Thursday, November 27, 2008

What I'm thankful for this year...

1. The people in my life who have been there for me through good and bad… especially the tough times. They know who they are. My sister, first and foremost. I never thought my eleven-years-younger little sister would be my rock, but she is. Also my roommate, who is more of a friend and confidante to me than she realizes.

2. My job. In an economy where people are losing their jobs left and right, I have incredible job security at my company, and I need to remind myself of that more and be more appreciative and grateful for that. Some days I forget.

3. My health, or at least, trying to stay physically and mentally strong and stay focused and balanced, which admittedly hasn't always been easy for me this year for various reasons. But I'm still trucking along, and I'm so incredibly thankful for that!!!   :-)

4. Having a roof over my head and good food to eat. A lot of people don’t have that.

5. My blogging buddies, who inspire me and make me laugh every single day! The blogging community ROCKS!!!   :-)

6. And BOOKS, of course!!!!!   :-)

Hope you all had a fabulous Turkey Day! Mine was great!!!!   :-)

Why I'll never make it on Top Chef

DSCI0772 DSCI0771 DSCI0754 DSCI0763   Because I am apparently physically unable to successfully roll a wrap. I cannot understand why I am unable to wrap them up and have them NOT get soggy, NOT break, and/or NOT be able to roll up all the way and around. They always fall apart and I end up eating them with a knife and fork. I want a wrap I can pick up with my hands! Sigh. This is a skill I really wish I could master. I've been eating a lot of wraps this week, needless to say. I picked up some at Giant last week and was trying to use them up before the "best-by" date. But I'm over wraps now, and so the remaining few are going into the freezer for the time being. Sigh. The kind I got is called Tumaro's Wheat, Soy, and Flax Flatbread. They're not bad. I had stopped Giant last week after my workout to pick something up, and these caught my eye, and they were half-price, so I figured I'd give them a whirl. They're not bad. I might buy them again. I tend to do this- buy tortillas, make 8-10 unsuccessful wraps, and then go a long time without buying them again because I'm too frustrated. Then a long time passes, I see them, I think, Gee, I haven't had wraps in a while, maybe I'll give them a try again- maybe I'll be able to actually make one!- and the whole cycle starts up again, haha.  :-D

I found a new product at Trader Joe's that will now officially be a necessary mandatory staple in my fridge:

DSCI0765 My roommate bought this a while back, but she didn't really care for it. It wasn't spicy enough for her liking. It looked yummy, so I picked up a jar during my most recent trip to TJs last week. Well, either she has an extremely high threshold/criteria for what constitutes as "hot", or I have a much lower one than I thought, because it definitely clears my sinuses!!! I love it! So long, generic supermarket salsa. You've been replaced. It's worth the extra .49-cent splurge.

So I am officially on vacay!!!! Until next WEDNESDAY! And it was a pretty good day too. I got all of my work done early, and my boss let us leave an hour early! So I was able to get to the gym early and catch Oprah while riding the stationary bike. I don't ordinarily watch Oprah, but today she was discussing tips to save money during the holiday season (ironic coming from one of the wealthiest people on the planet, huh? LOL), and it was a good episode. I also did a few weight machines for arms, so I had a pretty damn good workout, and I felt great! What a great way to get my vacation rolling! Oh, and I tried a new workout bar:


This was very, very tasty. If I didn't know better, I would have thought I was eating a Snickers bar. And it fueled a great workout and kept me full for hours!

In other news, I FINALLY finished Where the Girls Are! I was dragging on that book a bit! Not because it was bad, but I guess it was just a little too heavy and educational for my mood. It was pretty good, very interesting to read about all the conflicting messages that have been targeted to and about women throughout the years. I think that mixed media messages and media bias exist for everyone, though, not just women. My main grievances about the book were that the author definitely comes across a little bitter and jaded at times- yes, the media has unfairly targeted and portrayed women, but at the same time, I feel that women have also progressed significantly in the media than they did fifty years ago. Fifty years ago there were no female news anchors, no women in Senate, hardly any women at all in professions like law and medicine. Maybe we haven't come as far as the author would have liked, but we're certainly further along now than we were back then. I felt like the author didn't do a fair job of giving credit where it was due. ALSO, there were some blatant proofreading and grammatical errors that just enraged me. TWICE the word "psychic" was used instead of the correct word "psychiatric"- once when referring to the "psychic benefits of exercise", and the other sentence was "a psychic breakdown". Huh?????????? Who was this woman's editor??? I HATE seeing grammatical errors in books!

In any event, I reached into my Book Box and picked a new title at random!

 DSCI0768 The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky. It's only 213 pages, so it should be a fairly quick read. It's about a high school freshman, and the entire book is him writing letters to someone who's never identified, and writing about the normal teenage stuff- family, friends, school, a recent high school classmate's suicide (well, that's not so normal). It takes place in 1991. So I'm thinking it might be like The Catcher in the Rye for the Kurt Cobain era.

I'm thinking that it might be time to curl up in bed with my new reads soon, and quite possibly a bowl of popcorn. I'm all snuggly cozy in my flannel PJs, and I've got my flannel sheets on my bed, and that's going to be all sorts of warm and cozy happiness.  :-)

I can't believe that tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day!!!!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

I picked the wrong day to do yoga.

I had a really great and relaxing yoga workout... yesterday. I felt really great afterwards- calm, rejuvenated, happy, and I slept like a baby.

Then I came to work today and had a really stressful day. And all those happy rejuvenated yoga feelings went right out the window. Argh. I was able to vent out my frustrations physically on the stair machine at the gym, which made me feel better, and then I vented emotionally to my roommate and my sister, and that made me feel a little better too. Still... I'm all keyed up and restless from the stress of the day. I don't anticipate a good night's sleep tonight (considering the fact that it's almost midnight!).

But that's okay. Because I only have ONE MORE work day to get through, and then I am OFF FROM WORK UNTIL NEXT WEDNESDAY!!!! I am so excited for this, you don't even know. I desperately need some time to relax and recover from all the stress that's been in my life lately... this was already prescheduled vacation time, but honestly, it couldn't come at a better time. I've been so keyed up and restless with work/family/misc. stress and drama that I need some time to just regroup and decompress and reflect. And what better time than Thanksgiving, a time when we all hopefully take the time to reflect on what we're thankful for and appreciate all the good in our lives. I need that right now in the worst way. So yeah, I'm pretty excited. And since I have off for the next week, I think I can suck up one night of sleep deprivation. That's why God invented coffee! :-D

I don't really have much else to blog about. I have some yummy dinner pics I want to post, but I'm just not up for it right now. I'm starting to get a little sleepy and I need a pre-bedtime snack (I'm thinking ice cream... hopefully some cool carby comfort food will help lull me to sleep!) and some quick blog-surfing (I can't keep up with all the great blogs I love! My bookmarked list on my computer is getting out of control, but I can't help it, you're all too fabulous to delete! I'll have to update my blog so you all know which are my faves- right now it's just on my computer).

Be back tomorrow with a much happier post, I promise! I'll officially be on vacation, so there's no way I can be in a bad mood!!!! Well, I guess never say never, but all I have to do is power through the day and think about my six-day vacation!!!! I can't wait!!!!! :-)

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Oats+Bacon= love :-)

You're probably thinking, whaaaaaat? I know there's about 25 million awesome fun oatmeal posts on everyone's blogs, but oats and bacon might actually be a first!

Well, I'm not talking about either food here... I'm talking about the super-awesome bloggers For the Love of Oats and Bacon's Blog, both of whom get shiny gold stickers in my book this week.

We'll start with the wonderful Ms. Bacon, who offered such kind and lovely words of support about my grandmother. I did talk to my aunt today, and was able to get a little more info about my grandmother. She's in the "mild to moderate" stages of Alzheimer's, and has started taking medication. The good news is that we're waiting to hear back if she qualifies for a particular study that my aunt had about on NPR recently for Alzheimer's. She's in very good spirits, even joking a bit (my aunt accidentally called a family member by the wrong name, and my grandmother apparently jokes, "Who's the one with the Alzheimer's here?", but there are times where she forgets she has it, forgets to eat or pay bills, etc. My sister and I are hoping to see her this weekend and spend some quality time with her, just the three of us. So that's where that is right now. Because my grandmother currently lives by herself, she's going to have to move to a retirement community soon. Luckily, my aunt lives within walking distance of her right now (my grandmother even lives across the street from my aunt and uncle's family business), so at least she's been able to go over there every day and help her out.

My second shout-out goes to the lovely Ms. Lindsay (have you SEEN the wedding pics she posted this weekend? Gorgeous!!!) for her recommendation to microwave cold cereal, now that it's quite chilly outside. I was bumming big-time about the idea of not being able to eat my favorite cereals for months, especially my Barbara's Multigrain Spoonfuls... a big bowl of that is my favorite way to start a weekend morning. And I'd never even HEARD of anyone microwaving cold cereal ever, and it certainly never occured to me to try it! So I gave it a shot on Saturday morning- I woke up and fixed my favorite cereal, multigrain shredded spoonfuls, with a sliced banana, lotsa cinnamon, and skim milk, and zapped it in the microwave for 30 seconds. Oh my God... it was SO good... warm and tasty and filling and comforting... I didn't get hungry for lunch until almost 5 hours later! That's crazy! So thank you, Lindsay, for saving my favorite weekend breakfast cereal... I was very depressed when I thought I wouldn't be eating my favorite cereal for months, but now I'm back in business!

I've been reading everyone's blogs and it looks like you all had great weekends! I had a good one myself. I took it easy, tried to relax and decompress (although I'm not sure I did a very good job of it), wrote in my journal, went to the gym and ran errands, etc. Since I still feel restless and unsettled from all the recent stress, I think I'm going to do yoga tomorrow. I haven't done yoga in about two weeks and I think it could help bring me some mental balance and rejuvenation. Can't hurt, you know?

Oh, I can't believe I forgot to mention this. I went to Target yesterday and bought a space heater, and let me tell you, it might just be the best thing I've ever purchased. I got a pretty nice digital ceramic one for $40- it was supposed to be $50, but it was shelved in the wrong section, and they honored the incorrect price. Score. But more importantly, IT WORKS LIKE A DREAM. I was getting so cold in my room that I was sitting here, shivering, and I literally felt chilled to my bones, which was unnerving, since it's not even December yet. But no more with this space heater. I am so in love with this thing it's not even funny. I strongly recommend that anyone with a low tolerance for cold weather go out and buy one immediately- it's well worth the investment!!! And there were all different options for all different prices. But I'm happy with the one I got.

Oh, and in other exciting news... I FINALLY found the Celestial Seasonings Sugar Cookie Sleigh Ride Tea you all have been taunting me with on your blogs. It FINALLY came in stock at my Wegmans today. I only bought one box because I wasn't sure if I would like it or not. I told myself if I sucked it up and braved the cold and went to the gym this afternoon, I'd treat myself to a cup when I came back. Definitely an incentive!!! So I tried it out when I got back, and it is absolutely delicious!!!! It was amazing, and tasted just like a sugar cookie- one of the best teas I think I've ever had. I'm very picky about teas. I'm definitely more of a vanilla chai or a black tea girl than a fruity/herbal tea girl. And white and green tea are growing on me, but more iced than warm. In any event, I have a tendency to buy a tea, like it for a few bags, and then be over it, and then I end up giving them away. Well, I'm not sharing this Sugar Cookie tea with anyone! (Maybe my roommate or my sister, if they ask really nicely) Not only are they limited edition, but they're on sale at Wegmans this week. This is a very dangerous combination for me. Trust me. I am buying at least three or four boxes on my next grocery trip and rationing them throughout the year, just like I am with the Clif Spooky Smores bars. I am a marketing exec's favorite kind of consumer- stamp "limited edition" on it and I will fall for it each and every time. LOL.

I did a yummy baked potato concoction for dinner tonight- grilled chicken, broccoli, and reduced-fat provolone on a sweet potato, with salsa:

DSCI0751 DSCI0752 I'm satisfied and full... but not too full for a little ice cream before bed later. I'm on a quest to get rid of the carton of ice cream I have in the freezer, so I can have more freezer space for more winter-appropriate foods and desserts. Now that I have this handy dandy little space heater warming me up, it'll be a lot easier to complete this task! :-)

All right, I'm going to try and relax and read in bed. I've been so preoccupied mentally that I haven't really been able to concentrate on reading, which is a shame because my book is really good, but I just can't mentally focus, you know? But maybe I'll unwind enough tonight to get in a few pages. ;-)

Goodnight all!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Rough ride

I've had a rough past two days. Particularly yesterday. Yesterday was bad.

Work was stressful all day. That's manageable. Work stress comes and goes.

I got home early because I decided to work out at home yesterday, since I'd been going to the gym all week. Even though my apartment has free heat, I was still pretty cold through my workout (I had decided that I need some Pilates love and did Kathy Smith's Pilates for Abs tape- yes, I said tape- I'm old-school and still have a VCR).

Then I realized that my bathroom sink was getting a bit clogged. I knew I needed to get some Drano in there at some point, because it'd been a while since I'd done that, but I was hoping to wait until the weekend. My sink has a difference of opinion. I went out in the cold to get Drano, lost my awesome parking spot in my complex, used the whole bottle, and it helped, but didn't fix it. Again, something that's manageable, since I called maintenance today and they came out and took care of it. Thank God for apartments and maintenance.

But this is the part of yesterday that I'm still coming to terms with. I received a letter from my aunt yesterday. She had written to tell me that my 75-year-old grandmother (her mother) has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease. This was a massive shock to me. My grandmother has been getting a little forgetful lately, but NOT in a way that caused anyone any real concern. She'd ask a question more than once, or ask us to repeat the answer, etc. She wasn't forgetting major details, or confusing us or forgetting our names, etc. We all chalked it up to getting older, including her. But it's not. It's Alzheimer's. And I read that letter, but it didn't really hit me until later in the evening, for some reason, when I was in the shower. It hit me just what that meant, and I broke down completely. It hit me that in just a few years, my grandmother is not going to recognize who I am, or know my name, or know her name, and that this disease will rob of her everything- her memories, her identity- and she will die from it, probably confused and scared. And I just broke down. Just starting sobbing in the shower. My grandmother is SUCH an amazing woman. You don't even know. She's so intelligent- she's an accomplished pianist and harpist, has played all over the world; she was an English professor and a music teacher for years; she had her first two children at age 22 and then proceeded to raise four kids as a single mother; she is extremely proud of her Irish heritage; she loves classic literature and shares her enthusiasm and passion for books, which she passed on to me (I am the only grandchild that always gets classics for birthdays/holidays, some of which I haven't read yet, but I've kept them all and I'm so glad I did); she'd bake a cake for each and every one of her nine grandchildren's birthday; she knows her family's lineage like the back of her hand; she has a razor-sharp memory- for God's sake, she's always remembered everything; she beat lung cancer just a few years ago. And she's funny, and feisty, and wonderful. She's one tough lady who's beaten every odd thrown against her. And now she's been given one that she can't beat. And I feel sad, and angry, and helpless, because I can't do anything but sit back and watch someone I love and admire lose her whole life, and I can't do a thing to stop it. I feel powerless and furious. I haven't called her yet, because I just needed to take some time and digest all of this, and what it means. I'm going to try to call her tomorrow, and I'm going to try to see her as soon as possible. I'm trying to think of what I want to say and how I want to say it. Besides telling her over and over how much I love her and how much she means to me. I want to say it as much as possible now while it still means something to her and she knows who I am. I'm terrified for the day when she'll look at me like I'm a complete stranger to her. But I'm trying so hard not to think about that right now. Hopefully that day is a long way away. I wish my aunt had given me a little more information (or called instead of written), so I'm going to call her tomorrow too- I know she's been in close contact with my grandmother's doctor and is in the process of making future arrangements/decisions.

Anyway, I just wanted to share that. I don't know how "involved" I am in the blogging community just yet- there's a lot of blogs out there that I read, and I lot of people out there that I feel like I've gotten to know, and I just wanted to reach out as well. If anyone has had any experience with a loved one who has gone through this, please contact me, you can send a message to the blog and I'll give you my e-mail address (it's just occurred to me now that I never set up an e-mail address for this blog... but I'll give you my actual e-mail address, if the blog doesn't already do that? This seems like a really stupid question... I am seriously inept when it comes to this stuff, how sad is that... I just set up my blog one night, downloaded Windows Live Writer, and took it from there).

I am taking most of the weekend to decompress and try to absorb some of this the best way I can. I think that right now I'm still trying to take it all in. When I have more information, I'll post it. I'll definitely check in throughout the weekend, but I'm not sure how much book/food posting will happen. Although I am making a go-to classic comfort dinner in a few minutes- grilled salmon, sweet potato, steamed broccoli, and a side salad. That combination of foods sounds pretty damn good right about now. I'll also probably write in my journal. I do keep a handwritten journal- I have ever since I was little- writing, along with reading, have always been amazing coping mechanisms for me. Writing is such a great way to vent and get your emotions out. Even if you don't think you're a writer, I guarantee that if you just pick up a pen and let it flow, you'll be amazed at what and how much you can write, especially if you just let everything out. Sometimes I'll pick up my journal intending to write about one thing and I just go completely in a different direction. Which I love, because it's clearly something I needed to get out there. So I think quite a bit of that will be happening tonight as well. And then I'm going to wash my flannel sheets, put them on my bed, and curl up in bed with a bowl of popcorn (another favorite comfort food- I'm a big fan of the Smart Balance Low-Fat Low-Sodium kind.... you get a ton of it in one bag for like 120 calories. A few spritzes of Smart Balance butter spray and you're set), and my book.

I'll check in this weekend and let everyone know what's up. Until then, I hope you all have fabulous weekends.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

This will either make you laugh or cry...

... or possibly a bit of both!

So I'm reading Where the Girls Are, which is fantastic. It's really opened my eyes about how the mass media has portrayed women throughout the decades, from the 1950s on. Having read quite a bit about women's studies, as well as the mass media (I have a degree in Communications), and just being a gal in general, I know that women have had it rough throughout the centuries... a lot harder than men, in my humble opinion!  ;-)   But I might be a bit biased. Seriously, though, women spent decades being viewed as "the weaker sex", and yet expected to take care of a husband, a family, and a home. If we're so supposedly weak, why all the responsibilities? It's too obvious to say how ridiculous this is. We're still not as paid as much as men for the same work, even today. We still continue to be held back in some ways, although we've come so far in so many ways. I guess it's an ongoing battle, although we're more ahead of the game now than ever before.

Anyway, I digress. What I wanted to share with the group was this oh-so-interesting section. It will either enrage you or scare you, possibly a bit of both. This particular part of the book was about advertising to women (especially housewives, which were all women were expected to be back then) in the 1950s. Since most women were housewives, and consumerism was on the rise, advertisers knew it made sense to target their products toward women, as they were the majority of consumers in America at that time. In 1958, a book was written called What Makes Women Buy, in which advertisers enlightened the world with their extremely intelligent views about selling to mothers (I am dripping with sarcasm here, FYI):

"Women, the book intoned, 'have a strong tendency toward irrational beliefs' ... the conviction that a woman 'lives in two worlds- her real world and an imaginary world she creates' led advertisers to invent guys like the shiny-headed, bullet-shaped, cartoon genie Mr. Clean to really reach childlike, daydream-believin' moms."

Wait for it... it gets better.

"Slaves to their reproductive systems, 'at least half of all women are turned into [witches] of varying degrees once a month.' Woman's bone structure and bodily proportions overwhelmingly lead her toward more passive interests and an inward life. The instability of woman's bodily functions and nervous system make her a more emotional customer than a man.' Women 'tire more easily than men' and 'the average woman would be more interested in reading about sewing than about swimming.' (who'd want to read about either?). Instead, 'home decorating is a high natural interest,' wired, presumably, into one or both of the chromosomes. 'Women's verbal aptitude account for the fact that they like to gossip and have the last word.' Women are 'not inclined to be interested in automobiles and business,' and their 'interest in sports and mechanical objects is extremely low.'"

Yeah... let's all sit back and digest that for a while. This is one of the many reasons I'm glad I wasn't a housewife in the 1950s!!!! I can't help but think of the TV show Mad Men when I read about this... anyone else love this show as much as I do? I can't believe that the season is over already!!!!

Now, on to other things. How was everyone's Tuesday? Mine was quiet... and cold. Right now I'm sitting here with my heating pad, watching The Biggest Loser. I'm not really sure who I dislike more... Heba or Vicky. I think Vicky, but not by much. I love Michelle and Colleen the best! If either one of them wins, I'll be happy!!!

In food news... I am 2 for 2 in the yummy new bar department this week: Odwalla Sweet and Salty Peanut Bar (I was going to post a pic, but I can't find a good one on the web). This was so freaking delicious!!!!!!!!!!!   Honestly, it tasted just like a healthy version of the PayDay candy bar... and it fueled a good cardio workout, plus some a set of chest press exercises and a set on the ab bench. But more importantly, it tasted like a PayDay candy bar!!!! I loved it and will be restocking the next time I go grocery shopping!

And here is my shrimp/black beans/broccoli dinner creation, as promised:

DSCI0735 DSCI0736 This was super delicious. I liked it better with shrimp than I did with the chicken, actually! Now I'm out of black beans AND shrimp, sadly, but that's okay... I can always buy some more!

Time to relax, watch TV, have dessert (more sugar-free pudding; gotta use up that milk!), and go to bed early. I have a Career Planning Workshop all morning at work tomorrow... should be oh-so-very fun.

Goodnight!!!  :-)

Monday, November 17, 2008

Monday Musings....

All day long, I have been seeing commercials for the news with annoyingly cheerful weather forecasters saying, "We might see snow tomorrow!" I've wanted to smack them all. I. HATE. WINTER. You will read this phrase often on this blog in the upcoming months. I apologize in advance.

Anyway, hope everyone had a pain-free Monday! Mine wasn't too bad, except for the whole cold weather thing. Work wasn't too stressful, and I spent a lot of the day chatting with my friend Rick about how great the book sale was (he and his parents found a lot of great stuff too!).

Here's a recap of my yummy meals/snacks of today:

*I made my first bowl of oatmeal of the season! I have a variety of instant oatmeal packets in my desk at work, so today I kicked off Oatmeal Season with Quaker Oats Instant Weight Control Banana Bread oats, with some ground roasted flaxseed, lots of cinnamon, and a banana. This was my first time having the banana bread flavor. I liked it, but it didn't taste very "banana bready" to me, even with the addition of a real banana. But still quite tasty! I ate my oatmeal in my brand-new super-snazzy Dollar Tree bowl. It was so good... very tasty, delicious, and filling! I've missed oatmeal, and while I loathe weather, I'm happy to have oatmeal back in my life. Although I was so sleepy afterwards... there's something about a big yummy bowl of a hot and tasty comfort food that just makes me want to curl up and take a nap afterwards! But I don't think my boss would have really liked that.

*I tried a new Pure Protein bar today for my pre-workout snack:

Oh my goodness, was this amazing. Soooo chocolately and got me through a great workout! Definitely my favorite flavor to date! Sorry, Blueberry Crumb Cobbler, you've been bumped to the #2 spot indefinitely until further notice. I really want to try the Strawberry Shortcake flavor, but I can't find it anywhere!!! :-(

*And then as promised, here is my dinner from last night (I had leftovers again tonight):

DSCI0727 DSCI0723 DSCI0729 What we have here: grilled chicken breast (I'm BFFs with my George Foreman grill- we have a rendezvous about once a week, and I make a few pieces at a time so I can have leftovers), black beans (I like the Goya Low-Sodium kind), and Wegmans' brand Hong Kong Stir Fry veggies (water chestnuts/broccoli/mushrooms/bean sprouts), with curry powder and Trader Joe's Chili Pepper sauce. Along with a side salad and a few grapes! Very tasty! I have enough black beans left over for tomorrow's dinner, but I am out of chicken. But I have a bag of precooked shrimp in the freezer, and so that's the game plan for dinner tomorrow night, with broccoli instead of stir fry veggies and mango instead of grapes. Yum!

I was going to post my thoughts on the book I'm reading right now (and totally loving, by the way), but I think I'm going to hold off until tomorrow night for that... it's already 10:30, and because there's so many great bloggers out there, I want to get caught up on all your blogs, have some dessert (on the menu tonight: Jell-O sugar-free vanilla pudding, because I have some milk that I need to use up, and I bought those new single-servings packets, so I'm all excited about that), read some more, and hit the hay! I'll gather my thoughts together and post tomorrow (with a dinner pic, of course... I love how this started out as a book blog and now has become kind of a hybrid of a book/food blog... but all of my healthy blog buddies totally inspire me!).

Hope you all had a great Monday and have a wonderful Tuesday! :-)

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Behind these hazel eyes

I forget to blog about the interesting thing that happened to me yesterday morning! I was all caught up in the excitement of the book sale, I guess!  :-D

So en route to the book sale, I stopped at 7-Eleven for a much-needed 24 oz. cup of coffee. While I was paying for my coffee, I had my head down because I was getting out my money, and all of a sudden, the cashier asks me, "Can I see your eyes again?" I was totally taken aback- nobody's really asked me that before! So I was like, um, sure... so I looked up and, well, made eye contact. It wasn't a very difficult request!  :-D   So then he went into how beautiful my eyes are, how green they are, how they really grabbed his attention, that he was jealous, did I want to switch eyes with him (his were brown), etc. Honestly, I wasn't sure if he was gay or hitting on me, but either way, I was extremely flattered! It's always nice to hear a random compliment from a total stranger. As if I wasn't already in a good enough mood to be heading to my favorite book sale!!!   :-D

So guess what these pretty hazel eyes did today? They went grocery shopping... in the dark! My grocery store had lost power! I was really surprised. It wasn't a bad day outside- it was chilly, but sunny, but it was very windy. I assume that the strong wind hit their power line, or something, but all of the other stores in the same shopping center had power, so I don't know. I was really surprised that they didn't have backup generators! Luckily the registers worked (of course, the one thing with the power is the machine that wants my money!), but the produce scales didn't work, the shelves were dark, etc. I could see enough to get what I needed, but it was still really strange! I don't think I've ever done that before! And luckily I didn't need too much. I didn't take pics or anything like other bloggers are known to do, but I will let you in on some of the goodies I purchased today:

*sweet potatoes

*red seedless grapes

*reduced-fat provolone cheese

*Tofurky deli slices, Cranberry and Stuffing flavor (I've never tried this flavor before, but with Thanksgiving just around the corner, I had to get it! I can't wait to try it!)

*Health Valley no-salt-added vegetable soup

*no-sugar-added applesauce (for work)

*frozen veggies

*and boring random stuff like eggs, dryer sheets, cat food, dental floss, etc.

After that, I went to the Dollar Tree. While the Dollar Tree can be kind of a scary place (have you ever looked at the food items they sell? And the pregnancy test by the register???), it's actually a great place to go for kitchen items like cooking utensils, and stuff like wrapping paper, etc. And I have actually found some really cute mugs, photo frames, seasonal decorations, and candles. I don't frequent there often, but I'll stop by everything now and then, when I'm feeling too cheap to hit Target. Not that Target is expensive, but I find it harder to control myself in there, and I always spend much more than I wanted to, most of which on stuff I totally did not need! I have weakened willpower there! Anyway, I needed a new can opener, so I grabbed that, and I also bought... two bowls. Because I am finally ready to give in and surrender to the cold weather, and switch my breakfasts from cold cereal to oatmeal. Now, don't misunderstand me here- I know there's a lot of devout oatmeal lovers out there, like my buddy over at Love of Oats, and don't misunderstand- I LOVE oatmeal! But I also love cold cereal, and so I try to hold out as long as possible before I give in to the misery of winter and start eating oatmeal. For two reasons: 1) Because then I have to admit that it's winter, and I despise winter; and 2) I know that once I switch to oatmeal, I won't be wanting cold cereal again until the weather is nicer, like March. You probably think I'm a tad crazy, but I swear, it all makes sense up in my head.  :-D

And believe it or not, I don't really have any microwave-safe bowls deep enough for big, hearty oatmeal combinations. I only have a few microwave-safe bowls, but they aren't big enough for oatmeal. Most of my bowls are actually not microwave-safe! And guess what- most of them came from Target! I buy all those cutesy little bowls once they hit clearance, and then I get them home and find out that they're not microwave-friendly. So I have about 20 bowls that I can't even put in the microwave!

So here are my oh-so-classy Dollar Tree oatmeal bowls, all ready for their debut at work tomorrow:

DSCI0717 They've already been through the dishwasher and are ready to rock and roll for tomorrow.   :-)

I also picked up this... I just couldn't resist:

DSCI0716 Could there BE  a more appropriate bookmark for yours truly?  :-D

I made a fabulous dinner creation tonight, but I didn't take a pic because, well, it looked good, and I was hungry! But the good news is that I have leftovers, so I'll post a pic tomorrow night.

Hope everyone had a great weekend! Argh... back to the daily grind tomorrow!  :-(

But you know what was NOT so successful today???

My dinner!   :-(

DSCI0706 I've been wanting to try this forever: Annie's Organic Shells and Cheddar Cheese.  Macaroni and cheese was my favorite as a kid, but I haven't really enjoyed it in years, since I've become a much health-conscious eater (in my reckless youth, I was a diehard fan of the Velveeta Shells and Cheese. Hands down my favorite! I was never one for Kraft), I've shied away from it. And then I found this at Wegmans, and had to try it.

Um, so it looked perfectly fine while I was making it- it looked like a healthy version of a childhood favorite, and I was all excited, thinking that finally, my prayers for a tasty healthy mac and cheese were answered, and I added steamed broccoli and carrots for an extra nutritional boost (something I definitely never did as a kid!), and it looked awesome, and two bites into it, I realize, where is the cheese sauce? I know I made it. I know I stirred it into the pasta. It was all there together five seconds ago. But I could hardly see it, and I couldn't taste it at all! I was so confused. I'm no Julia Child, but I DO know how to make shells and cheese.

Could the problem have been the fact that I used skim milk? It called for "lowfat milk", but I only had skim milk, and I figured it wouldn't matter. It said you could opt to add butter, and I opted not to. Could it be that I put it in the microwave for another minute or two so it could stay warm while I did the dishes quickly? Would that seriously cause a cheese sauce to mysteriously vanish into thin air? I was thoroughly confused.

So what went wrong? I'm looking at the leftovers sitting all pretty here in Tupperware. They look fine. And very orange. Did they steal all the sauce somehow? Selfish bastards!  :-)

Anyway, that was confusing, and disappointing. They didn't taste cheesy at all. They tasted like plain noodles, carrots, and broccoli. Oh, and the bit of black pepper I threw in. I was sad.  :-(   Here's hoping the leftovers taste better tomorrow!

Does anyone else have this problem or have an idea as to where I took a wrong turn? I recall having a similar issue when I made the Organic Whole Wheat Shells and White Cheddar, but I don't remember it being that extreme. But I did the same thing with that box, too- used skim milk and no butter. Grrr.

Something else that was not that great? Baby Mama. I had rented it. Not horrible, but I didn't laugh as much as I thought I would. I think the mac and cheese mishap brought me down a bit. Ordinarily I'm a big fan of the Tina Fey/Amy Poehler team. It was funny enough, though.

Okay, I'm going to read in bed now (and make myself some popcorn; I need a tasty snack to make up for my sad mac and cheese). Goodnight!


DSCI0707 My favorite book sale did NOT disappoint!!! It was great! I found awesome books at great prices... almost every book I got was $1, give or take, and mostly in near-perfect condition! I had a blast, and so did my friends! And Rick's parents loved the book sale. I have a feeling they'll be back for the next one in April! And I found some great stuff!!!!

The paperbacks:


The hardbacks:


One more time, altogether now:


I got all these books (21 total) for $27.

Needless to say, I am one happy girl!!!! In case you can't see the titles (my camera's not all that great, combined with the fact that I'm not technologically savvy enough to really play around with all the functions), here's a list of what I got:


*Charmed Thirds, by Megan McCafferty (this is actually part of a young adult series I love... yes, I'm 27 years old, but I don't care... I love this series! FYI: Megan McCafferty is also a contributing writer to Health magazine, for all you healthy magazine readers out there! Check out her columns sometime- she's great!)

*Dark at the Roots: A Memoir, by Sarah Thyre (memoir of author's childhood growing up in the South with a strange family)

*Tender at the Bone: A Memoir, by Ruth Reichl (memoir of a food writer/critic)

*Further Tales of the City, by Armistead Maupin (part of another series I have about a group of neighbors in the same apartment complex)

*The Tender Bar: A Memoir, by J. R. Moehringer (another memoir about a guy who grows up without a father, then goes off to college and finds a father figure at a bar he either works at or just frequents- I'm not sure- the description was vague)

*The Way We Never Were, by Stephanie Coontz (sociology book that examines the truths and myths behind the modern American family)

*Hypocrite in a Pouffy White Dress: Tales of Growing Up Groovy and Clueless, by Susan Jane Gilman (another memoir- yes, I love the memoir genre!- about growing up as the only white kid in a tough Puerto Rican neighborhood)

*Sixteen: Stories About That Sweet and Bitter Birthday, by various authors, edited by Megan McCafferty (exactly what it sounds like- short stories from various authors about their sixteenth birthdays)

Joy School, by Elizabeth Berg (fiction novel about a thirteen-year-old girl who moves to Missouri to live with her dad after her mother dies, and her struggle to fit in at a new school, in a new home, etc. Sounded like a good coming-of-age novel)


*You'll Never Eat Lunch in this Town Again, by Julia Phillips (a producer's insider account of the behind-the-scenes drugs/sex/bitchiness/cattiness of 70s and 80s Hollywood. The author produced Close Encounters of the Third Kind, The Sting, and Taxi Driver, and was actually the first female producer to ever win an Academy Award for Best Picture)

*We Need to Talk About Kevin, by Lionel Shriver (fiction novel about a woman whose son commits a high school shooting and kills nine people, and is tried as a juvenile and sent to a detention center in upstate New York. The book is actually a series of letters written by the woman to her estranged husband, reflecting on their life, their marriage, their son's childhood, what could have gone wrong, etc. I loved the book Nineteen Minutes, and it sort of reminded me of that)

*Comfort Me with Apples, by Ruth Reichl (this is the sequel to Tender at the Bone, which I also picked up at the book sale today)

*Family History, by Dani Shapiro (fiction novel about a woman who "has it all"- perfect marriage, great job, great kids, etc.- and then her infant son has an accident in her daughter's arms- I'm guessing she drops him or something awful like that- and the aftermath of that. I think this will be a tearjerker!)

*Sweet and Low, by Rich Cohen (a book that humorously looks at the Brooklyn-based Jewish family that invented Sweet N' Low. The author is part of the family, I think, or friends of the family, so it looks funny- family drama is always funny!)

*Halfway Home, by Katharine Noel (fiction novel about an overachieving high-school senior who tries to kill herself, and how her family copes and reacts to it)

*Eating My Words: An Appetite for Life, by Mimi Sheraton (yep, another food memoir from a restaurant critic! I guess I had a thing for memoirs and tearjerker fiction today!)

*Certain Girls, by Jennifer Weiner (this was, by far, my FAVORITE find of the day... I LOVE Jennifer Weiner, I've met her a few times and even have a pic with her somewhere, and she's autographed all of my books... this just came out a few months ago, and I saw it and literally squealed, like a Powerpuff Girl... a woman overheard me and thought it was cute, LOL! And there was another copy, and my friend Kristy grabbed it! We were both very happy girls indeed!)

*Schooled, by Anisha Lakhani (a fiction novel about a girl who recently graduated from college with her teaching degree, gets a job at an elite private school in Manhattan- LOL, it's always an elite private school in Manhattan, you know, never, like, an elite private school in Wichita, Kansas- and quickly learns about the "real world" of teaching- lots of lesson plans and grading papers, slim paychecks, bratty students, helicopter parents who try to bribe her, etc. Looked good!)

*Why I'm Like This: True Stories, by Cynthia Kaplan (yep- another memoir! About her family, childhood, etc.)

*The Opposite of Fate: A Book of Musings, by Amy Tan (what a shock- a memoir! This is of Amy Tan's childhood. I have The Joy Luck Club in my No Book Left Behind List- can't wait to read it!)

*Chew on This: Everything You Don't Want to Know About Fast Food, by Eric Schlosser and Charles Wilson (I'm guessing that this is a follow-up to Fast Food Nation, which I own and have read and enjoy)

And there you have it, my friends... the results of a successful book sale, and the last one I will be going to for the next six months!

And in case anyone was wondering, this brings my grand total to:

Number of books I own: 347

Number of books I own and still need to read: 212

Some might call this an addiction. My response? There are worse addictions to have. At least this one is cheap and harmless! ;-D

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Successful creation

Hurray for a successful dinner creation!!!  DSCI0696 DSCI0695 DSCI0697 It was kind of like a spicy shrimp curry- 1 portion of Trader Joe's precooked shrimp (12 shrimp), broccoli, pepper and onion mix, in a no-salt-added tomato sauce, with a lot of curry powder stirred in. And instant brown rice on the side and a few pieces of pineapple chunks. Whew, this was spicy, but oh-so-tasty!

Okay, time to go to bed so I can get up bright and early for my BOOK SALE!!!!!   :-D

Friday, November 14, 2008

It's the most wonderful time of the year...

... and no, I'm not talking about Thanksgiving, or Christmas (both of which will be here before we know it...)...

... no, I'm talking about MY most wonderful time of the year, my all-time favorite semiannual used book sale at the Radnor Memorial Library. This is, hands down, the creme de la creme of all the book sales I frequent.

In fact, it's such an amazing sale that:

*I once pulled out my lower back trying to carry all the books I'd purchased to my car. I was laid up the rest of the day... but it was totally worth it!

*My friend Rick's parents are driving down from Allentown (about an hour/hour and a half away) for this sale tomorrow.

*My sister has to miss it because she's taking a tour of the University of Pittsburgh this weekend, and she briefly contemplated skipping the tour and rescheduling it for the spring (don't worry- she realized how ridiculous that was before I even had time to say anything; as soon as she said it, she said, "No, I can't, that's insane."

*I've overheard people talking about this book sale at OTHER book sales.   :-D

So, um, yeah... it's a pretty hardcore book sale!!! I'm getting up at 6:30 AM tomorrow morning to get ready for this! I know that probably sounds extreme, but I've gotten there as early as 8:30 AM and people are already lined up around the corner (the sale starts at 9 AM). People are extreme when it comes to these sales- everything's picked over in just a few hours! So I like to get there early on the first day when they have the best selection. It's earlier than I even get up for work, but it will be SO worth it. And I don't want to be rushing around in the morning- I want to get up, have a nice breakfast (gotta jump-start the great day with my fav cereal- Barbara's Multigrain Shredded Spoonfuls!), stop for coffee, etc. I'd rather get up extra-early and take my time than sleep in and be rushing around like a maniac! Of course, I will be back tomorrow and post a list of all of my exciting finds! I can't wait!!!

What a great way to jump-start a weekend! I don't know about you all, but I had a seriously blah week. The weather was miserable all week (gray and rainy!), work was blah, everything was just blah, blah, blah. I NEED a fun weekend, so this book sale could not have come at a better time! What are you all up to this weekend? Any fun and exciting plans?   ;-)

Since I have to get up at the booty-crack of dawn tomorrow, I'm totally just chilling tonight with a yummy dinner (I'm planning a new concoction in my head- I hope it turns out the way I want it to- I'll post pics later), the remote, and my new book, Where the Girls Are, which I'm about 30 pages into, and it's so great so far. It's a sociological look into how mass media has portrayed women in a contradictory light from the 50s on- the conflicting messages of the All-American housewife of the 50s, the bra-burning feminist of the 60s/70s, the shoulder-padded suit career gal of the 80s, the Lean Cuisine/Ultra-Slim Fast diet swimsuit model of the 90s. It's SUCH a great book so far! I <3 sociology/mass media/women's studies books!!! 

Be back later with a dinner post!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Speedy post

I'm sleepy, so tonight's post will be quick, quick, quick like a bunny!

First things first: I tried a new Larabar flavor today as my pre-workout bar: the Coconut Cream Pie flavor. Delish!!!! This might be my favorite flavor to date! It's a toss-up between that and the Apple Pie flavor... I'll need to sample them both a few more times to make a final judgment call.   ;-)

I felt blah all day, so I made sure to have a dinner full of yummy mood-boosting foods:

DSCI0681 Trader Joe's Salmon Burger, sweet potato, and steamed broccoli, with Smart Balance Butter Spray and Chili Pepper Sauce. Hit the spot and cheered me up!

Followed by some raspberries!

DSCI0680 Yum!!!

Last but not least, I finished No Second Chance. As predicted, I read it very quickly- mystery/thrillers are always a pretty fast read! And I skimmed a bit of it too, I confess. It was... all right. I thought the plot was a tad far-fetched, but it was okay. I don't see myself re-reading it again, though, so I think I'll either give it away or donate it to Goodwill to make more room on my shelves... my most favorite book sale is coming up THIS WEEKEND, and this is going to be the last book sale I go to for at least six months, so I'm going out with a bang!  :-D

And as you know by now with this blog, when one book closes, another gets opened! This is the book that I picked at random for my new read:

DSCI0684 I present my newest book, Where the Girls Are: Growing Up Female with the Mass Media, by Susan Douglas. Here's a quick description of the book from "An insightful, witty, and well-written analysis of the effects of mass-media on women in late 20th-century American culture. Douglas cuts through the fluff that spews from the tube with a finely-honed sense of the absurd that can forever change (or minimally, inform) how you perceive the changing portrayals of women by the media."   I bought this a few years ago at a book sale, my favorite semiannual book sale, actually. I was a Communications major in college, and I like women's studies, and the mass media, so I can't imagine that I won't like this book! I'll keep you posted on how I like it (no pun intended!). I don't know if I'll get much reading done tonight- I have a bit of a headache, and I still need to unload the dishwasher. I'm waiting for the dishes to cool a bit. So once I accomplish that oh-so-fun task, I might just call it a night (after a yummy pre-bed snack, of course- I'm thinking it's a Smart Balance popcorn-kinda night... it's too chilly out for a cold treat like ice cream).

Hope ya'll had great Tuesdays! We're almost halfway through the week... thank God!!!

Monday, November 10, 2008

I've been waiting for this moment... and it's finally happened!


I know that other bloggers probably get annoyed because they're tagged so much, but I've NEVER been tagged, and Ms. Bacon from Bacon's Blog has finally tagged me!!! I'm so excited! :-)  Thank you, Bacon!!!!

So here are the rules of tagging:

  1. Link back to the blog that originally tagged you
  2. Post the rules on your blog
  3. Tell your readers 6 random things about you
  4. Tag 6 other blogs and link back to their sites
  5. Leave a comment on your chosen blogs letting them know they’ve been tagged
  6. Let your tagger know when you’ve posted your entry

Here we go!

1. I hate bare feet. I don't mind other people's bare feet, but I personally can't stand being barefoot. Maybe because I have a crappy circulation system, so I'm always cold, but I always have socks on, even in the summer, even when I'm sleeping. If it's summer and I wore sandals/flip-flops that day, once they're off, socks come on!

2. Rumor has it that I'm distantly related to Oscar Wilde somehow... I don't know how exactly, but that's the rumor! On my mother's side somehow. It's probably not even true, but I like to throw it out there to sound cool.

3. I tried out for Teen Jeopardy when I was 13 years old. I did horribly! I think I answered one question correctly, and I remember that it was about Aerosmith, LOL! And I met Alex Trebek, and he was really rude!

4. I've talked to Jay Leno on the phone. Seriously! You know how he collects old antique cars? Well, my grandfather used to have one- I barely remember it- and he was looking to get rid of it, and my mother actually WROTE to Jay Leno to try and sell it to him (this was when I was about 10 or 11 years old, so this was the pre-Internet era). And he CALLED our house, and I ANSWERED the phone! He had just barely taken over for Carson at that point, but I knew who he was. He asked to talk to my mom, and I asked who was calling, and he said, "Jay Leno"- just like that!  I was so shocked, that all I did was put down the phone and get my mom! I asked to speak to him again, but she wouldn't let me. She's mean. Anyway, he ended up not buying it for some reason or another, but still! It was a very cool moment in my life.

5. I am an extremely slow eater. I can literally take up to 45 minutes to an hour to eat. It usually takes me an entire hour to eat my lunch on my lunch break, and all I eat is a PB&J sandwich, baked chips, and applesauce. And that can take me an hour, not kidding! I've always been like this, even as a kid. I used to miss recess a lot just because I was still eating lunch. In fact, whenever I have to eat rushed or quickly, it doesn't sit well in my stomach at all. I had to literally eat while rushing to a meeting today- I was eating and walking at the same time- and my stomach felt off all morning, and I wasn't hungry for lunch at all four hours later (but I ate anyway because I don't ever skip meals- that is so bad for you!).

6. I don't know how to read music. And I come from a very musical family (musicians, music teachers, all of my cousins were in band, my aunt and uncle even own harp stores). I tried playing the violin in 3rd grade, but I could not figure out how to read music and just could not get the hang of it, so I quit. And my grandmother tried to teach me how to play the piano when I was younger, but I must have been pretty hopeless, because she actually quit!

So there you go! Now I have to tag 6 people back, so here we go! I officially tag:

1. Melissa at Trying to Heal

2. Tina at Carrots 'N' Cake

3. Jenna at Eat, Live, Run

4. Sabrina at Rhodey Girl Tests

5. Marianne at From French Fries to Flaxseeds

6. Meghann at The Inner Workings of a College Graduate

Now it's off to make dinner and relax.... I had a bit of a stressful work day. I wasn't going to post tonight because nothing really happened to me today that was worth posting about, but then I saw that I was tagged and I got all excited and simply had to post!  :-)

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Mama Drama

I finished Mommy Wars yesterday, and I have to say, I liked it very much! The book was basically a compilation of essays written by various women writers who are mothers, who have chosen to either stay at home to raise their children, or to go back to work after they are born. I picked it up just a few weeks ago at a book sale. And I thought it was great! True, the representation of mothers here is extremely skewed- they're all upper-middle-class esteemed writing professionals, the majority of whom were married to equally- if not more successful- partners, were college graduates, etc. But to be fair, I felt that the editor does preface this in the introduction, so you knew that going in. And many of the writers acknowledged in their essays how lucky they were to even have the option to decide whether to be a stay-at-home mom or a working mom, because for every one woman that has the privilege to decide, there are at 100 who do not even have the option (probably even more, that's a totally blind guess). Some of the writers expressed that triggered extra guilt for having the luxury to make a decision like that in the first place.

That being said, I enjoyed the essays. They were so personal and raw, tackling one of the most sensitive subjects to a woman- whether she is a good mother or not. Each writer expressed the pros and cons to both sides, no matter which "side" she was on, and how her decision to work or stay at home full-time worked for her family, what didn't work, what she regretted, what she didn't regret.
Not being a mother myself, I had no idea that there was so much animosity between stay-at-home mothers and working mothers (one of the writers compared it to the Sharks and the Jets from West Side Story). Although now that I've read the book, I suppose it makes sense in a way as to why they feel the need to rally against each other. But it's unfortunate that they stand divided, because no matter what they do for a living, they are all mothers, all with (hopefully) the same common goal- to raise happy and healthy children.

I will say that I did not understand why one of the essays was written by a woman with no children. Seeing as it was a book about women writing about their experiences of working/not working and the effects that might/might not have on their children, I didn't really understand what her essay was doing in the bunch.
I thought it was a great book that gave me a lot of perspective on motherhood in today's society. Two thumbs up in my world!

So how was everyone's weekend? Mine was pretty good. Low-key and fine by me! A lot seems to have happened in such a short period of time- the Phillies winning the World Series, we elected our first African-American president, etc. In my own life, work's been chaotic and there's been a few other stressors as well, but things seem to have calmed down and we're all coming off the World Series/Halloween candy/Political sugar high and getting ready for the holidays. Um, when did the holidays suddenly become just around the corner? Thanksgiving's, like, two weeks away. Seriously, how did that happen? I swear it was the 4th of July yesterday. But every day, I'm seeing more and more holiday-themed commercials, the holiday music is starting to slowly trickle into the radio stations, and in my supermarket today, it seriously looked like Christmas threw up in there. A woman was telling her son that he couldn't have that toy because Santa was coming soon. SANTA IS COMING SOON. I'm totally not ready for Santa to come to town. I still have my summer clothes hanging up in my closet, for God's sake (although admittedly, I do keep them in there all year long and just wear layers, but that's beside the point).

Other than the gym, reading, and the traditional Sunday grocery store run (which, given the fact that the holidays are coming and there are a lot more people there than usual on Sundays now, I might have to switch my grocery trip from AM to PM- I was definitely feeling a little claustrophobic today), I didn't really do anything exciting. I did go to a friend's improv show today, and that was a lot of fun! Maybe I'm a bit biased, but I thought she was the best.  ;-)  And I did some yoga today. I'm really glad that I gave yoga another try. I had tried it a few times and couldn't quite get into the mentality of it. I think that's because I would take classes at my gym. I think the other people actually distracted me, you know? Ever since I've been doing yoga at home, I've really gotten into it because I find that I can concentrate and really focus easier, when it's just me. Now I love it- in fact, I wish I did it a little more often! I try to do it once a week or so, but I hadn't done it in about two weeks if not more, and I could definitely tell because I was struggling with a few of the balancing poses! But I always feel so great afterwards! So happy and relaxed. Hurray for yoga!

I made some yummy dinners this weekend that begged to be put on the blog:

  DSCI0664  DSCI0665 This was Saturday night's dinner: 2 oz. whole wheat penne rigate, Trader Joes precooked shrimp, and broccoli, tossed with minced garlic and Smart Balance butter spray. Delicious!!! Ordinarily I just throw a tomato sauce on pasta but I felt like trying something a little different tonight- I'm glad I did! This was so easy to make and required three ingredients (five if you count the garlic and butter spray). My favorite way to cook! This goes in the "repeat dish" category- that list is getting so long, it's getting harder to repeat them. I'm just that  good.  ;-)

And this was tonight's dinner- a favorite:

DSCI0674 DSCI0671 Baked sweet potato with broccoli, grilled chicken, a few peppers and onions, and reduced fat Colby Jack cheese, plus salsa and chili pepper sauce on the side for dipping (in case you haven't noticed, I rarely put sauces/condiments on my food- I prefer dipping, it's just more fun for me that way, I guess, plus sometimes I find too much sauce or whatever can ruin a meal, or the wrong sauce, or sometimes I like to use more than one different kind of sauce- it's nice to have options, haha). I love doing a baked potato concoction for dinner.

Last but not least, here's my new book:

DSCI0670 No Second Chance, by Harlan Coben. An old supervisor gave this to me years ago (two jobs ago!), and I'm just getting around to reading it now. Here's a synposis from goodreads summarizing the book: "Dr. Marc Seidman has been shot twice, his wife has been murdered, and his six-month-old daughter has been kidnapped. When he gets the ransom note-he knows he has only one chance to get this right. But there is nowhere he can turn and no one he can trust".  I'm about 30 pages into it. It's pretty good so far. It'll probably be a quick read. These kind of mystery/thriller books usually are.

Okay kids, that'll do it for me. It's late, I'm a little sleep-deprived (I got maybe 6 hours each night, no real reason, I just got to bed naturally late and woke up naturally early- my weekend body clock's always a little kooky), and I need to gather up my work stuff (I always do it the night before so I'm not rushing around in the morning and can get in a few more minutes of shuteye), and hopefully get to bed a little early, because I need to get up a little earlier than usual tomorrow to help set up a work event, which means I need to get to work and eat breakfast a little earlier (it's the first thing I do at work- a girl can't work on an empty stomach, LOL!).

Hope everyone had a great weekend! I am so jealous of all the bloggers who were in Chicago this weekend for the Quaker Oats Convention!!!! I love Chicago, and oatmeal! ;-)   I need to kick this blog up a couple several hundred notches so I can be invited to cool stuff like that. Maybe someday!

P.S.- Did anyone watch Ruby tonight on Style? If so, what did you think? I liked it a lot! Ruby seems like a really sweet woman and I can't wait to watch her progress every week!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Dancing Like Nobody's Watching

I saw something pretty amusing at the gym today. I had just finished up my workout and was in the locker room getting changed. All of a sudden this woman bursts in, and she is totally rocking out to whatever she's listening to on her iPod... I'm talking full-fledged, dancing around, shaking her head, lip-synching the words, waving her arms around, her eyes closed, the whole bit. I couldn't stop watching her, and several other women were watching her too. And when the song was over, she just stopped, and she looked so happy. She wasn't at all embarrassed or shocked to see people looking at her- she truly looked like she could care less. She took off her headphones, saw a few of us staring, and said cheerfully, "I can't help it- I love that song. I have to do that whenever that song comes on."

Wouldn't it be great if we could all be a little more like that- just close our eyes and dance like no one's watching? And not even care if they are?  :-)

She is, officially, my Jukebox Hero of the Day.  

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Rock the Vote

I have had the song "Rock the Boat" in my head all day long, only instead of "rock the boat", I keep hearing "rock the vote". :-D

I hope everyone got out and voted today! I waited to go until later, about 6 PM. My polling place is, literally, next door. I walked over after I did my afternoon workout (I kept it low-key today and did a Pilates/stability ball DVD). I voted AND walked.... I helped my country AND the environment in one shot. Go me! :-D

There was no wait when I got there, so that was exciting. No line at all. So I hopped into one of the booths and cast my vote. It felt so exciting! I don't remember being nearly as excited the last time I voted (probably because Bush ended up winning, which absolutely floored me). I don't know if it's because this is an historical election and it was amazing to be apart of it, or the fact that this country is in desperate need of a change with everything going on- the war, the economy, the healthcare situation, etc., or a combination of these things. But it felt so great to vote. And I have a very, very strong feeling that my candidate is going to win. I don't normally share my view on politics, but screw it, I'm too excited- GO OBAMA!!!!!!!

As if I wasn't already excited enough to be voting and participating in something so monumental, I was rewarded for voting with a free Starbucks coffee! In addition to being within walking distance of my polling place, I also live within walking distance to a Starbucks (along with many other things, including the train station, the library, and a Plato's Closet... I love where I live!!!). Being as it was six o'clock at night and I was already a little bit hyper from voting, I opted for decaf. I enjoyed that on the walk back. I used to hate Starbucks coffee, but it's slowly growing on me. It will never be my favorite- I love flavored coffee and I think that Starbucks is way overpriced- but I will never, ever turn down a free coffee. Unless it's the coffee at work, and that doesn't count, because whatever that is, it sure as hell isn't coffee. I'm pretty sure it's battery acid. (We have a coffee club at work and we each bring in flavored coffee, because we just refuse to drink that crap).

I just hopped out of the shower, and after I blow-dry my hair, I'm going to settle in for the night with my book, my dinner (on tonight's menu: a Gardenburger Chik'n Grill pattie- I bought these over the weekend for the first time and loved them- with a bit of curry powder and some peppers and onions, on an Arnold's whole wheat sandwich thin, organic ketchup for my dipping pleasure, steamed broccoli, and a side salad), and the remote to watch the results!!!

In just a few hours, we're going to have a new president!!!! IT'S ABOUT TIME!!!! :-)

Monday, November 3, 2008

Lazy vacation day

I had a great vacation day today! I did something that I almost never do... absolutely nothing. :-D Seriously, I'm one of those people who's always doing 25 different things at once, and who hates to sit still. But I spent all afternoon just chilling, relaxing, watching TV, and reading, and it felt great. It really did. I didn't get bored, restless, antsy, not once, which I normally do after I sit around for long periods of time. I'm not one of those people who can just veg on the couch for hours. But I was today, and it felt great (Although, I do confess, I also ran and unloaded the dishwasher, and washed a few sweaters. But those are chores that do themselves with the push of a button, so they don't count, LOL)! Kind of indulgent, in a way. And restful. I got seven hours of sleep last night... I couldn't tell you the last time that happened. So yeah, lazy vacation days kind of rock. I couldn't do it all the time though... I found it very relaxing, but at the same time, I'm over it and ready to reclaim my multitasking self tomorrow morning. But for one day, it was pretty damn good. :-)

Of course, I wasn't a total slug on the couch all day. I don't think I'd ever be able to do that unless I had the flu or something, haha. I woke up and hit the gym for an hour-long cardio session in the morning while watching daytime TV (Rachael Ray and The Price is Right, specifically, LOL). Then I stopped at the supermarket next door to pick up a few bananas and skim milk for the work week. So I figured I'd earned the right to be lazy on the couch for the afternoon, haha.

To top off my fun lazy vacation day, I made one of my favorite random meals:

DSCI0658 DSCI0659 A sweet potato with melted reduced fat Colby Jack cheese, broccoli, 1/2 package Boca crumbles, pepper and onion mix, and chili pepper sauce and salsa. Yum!!!! I also had a side salad to go with it... delicious! Baked potato concoctions are one of my favorite meals. :-)

Now it's off to watch some TV and do some reading before I have to get up and rejoin the working world tomorrow morning... booooo. :)

Hope you're all having a good night! Don't forget to vote tomorrow!!!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Spicy Mango Chicken

Tonight was a really yummy dinner concoction:

DSCI0651  I present you with a ridiculously easy-to-make, yummy, and healthy meal: 1/2 cup instant brown rice, grilled chicken breast, stir-fried peppers, onions, and Asian veggies, and mango, with Trader Joe's chili pepper sauce sprinkled on top. This was quite tasty!

  I took a vacation day tomorrow- woo-hoo! I have nothing planned except going to the gym (it is so much better to go during the day- the place is empty- so I always go during the day whenever I can), and I need to make some Jell-O instant pudding in a frugal attempt to use up the rest of my milk. I'm trying a new flavor- the sugar-free fat-free cheesecake flavor- so I'll let you all know what I think about it.

Time to go watch TV and read Mommy Wars, which I'm really enjoying so far... very interesting to read about how different women view their roles as mothers and how they feel they've viewed by society. This was a good find!

Hope everyone enjoyed getting an extra hour of sleep last night- I know I sure as hell did!  :-)

Playing catch-up

I feel so far behind in my blogging... but I finally have some downtime to get everything up to speed. It really feels like it's been a whirlwind lately, between work, the World Series... I can't believe I woke up this morning and it was November 1, and Daylight Savings Time is tomorrow. October seemed to go by so quickly.

Last weekend I went to another book sale with my sister. We went to one in my childhood hometown of Springfield, PA. I lived there from the time I was five years old until the time I was nine years old, and I have some really fond childhood memories of that area. My family and I are not close and we're highly dysfunctional, and the few happy memories I do have mostly seemed to occur in that era. Unfortunately, since my sister is eleven years younger than me, she never got to experience or share these memories with me. I thought it would be nice to go to a book sale and then maybe show her my old elementary school, where I went to Girl Scouts, our old apartment, etc. I thought maybe she'd be interested in seeing it, which I think she was, she thought it was really interesting, but I also think it was a little weird for her too, to see all these things that were such a fond part of my childhood that she wasn't a part of and aren't a part of her history. I don't know. I guess it's like seeing where your parents or grandparents grew up, you know? Now I feel old. Haha.

Anyway, we both had great success at the book sale. Even though I have been an avid reader since I was about three years old, believe it or not, I'd never been to the Springfield Township Library. Most likely because I just used the elementary school library. The sale wasn't held in the actual library, but in some sort of room, maybe in an adjacent community center? But their selection was amazing and I thought the prices were reasonable ($2 per hardback and .50 for each paperback). There were so many books that they couldn't fit them all on the tables- they had boxes and boxes of books under the tables. Luckily I'm little and can duck in and out very easily. And there were a lot of people crammed into such a tiny space! I was started to feel a little sick with dehydration, actually, and eventually I was starting to feel woozy, but we were pretty much finished at that point anyway. Still... ordinarily I'm much more well-prepared. I guess I just didn't expect it to be quite that busy!

So I ended up getting eleven books altogether- six hardbacks and five paperbacks- and it only cost me $14.50. Sweet! Here's what I picked up:


  • Outtakes From a Marriage, by Ann Leary. This is a fiction book, kind of in the chick-lit/mom-lit genre, about a woman who thought she had the perfect marriage, but then suspects her husband is cheating on her, so she does humorous things to try and find out if it's true, like cyberstalking him, showing up on his TV sets in disguise (he's a wealthy soap opera actor, of course-this is most definitely a fluffy read!), and tries to "self-improve herself" by getting Botox and hair extensions and seeing a therapist. The book also goes back to when they met in college, their courting days, etc., so you get their back history. And the mom-lit part of it is that of course she has to deal with the "supermoms" at her kids' elite Manhattan preschool . I'm really into this silly cheesy genre right now, and so I have a feeling I'll love this book.
  • The Wonder Spot, by Melissa Bank. Another fiction novel, about a small-town girl from Pennsylvania (hello!) who feels out of place in her family, goes off to college and finds herself, moves to the city afterwards and establishes the whole great-job-sweet-apartment-cool friends thing, and then has to move back to Pennsylvania when her father dies unexpectedly. The book follows her life twenty-five years after that. It looks like a great read!
  • Hospital: A Novel, by Marcia Rose. Another fiction novel- the plot kind of reminded me of a literary version of Grey's Anatomy, haha. The book is about the lives of the men and women who work at a Manhattan Hospital. I wonder if there will be any "Dr. McDreamys" in this book!   :-D
  • Blood Brother: 33 Reasons My Brother Scott is Guilty, by Anne Bird. This is a true crime book written by Scott Peterson's half-sister. For some reason that even I don't quite seem to understand, I've always been extremely interested in the Laci Peterson case, so I figured I'd pick this up. I already have a few books on the case, but I figured, for $2, why not pick up another one?
  • Don't Eat this Book: Fast Food and the Supersizing of America, by Morgan Spurlock. I love this kind of stuff... health, nutrition, marketing, advertising, the whole enchilada (no pun intended). I saw Supersize Me a few years ago and was fascinated by it (even though I've never been a fan of McDonald's ever, even as a kid, it definitely had an impact on me!). And I have and have read the book Fast Food Nation, so I thought this book would be a nice addition to my library.
  • Bachelor Girl: The Secret History of Single Women in the Twentieth Century, by Betsy Israel. I was really excited to find this book. The author writes about the stereotypes that have stigmatized single women for years and celebrates their "resourceful sense of spirit, enterprise, and unlimited success in a world where it is no longer unusual or unlikely to be unwed". I'm really looking forward to reading this book!


  • America's Working Women: A Documentary History, 1600 to the Present, compiled and edited by Rosalyn Baxandali, Linda Gordon, and Susan Reverby. I think it's pretty self-explanatory what this book's about- working women, past and present!
  • The Go-Girl Guide: Surviving Your 20s with Savvy, Soul, and Style, by Julia Bourland. Another kind of self-explanatory one... I thought that this sounded really cute.
  • When Food is Love: Exploring the Relationship Between Eating and Intimacy, by Geneen Roth. "The explanation of the link between eating disorders and the need for intimacy explains how eating disorders sabotage relationships and why people overeat to satisfy their emotional hunger."  I've never had an overeating problem, but I've certainly had my fair share of eating struggles, and I figured this could be worth fifty cents. It's interesting- my sister picked up a different book by the same author called Appetites, and since we'd split up at the sale, we didn't realize it until later when we were showing each other our finds.
  • Best Friends, by Martha Moody. A fiction story about two women who meet in college and become- you guessed it- best friends. The book follows them throughout the span of their friendship.
  • This is Not Chick Lit: Original Stories by America's Best Women Writers, edited by Elizabeth Merrick. Anti-chick lit written by various women authors. I read so much fluffy chick lit, I thought it would be nice to mix it up every now and then, haha.

So those were my exciting finds of last weekend. Anyone read any of these?

I finished The Samurai's Garden last Sunday night, and it was absolutely amazing. A simple story, but just beautifully written. It was about a young man from China recovering from a serious illness, right before the WWII era, and he goes to recover at his family's summer house on the beaches of Japan, where the air is a little fresher and cleaner, and the friendships he develops while he is recuperating. It was the writing that got me- just so vivid and full of imagery- I loved it. I couldn't put it down!

I also read this:

DSCI0648 Cute. A little hokey and sappy at times, but cute. Perfect for people that love the Chicken Soup series.

And last night I started reading this:

DSCI0649 Mommy Wars: Stay-at-Home Moms and Career Moms Face Off on Their Choices, Their Lives, and Their Careers, edited by Leslie Morgan Steiner. Essays written by stay-at-home and career moms about the "battle" between the two different sides. I never realized that there was a battle before, since I don't have kids, but the author notes in her introduction that stay-at-home mothers can take on a holier-than-thou approach, thinking that they love their children more by choosing to put their careers and lives aside to concentrate on raising their children; while career moms look down on women who choose not to have a career and stay at home, since women have struggled and fought to win a respectable place in the workforce. I didn't realize that there was such a division between the two, and thought that was really interesting. I'm only an essay or two into it, but I'm really enjoying it so far.

This is the longest post ever- I apologize! I'll end on this thought- I was driving to the gym yesterday, and a local radio station has already started to play holiday music 24/7. Beginning to sell holiday merchandise is one thing. People like to get all that stuff early. I can understand that (though I certainly don't do that! I am a December 23, whatever's-left-at-the-mall shopper!). But starting with the holiday music now? That's just not necessary.

Hope you're all having a great weekend!!!! Happy Daylight Savings Time to all! I heard on the news today that the sun is going down at 4:57 PM today. I can't tell you how NOT on board I am with that!