Buff Borgey No?

That's how I say Boeuf Bourguignon in my head. This weekend I watched Julie & Julia and loved it!! Such a cute movie! Sometimes I think I want to do a crazy blog-project like that, but then I get side-tracked and remember that I would rather read than write most of the time. So, now I want to make boeuf bourguignon really bad!! However, I feel like it may turn out similar to Julie's first version in the movie and I'd ruin it. I guess that's a chance I'll just have to take, right?

Speaking of reading - I FINALLY got my Girl with the Dragon Tattoo book back from some family members who borrowed it. I know now that I do not want to let them borrow my books unless I really don't want to read them again within a year. I just watched the second movie (Swedish version) of that series and am dying to re-read the books before the third movie comes out so I'm fresh on all the deets.

I also need to re-read the HP series before I see the last movie. I haven't seen it yet (gasp!) because we were out of town the weekend it came out, and now every one of my friends has seen it already or isn't into witchcraft and wizardry the way that I am.


Merry Christmas!

The pup was not so sure about going outside in the snow. Can you tell he looks a little worried?


Happy Holidays!!

WHOA. The holiday season is here in full force. What happened to November and December? I've been lost in the shuffle.

But, I'm excited about the holiday food coming up, and I love the tradition the hubs family has. They bring their favorites to Christmas - regardless what kind of crazy combo they come up with. Things I know will be on the menu this year so far: tator tots, potato salad, homemade ravioli, cheesey potatoes, chicken wings and a cheeseball. I'm hoping a certain cousin makes the brussel sprouts she made last year so I can have some green on my plate :)

Tonight, I'm going to make some homemade chex mix. A sweet old lady brought some to one of the five work-holiday parties I've been to in the last week and it was really good. She was even nice enough to write out the recipe on cute Christmas stationery.

The hubs is dying to exchange gifts. I'm not sure I'll be able to put my foot down any longer.


I'm off the wagon

It's official. I'm off the wagon. The good news is that my pants still fit. The bad news is I feel like I've gained 30 lbs.

For example, I have a meeting at work every other week. This is one of the few meetings that someone is required to bring a snack. We all take turns bringing in treats and I usually try to rock the boat by bringing in something semi-healthy. Today was the regular - sweet baked goods and salty chips and salsa. So what do I do? Go straight for the mini peanut butter cups. I like chips and salsa as much as the next girl (as long as it's mild salsa), but I have been in a sweet-searching mode lately. I really do believe the research that says once you start eating sweets, you want more - like an addiction.

So, I better go get on the treadmill to make up for all of those pb cups.


Lazy Sunday

Today we played in the snow, baked cookies, make veggie-beef stoup (a la Rachael Ray) and wrapped presents. It was a great day.


Tonight's dinner

Since football season has been over, the hubs has resumed his place as Head Chef of the household. During the fall, I try to take off my Sous Chef hat and play Head Chef, but I don't think cereal and grilled cheese, or maybe tacos are good enough to call myself Head Chef.

A while ago, I bought some homemade pasta at a farmer's market so I this morning I put it on the counter as my hint to the hubs to cook it for dinner. He ended up making the pasta, but on top of it he stuffed some turkey meatballs with mozzarella cheese, making a really nice touch to our traditional version of spaghetti. And the meatballs were not dry - which is a first for us. Anyone who cooks with lean ground turkey knows it's pretty easy to dry out. I've tried meatballs before in the broiler that turned out to have good flavor, but were still a little dry.

I wish I would have taken a photo to show you all how perfectly pan-fried they were. The cheese was gooey in the middle and made a Thursday night dinner pretty awesome.


My kind of yoga

Even though there's a gym in my building at work, I prefer not to pay to be a member. I've explained this before, but basically we have too much equipment at home to justify paying for a membership - anywhere.

Tonight I took my first "plain" yoga class there with my punch card. I say plain because I've taken "power yoga" there and did not enjoy it as much. Don't get me wrong, it was a really tough work out, but that's not what I like yoga for. I like yoga for the mind and body combination. I like to hold poses for a long time and really think about getting them just right. I like to focus on my breathing. In power yoga, it was a lot of fast flowing moves that were meant to built up strength while doing some of the yoga poses. It felt like a LOT of push-up-type moves that left me sweating and out of breath. And, power yoga didn't have any much of the relaxing "corpse" pose at the end - which I love. It really helps me relax after focusing on my breathing at the very end of the session.


My black Friday purchase

Because I'm a rockstar and won an award at work for my healthy lifestyle, I won a gift card to the gym in my building. I spent said gift card on their black Friday special. I bought two "punch cards" that can be used for classes. Normally they run for maybe $80 for 10 classes, which is not bad to start with, but I bought them for $50 each. So each time I go to yoga, spinning, boot camp or some other form of torture fun, it will only be $5.

I bought them with spinning going through my brain, but now that I have the updated schedule, I see that spinning is a full hour instead of the 30 minute baby-classes I took a few weeks ago. I'm not sure I'm up for a whole hour of bike-riding. That sounds like a sore butt to to me, but is probably worth it.


Work it at the store

When the hubs and I go grocery shopping together, we usually get a cart and spend much more than if I go by myself. I'm sure that's typical for most couples. We do our "big" grocery shopping together, but there are a lot of times throughout the week that one of us will stop on the way home to pick up a few more items.

Tonight, I stopped on the way home from work (in the pouring rain!!) to get a few things we don't keep on hand (bacon, half and half, celery and onion) for baked potato soup tomorrow. When I shop, I always get a basket and work my bicep carrying it around. I'm proud and ashamed to say that after tonight's trot around the store, my left bicep was a little shakey on the drive home.


What to drink?

The other day, the hubs and I went on a search for some new drink options. We are getting in the habit of reading labels and are tired of drinking soda. I usually only drink 1 per day, but the hubs drinks many more than that. The problem with diet soda is the amount of artificial sweeteners and chemicals. But if you compare that to the amount of sugar in regular soda, or even most juices, it's just crazy!!

We ended up getting some 100 percent juice, sparkling water and are considering getting one of the Soda Steam makers to make our own soda. What do you drink?


Turkey or bust

How do you handle the Thanksgiving holiday? Are you an over-eater who completely ignores you dieting plan, or do you eat the same way you would normally eat?

I tend to do something in the middle. I absolutely HATE to feel overly full, so even though I might love the way something tastes, I try to limit myself on big-eating holidays so I don't feel that way.

I usually have a little bit of meat, a sliver of pie and fill up on veggies or salad in between. This year, we are having green bean casserole, which hardly counts as a veggie, and a salad as my only two "green" options. Then I'll have some pumpkin pie!!

Have a happy thanksgiving!


Happy Anniversary to us!

 Four years ago today, we got married. 


Swamped at work

That pretty much sums up my mental capacity for the last few weeks. I'm so brain-fried by the end of the day that I just want to pet my dog and sit on the couch.

I did motivate myself enough to do some namaste yoga that I recorded on the dvr. It was good, but only lasted 30 minutes which isn't really enough yoga for me, so next time I might do each of the three segments twice.


Sore Legs McGee

The hubs has a habit of squeezing my leg when we are in restaurants (near my knee, you perve!). Today we went out to lunch and I nearly jumped out of my seat when he did it. Yesterday, I attempted to go for a run, but it was crazy-windy out and I just wasn't feeling it so I came back to the house and lifted in the garage. Of course, I focus on my legs because they are what bothers me most. Squats, lunges, calf raises and more lunges equal sore thighs and yanking away from the hubs under the table.

For me, the best way to get un-sore is to work those legs out again tomorrow.


I am a winner!

At work, we have an award that recognizes employees who live a healthy lifestyle and promote that healthy lifestyle to their peers. Next week, I will be honored for this award at a company-wide celebration.

One of my coworkers nominated me for losing 75 lbs, keeping it off and continually attempting to convince my coworkers to be aware of what they are eating. I also organized the biggest loser competition in the office and she knows about this little blog, but I didn't really want all of my 10k coworkers to know about this site where I share all of my insecurities. So we said I have a presence on the internet. I hope you all understand. ;)

I'm excited because not only do I get to be recognized for something that anyone who is trying to lose weight knows is a very hard thing to do (keeping it off) and I get a gift certificate to the company gym. We do have to pay to be a member there, and I choose not to do so. However, they do offer yoga and spinning classes for a fee, and you don't have to be a member to take those classes. So I plan to use my gift certificate to take some classes and get back in the groove of working out on a regular basis. My lazy self has really been slacking lately, so hopefully this will motivate me to get moving!


Lost my focus

I'm not sure if it's the weather change or the business at work taking a toll on my mental state, but I have seriously slacked on working out lately. Most of the fall I was in a pretty good groove of running with my sister and working out at home, but lately I just sit on my butt all evening.

I finally worked up the guts to step on the scale last Friday to see what the damage was. It was bad, but not as bad as I was expecting. Now that the holidays are almost here, it will be even harder for me to stay focused. All those pies and cookies and candies are my downfall.

I did walk a mile tonight and lift some weights, but I really need to be doing this every day. I know what I need to do, I just need to motivate myself to do it!


Pumpkin Oats

This morning, the hubs wanted to make chocolate chip pancakes, but also needed to get out the door quickly, so instead we both had oatmeal. He prefers the pre-packaged apple, while I made mine from oats + milk + pumpkin + pumpkin spice + splenda. It was so good!! I devoured it before I could take a picture, but it looked pretty good too.

I highly recommend it if you want more pumpkin in your life. Now, I have to figure out what I can do with the rest of the pumpkin and I have a puff pastry left over too from something else. Time to search for some recipes.


Hair talks

I'm curious if any of my loyal blog readers have experienced a brazilian blowout? I'm considering walking down this path - maybe as an anniversary or Christmas present to myself.

During the summer my curly-frizztastic hair is okay to deal with because it looks pretty good with the help of humidity (shown above is a "summer straight" day from August). However, winter static makes my hair look "meh" at best - curly or straight. One of my friends recently had her hair "blow-ed out" (that's 100% correct right?) and she said it was much easier to manage and was extremely pleased with the outcomes.

So, anyone else have any feedback for me?


Halloween weekend

This weekend has been one of ups and downs for me. I had a really great time seeing friends Saturday and the hubs' family Sunday. I even picked pecans with my father in law and our youngest cousin asked for me to hold her - both of which were firsts for me! Remember all the trees at my FIL's house? Two of them produce pecans, and while they are still a little green according to my FIL, they taste good to me!!

We had a bonfire in the backyard with friends Saturday night and were able to use the bench my dad made for us. It was awesome to only lug two chairs back there instead of four or more, depending on the number of guests

Then there's the candy. And my recent downfall - candy corn and peanuts. I finally threw the rest of them away today so I will stop eating that sweet/salty goodness. We had a bunch of trick or treaters last night so I was on candy duty while the hubs took dog duty. Luckily we don't have much candy left so I won't be so tempted to eat it.


Love Target.


The hubs and I were strolling through Target looking for deals and steals when he spotted our fav coffee on sale WITH NEW FLAVORS!!! I love love love Dunkin Donut coffee and I love pumpkin lattes, so I figure this is just going to blow my mind.

The only bad news is, I prefer to drink lattes at home in the evening, so we usually stock up on some vanilla decaf for that purpose so I'm not up dusting a bookshelf at 12 am.


Kate and me

Walking with my buddy at the park! It's one of the best ways for us to catch up because we are both health-concious and like work out, so walking through the park after work is awesome. Tonight we walked for about an hour before it was getting dark so we headed home.

Kate ran the Chicago marathon a few weeks ago and I'm so proud of her for setting a goal and achieving it! She says she can cross it off her bucket list now - even though she didn't just cross it off, she finished just under 3h30min. That's pretty darn fast for a first-time marathoner!

(it would probably make for a better picture of me if I weren't almost a foot taller than Kate and leaning so much...)


Roasting rocks!

Last night we had my parents over for dinner (and I suckered them into a little yard work too) and intrduced them to the awesomeness that is roasted broccoli. The best part is that my grocery store had broccoli cutlets on sale, so I bought three tree tops for $1.34. That same store (Dierbergs) also had red raspberries on sale for 3/$4, which is a pretty good price for the off season so I stocked up. That trip to the store rocked my world because a lot of times the healthy food is more expensive. I think that just proves that you can have a healthy meal for not that much money. Add some grilled chicken to the broccoli and you've got dinner + dessert!!


Me too buddy.

I worked outside on the landscaping in front of our house all afternoon today. I feel about the same as the dog.


Spin and broccoli

Yesterday I took my first spinning class in two+ years. I was a sweaty sweaty mess at the end, but it was absolutely awesome. I like spinning because you can control the tension and make it your workout. I'm planning on going again Friday, but not sure about after that. The thing is, we don't have a gym membership, but this week I can take classes for free at work, so I'll take advantage of that! I think I can pay per class in the future, so we'll see if I can work it into the budget. It might just be worth it if I can prevent getting any more of what I call "the secretary thigh." I'm not really gaining any weight, but I can tell my thighs are wider than they used to be in college. I think that adds up from part work-all-day-in-a-chair job, and part getting-older.

Tonight I tried "roasting" broccoli in the oven with a little bit of EVOO and garlic salt and it was delish!! I'm pretty proud of myself for not burning them and really liking them!!


Fresh Kicks!

I love Saucony shoes. I've been running/walking/working out in my ProGrid Guide 2's since last January, but they are starting to feel pretty worn out. I just ordered some new kicks - I wanted the Guide 3, but they were not on sale and these were. These are the ProGrid Glide 2. I have not run in them yet, but I wore them shopping all day yesterday to break them in a bit. So far, so good. I plan to keep these as "running only" shoes and wear the old ones for everyday use.


Half a cow!

Today, the hubs went to fetch our half of a cow that we split with my FIL. I cannot tell you how excited I am about this purchase. Our "Bessie" weighed 1375 last week and was grass-fed without any steroids or hormones. And it tastes so much better than the stuff wrapped in plastic for months at the grocery store. Last year for our anniversary we cooked filets from the last cow my FIL had. They were SO good.


Man v Food

There's something about the show Man v. Food that just grosses me out. I'm not sure if it's the sheer amount of food or that he is just shoveling it into his mouth, but I find it appalling. The hubs just LOVES the show, and has been recording every episode. I do not see the appeal.

It seems to me that we are watching some dude gorge himself on various types of meals. And now that he's a semi-celebrity, you know 19-year-old boys think they can eat like that too. This cannot be healthy. It's like we are encouraging them to eat MORE massive meals to "train" for their food challenges. I saw one documentary of a hotdog contest eater - not sure if it's the guy that backed out in July or not - who eat a head of lettuce and some chicken for a meal to eat a lot of food, but not really a lot of calories. I don't really have a problem with that, but I'm curious if Adam is doing the same thing to prepare for his food duels.


Run in the country

This weekend we went to the hubs' home town for a wedding. Since the boys were watching football all afternoon I decided to go for a run out in the country. It was peaceful and I had great weather, so I ran about 2 miles. I know that's not a lot but I didn't really want to get lost out there either. I did pause to take this photo of the train tracks (with my cell). No, the train was not moving. Safety first.


Greasy but good

My first taste of 5 guys burgers and fries.
I ate the burger. This is the greasy leftovers.


Dinner ideas?

It's almost 7 p.m. here and I just got in from a quick run (1mile) before my ears starting hurting from the cold so I quit. Now it's time to make some dinner, but instead I'm foolin' around on facebook, blogging for you people and giving the dog the silent treatment for snapping at me on our walk. The stupid animal looooves to eat grass covered turds from other dogs and when I try to prevent this, he gets protective of those turds. Little jerk.

Anyway, I'm looking for some new dinner ideas that are fast and healthy. Last night I made this recipe for Creamy Mushroom Chicken sans green onions. I am a really slow cook so it took me about an hour to make this, but it turned out really good! I took this about halfway through cooking everything together. That big white clump on the left is the laughing cow. It made it perfectly creamy.


I have a complex

Since I can remember, I've thrown up a total of four times. In chronological order:
  1. It was in morning before school. I threw up in the kitchen sick. I don't remember what I ate or why I threw up. I was probably 10 or 11.
  2. I had food poisoning from Taco Bell. This is the one and only time I attempted to drink the pink stuff because I immediately threw it up and continued to puke for the next 12 hours. I was 17 or 18.
  3. I had food poisoning from Chipotle. I ate at the Chipotle in Columbia, Mo while visiting a friend at Mizzou. Again, I threw up for 12 hours straight and missed the only senior seminar class of the year that was required. The professor passed me anyway. I was 22.
  4. When we got back from Key West in March, I dry-heaved for several hours before throwing up one time. I was 29.
As you can see, I'm not one of those people who can just get it out and feel better. I've only been sick for hours at a time. Not only do I have a serious aversion to anyone about to throw up, but if you even mention that you might feel a little sick, my stomach literally drops. I don't really feel like I'm going to be sick too, more like a nervous/anxious feeling. If we are in a closed space, such as a car, when someone says they don't feel well, I literally start shaking because it bothers me that I cannot get away from that person. It's very strange and I'm beginning to think I'm the only one with this issue.


Biggest Loser at work. Again

Yesterday at work, we ended the second session of the Biggest Loser that I organized in cube-land. Not very many people actually tried during this session (myself included) and the results, so far, are pretty obvious to that end. I don't know the official results yet, but from what I heard yesterday, I'm in the lead with 5 lbs lost or 3 percent. I'm a little pissed because it would have been 7 lbs had we weighed in on Monday, but by the end of the week I was retaining water due to my cycle. Either way, I didn't lose very much weight and that reflects the amount of effort I put into trying.

The other news is that the organization I work for started a company-wide BL competition, so several people in the office entered that competition and no longer cared about the babyBL in cube-land. I can't say I blame them. The stakes are much higher and is probably a real competition. I chose not to enter that competition because I know I don't have THAT much weight to lose compared to some of the folks who entered. I need to focus on burning off the fat that's left and toning my muscles. If only I could get myself to really enjoy running more than 2 miles. After that, I'm bored and done.


Stealing quotes and adding thoughts

I just read another blogger's post about happiness and choosing to be happy or not, and one thing Eat Move Write wrote really made me think.

She said "Maybe you have to try to remember that you’re not 343 pounds anymore, that you’re not the girl that nobody wants anymore."

While I was 260 instead of 343, I think the point is that I too have a hard time with that mentality. There are days that I look in the mirror and see the girl who couldn't fit in. I see fat everywhere, even though it's probably still there in most places, there is much less fat. I still see the imperfections and think that everyone else sees them too. 

Even though I have stretch marks as physical scars from my heavier days, those don't bother me. It's the mental scars that still get to me and make me question myself.  Deep down, I know that I'm not the same girl that nobody wanted way back then, but sometimes she gets back under my skin and just needs a good kick in the ass.


A peek into my gym

I used to go to the gym all the time. The hubs and I used to go together after work and work out (together, but separate) before dinner. It was great that we were going together, but we gradually started buying home gym equipment and now we have almost everything we need right here at home. We stopped paying for a gym membership several years ago, and most of the time that's just fine with me. There are some days that I wish we had a leg lift (because my legs/behind are my problem areas) but that exercise can be done in another way - like squats on the squat rack in the garage or lunges in the driveway.

Lately I've been lifting in the garage (and yes, it's pretty tight with a in there too!!) while the hubs is at practice in the evenings. I've been doing 2 sets of 20 squats (with 55lbs) and lunges down the driveway and back for my legs and triceps (35lbs) and biceps (20lbs) and a bent over row for my back. I'm also working to improve my time on the presidential fitness test - hanging from a bar. I think that deserves it's own post though.

I'm sure that others who lift seriously think my workout is a joke, but it gets my heart rate going and it's short enough that I can stick with it. My personal trainer introduced me to 2 sets of 20, as compared to the normal 3 sets of 15 I was used to. I kind of prefer it for a quick workout.


Pork wellington

This weekend we had some friends over so I wanted to make something somewhat healthy, but tasty for dinner. I watched Alton Brown (I'm somewhat addicted to Good Eats) make Pork Wellington the other day and have been itching to try it. (Pork tenderloin is one of my favorite cuts of meat because it's almost fat free and yet still delicious!) Then the pork Gods shined down on me because pork tenderloins were on sale half price at our grocery store!! We stocked up.

Unfortunately, we gobbled up the pork wellington so fast that I forgot to snap a photo, but I promise it was good!! My puff pastry didn't bubble up as nice as Alton's but it was still really tasty. and I would recommend putting twice as much apples as Alton called for. We all wanted more apples.


I need more yoga.

In my previous professional life, I worked at a community college. While the pay was mediocre, the little benefits are what I really appreciated - such as the cosmetology department where I could get my eyebrows done or a mani/pedi and the community education classes that meant I could take a yoga class for free on my lunch breaks. So for several years, I did yoga at least 1-2x per week and my body loved it. I could sit Indian-style and was very close to doing it with my feet above my knees comfortably at my desk. I can still sit regular Indian-style at my desk (in my desk chair) but not for very long. My feet fall asleep.

Since I've been in my current professional role (more than two years), I haven't kept up with my yoga habit. I rarely do it at home, and if I do, it's not for an hour. The other night I did just two sun salutations and a few other poses while watching tv - and let me tell you that my arms are telling me how long it has been since I've done a push up.


Sam's Club

I used to have a Sam's card, but a few years ago I decided it wasn't worth the extra yearly fee to buy things in bulk. I was only going to eat the samples, which is not a good habit. I bought stupid things like a package of pot stickers for $8 that were so gross by the last one - I'll never buy those again.

We are a family of 2 + dog, so we don't really need things in bulk. However, I went the other day because I wanted to stock up on the big bags of DD coffee. I managed to stock up on $120 worth of bulk things while I was there - including this guy:

A monster jar of animal crackers. Just so you can see how big it is, it's almost the same height as my 27lb pug. And in case you can't read it, that's a 4 lb jar of animal crackers.


What do you clean with?

Recently I found a local (in St. Louis) company that makes green cleaning products. I bought this large bottle for $5 and already LOVE the stuff. I tried using another green cleaner  from Target, but I don't think it works as well as 409 - which is my go-to for the kitchen and bathroom. But the local cleaner is awesome. It cleans grease just as well as 409 AND I like that it's natural. I'm not scared to put food directly on the counter when I clean with this product and I'm also happy to be supporting a local business.


Can you be fat AND happy?

A woman I know is a large, and what I call overweight, person. But for whatever reason, she seems to be really happy and never cares about what she's eating or her lack of exercise. When I was "fat" I was the opposite of happy. I was so unhappy that I've blocked about six years of my life from memory. I really don't feel like I'm that person anymore (which I think entails it's own post, so I won't dwell on that thought) but I know that when I think about that girl, she was depressed and lonely even though the outside might have appeared "happy." I went out with my friends. I made new friends in college. I pretended to have a good time and smile and laugh, but deep down I wasn't really happy with myself. I didn't have a bad life overall - I didn't live on a bed like some really large people do. I still went to class in college. I worked on breaks when I was back home. I still kept moving forward in life. But I don't feel like I started living MY life until the weight began to come off.

So I'm curious - do you think the woman I know (or others you might know like her) is really truly happy? Or is she just faking it like I did?


Strawberry Cheesecake

This is another sweet tooth post, but I think you all should know these are coming, right? I mean the title has sweet tooth in it!

Anyway, I'm always checking the ice cream aisle during the summer and last week these things were on sale for $1 each. I only bought one because I don't usually like the consistency of "diet" ice cream. Something about it just grosses me out, but I love me some strawberry cheesecake so I decided to try it.

The Skinny Cow Strawberry Cheesecake thing was awesome!! It was just as creamy as real ice cream and was a perfect serving size. I would absolutely recommend this to anyone who likes strawberry cheesecake anything. They also had a brownie bite one that I thought the hubs would like, but he opted for fruit popsicles instead.


Sweets galore!

Sometimes, having a sweet tooth can get you into some real trouble. I do my best to stay away from "real" sweets - the ones with real butter, sugar and other things that are tasty, but horrible for someone trying to lose weight.

However, when my bro-in-law asked if I would help man his bakery's booth at a local art fair, I accepted.

This put me in close range with a lot of sweet treats, with very little willpower. Things like carrot cake, gooey butter cake (an STL thing if you are not from St. Louis) and a port wine chocolate torte, which ended up winning Best Dessert at the fair.

And a photo my sister took of me stealing a bite of gooey butter. In my defense, it was the knife scrapings that they were just going to throw away. I couldn't let it go to waste!!



Fresh-picked apple pie

This weekend I discovered two things about my father in law's house. There are apple trees and a pecan tree in the front yard!!. I've only been going to that house since 2004 when the hubs and I started dating, but no one ever told me that either of these things existed!!! The tree shown at the top of this photo is one of those secret apple trees. So you can see how far it is from the house, and usually I don't go walking across the yard to investigate tree types.

I brought home a bag of golden delicious apples that are just starting to be ripe. I kept three to eat plain and turned the rest into this:

If you are interested in the recipe, I sort of combined a few, but mostly using the plaid cookbook's version. I took a tip from Alton Brown and let the apple sit in their sugar/lemon juice for 90 minutes in a colander, dripping into a bowl. That way when you bake them, they don't have the puffed up crust because the sugar has already shrunk them a bit. Something like that - if you want to know the details, ask Alton.

Here's what I used:
9 small apples, peeled, cored, sliced.
1/4 cup sugar
2 T lemon juice

Then, boil the juice you collect in the bowl under the sugar apples to make about 2T sweet apple concentrate juice. Mix that with the apples.
1/2 t cinnamon
1/8 t nutmeg
1/8 t salt
2 T flour

Throw that in the crust you just made or bought. I bought. It's meh, because I didn't have time to go to trader joe's. I prefer their pie crust.


The green monster

My first green monster was a little thinner than I like my smoothies, but it was still pretty delish (sorry for the half-drank photo but you see what it truly looks like - kinda gross)!! I couldn't taste the spinach at all. I did add 2 T of peanut butter to give it a PB/Banana flavor since I didn't have any blueberries (my first choice). I offered to let the hubs try it, but he turned up his nose at it. Not sure if it was the color or just too early for him.

Let's see if it keeps me full. Normally, smoothies just don't cut it for me, so I always try to chew my breakfast to stay full longer.

Note: I did feel full much longer than my normal breakfast of a vitatop or eggo (at 730) and oatmeal (at 930). I normally eat both of those things and end up really hungry by lunch at 1130. Today I drank the monster on the way to work (at 8) and didn't eat until 1130. I was hungry but not crazy hungry.


Ali Sweeney

Ok, I love Ali Sweeney. I admit it. I have loved her since day 1 on Days of our Lives (unless she's crying. I don't like her fake cry), but then I loved her even more for hosting my other fav show Biggest Loser, and also just her in general for being so healthy and promoting it. And not to mention that she's super cool on twitter.

Now, she's even cooler in my book because she's blogging. And it's really her. Not a ghost writer. (I think!) Check out this post about parents teaching their kiddos bad choices.


Show us those calories!!

I love this. I am a little obsessed with the obesity epidemic, mostly because I'm worried about what my kids and grandkids will encounter for food when they enter this world. By posting calories everywhere, it might help just a little with food awareness. I will be so happy if just one person's eyes are opened by seeing how many calories they are consuming. I think we all know that we are only supposed to eat around 2,000 calories per day, right? But do you every stop to consider how many you are ACTUALLY consuming? If you are trying to lose or gain weight, it's a simple equation. Eat more or less than you burn.

So for me, I burn approximately 1650 calories if I just sit around all day (click here to check your own digits) and do not really move. Unfortunately, that's many-a-day at my job in cube-land. I try to lose 1 pound per week. So, to make sure I burn enough to lose one pound, I need to work out 3,500 calories more than I eat and burn by doing nothing. (This is another calorie calculator). My personal trainer estimated that I should only eat 1495 calories per day to accomplish that with the amount of exercise I'm already doing.


housework = work out?

Do you think doing housework counts as a work out? I don't really think that my brand of housework really counts as workout, but yesterday I cleaned and worked on a bathroom remodel the ENTIRE time I was awake, so I felt like that meant I did not need to work out.

Maybe I'm wrong, and I could have burned a few more calories by going for a run late last night. However, sometimes my priorities are to sleep more. I did lift some tonight while staining some cabinets in the garage. I did a set, then stained a door, did another set, stained the drawer. It was fun!

And tomorrow my butt WILL get up and go for a run before work. By the way, my absolute favorite thing to listen to while running is Girl Talk. I love it!


Crock o'chicken

I cooked some chicken in a crockpot today. It was so simple and so, so good. This was my first time to cook just meat (or anything other than soup/chili) in the crock. The hubs and I went to lowes today and started on a home improvement project so I knew I wouldn't want to cook this evening. So we are making some Spanish rice, black beans and corn to go with it.

If you want to try it, here's what I did:
Put 1 lb frozen chicken breast, one can 98% fat free cream of mushroom soup, some taco seasoning and about two cups of homemade salsa in the crock for about 6 hours. I switched from high to medium about half way because it was sticking to the bottom.



Of all the photos on facebook, the girl that made our 10-year high school reunion "book" that everyone has, picked THIS photo of us. Keep in mind that I have a bazillion photos on FB of us that are WAY better than this one.

I wish I would have submitted a better one. Now high school people think I don't wear make up and I have a double chin, not to mention it's horribly framed. And you can hardly tell that I've lost almost a whole person since then!!!!

(is it super horrible if I think that the girl that organized it did it on purpose?)


Thoughts spurred by a funeral

Last night the hubs and I went to a funeral for a woman I'd never met. She is the sister of one of the hubs' friends and his parents were good friends with her parents when they were growing up, so he felt like we should go. Plus it's a really sad story.

As I'm waiting in line to shake hands with/hug her parents, this woman got to me. I'm looking at all of the pictures of her kids and family, all smiles. I'm wondering when the next time these kids will smile, knowing their mom is not ever coming home.

When I finally get to the front of the line, I shake hands and say I'm sorry. As we are walking away, I realize that I'm one lucky girl because I've never had to be that person. I've never stood next to the casket waiting for everyone to come to me.

And for that I'm thankful. I'm SO thankful. I am healthy. The hubs is healthy. Both of my parents and my sister are still living and healthy. I still have one grandparent left and she seems healthy.

So often, I try to improve myself, to work with my body and my lifestyle to make things better. But sometimes it might be better to just be happy with what I already have.


Homemade Sherbet

The weekends are usually when my sweet tooth comes out in full force. During the week, I can satisfy myself with a vitatop or even fruit and yogurt. The weekends are a whole different story. I try my best to indulge my sweet tooth, but not go overboard. If I deprive it completely, it will come back with a vengeance the next time!

Last night the hubs and I broke out the borrowed ice cream maker that we borrowed from my parents. It might be from when they got married - that's how old this baby is. But it works, and it was free.

So we made orange sherbet. One two-liter of orange soda + one can + one can of sweet condensed milk. That's it. Dump it in and let the ice cream maker go to work.

This is the result:

It's really good as it is, but I'd like to try it again with diet soda and see if it's just as good as the diesel. My teeth can tell how much sugar is in this stuff by the coating that remains after I eat it. We also want to try other flavors - maybe with cream soda or strawberry.


Eggplant: my first adventure

At work, we have a weekly farmers market for local vendors to sell their ripest of the ripe. Today I wanted to get some sweet corn because the hubs and I seem to be eating it all the time, but then I also stumbled upon a cute little eggplant. I decided that since I like most veggies grilled, I could at least do that with it.

I requested help from my FB friends and ended up attempting Eggplant Pomodoro. It turned out to be pretty darn good! I burned the garlic (I suck at cooking most of the time) so that flavor was unappealing, but the rest of it was very good (I left out the olives and capers since we don't have those in the house and I used my own tomatoes). The eggplant itself seemed to soak up the other flavors, but I didn't like the skin. It was a little chewy and bitter, so if I make this again I would cut off the skin first.

Edit: the pasta is much better immediately than reheated the next day.


A sweat-fest in my living room

I had a sweaty-good time with my personal trainer tonight. She made me work it for 50 minutes straight, which I actually thought was a really good work out. Imagine Jillian's 30 day shred for 50 minutes instead of 20, and use some arm bands and ball tosses in there.

Side note: There is no such thing as "arm bands for tall people." Does that explain to you how hard it was for me to do the exercise where you stand on the band and lift up with both arms? We had to modify with one at a time for the second set.

But for me, the best part of the one hour session was talking about insecurity and body issues after we were finished working out. It's ironic that she and I would have a similar self-image when she grew up an athlete and I have always had these issues and now seem to be making great strides in that department. At least I feel like I am, and since I'm probably the only one who can gauge these things, what I say goes.

Side note to self: Do not get all crazy and do a bazillion lunges the night before the personal trainer is coming. OMG the pain!!


Chocolate Chip bars

Sometimes you just need a sweet treat on the weekend. Work has been stressing me out all week so I think this is the perfect way to end the week and get ready for the next one. I even used real butter just like my trusty plaid cookbook says to.


The "why" story

Most people that meet me have no idea that I used to be "fat." When I get close enough to someone (online is no big deal, but in person is an emotional step for me) to share the story, they are blown away by the before pictures. After asking how I did it, the next question is usually "why?"

The physical side:
It all started my freshman year of college. I don't really know how much I weighed before I left for school, but I remember I had to weigh-in for a physical education class and that weight is what I claim as my highest - 260lbs.  So that was January 2001. Throughout that spring semester I was forced to work out in gym class. I think I might have lost a few pounds, but nothing significant. When I came home from school for the summer, I joined weight watchers. I went to a few meetings before summer vacation with my parents. This trip was the last time we went to South Carolina as a family. I remember it was so easy to stay within my point range because I was eating shrimp/fish every day. That trip is what really started the weight loss. Again - I didn't really weigh myself after the trip so I'm not sure how much I lost, but my guess is close to 20lbs because people started to notice. After that, I continued doing WW on my own, and worked out once I got back to college.

The emotional side:
In high school, I only dated one guy and I don't consider him a boyfriend. We made out for about three months. That's it. As a college freshman, I didn't really branch out from my high school comfort zone. My roommate was a girl I knew from high school - my best friend at the time actually. It was a struggle for us to live together, so I decided I didn't want to live with her again sophomore year. I found two girls named Jennifer to live with off-campus. Aside from the first roommate, I also hung out with a gay guy that I was friends with in high school, and therefore a lot of his gay friends at college. I dated no one my entire freshman year. No one. When I came home for the summer, I decided things had to change. I would never fall in love at the rate I was going. At the time, I didn't blame guys for not dating me, I didn't love myself. I thought things like "who would want to date such a fatty" and you can probably tell the level of my self-esteem. That summer, I met a guy at work who was three years younger than me, but seemed to like me. We ended up dating for more than a year and I fell pretty hard for him. While he turned out to be a jerk, I learned a lot of things about myself during that year and actually learned to start liking "me." I joined a sorority, made lots of new friends and felt confident in my own body for the first time.

So the short version of "why" for me is that I wanted to find love. I thought the only way to do that is to lose weight. Looking back, I think that was probably the wrong reason, but the process of losing weight helped me find myself, and therefore the love I was searching for.


Apple crumb vitatop: a review

I ordered these babies mostly for the hubs to try. He loves all things apple so I thought he would like the apple crumb better than apple berry.

For those "not in the know" a vitatop is a treat for a dieter, especially a WW person. These things come in a variety of flavors and are about 100 cal, 1 fat, 6 fiber and 3+ protein. And they taste good. I eat them for breakfast sometimes or more likely dessert.

I ate it room temperature - which is how I prefer my non-chocolate vitatops, but I have to admit I was not impressed. I mean, it was good, but not amazing. It was equally as good as the apple-berry vitatop. However, if you want to eat a vitatop for breakfast, my first choice would be banana nut.

Other flavors I will be trying from this shipment: Chocolate mint, raisin bran and blue bran.

I do have to give vitalicious props for the speedy delivery on this shipment though. I ordered a bunch for myself, then two coworkers added their orders on to mine so we could share the shipping cost. They arrived in only 5 days!! I've had it take up to two weeks before, so I'm hoping they've improved their processes.

(sorry for the crappy photo - I took it with my phone.)

Do you have a favorite flavor? Did you even know what a vitatop was before this post?


run? nah.

I am finding it extremely hard to get back into the swing of things after a week of relaxing. I have yet to go for a run, but I did walk a few times and last night I finally lifted a little.

I was supposed to have a personal training session but that fell through. I decided since I was already dressed I could go ahead and lift but I didn't have my heart in it. Maybe it will be cool enought to run when I get home tonight after my Trueblood date.



I ordered $100 of vitatops.

That is all.


Back in the groove

I've been a little MIA lately with vacation and birthday celebrations, but I'm going back to work tomorrow. That means going back to the routine of regular life, including working out on a normal schedule. I have a personal training session planned for Tuesday evening, and I'm planning on being pretty sore for the rest of the week.

I have not had the luxury of working out with a personal trainer - unless you consider my hubs trying to teach me how to lift properly a personal trainer. I don't, so I'm kind of nervous about the one-hour beating I'm about to ask for. Hopefully I will learn some things and be more motivated to lift weights. I can usually motivate myself to go for a run, but lifting just seems like such a chore that I put it off until the last minute of the day (think right before I go to bed) and then I cut it short because I need to go to sleep.


Birthday dinner

After eating out several times on vacation, I opted to stay home and cook for my birthday dinner with the hubs. We splurged on some shrimp and made cheesey grits with shrimp and bacon - probably the closest thing to a "low country" food I've ever made. The grits were amazing, but the shrimp were a little "shrimpy" smelling. That just reminds me of why I only eat shrimp when I'm near water. Shrimp in the midwest is just not the same. But aside from that, it was great dinner!

I had a vitatop with a smidge of peanut butter for dessert :)


Vacation eating

It is SO hard to eat well on vacation. I'm currently writing to you from vacation and let me tell you, it's really difficult. Last night, for example, we ate at a local Italian restaurant. I know to get red sauce, no matter what. But those rolls are so good and the you know the house salad dressing (regardless of flavor) is not low-fat in any way. The hubs and I love trying new restaurants, and refuse to eat at Applebees on vacation. With this new thing called the "Internet" we can read reviews of restaurants we are considering while in the parking lot. Luckily we did. One restaurant we were considering had a bunch of reviews of food poisoning - obviously we did not go there.

On the work out side of things - I have been able to work up a sweat several times, but that was from laying out on the dock - not working out.

And on the personal side of things - tomorrow is my birthday!


All grown up

The hubs and I grew up only two hours apart, but sometime I feel like we grew up in completely different culinary worlds. Before I met him, I'd never had beer-can chicken or bagna-cauda, and those are just two things I can think of right this second. I really didn't even like chicken before we were living together (and cooking together) because I didn't really like fried chicken (I know, many of you will gasp out loud probably) and I love my mom, but her chicken was always overcooked and chewy. I had no idea you could grill chicken in a pan, or on the griddle contraption, without it being chewy and hard to eat!! Now, grilled chicken is pretty much our go-to meal when we don't want to be creative and I love the way the hubs experiments with different flavorings to go on/with it.

The things I make him try seem like standard food to me, but I guess it goes both ways, huh. The other night, I made him try a bite of my plum because he didn't know what one tasted like. I tried to warn him that the skin was sour but the inside was really sweet. He didn't care for the sourness of the skin, but at least he was willing to taste it.


What's the draw of almond milk?

Last night I stopped by Trader Joe's on the way home (which is rare because the closest one to my house is 45 min) and saw that almond milk was only $1.99 AND I had a $1 coupon so I decided to try it. I see a lot of weight loss/food bloggers eating this stuff so I thought I'd try it.

I don't get it. I mean, it's okay. It tastes pretty similar to vanilla soy milk if you ask me. It was much better in my oats this morning than drinking it out of a glass, but still. I like oats just fine plain with a little splenda so I don't know why I'd add the extra calories just to have some almondy-ness in my oats.

So if any of you out there just LOVE almond milk, please tell me why. Are you allergic to something that prevents you from drinking regular milk? Lactose intolerant maybe? Let me know.


lacking motivation

We are going on vacation soon and I'm finding it hard to stay on track before we go. The fridge is getting bare of perishable items, meaning less of my favorite fruits and veggies, more frozen/canned junk. It means more cereal for dinner to use up the milk.

Work is getting insane with things that need to get done before we leave, and I know the million-bajillion emails waiting for me when I return will be even worse.

How do you balance summer vacation and motivation?


Flavored Vodka

Making things at home, without preservatives, also applies to adult beverages in my household.

Here, we have some orange flavored vodka my hubs is "cooking" right now. He made pineapple a few years ago and this weekend decided to try a new flavor. He loves pineapple orange juice, so his goal is to make pineapple orange vodka eventually, but he wanted to try plain orange first.

If any of you out there want to try this at home, just cut up your favorite fruit and throw it in a jar with some vodka for a week or so in the chill chest. Then strain it through some cheesecloth and voila!


I broke up with WW today.

The hubs and I have been looking for ways to shred the fat in our budget lately and I finally decided that spending a monthly fee for me to input my food online is one thing we can cut. I've been using the online tools for a year and half now, with minimal results. I haven't really been using all of the tools for a while now. I just put in my foods and don't even need to look up the points. I know what I'm eating. I know how many points I go over, and I know why that is reflected on the scale. The best way for me to get results is to get off my butt. Let's be honest, no web site is going to make me do that. I have to want it on my own.

So I broke up with WW today. They said they'd take me back if I call them.


This is B-A-N-A-N-A-S

The other day, I saw on some foodie blog a recipe for ice cream that was literally just a banana and a splash of milk. THIS I had to try. I love bananas. I love milk. I love ice cream. Basically you wait until said banana turns super brown. Peel it and put it in the freezer. When you are craving some ice cream, pull it out, chop it and throw it in the food processor. Add a splash of milk. Process.

It turns out very like the consistency of ice cream. It does have a very strong banana flavor, so I put a bit of chocolate syrup on mine, it was delish!! Definitely worth the 2points a banana is alone. I didn't add enough milk to make it more than 2 points, but the chocolate sauce is extra.


How to make spaghetti sauce from scratch

I waited until my 'maters were fully ripened before trying this. I promised I wouldn't make this a recipe blog, but you know I love photos, so how about a photo-recipe?

Grab some tomatoes, an onion and some garlic. Score and chop.

I browned ground turkey breast, but you could use any other meat of your liking.

Boil the tomatoes.

Give them an ice bath.

Throw some EVOO, and the chopped onions in a hot pot.

Add the tomatoes after their bath and chopped.

Blend with a stick blender. We call it the motorboat blender.

Add the meat and simmer for a while. Throw in some herbs and sugar.


This was my first ever attempt at making spaghetti sauce, from either can-scratch or real-scratch. I also bought my first onion ever for this recipe. That's how often we eat onions. This was even better the next day too, so make sure you have enough for leftovers. The hubs gave my first try as a 7 out of 10. I'll take it!


Our first trip to the ER as parents

Last night was a scary night for the hubs and me. We came home to find our dog-child bloated and wimpering in pain and he shivered when we touched his belly. We rushed him to the vet ER where he was poked and prodded and x-rayed. He was a little bloated too, but the x-ray said not enough to be concerned about.

It turns out that our baby is becoming an old man (he'll be 6 in December) and has a slipped disk in his back.

So he has some pain meds and steriods to help, but the real struggle will be the 6 weeks of no jumping or running... How do you tell a dog he can't play?


My new goal

My new semi-obsession is to make things from scratch instead of buying jars of it from the store. Since I have a plethora of tomatoes (we planted 7 plants for 2 people, one of which does not like tomatoes in their raw form) and hate buying canned stuff, I'm going to attempt to make spaghetti sauce from scratch. If you are a cook or chef, or can manage somewhat decently in the kitchen, you are probably laughing at me. But I am a complete klutz in the kitchen. If I stray from a recipe, things taste awful. I forget about them when they just need a few more minutes in the oven, and it ends up being charred.

So my new goal is to make an edible, made-from-scratch spaghetti sauce. My very-Italian coworker has provided me with her family's recipe. We'll see how it goes.



During the week, I do try to limit my carb intake, focusing more on lean protein and veggies. I'm sure most people who care anything about their diet probably do something similar. My problem is the weekends. I tend to "carb up" a la Michael Scott before the 5k run. I don't do fettuccine alfredo, but for example, today I ate cereal, a half blt sandwich, vitatop, yogurt, bagel and cream cheese (for dinner) and a G2. I didn't count points today, but you can tell that most of it is carbolicious.

Aside from feeling a little over-carb'ed today, I do feel really productive! We moved into this house about 15 months ago, and I finally cleaned out the boxes that were thrown in the 3rd bedroom closet. I even cleaned out our file cabinet that lives in that closet. I don't know about you, but I always feel better when I get rid of some clutter.


Easy dinner

I brought home a ready-made meal from work the other night. It came with the chicken, tomatoes and sauce. I added the green beans for a healthy and tasty dinner!