinkled some crushed red pepper on top:

DSCI0409 Yum. Spicy. And even better, it makes two servings, which means I'm going to be enjoying this tomorrow night too. Ah, leftovers. You get a good meal twice and you only have to make it once. Life is good.   :-)

And now I'm spending the rest of the evening surfing the web, relaxing, and curling up in bed later tonight with my book... and maybe some Annie's Chocolate Bunny Grahams cookies... they are tasty, supercute, and very chocolatey... and because I have a strict rule to never go to bed without dessert.

Goodnight to all!   :-)