Friday, January 30, 2009

A good excuse

Hi all! TGIF!!!!!!!!!! So I didn't post last night, but I swear, I have a really good reason. I was THISCLOSE to finishing Just Between Us, and I just couldn't put the book down! I just had to finish it! Anyone who's ever been really into a book... you totally understand! :-) I had to stay up late to finish it0 like 12:15 (I would have finished earlier, but got sidetracked with The Office, 30 Rock, and a phone call from my sister), but I DID finish it! And I'm so glad I did, because it was SO good!!!! It pretty much wrapped up how I expected it would, give or take a little surprise twist here and there, but it didn't matter... it was oh so very good. I LOVED it. I have yet to come across a Cathy Kelly book I didn't like! :-) I strongly recommend it! Two very enthusiastic thumbs up.

Not only did I stay up late to finish it, but THEN I woke up at 5 a.m. and never really got back into a sound sleep... I tossed and turned and definitely dozed here and there, but never a full, sound sleep, or at least that's how it felt... so I spent the day totally sleep-deprived. And then I got to work and drank an abundance of coffee to overcompensate for my tiredness. Not the best idea, although it certainly seemed like a good idea at the time. But the good news is that it was an extremely quiet, non-busy day today (thank God, because things have been so chaotic and stressful at work lately, and have finally started to calm down and resume a little normalcy). So it was a good day to be sleep-deprived, because I didn't have to use my brain much today.

I am so jazzed for my new book pick! I picked this baby from the box of titles (random pick, as usual, it's so much more fun that way!), and I'm so glad I ended up picking it!

DSCI1006 Chasing Harry Winston, by Lauren Weisberger! Yay! Any Lauren Weisberger fans out there? She wrote The Devil Wears Prada (one of my all-time favorite books), and Everyone Worth Knowing (also a very good book). This is her latest novel. It's about three friends who are about to turn 30 and they make a pact to do something drastic that will change their lives in the upcoming year- the serial monogamist who just ended a relationship will casually play the field, the serial dater will get into a real relationship for the first time in her life, and the third friend hasn't decided yet, LOL. I acquired this baby for $1 at my local library a few months ago- they sell used books too. I read the first chapter on my lunch break, and it's great so far! I can't imagine I'm not going to like it. I've really been on a roll with the good books lately!

So I haven't been taking any food pics lately. Mostly because I've pretty much been eating the same things all week, and I don't want to bore the serious food bloggers out there. :-) But here's a rundown of what I've been eating- while it might be monotonous, all of my eats have certainly made me happy:

*Oatmeal*: Can we just stop and discuss for a minute just how much I love oatmeal? I mean, this is not anything that should surprise food bloggers, as oatmeal is one of the most popular eats I read about on all of your fabulous blogs. But I need to say it anyway. Oatmeal might be my best friend these days, and I don't care how sad that sounds. :-) I am always reluctant to eat oatmeal, not because I don't love it, but because I can only do oatmeal in the winter/colder weather (my tummy likes cold breakfasts, like cereal and milk, in warmer weather), and I despise winter and cold weather, and so I psychologically equate oatmeal with cold weather. Isn't it funny how food can be so psychological? LOL. Then when I can't deny the fact that it's winter any longer, I bust out the oatmeal, and remember just how much I love it. Lately I've been waking up in the morning and getting really, really excited for my oatmeal breakfasts. At first, I wondered if that was strange, but my sister admitted that she does the same thing, and all of you seem to love oatmeal so much too, so it's nice to know that other people share the strong oatmeal love! I love reading about all the different oatmeal combos you all are eating. Me, I keep it the same every day, because I never get tired of it- 1/2 cup quick oats, 1 cup+ water (I don't like my oats thick- I like a BIG bowl of oatmeal! So I add more water), oodles of cinnamon, ground flaxseed, and a banana. I've put PB in it before, but since I eat PB&J every day for lunch, I usually don't put it in the oats. So I've been eating this combination for weeks now, and I can't get enough of it! Hurray for oatmeal, one of the best foods ever. I must admit, I do miss my fave cereal- Barbara's Shredded Spoonfuls- and I'm thinking that's tomorrow's breakfast. Cold weather be damned! :-)

*Sweet potatoes*: I've had one with dinner almost every night this week. Another food that I SERIOUSLY never tire of. Actually, now that I think about it, I don't really tire of foods in general, even if I eat them every day. Does that make me strange? What can I say... I like what I like! Plus I've been so worn out from work lately that I just haven't had the energy to get creative with dinners. Still, I'm eating my last SP for dinner tonight, and mixing it up over the weekend. The shelf-stable carbs are feeling ignored. And I'm feeling some brown rice love this weekend, and have some ideas for dishes. I'll post pics!

*Tribe Sweet Red Pepper Hummus*: Another reason I've been eating lots of sweet potatoes is because I have very recently and joyously discovered that sweet potatoes + hummus= love and happiness. I'll be using up the rest of my hummus tonight with my last SP... I have it all planned down to a science. Haha. I'll also be dining on salmon (salmon burger from TJs), and steamed broccoli while watching my latest Netflix DVD- disc 2 of season 1 of The Practice. Did anyone else like this show?

*All of my preworkout snack bars this week have been chocolate-based. Chocolate is always a good thing.*

What's everyone up to this weekend? Who'll be watching the Super Bowl on Sunday? I was invited to a party, but I have less than zero interest in football, and the party is like 45 minutes away, so I think I'll take a pass on it!

I'm off to make some dinner and watch me some Dylan McDermott! I'll definitely be reading more of my book tonight too! Reading and watching TV... I know what you're going to say. I am a total party animal. ;-D

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Ghost town

That's the best way I can describe my office today... virtually deserted! We had quite the snowfall overnight, which turned into a combination of sleet and ice in the morning. You know, the really fun stuff. The roads were actually fine, but cleaning off my car was another story. I swear, all the snow fell directly on my car.  :-)   And my parking lot was virtually an ice skating rink. I had the closest spot possible to my apartment, and getting to it was quite an adventure!

The nice thing about almost no one being in the office is that it's quiet and there's not a lot of work. I had a few projects on my desk to keep me occupied though.  And everything turned to slushy rain by afternoon anyway, so the roads were actually fine! I'm terrified of driving in this weather- I can do rain, I can deal with snow, but the ice... that's another story!!! Luckily, that wasn't an issue. Hopefully we can repeat that pattern tomorrow morning. And dare I venture to say- me, of all people- that it wasn't even that cold when I left the gym tonight around 5:45. I know saying that will come back to bite me in the ass tomorrow, and it's going to be frigid cold. I have that kind of luck- I think it comes with being Irish.  ;-)

Speaking of Irish, I'm so into my book right now! I hate whenever I have to put it down and focus on other aspects of my life, like working, sleeping, driving, etc. It's that good. Cathy Kelly has this amazing way of drawing you so into the lives of their characters, you definitely feel like you really get to know them, and you find yourself experiencing the emotions they do, going through the good and the bad right there with them. And she's funny. I find myself laughing out loud from something on every other page. I'm so, so glad that I picked this book. I have four Cathy Kelly books- her books are kind of hard to find because she's an international author. Every book of hers I own, I acquired from a used book sale. I've read one so far, and I'm working my way through this one, and the other two are patiently waiting to be read. I'll get to them, don't worry about that!!!! Hence the whole point of "No Book Left Behind", right?  ;-D Anyway. If you can get your hands on a Cathy Kelly book and you love chick lit, I strongly suggest you give her a try. You won't be disappointed! Especially if you like British chick lit, like Jane Green and Sophie Kinsella... it's definitely along the same lines of humor... that sly and witty humor, and everyone drinks one too many "pints" at the "pub", and eats "biscuits" and "Indian curry takeaway" and goes on " grand holidays".   :-)

Sorry I don't have a more exciting post, other than griping about the weather, LOL. It was just a rather uneventful day. My plans tonight include reading, relaxing, writing in my journal, and getting my Top Chef  on. My dinner tonight is simplistic- a sandwich and steamed broccoli and a salad- I have some tuna I want to use up, and salad mix I want to use up, and hummus that I want to use up, and well, just eat in general, because hummus is fabulous. I never ate tuna as a kid, because I despise mayonnaise and anything that has mayo in it, and I always have, so I've always steered clear of tuna and egg salad sandwiches, since they're always based with mayo. But I do like tuna sushi and just in general. And then as an adult who makes her own meals, I've just learned to use substitutes for mayo to make those things, like mustard, sour cream, etc. Kind of sad it took me so long to realize that, huh? I just never really gave it much thought, LOL. So that's dinner. And something fabulous for a bedtime snack. I just haven't decided what yet. We'll see what craving strikes before bed.   :-)

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Why I love used books so much

People are always asking me what it is about used books that I love so much. Well, first and foremost, the obvious is that they're a fraction of the cost of brand new books. I watch people drop $25 on a new hardcover book, or $15 for a trade paperback, etc., and that baffles me. I've gotten books that look brand-new, like they've never even been opened, for just a few dollars. But, to each their own. I don't judge. That's just not how I choose to roll, haha.

I don't think I've paid full price for a book in well over ten years. I started in college, going to the local used bookstore in town, where I found a copy of She's Come Undone for maybe $1, and I took it back to my dorm room and just devoured the book. I read it at a really pivotal time in my life, because I was a freshman in college, and struggling a bit to find my way- I was having difficulty making friends because I've always been on the shy/quiet side, classes were harder than I thought they would be, my time management skills weren't quite the greatest just yet, my roommate and I didn't really vibe well together, I was breaking up with a guy from back home, etc. This book... well, it just came along at just the right time, because I was starting to feel like I was coming undone too. To this day, it's still one of my all-time favorite books and will always hold a special place in my heart.   :-)

But it's not just about the price or the bargain aspect of a used book. The cool thing about used books, is that each book has a story within themselves. You know? Used books have a history, a personality. They've taken journeys, been places, visited other people. They have a past. And that's before you even open the book. It makes a book special and unique. It gives them character.

I've bought used books with bookmarks already in them. With personalized inscriptions, to people I don't know, from people I don't know, but now I feel like I know them a little bit. I bought a copy of Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister last year (which I still haven't gotten a chance to read- it's on the list!), and you know what was in it? Letters to a girl from her family. I don't know if she'd been away at college, or camp, or what. One was from her younger sister, who wrote to say that she missed her sister, and their parents missed her, and the dog missed her, and that she'd just started school, and was happy to report that the lockers are "too small to be shoved into", and that she's made a lot of new friends. And she put stickers all over the letter, and reminded her sister to wear sunscreen and wanted to know how the lunches were wherever she was. How adorable is that? And there was also a letter from their father, talking about how everyone missed her, and they're still looking for a house, and did she get the pictures that her mother had e-mailed her? I read those letters and could honestly picture the young girl and the father who wrote them, could actually visualize them in my head. I kept those letters. They're still in the book. I plan on keeping them too. It doesn't seem right to throw them away.

And take the book I'm reading now- Just Between Us, by Cathy Kelly. Yeah, I could have bought it on amazon or ebay or a local bookstore. But my copy? For starters, it's from Ireland. There's a price sticker from a bookstore called "Dubray Books", which I googled and it's a bookstore in Dublin. But I could tell it was from abroad because of the price sticker. Instead of a dollar sign, there's a pound sign (the currency, not the #, LOL). This book is autographed by the author. And it has a personal inscription in it, and it says, "Judy- Lots of Love, Jo XOXO. Enjoy! I am reading it too!" I got all that- and a great book to boot- for $1.

And that, my friends, is why I love used books so much.

And now, I'm going to unload the dishwasher and then read all of your lovely blogs.   :-)

Monday, January 26, 2009

No fair... I wanna hop on the white chocolate macadamia nut love train too!

Every blog I visit these days have beautiful pictures of the brand new Clif and Luna White Chocolate Macadamia Nut bars, and everyone's raving about how delicious they are and how they're the best things in the world and they're so sweet and tasty and wonderful, and it's seriously channeling the inner four-year-old brat in me who wants to scream, "No fair!" (Not, um, that I ever did that... I was an extraordinarily well-behaved child with perfect manners all the time who never once threw a temper tantrum. Okay, fine, I wasn't that either. I was somewhere in the middle.)

Where on earth are you all finding these bars???? I've checked their website and don't even see this flavor on there! I haven't seen them in supermarkets either. I haven't been to TJs recently, but I need to take a trip there this weekend so I'll definitely be on the lookout. Hell, I'll even venture to Whole Foods if need be. I ordinarily don't shop there- the one by me is always so crowded- plus I think they're a little on the pricey side- although I admit, some stuff isn't, and is actually even cheaper in some cases. But I digress. Please clue me in!!! I want to get in on the WCM love too!

Enough whining. I am happy to report that I got through Monday relatively unscathed. I was tired and cold most of the day, but that's nothing new. I hope you all had decent Mondays as well!

So I've had to resort to wearing stretch gloves indoors now. My hands have been chapped, cracked, bleeding, and hurting pretty much all throughout winter because of all the dry air. And I'm sick of seeing little tiny spots of blood on my books and paper. I have all sorts of creams and lotions that I've been trying, plus hydrocortisone cream, and some of them don't work at all, and the ones that do work (Aquaphor has been helping the most) are very thick and greasy, so I can't really touch, well, anything when I put it on. So I have resorted to wearing stretch gloves inside, and putting them on after I put on the Aquaphor. I look completely ridiculous- I look like I'm about to go pull a bank heist and I don't want my fingerprints at the scene of the crime- but it's actually working. The gloves are preventing the lotion from being exposed to air, and I think it helps to work it into my hands more because of the same reasons. Plus, it's alleviating the pain- I feel fine- and I can read and write and type and not have to be in pain and stress about bleeding on anything. I'm wearing them as I type right now. This is just one of oh-so-many reasons why I abhor winter immensely. Well, hopefully there's just a few weeks of misery left. In my mind, March 1= spring. I know that's not entirely true, but let me be.   :-)

Hey, is anyone else going to watch that new TNT show Trust Me, with Eric McCormack (Will from Will & Grace)? I'm going to go check it out. It's starting, well, now, so on that note, goodnight!   :-)

Sunday, January 25, 2009

MIA blogger

Wow... the weekend got away from me! Sorry for the lack of posts; I was too busy having a kick-ass weekend!  :-) I spent most of it with my sister... she came up to visit and we saw Bride Wars, which was seriously cute! We went to a matinee- the earliest show that they had, 1:50... and it occurred to both of us that neither one of us had ever been to a movie that early in the day! And I can't remember the last time I went to a movie in the late afternoon/early evening in general... maybe high school? Haha. It's just become more of an evening event for me, I guess! But it was pretty cool to go in the middle of the day. It felt almost a little indulgent.  ;-)  Plus, it was kinda cool to leave the theater and it was still broad daylight and only 3:30! After the movie we headed to the mall and puttered around there a little bit, then took a quick trip to Wegmans, came back to my place, and chilled for the rest of the night, making grilled chicken wraps for dinner and watching Undeclared. And then today was a bunch of errands, dropping her off, having some bonding time with the elliptical machine at the gym, etc. Oh, and of course reading. My sister is as much as a book fiend as I am, and whenever she comes over we always read. Yes, we read at our slumber parties. No wild games of "truth-or-dare" over at this pajama party!  :-D

I still have a bunch of stuff to do tonight to get ready for the upcoming work week- which I pray to God is not nearly as brutal as it was last week... I have some projects lined up, but nothing too stressful or horrible, they're actually projects that I really like working on; plus, they're time-consuming and so they make the day fly by- so this is all I've got for tonight. I barely got to look at anyone else's blogs this weekend and have some serious catching up to do! I hope you all had fun-filled weekends- the emotional high of a great weekend makes it a little  bit easier to get up for work on Monday! (At least until you get to your desk, that is!)   :-)

Thursday, January 22, 2009

A MUCH better day

Hey kids! Happy Thursday! I didn't post last night because yesterday was one of the worst days I've had in a long, long, long, LONG time. I spent most of the day fighting back tears (unsuccessfully at times- there were a few trips to the ladies' room at work throughout the day) and then I came home and had a total breakdown- I just let myself have a good, hard cry. But then I did yoga, and all the stress and anxiety of the day just melted away, and I felt a million times better. So I didn't want to get into a long post about why my day was so wretched and waste all those good and happy yoga vibes!

It was all work-related though, I will say that. I'm not really happy with my job these days, which I feel kind of ungrateful to complain about, because of the economic recession and the fact that so many people lost their jobs this year, I feel like I have no right to complain. So I'm really trying to keep that in perspective. The problem is that I love my profession (I'm a proofreader), but I don't like the industry that I'm in (I prefer to keep that on the DL because you never know who's reading the blog, you know? Just because I'm not happy with my job these days does NOT mean I want to lose it!). In a perfect world, I would be a proofreader or an editor for a publishing company (can we say pipe dream?), or maybe a health care environment, or a college/university, or a food company or magazine, something like that. But it is what it is for now. Maybe someday. But right now I'm still building my skills and experience, plus, I really do work for an amazing company. I just know that I won't be able to do it for the rest of my life. And right now we're working on a specific project with a team of really difficult people, and so that's only adding to my discontent. Oh well. I need to just keep remembering that I am lucky to have a job to go to, which is, unfortunately, more than some people have these days. Plus, there really are lots of days where I love my job! Just right now, there aren't too many of those. LOL. Ah well. Things will get better soon.

But lots of things DID put a smile on my face this week!

*The obvious- Obama's inauguration! I'm still so happy about that! (sidebar: Did you know that Obama's left-handed? I'm a lefty too!)

*One of my most favorite places in the whole wide world- Wegmans- was listed the #5 Best Company to work for on the "Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For" list! They make the list every year! Actually, maybe my dream job would be to work as a proofreader/editor at Wegmans... I'd brave those harsh New York winters if I meant I could work at their headquarters! I dated a guy who worked at Wegmans during the summers between college, and he loved working there. He couldn't go on enough about how great they were to their employees... and he just stocked shelves!

*Tomorrow's payday for me! Woo-hoo!

*I ate a sweet potato in some format or another as part of my dinner almost every night this week. Simple as this sounds, they're seriously one of my favorite foods- not just because it's incredibly delicious and versatile, but they're nutritional superstars! They're one of my favorite comfort foods and they did a great job of comforting me through a pretty difficult week! (I've got one more scheduled for tomorrow night's dinner, haha)

*I'm about 80 pages into Just Between Us (this baby's more than 500 pages!), and it's AWESOME so far! I knew it would be... Cathy Kelly has never let me down!

*The Office and 30 Rock are new tonight, and they're hysterical!

Friday's ALMOST here!!!!!!!!!!! I can't wait!!!!

That's all I've got for tonight. I'm off to finish 30 Rock, do some channel-surfing, and curl up with my book! Have a lovely rest of your Thursday!   :-)

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Witnessing history

Today in my cubicle, I sat and watched history unfold as Barack Obama was sworn in as our 44th President, and our very first African-American President.

I cried.

I didn't bawl or anything like that, but I started to get a little choked up and teary-eyed when our new First Lady, Michelle Obama, was introduced. And while I watched and listened to Barack Obama vow to serve and honor our country to the very best of his ability, a few tears did escape. Tears of total amazement and joy... I honestly couldn't believe what I had just seen. It might seriously have been the best thing I've ever seen in my whole life. I was definitely excited and looking forward to today's inauguration, but my emotions kind of surprised me... I didn't expect to be moved to tears, that's for sure! Did anyone else get a little choked up?

It was an encouraging and awesome moment in an otherwise miserable day. I had a horrible day at work (soooo don't feel like talking about it right now; will post details probably tomorrow), and I felt kinda physically "off" all day too... I had a headache for most of the day, which at first I attributed to work stress, but then after lunch I started feeling a little nauseous too. I did have a PB&J sandwich for lunch today; however, I am not as concerned about the peanut butter crisis as some people because I use a generic-brand peanut butter (Wegmans Crunchy Natural), and I've already confirmed with both a customer service rep and their website that their brand of peanut butter is safe to eat. So I don't think it's that. I'm hoping it's not that GI virus that was apparently pleasantly distributed around the retirement center that I helped paint yesterday. I had also briefly wondered if it was my preworkout bar- I'd had a ThinkGreen Cranberry Apple bar, and I vaguely remembered that the last time I'd had one, I'd had a few side effects (NOTE TO SELF: Sometimes, items are "discontinued" for a reason, and you don't always necessarily need to stock up on these products simply because they're on sale!), but I had started feeling a little nauseous right after lunch, hours before I ate the bar (although I didn't feel all that great during my entire workout and certainly don't think the bar was any help). Or maybe it was just nothing. I snacked on a few crackers when I got home and that seemed to help a lot. Who knows. Today's sandwich marked the very last of a jar of peanut butter, so I guess we'll see how I feel tomorrow, because I'm planning on busting open a new jar for tomorrow's lunch. I'm not concerned about it really, because Wegmans is a really reputable company/store, and I think that if they were truly concerned that there was even a remote possibility there was a problem with a product, they would pull it from the shelves as a voluntary recall. So I'm really not stressing about that too much! Is anyone else not really sweating the peanut butter crisis too much or not really affected by it? Thank God for that too... I literally eat PB&J every single day. I never bring anything else. It's easy to make, and probably the cheapest meal out there- PB and jelly last a while! MUCH cheaper than lunchmeat or buying lunch. Plus it's super-satisfying, healthy, and gets me through the afternoon. And even though I eat it every single day, I never, ever get sick of it. And it's so nice not to have to think and plan what to bring for lunch, since I already know every day, LOL. So let's hope the salmonella scare doesn't extend to Wegmans brand peanut butter, because if so, I am officially up a creek. Well, not really. I'll just suck it up and buy a different brand until it tides over. Anyway, that's enough salmonella talk for one night.

So I did finish One Small Thing last night, at about 11:30! It was good, I guess.... I mean, I was really into it and I couldn't put it down, clearly, but not only did I dislike the main character throughout the entire duration of the book, but I really didn't like- or believe- the ending. I won't give anything away because I hate when people do that, but let's just say that it all concluded and was wrapped up a little too swiftly and neatly. The book lacked plot development and character development as well. So I really can't figure out why I couldn't put it down! Maybe it was because the plot concept had so much promise, and started off really well. Maybe because I liked the supporting characters a lot, although some of them were seriously underdeveloped. But yeah... so I didn't like the way the book wrapped up, and I thought the main character was a really selfish biotch! So I can't really pinpoint what I liked about it! Strange, huh? It's really weird... I didn't not like it, but it didn't sit well with me... kind of like whatever's going on with my tummy! Very, very strange. Has that ever happened to anyone else? You liked a book or a movie, but you're not really sure what exactly you liked about it? Hahaha.

I have very high hopes for my new book, though!

DSCI1001 It's called Just Between Us, by Cathy Kelly. It's a fiction novel that focuses on the lives of three sisters and their mother, who is getting ready to celebrate her fortieth wedding anniversary with their father. I bought this last year at a book sale for $1, and it's an autographed copy! Can't beat that! As I've mentioned on this blog before, Cathy Kelly is one of my favorite authors, so I'm sure this book will be nothing short of awesome. I'm already into the first chapter a little bit and so far, it's living up to my expectations! I probably won't get to do too much reading tonight, because I really want to write in my journal and get out all the emotions of the day- the good, the bad, and the in-between!

And on that note, I hope you all had a wonderful Inauguration Day and were able in some way to witness the monumental moments of the day, and that you were just as moved as I was and the hope that change is always possible- we saw it today, and I think we're going to be seeing it for a while to come. :-)

Monday, January 19, 2009

Snowy day off

Greetings from snowy PA! It snowed here all afternoon, slow but steady! It didn't look too bad at first, but they just said on the news that the roads are a little slippery, and I have yet to see anyone plow our parking lot. Good thing I got home before it got too bad! I had debated going to the gym after lunch, but looking at my totally unplowed parking lot, I decided just to stay put! I got a lot of stuff done around the apartment, like laundry, getting stuff ready for work tomorrow, loading and unloading the dishwasher, vacuuming... we'll just consider all that my cardio for the day. And I helped paint a retirement home this morning, so we'll call that my strength training, haha. Although there were so many volunteers- more than needed- that it felt like I was doing more standing around than painting! Oh well- I guess it's better to have too many volunteers for a project than not enough! We were done by 10:30! But I needed a shower ASAP afterwards, not only from the paint that I got on myself, but also because apparently there was a nasty bout of a GI virus circulating around the senior center last week- there were a few memos about it on some bulletin boards- along with some safety precautions to take to stay healthy. Needless to say, that made some of the volunteers a little anxious, including myself! Right now I'm doing a load of laundry with the clothes I wore today in there- I'm sure I have nothing to worry about, but I really don't feel like getting a nasty 24-hour stomach bug, so I'm playing it safe just in case!

Is anyone else getting excited for tomorrow and the inauguration? We're actually allowed to watch the inauguration at our desks tomorrow online- pretty cool, huh? I didn't think we would be able to! One of my coworkers actually took the whole day off to watch it.

So the Eagles lost yesterday, so no Super Bowl hopes and dreams for Philly this year. Ah well. We still have the World Series win! Good thing we had off today so my coworkers could spend the day mourning the loss (and most likely nursing some hangovers, although I suspect that would be going on regardless of whether the Birds won or lost, haha).

My weekend was nice and low-key, which is just what I needed. This is going to be a really busy hell of a week at work. I'm already looking forward until the upcoming weekend! LOL. We have a lot of projects coming in with extremely tight deadlines, so I'm going to be a busy, busy bee. Oh well. We always get through it! Luckily my team works together very well, and we're really good at helping each other out during busy times and everyone doing their fair share of the work, so that helps a lot.

I have, like, 50 pages left in One Small Thing, and I REALLY wanna finish it tonight, so I'm off to go do that! I wanted to try and finish it this afternoon so I could post a review and pick a new book, but restlessness got the better of me (probably from not going to the gym!), so I did some domestic multitasking instead. Sometimes, I have a hard time just sitting still and chilling and vegging out. A lot of the time, actually. Normally I get rid of the excess energy by running some errands or hitting the gym, and that helps a lot. Does this happen to anyone else? Anyone have any ideas or suggestions on how to be a little more, well, chill? ;-) So I think I'm going to finish the book tonight, and post a review tomorrow. This book is too damn good to put down. So I'm going to pick it back up! :-)

I hope you all had wonderful Mondays- sorry to the people who had to work today. :-( Goodnight!

Friday, January 16, 2009

I can't feel my toes... :-(

I think that today is the coldest day of the year here, for real. The words "frigid" and "freezing" were thrown around on the news today. Needless to say, miserable doesn't even begin to describe the emotion that I feel right now. I've been home for about half an hour now and I still can't feel my toes, despite being layered up and in my warmest sweatshirt, my warmest socks, my extra-fluffy Cookie Monster slippers (don't judge me), and am sitting at my desk with my heating pad on high and my space heater on. This is bad. I'm so hoping that this is going to be the worst of it, because I'm not really sure how I'll be able to physically tolerate anything much more colder. I've always reacted pretty poorly to this weather. I get cold to the point where I actually feel physically nauseous from being so cold sometimes. I get tested for anemia every year, and every year I get the bloodwork done and I'm told that I don't have it, but truthfully, I don't see how I'm not at least borderline anemic, because I react so extremely poorly to the cold. But blood tests don't lie, you know? Still, I've always had a pretty strong reaction to the cold, and the fact that I've lost weight this past year really doesn't help my cause much.

Anyway, enough bitching about the cold. Three cheers for a three-day weekend! Who else has off for Martin Luther King Day? Hell, I'm excited enough that the weekend is here- I keep forgetting it's a three-day one! I had a long week and I'm really happy that not only it is over, but that my weekend's not too busy, so I don't have to go out in this wretched cold for long periods of time! I need to go to Wal-Mart and Wegmans, and I'm planning on hitting the gym, but that's about it! That's about all I can take in this weather! On Monday I'm volunteering to help paint a retirement home in West Chester. My company hosts all of these community events in honor of Martin Luther King Day, and while we're not required to participate, we're strongly encouraged. There's a pretty big variety and list to choose from. But I always do the same thing every year- paint this particular retirement home. It's close to where I live, and only takes a few hours, so I get to enjoy the satisfaction of volunteering and helping out a good cause, but then I also get to be a little bit selfish and enjoy my day off! (Some of the events are all-day and a lot more emotionally taxing.)

I finished Tripping the Prom Queen yesterday. I liked it a lot! It was a real eye-opener to me, because truthfully, I had no idea that women felt the need to compete over so many aspects of everyday life. I see where it's necessary (work, promotions, etc.) and that it's natural to feel jealous or insecure of other women at times, but some of it was seriously cutthroat. I loved reading all the different anecdotes and stories from women! It made the book!

Here's my one complaint about this book, and I find myself having this issue often in sociology/social science books where there are lots of media and pop culture references. When trying to illustrate her point, the author would occasionally bring up a TV show, book, or movie plot, and then would reveal the ending of the book or movie plot as a way to drive her point home. I get why this is necessary when writing about society, but at the same time, not everyone has read that particular book mentioned or seen that specific movie, so it's a bit annoying that the endings are given away. I see why they do it, I just wish they wouldn't. Oh well!

So that means... I selected a new book! Nothing like starting off the weekend with a new fun book to read!

DSCI0990 It's called One Small Thing, by Jessica Barksdale Inclan. I actually got a free advance readers' copy of this when I worked at Borders five years ago! (Yes, I have books on my shelves that I've had for that long but haven't read yet- hence this project!) It's a fiction book about a woman who has an idealistic life- perfect home, perfect husband, perfect body, perfect paycheck, lives in picture-perfect suburban California, the whole shabang- but the one big fallback in her life is that she is desperately trying to get pregnant and has been trying for two years, but hasn't yet. I don't really get her desperation, as she is only 28 years old, but whatever. Then her husband finds out that he has a ten-year-old son that he never knew existed, and the boy's mother has just died, and as the father and next-of-kin, the boy comes to live with them, and how that turns their lives completely upside down. I started it today and read on my lunch break and at the gym, and it's a very good book so far. I'm actually not liking Avery (the main character) too much though. She's a little self-involved and bitchy. In one paragraph she looks down on construction workers, and inwardly thinks to herself that had they attended college, they wouldn't be stuck in such dead-end jobs. And when her husband finds out he's a father to this boy, her immediate concern is how it ruins her plans to have a baby. Not even their plans- her plans! Like her husband's just a sperm donor or something. I don't know. I hope she gets a little more likable and relatable, because right now, I'm having a hard time feeling sympathy for her character. Maybe being a stepmama will help soften her up and mellow her out a little. Right now I'm still very early on in the book- they haven't even introduced the little boy yet. They're just finding out about him now.

And the cool added bonus about this book is that because it's an advanced readers' copy, it's unedited. So it's chock-full of editing and proofreading mistakes. Ordinarily, this annoys me. Not the case here, because it's an unedited manuscript. And the reason this excites me so is not just because I'm a dork, haha. But my "dream job" is to be a book editor someday, so I actually see this as a little bit of practice! I'm years away from achieving this goal, if I ever achieve it at all- I need to build a solid career in proofreading before I can really make a transition into editing, and even then, book editor is an extreme long shot- but hey, it can happen! And it's good to get in practice where I can! I've already seen quite a bit of mistakes- not just proofreading mistakes like grammatical errors or misspelled words, but things at a real editing standpoint- sentences that don't make sense with the rest of the paragraph, confusion within the plot, etc. Definitely good practice! At least I can pretend to be a book editor for a few days, haha.

I have some exciting food-related news for all my foodie bloggers out there. This might not be news to you, but it is to me. I have discovered something fascinating. Sweet potatoes + hummus= AMAZING combination. This is probably something that everyone already knew... I'm the last to know everything and am usually ten steps behind the rest of the world, haha! But I'd never thought to pair them together before, but I did on a whim yesterday, and now, I'm totally hooked on the combo:

DSCI0988 Tonight's amazing dinner: microwaved sweet potato topped with steamed broccoli and a Boca Tomato Bruschetta burger broken into pieces, with steamed carrots happily strewn about the plate for extra veggie love (dinner is usually the only meal where I can get my veggies in- lunch is always PB&J and fruit- so I really try and load up on the veggies at dinner- gotta get in my five fruits and veggies a day!). My hummus of choice this week is Tribe Cracked Chili Pepper Hummus, which is seriously good stuff. This is a superyummy, superhealthy, and superfilling dinner. I didn't even use all the hummus (it's about two tbsp). This meal definitely has some staying power in my tummy.

Now I'm sad because I'm out of sweet potatoes. What am I supposed to do with my hummus now, until I go food shopping until Sunday? Go back to WRAPS? I can't! After discovering how delicious it is with sweet potatoes, that almost feels like a step DOWN. :-D

Speaking of wraps, this is for my girl Chandra:

DSCI0964 DSCI0983 Look, Chandra, look! Wraps that didn't bust open! Okay, I cheated a little and the ends aren't closed, so it isn't superperfect, but it's definitely an improvement, wouldn't you say? I'm getting there! :-)

I hope you all have fun and exciting plans this weekend! I'll be around, checking in, posting updates on the uneventful weekend and my reading adventures. The Eagles are playing the Cardinals for the chance to go to the Super Bowl! I know Mrs. Lindsay over at Love of Oats will be watching!!!! :-) I admit, I could care less about football for the most part. I've never understood the game and I probably never will. They get up, they fall down, a whistle blows, and someone comments on the five seconds of players getting up and falling down and how apparently that was a "strategy". But all I see is big men running into each other full force and knocking each other to the ground. I just don't get it. I've tried. Really. I even tried to read Football for Dummies once. But I don't get it, and I'm okay with that. But when your city's team has the chance to go to the Super Bowl- AGAIN- and after your city's baseball team just WON THE WORLD SERIES LAST YEAR- your city pride kicks in and you can't help but get a little excited! Gotta root, root, root for the home team! Haha. I'll either be at the gym or at home when the game's on, so I'll either check in here and there to see the score on the gym's TVs, or if I'm at home, I'll channel-surf back and forth between craptastic Sunday TV and the score. I can't bring myself to watch the game, but I definitely want to check in and see what's happening! If Sunday TV is at its all-time low, I might just have the game on in the background while I do stuff around the apartment- my bedroom floor is practically begging to be vacuumed, and my cat seems displaced and pissier than usual even though he has fresh food and water, and this leads me to believe he is unhappy with his current litter situation. Sigh. Ah, the life and times of a glamorous twentysomething gal.

That's all I got for now. Later gators!

EDIT TO ADD: I've been home for hours now and am feeling much warmer. I started this post around 7ish and am just finishing up around 11. So I CAN feel my toes at this point! I didn't want people to think I had hypothermia or frostbite or dead nerves, LOL!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Kashi, you've done it again

Happiness came in the form of a bar today:

DSCI0976 I know I had said in yesterday's post that the Raspberry Chocolate flavor was kind of tempting me. But I was totally craving the Pumpkin Pie flavor today. And so that one was the first to be tried!

My verdict? Another home run for the Kashi crew. I LOVED this bar! I microwaved for a few seconds, and the pumpkin filling got all warm and gooey, and tasted just like pumpkin pie! And there were whole walnuts in there too, both on top on the filling and inside the actual bar (I tried snapping pics, but none of them really came out very well, no matter how I hard I tried, and eventually I just gave up and succumbed to the tasty magic). They're kind of small, but filling... ah, the power of fiber and walnuts! This was amazing and I loved every single bite! If you can find these at Target, I highly recommend them!

Hope you all had a good day. Mine was eh. Nothing happened, but certain coworkers just got on my nerves today. Nothing major though. Just different personalities having to play nice in the sandbox that is corporate America, you know? ;-)

That's really all I have for today- I'm off to take a quick shower and settle in for the night to watch The Biggest Loser and The Office! Have a good evening!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Weekend recap and thoughts on rivalry

Good evening! How were your weekends and your Mondays? Hopefully nice! I had a wonderful weekend, which carried over into a pretty decent workday today!

The weather this weekend was not nearly as bad as they had predicted... we hardly saw any snow at all, and the roads were fine all weekend! So I was able to accomplish everything that I wanted and needed to do this weekend, so that was nice. I hit all of the stores I wanted to, including Pier 1 Imports, but I held off on buying anything, since my grandmother just moved into a retirement/assisted living community this past weekend, and she had asked me if I wanted or needed anything because she had so much stuff to move and was looking to get rid of stuff, and I said I'd love to take some kitchen stuff off her hands! But other than that, I was quite the consumer this weekend! But almost everything I bought was on sale or just cheap, so I'm at peace with it. I'm a big believer in getting the most bang for my buck, you know? ;-) So I didn't spend all that much, really. And I got a lot of great eats at Target, Wegmans, and Trader Joe's... so I am now toting a fully stocked fridge with lots of yum-filled goodness. ;-)

I was especially excited to find these bad boys:

DSCI0973 I saw these on Coffee Talk's blog, and needed to get my hands on them! She had mentioned she had found them at Target, and so I figured I'd try my luck there too. Lo and behold, there they were! And on sale, $3 for 8! So I had to pick up a box of each new flavor. I can't decide which one to try first... the Raspberry Chocolate one is kind of catching my eye... I <3 every single Kashi product there is, so I can't imagine these won't be anything short of amazing. Thank you, Coffee Talk!!!! Here's a big cyberhug! :-)

Speaking of Kashi love, I bought two new Kashi cereals over the weekend- well, new to me, anyway- Mighty Bites and Honey Sunshine. I had a coupon for $1 off any Kashi product, and knew that I wanted to use it for cereal, but I couldn't decide which one I wanted between the two. So I figured, I'd buy both, and rationalized it in my head as rather than get $1 off one purchase, I'd be getting fifty cents off each box. :-) I haven't tried either one yet, probably over the weekend. It's too cold to eat anything but oatmeal at work. How about you Kashi cereal lovers? Which do you like? Mighty Bites? Honey Sunshine? A different one? I'm a big fan of the Kashi Go Lean. I've also had Vive and that was pretty good, but I like the GoLean better. And I have yet to meet a Kashi bar I didn't like. :-)

And my favorite treats of the weekend:

DSCI0972 TWO NEW BOOKS!!! Yay! After Target, I stopped by Barnes and Noble on the way home to do a little browsing, and they were having a huge sale. Anything with a red sticker on it was 50% off... even if it was already bargain-priced! So I found these two books in the bargain book section, priced at about $5 each, plus an extra 50% off, PLUS I had my roommate's membership discount card! And the best part: I paid with a gift card I had, so for me, THESE BOOKS WERE FREE!!!! You literally can't beat that!

Here are the new books in all their glory. The first one is called Stop Dressing Your Six-Year-Old Like a Skank: And Other Words of Delicate Southern Wisdom, by Celia Rivenbark. It's a series of short, humorous essays from a good ol' Southern mama. I'm a fan of short essays and all things funny, so I thought this would be good for a laugh or two! The other book is called Miss New York Has Everything, by Lori Jakiela. It's a memoir about a woman who grows up in suburban Pittsburgh in the late 60s/early 70s, but dreams of moving to New York City and making it big there, and so she does actually move there after college, and takes a job as a stewardess because it sounds so exciting and glamorous, and it turns out to be anything but! How funny does that sound? ;-)

So yeah, it was a good weekend. And I slept like a baby last night, so I was actually well-rested for a Monday at work. That doesn't happen much, believe me!

Okay, so I'm about halfway through my book Tripping the Prom Queen, and here are my thoughts on it so far. I really had no idea that women were so jealous of each other, in every arena of life. This book is completely inundated with real-life examples of women competing and judging each other over, from jobs, to boyfriends/husbands, to children, clothes, money, weddings, even funerals in one example! It's a real eye-opener for me. Sure, I know women are catty and backstabby and all that, but I never realized to such an extent. It makes me feel truly sorry for women who base their worth, themselves on how other women look, the purses they carry, their marital status, all that. It just seems like such a waste of time and energy.

I don't know if I'm in denial, or what, but I read these examples from these women, and I just can't ever imagine feeling that way or getting so upset by other women's lives and happiness, especially friends and loved ones. Maybe I'm just not a competitive person? I've never cared much about competition at all... at least, I think so. When I was in high school, I was on our school's tennis team, and my coach literally almost kicked me off the team because of my "lack of competitive spirit". I never cared if I won a game or not, I just liked to play! So I beat her to the punch and didn't return to the team for my senior year, because I just didn't need that pressure. And it's never bothered me when a friend got engaged or married, because that's not what I want for my life. I've had friends have babies, buy houses, travel, go back to school, change careers, get promotions, and I've never slighted them or myself over it! I have such a diverse group of friends, that we don't really "compete" for the same things and a lot of us want a lot of different things out of life, so when good things happen to them, I don't feel threatened or less of a person- I feel happy for them, glad that something good has happened to them. Am I naive? Are women really like this? I don't get jealous or feel the need to compete with people at work either- I have the job I want at my company. I feel no need to compete with anyone for anything because I'm exactly where I want to be. I don't feel like I'm in competition with my coworkers or my teammates, because we all have the same job and get the same work. I wouldn't mind making more money, sure, but as long as I make enough to support myself, that's enough, especially in a time of serious economic recession and depression... I'm lucky and grateful that I have a job to go to, so the last thing I should be doing or need to be doing is griping about the size of my paycheck. That just seems so ungrateful. Plus I figure that I'm young, and I don't have a husband or kids to feed or a mortgage to pay, and I know that as I continue to work and build a successful career, I will make more money one day, and I have what I need for now. You know? So what do I have to feel jealous about? I love when good things happen to people I care about. Why would I feel anything but? I feel like the women in this book are just so shallow. One woman gripes about how upset she felt because she was married and pregnant while her friends were bar-hopping, and she didn't even like to spend time with them, because she hated being the "boring, fat one". What is that? Rather than have that ridiculous attitude, why not be happy about the fact that you and your husband are about to bring a baby into the world and start a family? One woman tried to get pregnant at the same time her friend did, which is sad enough to do once, but she did it for EACH of her three pregnancies. That's mind-boggling to me. There's so many stories like this throughout the book... like I said, it's definitely an eye-opener. I just think it's really sad to go around in life looking at what everyone else "has" and comparing yourself to them. What kind of a life is that? Why not take all that time and energy and turn it into a more positive energy- like thinking about your life and all the things that bring you happiness, and if there's something you don't like about your life, rather than be bitter that someone else has it and you don't, why don't you try and make those changes for your own life? That's more of a win-win situation, don't you think?

I don't know... it all just seems so sad. If we can't be happy for and support our loved ones when good things happen to them, what does that mean? :-( I don't want to know. I hope that these women profiled in the book are rare exceptions, and that most of us actually want good things for the people we care about. I just need to think we're better people than that. I think that jealousy is a natural emotion, and competition can be healthy in the right environment, and so that's why I'm hoping that these women don't speak for the majority.

Or maybe I should just consider myself lucky that I don't have this mentality. I think if I spent all of my time comparing and judging myself against the world, I wouldn't be a very happy person. It seems really exhausting and self-defeating to never feel like "enough" against other people, and I think that takes away from the everyday happiness that you can find in your everyday life.

That's my two cents. It's time to get off my soapbox and surf your fabulous blogs. I really need to update my blogroll at some point... there are so many awesome blogs out there that I just love to read... I wish I could comment on them all, so you all know I'm reading, but there's too many of you lovely peeps that I rarely get through everyone's blogs every day- I wish I could! Oh, and Diet Tribe is on in a few minutes too, LOL. Is anyone else watching that? What are your thoughts? I like it! And look... a nice example of "healthy competition" amongst friends while still supporting each other... see? It's possible!!!!!!!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Won't you take me to... funkytown

I apologize that I haven't blogged this week, mainly because nothing's really been going on, and I've spent the past few days in a bit of a funk. I don't know if it's the miserable weather, or what. It's been cold, gray, rainy, blah, and wretched pretty much all week. It's hard to be in a good mood when you haven't seen the sun in almost a week. January is so gray and depressing.

I was in a massively blah mood for most of today, and for no real reason whatsoever. Does that ever happen to anyone else- you're just in a bad mood for absolutely no reason? I just felt in total bitch-on-wheels mode for most of today. I'm pretty sure it's the weather, both outside and inside. I spent most of the day freezing at my cubicle, which I do most days anyway regardless of what season it is. They blast the AC in the summer and skimp on the heat in the winter. At least in the summer I can go outside and thaw out, but that's clearly not an option for a while. So I sit at my desk, shivering, wearing layers (sometimes, I'm not exaggerating, I wear up to three sweaters at work), and I keep a heating pad at my desk, and at least once a day I need to turn it on and put it on my legs. How ridiculous is that???

Well, at least the weekend is only a day away, right? And it's payday! Which is good because I definitely need groceries- I need to hit the whole trifecta this weekend- Target, Trader Joe's, and my beloved Wegmans. Also, I feel the need to indulge in some retail therapy, but because I only believe in hitting clearance racks and sales (that's my version of "indulging", haha), and so I'm thinking of hitting up Pier 1 Imports too. Their regular-priced stuff is outrageous, but their clearance/sale items are amazing. And I need bowls and plates that I can actually use in the microwave (I tend to buy the cutesy plates that are not microwave-safe. I'm bright, I know).

None of my meals have been all that exciting either. Because I needed to use up my sour cream, a lot of sweet potatoes were consumed this week. Not to say my meals weren't tasty, they just didn't vary much. Mostly baked potato concoctions. And since I'm low on food, tonight was just a grilled chicken breast and steamed veggies and a salad. I didn't feel a camera was necessary for that.

So I finished Irish Girls About Town tonight after a quick Pilates workout... and I really enjoyed it! I love Irish chick lit. Irish writers seem to have this subtle wit and humor about them. Not to say we don't have plenty of that in our American chick lit, but the Irish have this almost sly and sneaky way of getting in quips and anecdotes, you know what I mean, jellybeans? ;-)   Ah, us Irish, we're so witty and clever, even after knocking back a few pints!   ;-)   If you've never given Irish chick lit a try, I'd strongly recommend it. Some great Irish chick lit authors to try: Cathy Kelly, Maeve Binchy, Catherine Barry, Colette Cadelle, and Sarah Webb.

So what's my new book du jour, you ask? Well, I proudly present to you my latest read:

DSCI0953  Tripping the Prom Queen: The Truth About Women and Rivalry, by Susan Shapiro Brash. The author takes a look at the often-unspoken rivalry that goes on between women (whether through careers, friendships, sisters, etc), why rivalry occurs, how it's different from rivalry between men (we are much cattier about it, haha), healthy competition vs/ unhealthy competition, etc. So basically, a book about why we're such bitches to each other sometimes! I saw this in the bargain section of Barnes and Noble over the summer, and thought it sounded really interesting. There's lots of great pop culture references in it too, like Gilmore Girls, Mean Girls, Heathers, That 70s Show, etc. And there's lots and lots of personal stories in there... those are my favorite!

I'll probably read a few pages tonight, maybe. I'm pretty tired and want to catch up on everyone's blogs, and I have a feeling I'll be crashing and burning early tonight (fine by me- I could always use the extra sleep!), but we'll see.

Hope everyone had a great Thursday! Happy almost-Friday!!!   :-)

Monday, January 5, 2009

Back to normal

You know, today was not nearly as bad as I thought it would be at work... it was a lot less painful than I had anticipated. Well, I guess that's better than the other way around, huh? :)

I power-read through the rest of The Class on my lunch break... I only had a few chapters left and I just couldn't put it down.... I had to finish it!!! It was soooo good!!!! Even though I didn't like many of the characters personally, I was so wrapped up in their personal lives, that I felt I'd been through the past 25 years with them, and so I had to find out what happened to each of them in the end! I was emotionally invested, even if I didn't like them. :-)

I didn't like two of the characters in particular because of the way they treated not only their wives, but women in general. Two of the five characters cheated on their wives, and in general, some of the characters viewed women as the weaker, lesser sex, and as objects, not people. There's one scene in the book where one character's son is taken to the hospital and is treated by a female pediatrician, and he is appalled by this, and demands to speak to the chief of pediatrics (which happens to be the same doctor- touche!). And in general, women are just treated poorly for the most part in this book. I know it goes with the times and all- that's really how women were viewed in the 50s and 60s... but I can't help but take offense!!!! Luckily, the women who are scorned and treated poorly in this book get theirs in the end in some way or another, whether it's through their careers, their personal lives, etc.

All in all, dislike of certain characters aside, I just loved this book. I just loved the author's style of writing, and I look forward to reading more books by Erich Segal in the future. Not Love Story, though... that's not really my thing. Plus the plot and the ending are pretty common knowledge, LOL.

I came home with yoga on the agenda, but I just had to pick my new book first. I was just too excited to think of anything else, especially a calming and relaxing workout like yoga. Whenever I pick a new book, I get like a kid who has woken up really early on Christmas Day, but has to wait until the parents are awake to open up presents (come on, we all did it at least once in childhood, whether we want to admit it or not). I just get seriously, seriously excited thinking about what random book I'll pick next! (This might be a sign that I need to get out more.)

So I ended up picking Irish Girls About Town, which is pictured above. I just remembered why I hate posting in Blogger and always post in Windows Live Writer. Because for some reason, Blogger won't let me put the picture wherever I want in my post. It just goes straight to the top. Annoying. Either that or I just don't know how to do it, which is entirely possible, because I am not electronics/technical savvy at all. Don't believe me? I bought a DVD player last week because mine crapped out, and I haven't even attempted to open up and take it out of the box and hook it up. I'm waiting for my roommate to come home so she can do it for me. Because I just know I can't handle the task. I couldn't even figure out how to switch from the Wii to our TV cable. She had to set it up before she went home for the holidays. That's how slow-witted I am when it comes to those things.
Anyway, so this book is basically a compilation of short stories from various Irish chick lit writers, like Marian Keyes, Cathy Kelly (LOVE her), Maeve Binchy, etc. I love Irish chick lit, so I
I'm excited to start this book! I got it for $1 at my favorite book sale last year, and it's in excellent condition! Yay. There's also an American version called- surprisingly- American Girls About Town, which I also own, but haven't read yet.
I probably won't get too far into it tonight (I always want to start a new book ASAP!) because there's a lot of good TV watching to be had tonight (is anyone else going to watch the premiere of Diet Tribe on Lifetime tonight? I am), plus my roommate is coming home after being home in CA for two weeks, so I anticipate a long night of catching up and dishing!
I hope everyone's Mondays/first days back weren't too bad! Remember that now we're just one day closer to the weekend! :-)

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Vacation winding down

The problem with taking almost two weeks off from work is that you become completely spoiled and don't want to go back. :-D But given the massive economic recession we had that resulted in so many company layoffs for so many people (one of which is a good friend of mine), I feel like a horrible person for even complaining. You know? I'm sure there's a lot of people who would want to be getting up and going to work tomorrow, because they meant they had a job. I'm trying to keep that perspective, and be grateful that I have a job to go to tomorrow. I know it's not going to be an easy first day back, though, because I have a lot of work to do. I had a lot of work on my desk when I left on New Year's Eve, and I'm sure I was assigned to other projects while I was out. Oh well. Hey, at least it's a pay week! :-) All the more reason to look forward to Friday!

I also can't complain too much because I had a very nice and relaxing vacation. It was nice to end the year in a destressing and decompressing state of mind, you know? It felt nice just to be able to breathe, and just relax, and reflect on the past year and the upcoming year ahead. I had a nice balance of time to myself and time to spend with friends and family. I did a lot of reading and writing in my journal, which are two of my favorite things to do.

Speaking of reading, I'm about 3/4 of the way through The Class... I can't put it down- I stayed up until almost 3 AM reading last night!!!! I love the saga-style writing of this author. It totally brings me back to my young adult Danielle Steel phase, because a lot of her books are in this format- chronicling years and years of peoples' lives. I love that, because you really get involved with the characters and their lives that way, and you feel like you almost know them and go through their ups and downs with them, in a sense... you know? Unlike short stories or books that just have one central focus or plot, and then that's it. You almost "can't" get to really know the characters. Although I will say that the more I get to know some of the main characters (there are five), the less I like them... there are two that I completely dislike, and yet I can't stop reading about them!

Since I've had a lot of downtime, I've played around in the kitchen a bit, and I found a few new food combinations that I'm totally in love with. Not new products or anything, just combinations of food I already love. In particular:

1. I see a lot of "waffle sandwiches" on food blogs. And believe it or not, I'd never tried it out! I have always eaten waffles in the "traditional" style- with the maple syrup (I use sugar-free), cinnamon, and fruit, usually a banana. But yesterday I was out of milk and bananas, so I couldn't have cereal, but I did have some Kashi Heart-to-Heart waffles in the freezer, so I figured it was the perfect time to try out a waffle sandwich. Um, hello, yummy! Since I didn't have any fresh fruit (I was heading to the grocery store after breakfast), I had to make my waffle sandwich with natural peanut butter and sugar-free triple berry jam, and it was delicious! I can't wait to try it with a banana!

2. I don't know if I saw this in blogland, or I just made it up in my head, or what, but I've recently learned that eggs and hummus go GREAT together. I bought a new hummus last week that I'm just flat-out in love with: Tribe Sweet Roasted Red Pepper Hummus. I tried to buy more yesterday when I was grocery shopping and they were out. :-( Anyway, for lunch yesterday I made myself a sandwich, using egg whites, arugula, and hummus on whole wheat bread, and it just rocked my world. Full of protein and very filling, but above all else, it just tasted amazing. The arugula gave it a nice kick. I definitely foresee more of these sandwiches in 2009.

I also wanted to show off what my sister gave me for Christmas:

DSCI0939 Isn't it great? I actually saw this in a Hallmark store when my sister and I were buying a present for our grandmother a few weeks ago, and I saw this and joked that it was perfect, and so true for me! My sister actually went back and bought it for me for Christmas. When I opened it, I cracked up! My sister's the best. ;-)

All right, I'm off to get some stuff done around mi casa. Have a great Sunday everyone (at least what's left of it)!!!! :-)

Thursday, January 1, 2009

A tasty start to 2009

I love when I have a full day of awesome meals. It's the little things in life that make me happy. :-)

For lunch today, all I wanted was soup, so I opened up a can of my favorite- Health Valley Organic No-Salt Added Lentil Soup- and threw some spinach in it for some extra veggie love. I also threw in a few dashes of ground turmeric and curry powder, so it was almost like Indian food (which I love, and now that I think about it, haven't had in a really long time... I'll have to rectify that!):

DSCI0914And I went with an always-loved favorite for dinner: a baked potato concoction!

DSCI0918 A microwaved sweet potato, topped with melted reduced-fat cheddar cheese, steamed broccoli, and a Boca burger broken into pieces. With fat-free sour cream and chipotle salsa on the side for my dipping amusement. This was, as always, a delicious meal! This is hands down one of my favorite meals- it's so easy to make, delicious, filling, and above all, healthy! And it always hits the spot. :-)

I'm off to do some reading and channel-surfing now... goodnight!!! :-)

Happy 2009!!!

Happy first day of 2009, everyone! I hope you all had a safe and wonderful New Year's Eve!!! I can't believe 2008 has come and gone already. It was definitely a year of ups and downs, that's for sure. I had to deal with a lot of family drama, family health problems, personal health concerns (that turned out to be nothing, thank God), work stress, relationship and friendship stress, etc. But some of these "lows" brought positive changes, and I've learned a lot about myself this year.

Last night I was writing in my journal, and while I definitely had some struggles in 2008, I wanted to think about all of the good things that happened to me too. Even the negatives brought out some positives. Here's a recap of some of the stuff that happened to me in 2008:

*I started eating a lot healthier and paying attention to what I was eating. I used to claim to be this "healthy eater", because I ate Lean Cuisines and drank diet soda, ate low-fat this and fat-free that, and processed/artificial foods that were masquerading as "healthy" but really weren't, foods that had HFCS in them, etc., and while I did work out a few times a week, I did the same exact workout every single time- a half-hour on the elliptical. But I've totally changed all that. I started making my own healthy meals- no more Lean Cuisines- using more natural, healthy, real, and unprocessed foods, like lean meats and whole grains and vegetables, I stopped eating artificial/processed/HFCS foods and found more natural substitutions (there was even HFCS in my "100% whole wheat bread"!), and I'm so happy that I did. I've fallen in love with many healthy dishes/recipes and foods and snacks, and I feel better and healthier! I also switched up my workouts with cardio on different machines at different intervals, with strength training, yoga, Pilates, etc. I switch it up every day. I feel like a totally different person, and I love it! :-)

*I went to AMAZING book sales, bought lots of great books for ridiculously cheap, and have read so many amazing books this year. And I started this blog, of course!

*I watched the Phillies win the World Series... it still feels a little surreal to me!

*I helped elect our first black president into office. YAY OBAMA!!!

*I got out of a bad relationship this year. It wasn't abusive or anything like this, but it was a miserable, toxic, pretty much dead-end relationship that I was very, very unhappy in, but didn't know how to end. When it finally ended, I felt immense relief and happiness and freedom. I never once did shed a tear over the breakup, which I think only drives home the point that it was the right thing for me. And I was able to learn what I want in a relationship, and what I don't want. I'm so happy being single at this stage of my life right now, because I've never really been single for a long period of time... since high school, I've always had a boyfriend, always been dating. Now I feel like it's time to focus on me, who I really am, and what I really want out of life. I am totally loving every minute of it! :-)

*Like my relationship, I learned this year that I had some friendships that were not really "friends", which is actually a blessing in disguise, because I really do not want people like that in my life. Not to say it didn't hurt. But knowing that I am better off in the long run without hurtful people like that in my life, it makes it easier. I feel better and happier not having the toxicity and drama that came along with not-so-great friendships. You know? When it comes to people in my life, I've always cared more about quality, not quantity. Having good people in your life is all that matters. Life is too short to waste energy on people who bring you stress, you know?

Here are some goals that I have for 2009 (I don't like to say "New Year's Resolutions"- let's face it, no one keeps them):

*To be as happy and healthy as possible*

*To spend quality time with the people I care about*

*Not to let other people's issues/problems influence me*

*Learn to cook more complicated dishes*

*To be productive and positive at work*

*To read as many of my books as possible!*

*Get more sleep during the work week*

*Drink less coffee during the work day (I think that will help with the goal above)*

*Try to be more organized- less clutter!*

*Spend lots of time with my grandmother*

So it's ridiculously freezing here today. The first day of 2009 is C-O-L-D. I am thinking that there is a bowl of soup in my future. Ordinarily I like to be more creative on my days off and make real meals, but screw it, I'm cold, and I'm craving my favorite Lentil soup. Luckily I have a can of it in the pantry. I'm starting off 2009 with all of my favorite foods... I had my Barbara's Shredded Spoonfuls with skim milk and cinnamon and a banana for breakfast, and for dinner I'm doing a baked potato concoction (I'll post a pic later). What better way to ring in the new year than with all of your favorite foods? :-) I'm in cleaning mode today- I dusted my bookshelves, I'm washing my flannel sheets, and soon I'll vacuum the apartment. It was all long overdue, believe me! After lunch I'll probably do a Pilates DVD. I don't feel like going to the gym today, and that'll be a nice simple afternoon workout.

I can't believe my almost two-week vacation is almost over. Boo-hiss. It's been great though! I actually had to work yesterday, and it was busy. I had so much work! That's never happened before. Every other year it's been dead- usually I read a book or clean my desk! Not this year. And it was especially interesting since no one was in the office! I was like, where the hell's all this work coming from? Annoying. I'm not looking forward to Monday... it's going to be hard to readjust to the daily grind! (So much for that "be more positive at work" goal, huh? LOL)

I've been doing a lot of reading too. I finished Sixteen on Sunday night while my sister was over (yes, we actually DID sit and read books for a while after we watched Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle, which was pretty funny). I wanted to finish it up while she was at my place, because I wanted to lend it to her. It was pretty cute, and a fast read. I skipped over some of the stories because they didn't hold my interest, but still a fun little teenybopper read. And I let my sister pick my new book for me... another recent book acquisition from last fall!

DSCI0910 The Class, by Erich Segal (he also wrote Love Story, which I've never read or seen, but I know how it ends). It's a fiction novel about five guys who attend Harvard in the 1950s, and the book chronicles their lives throughout college, and what happens to each of them afterwards for the next 25 years. They're not best friends or anything, but their lives do intersect at some point. I'm already almost 200 pages into it (it's about 530 long), because I can't put it down! Erich Segal's a fantastic writer! He keeps the story moving, the characters interesting (except I can't stand one of the main characters- George- I'm finding that I'm skimming his story because I just dislike him so much!), but it's so good! I highly recommend this author! He's written a bunch of other books too. He might not appreciate this comparison, but his epic/saga-style of writing kind of reminds me of Danielle Steel, haha. :-)

Okay, I'm starving... time to make my soup and watch The Biggest Loser marathon on BRAVO, and then do some Pilates and read my fabulous book! I'll post a dinner pic later.

Hope you're all having a great first day of 2009!!! :-)