Posted in Crafty, Life + Living

Out with the old and in with the new

I mentioned, of course, that I wanted to make some changes around here, and so I have.  This fresh theme is brought to you by the fantastic designers and programmers at WordPress.  If you like it, head on over to their visualizer and customize the Superhero Theme for yourself.  

There have been a lot of other changes going on in my personal life, too.  For example, I recently took an extended leave of absence from my gaming guild.  Some of it was guild drama and guild members clashing with my personality, and a lot of it was just realizing that I can’t have it all–I can’t be a full time gamer, and a full time employee, nurturing wife, accomplished artist, consistent blogger, and still manage to cook, clean and get a full 8+ hours of sleep every night.  It’s just not happening.  So, I nixed gaming. 

I joined a new guild, called NerdFitness.  I am on the verge of completing my first 6-week challenge over there, and I’ve been exploring the possibilities of going paleo.  I am not 100% there yet, but I’ve noticed that on days that I avoid bread and other refined carbs, I feel a lot better than when I eat traditional American meals.  I’m more alert, more energized… I’ve got fewer cravings and I’m better able to stay focused on my goals. 

As if that weren’t enough change for one blog post, I also got a new job that has been keeping me busy (but you already knew about that).  Tonight, I also finished up a large project that has been taking up a ton of my time… I finally finished “remodeling” our kitchen. 

Kitchen

It started last year, just with the counter tops.  The yellow was so dated and ugly that I needed to do something about it right away.  The rest of the make-over took longer to formulate and execute.  I was just dealing with the drab brown cupboards until we could renew our lease–the management staff had dangled a juicy carrot in front of our noses with the implication that we might be able to get new cupboards at our renewal.  Well, the upgrade was declined, and my request to *paint* the cabinets was shot down.  

We are not planning on moving any time within the next year, and this bathroom-themed (red, brown, and yellow–seriously?) kitchen was getting me down.  Not to be deterred, I collected points at work and turned them in for a Lowe’s Gift Card.  I spent $50 on brushed nickel pulls, then bought a 18″x75′ roll of Contact Paper from Amazon.  My total out of pocket expense was just over $14.

I have spent weeks measuring and cutting contact paper to be just-so.  I had to wash each surface and then apply the contact paper carefully to avoid air bubbles.  I disassembled cupboards (with the help of my own Super Hero, Jeffrah), and made sure that this wasn’t a job that would look tacky on completion. 

Now that it’s done… my kitchen is beautiful.  It’s bright and clean and inviting–the red walls pop and no one could be reminded of a bathroom or of McDonalds or whatever red + yellow + brown brings to mind. 

 

Posted in Life + Living

Ikea For The … Lose?


Ikea is a special place full of glamorous rooms, stylist-perfect and magazine ready–all put together with an allen wrench.  The beauty is that you can take each and every piece of their showcase home if you so choose–right down to the books on the shelves.

“Imagine my joy upon learning we would be going there to purchase the kitchen cart for our new place!”  <– that’s in quotations because you don’t have to imagine it I have anticipated your desire to witness such rapture and have captured it on camera, hence:

JOY TO THE WORLD!  YAY IKEA! (Which I randomly just keyed in as ‘idea’ –coincidence? I. Think. Not!)

So we proceeded into the store and meandered through each of the displays in search of a kitchen cart.  And a spice rack.  And a paper towel holder.

We walked out with a trivet, a frame, and a coaster.  We ooohed and aaahed over the wonderful displays, consulted a few sales folks, ate some Swedish meatballs, and then accepted the fact that we would have to go to Wal*Mart or Target to find the damned kitchen cart and spice rack.  That is not to say that Ikea did not have either of these items–on the contrary, they did! They even had the beloved kitchen cart that our old roommates had…. except it was on back-order and unavailable.  The only spice racks they had hung on the wall and had giant jars so that my spices would go stale before I could possibly use them up.  I did not capture my acute disappointment on camera because I am sure it would bring you to tears.  It was an uber-pout of epic proportions–so much so in fact, that we have yet to wander to either alternative.  Our kitchen still sits in a state of unrest.

The good news, is that I was able to order the spice rack and the paper towel holder online through Amazon and use a fantastic gift card so that there was no out of pocket expense.

Posted in Food, Menu Planning, Recipe

Menu Making: Giada and EatBetterAmerica

I had a hard time coming up with ideas for dinner today so I put it out on Facebook and Bloop that I was trying to plan a menu and asked for people to chip in ideas.  I knew I wanted to make Momma’s Chili, but then I got recommendations for a few things from EatBetterAmerica.com and from Foodnetwork.com.  At the grocery store, I got (among other things) brown rice, arugula, goat cheese, green lentils, mint, diced tomatoes, jalepeños, zucchini, pears, bananas, mushrooms, chocolate, etc.  I have all of the ingredients to make everything on my dinner menu, plus healthy snacks, breakfasts and lunches for later in the week. 

This week, we’re having all of the following:

The ‘healthified chicken skillet’ was pretty tasty.  Basically just cook chicken in a fry-pan with olive oil, salt and pepper then slice zucchini and cook in the same pan.  It was pretty tasty and came together really quickly.  Eat Better America was already linked above, so check it out–you can sort recipes by calorie count, prep time or meal type.  I like it so far.

I am really excited about the apples that Mr. and Mrs. Roomie picked up, though.  They went to an orchard today and brought home the first round of Honey Crisp apples.  Mrs. Roomie is looking around for an ‘Apple Crumble Pie’ recipe, but I’m not sure what she’s talking about so I can’t help her with that.  I just want to eat them straight-up and delicious.

I’m also excited to try a couple recipes up there.  Almost every one is new.  I’ve got 4 jalepeños to use… I haven’t quite decided if I’ll use them in the chili or if I’ll save them for the spicy Mexican dish on Friday.  I’m just excited to get cooking 😀

Tomorrow starts Phase 1, Week 2, Day 1 so I should go finish drinking my water and get some sleep 🙂

Posted in Fitness, Food, InBody230, Menu Planning, Self-Reflection, Strength Training, Warrior Dash

Wanna Be A Warrior

I have a lot to update on.  When last I wrote I was talking about not having a plan.  It has really hit me in the wallet and in the GI tract to not have a plan this week.  Even Rah-rah noticed it! Tonight on the way home, I asked what he wanted for dinner and he replied “I dunno… We really haven’t had any good food this week..” and he sounded so sad!  I guess that this means I need to keep up on that menu-making 😉 

After I post this entry, I’m going to make 2 more pages for my blog–a “new foods” page and a “Favorite Links” one.  I think it would be a good way to keep things in order and to share some resources with you.

Spaghetti Squash

Earlier this week, I was gifted with a Spaghetti Squash from one of my co-workers.  I had never tried it before so he brought me one from his very own garden.  His suggestion was to cut it in half (which I almost needed a hatchet to do…) and then microwave it.  Mrs. Roomie ended up doing the rest of the cooking after I cut it up because I simply had too much to do on my list.

She browned some lean ground beef and added a jar of Classico Tomato Basil sauce, then served the meat sauce over the stringed squash instead of over pasta.  The review that I received from Mr. and Mrs. Roomie and Rah-rah said that it was cold and kinda chewy.  When I re-heated it when I got home, I thought it was pretty tasty.  Maybe it just needed to cook longer?  Rah-rah rated it a 6 out of 10, so we’ll probably try it again.  Mr. Roomie said it was pretty tasty with just some olive oil and some garlic powder.  Who knows? The flavor is so mild that the possibilities are practically endless.

The rest of the nights, we pretty much had a gas-station diet–frozen pizza, sandwiches, etc.  It was really expensive and I’m going to have to be careful with my cash over the next week.  I’ve got my dry-erase markers ready, though! The menu shall be made!

Warrior Dash is a mud-crawlng | fire leaping | extreme run from hell | Are you a warrior?

Mr. Trainer has asked me to join the 2012 Warrior Dash

.  Now, on SparkPeople, I joined a great group of girls called the Weight Loss Warriors.  I haven’t been much of a warrior lately.  I have lost touch with a few of the girls and I have been avoiding spark like the plague for various reasons.  Be that as it may, however, the Weight Loss Warriors are some of the best, most supportive, consistent people that I have met.  Most of them have already met their weight loss goals, and if they haven’t, they’re still plugging away and making good choices.  I feel like doing the Warrior Dash will not only “make me a warrior” to them, but it will also provide some validation for myself.  If I can get through that race, hell, I can do anything.

Warrior Dash
Warrior Dash Participant (from Warrior Dash on Facebook)

Since it’s more of an obstacle course than a race, I’ve made a serious commitment to fitness.  On Monday I start Phase I with Mr. Trainer to begin preparations for the event.  It is about 9 months away and so every 4 weeks until July 2012, I have committed to meet with Mr. Trainer so that I can be ready.   Right now, I love sweets and carbs and cuddles–and I have been avoiding the gym.  With something like this on the horizon there will be no choice except to shape up.  It will be either get ready, or get hurt–one of the two.  I’m going to aim for the former, not the latter.

Posted in Food, Menu Planning

Super Sunday: Meal Planning Day

Every weekend, I try to reserve one of the days for menu planning.  Usually I would just throw things on the dry erase board and buy things I thought I would need for the week and hope for the best.  If the roomies liked what I had planned, then they’d have it started before I got home from work.  If not, then I would just start cooking when I got home from work.

Earlier in the week, I did an exercise where I discovered My Current Food Palette.  Using that, I found recipes that are healthy, fun, and would please the whole “family.”

Cassie (of Back to Her Rootsfame) actually supplied quite a few recipes for this week’s menu.  While I was drafting all this stuff, Rah-rah realized I was on “that one blog with the  microwave cake!” and he needed to try it.

We tried out this recipe for peanut butter microwave cake.  It turned out so good! I accidentally overcooked mine just a little bit and so to add some moisture and some zing I wanted to add some strawberry jam.  Little did I realize that I grabbed the jar of “strawbañero” jam.  Woo! That had a kick to it…

Once I had the meals figured out, it was time to compile the ingredients and figure out what I needed from the store.

I made sure to go through what I had currently so that I wasn’t buying things unnecessarily.  So that I would be sure to get all of the things that I needed, either in my cupboards or from the store, I actually went through and wrote every ingredient down and then went shopping in my kitchen for items that were needed.  I crossed out the items that I had and circled the ones that I needed.  Then I recopied it into a neat list that I could bring with me to the store.  Of course, I forgot the list at home… but, thankfully, Rah-rah was able to snap a pic with his smart phone and sent it over to my phone 🙂 The day was saved!

Now… I’ve got a pretty small kitchen, so I took the opportunity to change out a few canisters and to make sure that the fridge and the cupboards were well-organized.  I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves:

I admit, the spice cupboard (on the left) needs a little work…

This is what we use as the pantry ^-^; It’s an Island Cart from Ikea that’s against the wall…
The roomies were cool and brought home 5 different kinds of garlic for us to experiment with soon.

Once I was satisfied with the kitchen, I set to work making tonight’s dinner.

 The original plan was to cook stuff for the rest of the week, but I simply ran out of time.  I found a recipe here for a breading that I used on some Talapia for dinner tonight.  It turned out so good!  I used one of the broccoli rice sides and served it up with some grapes.  Rah-rah doesn’t necessarily like fish, so I made a make-shift tartar sauce just in case he didn’t like the fish – I just combined some miracle whip, some hellman’s mayo, pickle relish and lemon juice.  It was really good!

I had 3 servings of Talapia and 1 of Salmon and so I made all 4.  Each of us only ate 1, and so there are a couple fillets left over for tomorrow.  The seasoning really made a difference 🙂

Tomorrow, I’ve got a plan in place for burgers with sweet potato fries and mixed veggies.  I can’t wait 🙂