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Archive for January, 2009

I work in the finance department of a medium-sized city. Income tax season has already begun so everyone pitches in to help with everything that goes along with this time of year. I spent almost the entire day folding letters and stuffing envelopes. Riveting work, lemme tell ya.

Overall today was a pretty good day. For starters, it’s Friday. To make that even better, it’s payday. My checks are direct deposited so the only thing I see is a pay stub. I don’t physically touch my money, but I know it’s there.

Breakfast was probably my favorite oat concoction so far. I stirred in a dollop of peanut butter and then put a plop (a scientific unit of measure) of Amish store blackberry jam right on top. That ended up being stirred in as I went, but the picture looked prettier this way:

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Lunch was something new for me. I love tofu, but I’ve never tried it as a sandwich. Why? I have no idea. It was very tasty and very filling. I put some reheated leftover Gliding Calm tofu, a slice of 2% American cheese and some dijon mustard on 2 slices of low-cal toast. This picture was before I added the 2nd piece of toast:

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One of my coworkers brought in a box of Celestial Seasonings Gingerbread Spice tea to share and, being the tea lover that I am, I was happy to accept. Unfortunately, I think it’s just seasonal. I may have to check my grocery and snag some if it’s still on the shelves because I really liked this one. It was the perfect balance of ginger and spice. One bag made two pretty strong cups.

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Snack was very refreshing. I had slices of green and yellow peppers dipped in a cup of Chi Chi’s medium salsa. I love these individual serving packs. So convenient for transporting to work.

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Shortly after I left for work I got some news that made my day even better. I won Kelly’s giveaway over at Every Gym’s Nightmare for the book The World is Fat by Barry Popkin. I’ve heard great things about this book from several sources so I’m really excited to read it. Thanks Kelly!

No dinner picture tonight. My super sweet husband made spaghetti tonight. I started to take a picture, but my camera battery was out of juice. We were both really hungry so I didn’t want to wait for it to charge. Basically what you’re missing is a pile of whole wheat spaghetti noodles with sausage sauce and a some baby carrots with Annie’s Goddess dressing for dipping. Mmmmmm. I’ve been spoiled lately. I’ll be a bit out of sorts when he goes back to working 5 (or more) days a week. This is the off season for his company so they’re working four 10-hour days and getting Friday off. That will end as soon as the warmer weather kicks in. By summer, he’ll be working 80-90 hour weeks including LOTS of Saturdays. For now, I’ll just enjoy having him around more.

After dinner we digested and then hit the gym. I had a pretty good session of walking on the treadmill, upper body & lower body. I did all my strength training in front of the mirror today. I don’t do this every time I lift weights, but I do like to do it every once in a while as a way to check my form.

No big Friday night plans for our household. My husband is watching his favorite show, Friday Night Lights, and I’m catching up on blog reading. I hope you’re all having a fabulous Friday night!

What’s your busiest time of year? Why?

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I went back to work today which was probably a mistake. The news made it sound like the roads weren’t too bad. My husband called shortly after he left to tell me that the streets were snow covered where he was, but that I’d be fine if I slowed down and took it easy.

Wrong. What normally takes an hour and a half took over two hours today. Basically my entire commute was like driving on gravel because of the ice with snow packed on top of it.. My car was shaking. I was shaking. It was loud. I thought if I just kept driving a little further it would get better. That was not the case, but by the time I decided I should probably turn around I was already halfway there. I kept pushing and eventually made it only to almost get stuck trying to pull into the parking lot.

Anyway, enough of my whining. I got to work safely and that’s really all that matters. On to my eats!

I wanted to get out the door as early as possible so I grabbed a Clif bar for breakfast. This was the first time I’ve ever had the Chocolate Chip flavor and it was good. Just enough chocolate without being overly sweet. I really like the texture of these bars. Not only are they hearty, but the consistency forces me to slow down when I eat. Here’s an after picture of the wrapper:

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Lunch was a Lean Cuisine Chicken Club panini. Not exactly the most “natural” food ever, but they have good flavor and stick with you. I don’t like to have packaged lunches like this every day. However, they do work well when you’re in a hurry and they’re better than icky fast food.
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An hour or so after lunch I was feeling anxious so I had a cup of Tazo Calm tea and did some deep breathing at my desk.
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Snack was a few Kashi TLC crackers (one of my new addictions) and a wedge of Laughing Cow Light swiss cheese.

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I worked through my lunch and got to leave at four so I could pick up the pooch and be home before dark. They’re calling for more snow tonight and I didn’t want to chance getting stuck in that if it came early. The drive was a little better than this morning. Still pretty icy and slow going.

I cooked Ranch Chicken & Potatoes in the crock pot yesterday so that we could just heat it up for a quick dinner tonight. My friend gave me this recipe and I’m not exactly certain of the original source.

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1lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed
1 can cream of chicken soup (I use 99% fat free)
1 packet Hidden Valley Ranch dressing mix (powder)
1/4 cup diced onion
20 oz. Yukon Gold potatoes, cubed & parboiled 10-15 minutes

Put all the ingredients in a slow cooker and stir together. Cook on low 4-6 hours.

On the side I had cottage cheese and a romaine & green leaf lettuce salad with a drizzle of Annie’s Goddess dressing. I won’t bore you with a picture of another of these salads. Seems like it’s becoming a trend.

I’ve had a horrible headache all day and ibuprofen isn’t touching it. Not sure what’s up. I normally don’t get headaches, but they’ve been an every other day thing for about the last week. I’ll be taking it easy this evening and probably heading to bed early again. Looks like I’ll need to be up and at ’em early again tomorrow.

I’m really excited to be participating in the Valentine’s Day Blogging Exchange! Click here for more information or to sign up. You need to do so by January 30th (which is tomorrow) so don’t wait!

What’s your “go to” lunch when you’re in a hurry to get something together?

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As expected, we were blasted overnight with a pretty nasty ice storm. Here are some pictures I took as soon as the sun came up:

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I went back inside and made called in to work to let them know I wouldn’t be there. Ice is pretty, but not very conducive to driving an hour and a half on mostly back roads. My husband didn’t go to work either, but he slept in. I fixed myself a nice hot bowl of oats with some maple syrup, a little brown sugar and unsweetened coconut. I swear there wasn’t that much syrup. It just looks like it in the picture because it got all hot and oozy.

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I also had half of a delicious grapefruit

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…and some steaming hot coffee in another of my favorite mugs. Little did I know how that quote would come to reflect my day.

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I even broke out a placemat!

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So there I am sitting at the table sipping my coffee and admiring the winter scape when BAM…power goes out. I checked the breaker to make sure it wasn’t just us. Nope. The power company was busy so I used the automated system to report the outage and then broke out the flashlights and candles.

My husband got up a few minutes later. We listened to a Jillian Michaels podcast I had saved on my laptop until the battery died. Then we sat. And sat. And sat. It’s so funny all the things we take for granted that use power. I kept flipping light switches when I went in and out of rooms. I got the vacuum out of the closet and unwound the cord before realizing that it was futile. Finally I just bundled up on the couch and read a book.

Around noon we still didn’t have power or any word about when it would still be on. My coffee had gone cold in the pot and I had no way to reheat it. My husband was starting to get cabin fever. We decided to ride in (all of 2 blocks) to the only gas station in our teeny tiny town. It’s kind of the gathering point so it was packed with people swapping weather and power stories. While we were there we also realized we were hungry and that there wasn’t much at home that didn’t require a heat source. We ordered subs at their little deli counter and I fixed myself a cup of coffee. My sub was a toasted 6″ turkey on wheat with lettuce, tomatoes, black olives, pickles, mustard and just a little bit of mayo.

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I found bags of something called Pogos. I’m not a big fan of most things you’d find in a convenience store “grocery” because of the nutritional information so I was surprised when I read the back of the bag. The nutrition information wasn’t too bad, the ingredient list wasn’t horribly long and there was only 1 thing on the list that wasn’t easily recognized.

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They ended up being just okay. They didn’t have much potato taste and the Jalapeno Cheddar flavoring tasted a bit chalky. I might buy them again, but only in a pinch.

After our “adventure” we went home and ate our lunches. The power came back on as we were cleaning up the table. We flipped on the TV and watched all the weather reports for our area. The joy was short lived. It went back off about an hour later.

I bundled up again and went back to my reading. That’s pretty much all I managed to accomplish until the power came back on permanently about 5 hours later. I reheated some Lemony Shrimp leftovers from yesterday for dinner. I don’t think I’ve ever been so grateful for our microwave. 🙂

We’re skipping the gym tonight because on-street parking is the only option there and they’re asking people not to do that so the plows can do their thang. I’m trying to get caught up on all the things I wanted to do today that require electricity and I’m thinking about an early bedtime. I know this storm was a big one so I hope everyone is staying safe and warm no matter where you are.

What’s the last book you read?

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I’ve seen the Gliding Calm tofu earn rave reviews on so many blogs lately and today was the perfect day for me to finally give it a try. Three words: Oh. My. Gosh. So good! I had some as an early afternoon snack with dijon mustard on the side for dipping.

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Like Kath, I enjoy preparing and eating lunch at home. I typically eat at my desk during the work week so cooking is something I really look forward to when I have a day off. Today I tried something new. The original recipe is from the February 2009 issue of Real Simple magazine. I prepared it mostly as instructed and thought it was a little bland so I added my own flair. I made enough modifications that I’m sure it’s safe to post my version here. I apologize for some of the vague measurements.

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Lemony Shrimp with White Beans

(makes 4 servings)

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 15.5-ounce can cannellini beans, rinsed & drained
2 teaspoons dried parsley
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup reduced sodium chicken broth
1 teaspoon(?) Old Bay seasoning
1/2 teaspoon(?) cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1. Heat the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat until melted. Add the garlic and cook for about 30 seconds.

2. Add the shrimp and cook until they are pink.

3. Stir in the beans, parsley, lemon juice, chicken broth, and all seasonings. Cook until heated through, 2 to 3 minutes.

The original recipe said to serve over couscous, but I was in the mood for pasta so I plated mine over some whole wheat penne. Baby carrots standing in some Annie’s Goddess Dressing made a perfect side. Can you tell I’m a bit addicted to this dressing right now?

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After lunch I did a little laundry and put away some clean clothes. It is unbelievable how much dirty laundry two people can create. It’s a neverending battle. Laundry is probably my favorite chore so I don’t mind too much. The pup and I went back outside and played for a bit. The freezing rain started and it hurt when it hit my face so we didn’t stay out for too long. I went back inside, got comfy on the couch with a warm blanket and read for a while. Incredibly relaxing and highly enjoyable. The pup was pooped and just slept on her bed.

My husband, sister-in-law and I headed to the gym this evening for my 2nd workout of the day. We did the Plyometrics workout from the P90X DVD set that my sister-in-law borrowed from one of her coworkers. Holy smokes! It was pretty intense and I could certainly feel my muscles working. Workouts like that are awesome in my opinion. The final count was 520 calories in 58 minutes.

A shower was the first thing on my agenda when I got home. I wasn’t hungry for dinner so I just had some Kashi TLC crackers, a wedge of Laughing Cow Light swiss cheese and lots and lots of water to rehydrate.

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RIght now I’m chillin’ in my comfy fleece pajamas and watching The Biggest Loser with my husband. I don’t watch much TV, but this is one show I try not to miss.

The freezing rain is still coming down and we can hear it against the windows. It’s supposed to continue through the night and then turn back to snow early in the morning. Work tomorrow doesn’t seem too likely, but I’m not counting my chickens before they hatch. Have a great night!

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We got about an inch of snow in the night and it was still falling when I got up at 4:30AM. I left for work almost an hour early only to make it 1/3 of the way and turn around. The snow just kept coming down harder and the roads were getting slick. They’re expecting more snow and maybe freezing rain through the day today followed by more snow this evening so there’s a good chance I’ll be home again tomorrow. I hate using vacation time for weather, but I don’t mind the day (or maybe days) off.

As soon as I got back home I fixed up the oats I’d packed for work. I decided to use a real bowl instead of my plastic container. Today’s toppings were a swirl of honey, a dollop of peanut butter and a few HUGE blackberries. Deeeeeelicious!

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The coffee this morning was in one of my favorite mugs, a gift from my mom. I love polka dots & the color pink!

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After breakfast I did a 30 minute workout DVD with cardio and some lower body. Some people think I’m nuts, but I LOVE squats and lunges. I think it’s because I can really feel my muscles working when I do them and I enjoy that burn. My timing was perfect because as soon as my DVD ended it was time for Namaste Yoga on FitTV.

I took the pup out to play in the snow for a bit. She had a blast running around like a crazy thing and rolling around. I think we’ve gotten at least another inch or so since I got home!

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Jillian Michaels is on The Rachael Ray Show right now and I’m tuned in. I love and adore both of these ladies. Jillian always seems to say things that seem to hit home for me and she presents them in a fun way.

Speaking of Jillian, have you listened to her FREE podcasts? You can download them from the iTunes store. Just type KFI AM 630 in the search box, click the arrow to the right of SUNDAY, sort alphabetically and find Jillian. Add these to your iPod for some extra motivation during workouts! I actually like to listen to them in the car on my commute to help me stay motivated to hit the gym when I get home.

I love how so many of you bloggies as a question at the end of your blog posts and I’m going to start doing the same thing every day. Here goes!

What’s your favorite move for working the lower body?

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Da da. Da da da da.

(Obviously my creative energy is lacking in the post title department.)

Do you ever have those days when you don’t really feel sick, but you don’t really feel good either? Today is one of those days for me. I just feel ‘blah’ in general.

This morning I was STARVING. I related it back to my lack of appetite yesterday. I decided to start my day off with something filling. The obvious choice was oats. Today’s were topped with a stick of organic agave nectar, a few dates and some coconut. Along with that I had a cup of Celestial Seasonings Honey Vanilla Chamomile tea. I really, really have to figure out a way to make my work breakfast pictures more interesting. Same container = same photo every day.

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I didn’t prep any food over the weekend and, since it’s Monday, we didn’t have any leftovers yet. I decided to try something new that I bought at the grocery last week.Here’s what I thought!

*Product Review*
Cedarlane Low Fat Couscous & Vegetable Veggie Wrap

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At first glance it didn’t look like anything special, just an ordinary microwavable wrap. It smelled great when I took it out of the work microwave and many of my coworkers asked, “What is that?”

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The taste was even better than the smell. The wrap part was a little bland, but the filling was full of flavors and different textures. It was nice to actually taste the various spices and vegetables since I find that most “heat and eat” options just taste like salt. This is the best picture I could get of the inside:

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It really filled me up, too. The nutrition information (see photo above) wasn’t bad for a microwavable lunch option. I think it would have been even better with a little salsa and/or sour cream on the side for dipping. I still have a few wrap varieties from this brand in my freezer to try so stay tuned for more reviews.

I packed an afternoon snack, but ended up not needing it. Just not hungry. I’m not sure if it’s a credit to the fillingness (is that even a word?) of my lunch or just that my icky feeling was doing something similar to yesterday with my appetite. I drank hot tea for the entire afternoon. It was partly to settle my stomach, but mostly an attempt to keep warm in the frigid office. I think they forgot to turn the heat back on after the weekend.

Dinner tonight was one of my husband’s favorite dishes, Bubble Up Pizza Casserole. It’s super easy to make. One pound of ground beef (I use extra lean), 1 jar of pizza sauce, 1 tube refrigerated buttermilk biscuits & a cup of shredded mozzarella cheese. Brown the ground beef. Cut the biscuits into quarters. Mix everything together except the cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until biscuits are done. Top with cheese and bake for another 5 minutes. We usually replace the jar of pizza sauce with a can of plain tomato sauce seasoned to our liking. It’s really not the prettiest dish, but I took a picture anyway. I paired mine with a romaine salad topped with jalapeno peppers and chunks of yellow pepper.

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Now I’m relaxing for a bit while watching The Big Bang Theory (most underrated show ever) and How I Met Your Mother. I think I’m going to call it an early night. They’re calling for more snow overnight so I may need to be up and out the door early in the morning. Have a great evening!

Giveaway alert! Kelly over at Every Gym’s Nightmare is giving away a copy of The World is Fat by Barry Popkin. I saw this featured recently in Shape magazine and it looks like an extremely interesting read. Check it out!

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Is the weekend really over? Already? It went by so fast!

Saturday morning started off nicely. I slept in which is rare for me, even on the weekend. When I finally got up it was time for breakfast and coffee with my husband. I had 2 egg whites and a slice of 2% cheese on low cal toast. That didn’t look like quite enough and I was really craving protein so I cooked a Gardenburger Portabella burger in the microwave and then added it to my sandwich. My husband thought it looked weird. I thought it tasted delicious!

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Add coffee and organic skim milk and it’s a filling meal.

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After our late breakfast we showered and hit the road to visit my BFF and her husband. The guys both have strange work schedules and she’s a nurse so it’s been forever since we could all get together.

We had lunch at a place called City Barbecue. The other 3 are all big BBQ lovers. Me? Not so much, but I went along because I knew I’d be able to find something I liked. I ended up ordering a big salad of mixed greens, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, shredded cheese & strips of smoked turkey breast. Everyone else topped their sandwiches with hot & spicy BBQ sauce, but I discovered a spicy mustard sauce that didn’t taste at all like traditional BBQ. I ended up using a little of that as my salad dressing and liked it a lot.

After lunch we headed back to their house and hung out for a while. We had a blast and totally lost track of time. Before we knew it it was time to head home.

I was still pretty full when we got back, but needed to eat something to keep me full through the night. I ended up making oats for dinner! Oats, a little cocoa powder, a spoonful of peanut butter and a few chopped dates. Sweet and delicious!

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Sunday morning I got up before my husband and did some yoga. I’ve been feeling really restless lately and that was exactly what my body needed. Afterwards I settled in with my Sunday morning ritual of coffee and coupons. The binder in the picture is how I organize my coupons. It’s filled with baseball card sleeves and divided by section of the grocery. I’ve found it works well for efficiency.

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My husband woke up hungry and offered to make brunch. I wasn’t going to turn him down. 🙂 He made me a 1 egg, 2 egg white omelet with ground turkey, mushrooms & shredded colby cheese. On the side I had 2 slices of turkey bacon and toast with spray butter. Oh, and coffee of course!

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After brunch I cleaned the casa and got the laundry going. The rest of the day was pretty much wasted. I had a horrible headache that I couldn’t kick and just overall felt icky. My day was spent mostly on the couch either sleeping or relaxing and reading. Brunch was really filling and I never really got hungry again. I did have some Kashi crackers and cheese later in the evening, but was too lazy to take a picture. I ended up calling it an early night.

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