2008: The good, the bad, and the ugly

December 31, 2008

I’m in denial about the fact that my vacation is almost over, so I’m focusing on more positive things, like the fresh start I get tomorrow. But before I move on to goals and resolutions, I thought I’d look back on the past year and some of the highlights (and lowlights).

The Good:

  1. I married my favorite person in the world.
  2. I got to celebrate that marriage with friends and family from all over the country.
  3. I ran my first 5k.
  4. I did a lot more yoga.
  5. I got better at cooking.
  6. I cut down on dining out.
  7. I got better at packing for conferences.
  8. I finally weaned myself off of Clinique’s Clarifying Lotion and now use something from Target that saved me at least 20 bucks this year.
  9. I read 53 books.
  10. I ate some excellent food.

The Bad:

  1. We had to move unexpectedly.
  2. Our town got hit by a tornado.
  3. I developed a new and as-yet-undiagnosed lung problem.
  4. I hurt my knee training for the 5k.

The Ugly:

  1. I found a dead mouse in the kitchen sink.

Not bad, right? I’m sure there are things I’ll wish I had mentioned later, but it’s clear that the good far outweighed the bad and the ugly this year. Although, let’s be reasonable: a dead mouse in the kitchen sink is really ugly.

I’m still working on my goals for 2009, but I have plenty of time left to figure those out. Just for Matt, I think I’ll include “Go through my mail on a (semi-)regular basis.”

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Christmastime is here

December 25, 2008

I’ve been so lame about posting lately. I even made something new earlier this week. Behold, Lemony Chickpea Lentil Soup from Eat, Drink, and Be Vegan:

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Like everything from that cookbook, it was delicious. And there are about forty six servings left. We could have had some last night, but I had to work until two, so we decided to start a new Christmas Eve tradition of pizza. Luckily, we caught the last place that was open for deliveries about 20 minutes before they closed.

In my family, we always did most of our celebrating on Christmas Eve, but since I had to work, Matt and I saved the main event for today. We got an early start after being awakened by more scratching in our bedroom wall. Santa!

After some coffee, we opened presents. Matt got me some awesome gifts, including these:

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Cookbooks and chocolate! What could be better?

Right after our gift exchange, Matt made pancakes for brunch. I had mine with some berries:

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I watched a movie, cleaned a little, started packing for my trip, tied a new apron on, and got started on our Christmas menu:

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We started with a spinach salad with chopped apples, craisins, walnuts, and balsamic vinaigrette:

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For the main course, we had chicken, roasted lemon-rosemary squash rings, and a riff on green bean casserole- green beans with portobellas and feta.

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We had a couple of kitchen episodes that involved a few run-ins with the smoke detector, so we decided to nix the stuffing. It was a good call in the long run, as I had plenty of room for dessert, which was apple crumble.

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With soy cream. And an awesome little appetizer spoon from Crate and Barrel that makes dessert last longer. Going back for seconds also makes dessert last longer. So does going back for thirds. I love Christmas.

Okay, I’m off to finish getting ready for my trip. My flight leaves at the ungodly hour of 5:55am, so I plan to get to bed early so that I can endear myself to the neighbors by blow-drying my hair at 4 in the morning.

I don’t know if I’ll get a chance to post while on vacation, but rest assured that I’ll be eating lots of delicious food.

Happy new year!


Vacation countdown

December 21, 2008

I had a long day of waking up cold, complaining about the cold, going to the gym (in the cold), running errands (in the cold), and complaining more about the cold. It was exhausting, obviously, so I wanted to make a quick dinner. I thought I’d try something new, so I went for… chili! Yeah, I know, same old same old. But it’s a degree outside and nothing else sounded quite as warm. I did shake things up by adding chips this time, though!

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It’s got the refried beans again. We’re addicted.

In case you’re concerned, I have been eating during my unplanned hiatus. The only notable thing, though, was stuffed squash:

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We roasted the squash the same way we did last time. The filling was different though, because I was (gasp) out of bulgur. So I whipped up a mix of ground turkey breast, a can of pinto beans, a green pepper, a can of diced tomatoes, and some cumin. Basically, chili without the liquids. I’m nothing if not predictable. Anyway, it made a ton, so we used the rest to make burritos. We’re handy.

Yesterday we went out to fancy dinner to celebrate six months of marriage. We split a shrimp skewers appetizer and I had the “seafood extravangza” pasta. I’d love to make it at home, but it had complicated things like mussels and lobster and so on, so I don’t see that happening. In honor of things I can’t make, we also split a slice of hazelnut cheesecake for dessert. And I may or may not have had a nice glass of wine and an Irish coffee over the course of the evening. Both of which helped cut the pain on the three degree walk home. In a dress.

In other good news, I only have one and a half work days left before vacation. This is simultaneously exciting and anxiety-inducing because my to-do list is looking a little out of control. Tomorrow should be especially interesting, with two doctors appointments, some meetings, a cookie party, errands, four loads of laundry, and a trip to the gym somewhere in here. My life is exhausting.

Okay, I’m off to fast (again). Let’s hope the appointment stays on schedule this time.


You say potato, I say frittata

December 17, 2008

I know you’ve all been wondering how the fasting went. It actually went much better than I expected, though I did dream about Odwalla bars (Sweet and Salty Almond, specifically). I made it through the full twelve hours, but there was a catch: I had to reschedule my appointment. We got a couple of inches of snow overnight and when I called the doctor to make sure everything was on schedule, a lovely woman completely freaked me out by telling me the roads were “much, MUCH worse than anyone would tell you” and strongly suggested that I reschedule. So all that fasting was for nothing. And I have to do it again Sunday night. The fun never ends.

I worked from home yesterday, so I should have had tons of time to make a complicated and beautiful dinner. Instead, I had leftover sweet potato and lentil chili. I may have added a little cheese and a few Red Hot and Blue chips.

Okay, fine. It was nachos. I had nachos. But there were sweet potatoes involved, so: healthy.

I had physical therapy this afternoon and he made me do about twenty million lunges and something really painful called a crab walk. Crabwalk? One word or two? Anyway, after that, I decided to try my luck at the gym tonight and I actually managed to drag myself there (on snowy roads, no less!) and did an easy thirty minutes on the elliptical. Not the most vigorous workout, but it was nice to get some activity in for the first time since last Thursday. I’m hoping to start with every other day and then work back up to my usual five a week. Hopefully he’ll give me the go ahead for running soon. Or at least walking.

While I was ellipticaling away, I kept thinking about potatoes, so when I got home, we made a frittata with some little red potatoes, mushrooms, spinach, thyme, salt and pepper, and swiss cheese. I think it may have been our best one yet.

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After dinner, I rewarded myself for actually going to the gym by having a miniature Reese’s cup. And part of a cookie. And some soy cream. Hey, it’s the holidays.


Fast

December 15, 2008

I have to fast for twelve hours before some bloodwork tomorrow morning, which makes me nervous. As we all know, I love to eat food. And I can’t remember a day in the last 20ish years that I didn’t eat some kind of breakfast before leaving the house. I’m packing a Clif bar, but I hope I don’t faint before I eat it.

As a nice pre-fast dinner, I made a recipe I picked up from the co-op a few weeks ago: Spinach and ricotta pappardelle.

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I made a few changes, including: adding mushrooms, using 1/4 of the butter and about 3/4 of the ricotta it called for, and using rotini instead of pappardelle. I couldn’t find pappardelle. Plus, I didn’t even know what it was until after we got home from the grocery store and I looked it up on Wikipedia. Apparently it’s big fettucine. You learn something new every day.

My physical therapist said that I could try using the elliptical or bike again, but it was so cold today that I couldn’t bear to go to the gym after we got groceries. When I left the house this morning, it was 0 with a wind chill of -11. It warmed up to around 14 later in the day. Balmy! Anyway, I’m aiming for some exercise on Wednesday. On the plus side, the rest seems to be helping.

Is it wrong that I really want some pre-fast soy cream, even when it’s in the single digits outside?


Chilly = Chili

December 14, 2008

I used to be a really creative person, but I can never seem to break that out when it comes time to make up titles for blog posts.

It’s really cold here today. At least, the weather reports say it is, and I haven’t been outside at all so there’s no reason for me to doubt it. According to my weather widget, it’s about 55 degrees colder than it was last night at this time and the wind chill is below zero. The term “arctic cold front” is being thrown around.

So, when I was deciding what to make for dinner, chili felt like the obvious choice. So I made some.

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This was a new recipe for me, Sweet Potato and Lentil Chili from Dreena Burton’s Eat, Drink, and Be Vegan. It was really, really good. I was a little nervous about the sweet potatoes, but they really are an awesome chili addition. My version was extra chunky because I forgot to buy crushed tomatoes and ended up using a few cans of diced instead.

Since I’m off exercise for a bit, I’ve been trying to keep my meals as healthy as possible. For instance, I only added one handful of cheese to this chili. Hopefully that made up for all of the Pocky I had for a “snack” this afternoon.

Okay, I think it’s time for some hot chocolate. Just to keep up with the theme of warmth.


Taking a break

December 13, 2008

I started seeing a physical therapist last week, and yesterday he gave me the order to take a break from exercise, at least until my next appointment. Usually, this would drive me nuts, but my knee is hurting enough that, for now, it feels like the right thing. Let’s see how long that attitude lasts.

Last night, Matt made dinner while I coached him from the couch. We had some whole wheat penne with turkey sausage, red peppers, and spinach. I had him stir in some goat cheese near the end, which made kind of a sauce without the effort of, you know, a sauce. Then we had some Parm on top. There’s never enough cheese.

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Today was pretty low key, but I got a little stir crazy from sitting around, so Matt took me to Target. It was 60 degrees today, which is just totally insane, so I’m really glad I got to enjoy it for a few minutes. Then, we had an awesome time putting up our Christmas tree!  This is the fourth Christmas we’ve spent together, but we’ve never put up a normal-sized tree. We got it at Target after Christmas last year for $5.99 and it’s a little Charlie Brown, so I love it. A strand of lights, a box of silver ornaments, and a glass penguin later, and we’re officially in the spirit of the season. To celebrate, I made two of my favorite foods for dinner: roasted vegetables and barley risotto.

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Nothing says winter like things that are warm and make the kitchen warm because they take 45 minutes to cook. I’m really excited about this risotto because, for the first time, I made it without using someone else’s recipe. I’ll post it sometime. For the vegetables, I just added a little bit of olive oil, pepper, and a pinch of rosemary.

And now it’s time to ice my knee and let the holiday festivities continue with the classic film Die Hard 2: Die Harder.