Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Last Post of the Decade

Tomorrow, my darling fiance and I are flying to Switzerland where we, along with his lovely family, will enjoy snow, skiing, and lots and lots of cheese.
I have a couple more hours of work, and then I have to go home and pack. In case anyone is curious, here are my trips for traveling in cold weather.

1) If you are OCD about mixing certain colors (no brown & black or navy& black for me!) then choose your color scheme wisely. When I travel, I choose either brown or black as a basic color and stick with it. That way I don't wind up packing both brown and black shoes and purses.

2) Pack (or, even better, wear on the plane) a heavy coat. Pair this with a warm hat, scarf and gloves. Make sure that your purse strap fits comfortably around the arms of your coat and rests on your shoulder. A purse with a short strap gets annoying very quickly when you have to wear a coat.

3) Bring one heavy sweater. This sweater should be comfortable, have a button or zip front, and be in a dark color that doesn't show stains. If you get it dirty, keep in mind that you'll be rinsing it out in your hotel sink. Also, mind the sleeves. These are lessons I learned the hard way after bringing a cream colored pullover sweater with bell sleeves to Switzerland the first time I went. I wore it once (so inconvenient!), then wore my black button-down the rest of the time. If you don't mind going casual, you can also bring a dark colored fleece or use it in place of the sweater. I will say that all fleeces are not created equal. The ones I have from Old Navy, for example, are not very warm compared to the ones I have from ski apparel brands (think Spyder or Northface or Columbia.) I would avoid sweaters or fleeces with hoods or big collars because they can bunch up annoyingly under your coat.

4) Bring as few pairs of shoes as possible. Shoes are heavy and take up space. So if you pack any extra shoes, try to wear the bulkier ones on the plane. Also, make sure your shoes are comfortable. Shoes you don't wear b/c they kill your feet are a waste of space. If you are going to be walking around a lot, I would advise against Ugg-type winter boots. I have a pair and have used them as snow boots for the past couple of years. They are waterproof and very soft, but they aren't very supportive and my feet always hurt as a result. Also, since you'll be dealing with airports, make sure that you can get your shoes on and off fairly quickly. It makes security much less of a hassle.

5) Shirts- bring one shirt per day. I tend to wear knit shirts or light sweaters because I would rather not iron my clothes, and not every place comes with an iron.

6) Pants- you don't need as many as you think. I will probably pack 3 pairs of pants (2 jeans and 1 corduroy) for my 12 day trip, and honestly, I could probably get by with 2 pairs- I know it sounds gross, but you really don't sweat very much in the winter, so they stay pretty clean, especially if you wear an under layer (see below). Again, go with dark colors so if you spill something on them, you can rinse them out.

7) Pajamas- Pack one pair for every 3 or 4 days of vacation. I like long sleeved knit or flannel PJ's better than fleece because if the room is cool you can always add more blankets- I think it's easy to overheat in fleece PJ's.

8) Undergarments- I always pack plenty of socks and underwear because they don't take up very much space and are pretty crucial. Another important cold weather undergarment is a pair of cuddle duds.

So my basic cold weather outfit is jeans tucked into winter boots, topped with a colorful long sleeved knit shirt and a black button down sweater. I throw on a good coat, scarf, hat, and gloves to go outside, and if I'm going to outside for a while (and it's really cold), I'll be wearing cuddle duds underneath my clothes.

The bottom line is that you will always end up packing more stuff than you need, but if you pare it down as much as possible, it will be easier to carry your luggage, you won't have to worry about extra fees at the airport, and there will be extra room in your bags for souvenirs when it's time to go home!

I'm sure there are more tips to be had because I'm not an expert packer, but this is what I've learned through trial and error.

I won't be back home until 2010, so until then, have a wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year!!!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

The Morning After

Our Christmas party last night was lots of fun! Of course, I'm totally ignoring the fact that every glass in the house needs to be washed in favor of blogging.
I was very pleased with the food I made this year. I did a couple of things differently than I had planned- namely, I made hazelnut bark instead of chocolate chip cookies, and the stuffed peppadews (which I accidentally called pequillo's in the last post) didn't use up all of the goat cheese and chive filling, so I used the rest of the filling as a dip. I got a lot of good feedback about all of the food- I'd say that the Rotel dip was the biggest hit, I could have doubled the recipe and probably wouldn't have any left-overs. Everyone loved the bacon wrapped water chestnuts too. The fruit pizza and baked brie were also popular items. I was grateful for the pickled veggies, especially as the evening wore on- it was nice to reach for a piece of pickled okra instead of something unhealthy when I got snacky later in the evening.
My friend Stephanie brought some cookies she calls shorts (I think they are something like this recipe), and my friend Julianne brought fresh satsuma slices that she'd dipped halfway into dark chocolate. They were both excellent!
Our drink menu was great this year too. We had poinsetta cocktails, gluehwein (cook over low heat 2 bottles of red wine, 2 cups of sugar, the juice of one orange, the orange itself, 3 cinnamon sticks and 10 cloves for about an hour- being careful not to boil the wine), brandy milk punch, peppermint patty shots, and brandied port (brandy, port, and a twist of lemon).
I am sitting on the couch blogging while wearing the snuggie that my brother gave me for Christmas. I've certainly mocked snuggies in the past,but there is something to be said for being able to drink my coffee without having to adjust my blanket. Also, Homer is obsessed with the snuggie. He slept in my lap for 2 entire hours the other night because I was wearing the snuggie and watching a movie.
In other news, the shower in my bathroom has decided to stop working. I usually have amazing water pressure (and copious amounts of hot water), but the water just stopped coming out of the shower head in the middle of my shower yesterday. This has happened to me before at a previous apartment (although that apartment had only a shower head and no faucet, so I occasionally had to bathe using a pot full of hot water, which reminded me of Miss Honey in Matilda...this time I just crouched under the faucet and cursed loudly while trying to rinse my hair) and I think that the problem is that there are solids clogging up the line (a few rusty chunks came out of the faucet yesterday and today, which supports my supposition). Of course, I'm hoping that it will clear itself up in a couple of days (my old place often did) because if we call the landlords now, they probably won't be able to send someone over until we are out of town. Given that there are two cats in my house who have to be kept apart (we're not ready for Pancake to meet Homer until he no longer limps), we'd rather not have strangers in the house opening doors while we're gone. So worst comes to worst I'll have to use my darling fiance's shower for a couple of days. His water pressure is actually pretty lousy, but it's certainly better than nothing. Just now the pipes in my bathroom were making a horrible noise, so maybe the water will start up again soon.....this is the price of living in a charming old house!
My darling fiance and I opened our Christmas presents to each other on Thursday night so we would have more seating for our Christmas party. (The tree is sitting in our bay window, which serves as a bench when we entertain.) He gave me fuzzy socks, a new running shirt that is both long sleeved and reflective, another pair of Lululemon yoga pants, and a Wii and Wii fit kit! I've been wanting a Wii for years, so I am really excited to finally have one! I'm planning to play with the Wii fit this afternoon (which is a good incentive to get my house cleaning done).
As for now I think I will finish my coffee and read through my google reader before I get up and clean. It's nice to relax. Aside from two days of work this coming week, my holiday stress is pretty much behind me. I do have to pack and I have both a long run and a brunch for my book club at Dante's Kitchen to look forward to tomorrow. I leave for Switzerland on Wednesday!
Happy Holidays!!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Kale!!

I really love kale. A week or two ago, I discovered that Rouses was selling giant bags of chopped kale and I've become a little obsessed. It started with kale and white beans. I like to simmer several cups of kale with 2 cans of Great Northern Beans,1 can of beer, lots of pepper, a generous dash of hot sauce, a little sausage (optional), and several dashes of Worcestershire sauce for an about an hour. So good! I made a big pot this evening so that I can have white beans and kale for lunch all week!
I've also made Kale and Spaghetti, and tonight I had roasted potatoes seasoned with thyme (topped with hot sauce and ketchup) andsauteed kale (prepared like the kale in the kale and spaghetti recipe) topped with a poached egg for dinner. It was amazing!
I've even tried making a green monster with kale. (Confession- I prefer spinach.)
So if you've never tried kale, I urge you to do so. It has a very mild taste compared to other greens, and it is a perfect addition to hearty winter meals. And of course, it's really good for you!

P.S. I made another Kale recipe today- Chickpea and Kale Stir Fry. It was amazing and took all of 20 minutes. Seriously, go make this now.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Rather Busy

This is the time of year in which I live by my to do list! I am pooped and am staying in tonight. :) I must say that I have accomplished a ton this week- both in terms of socializing and in terms of getting important tasks out of the way.
On the social front, I went to book club. We read The Help, which was really good. It's been my favorite book so far. Up next is Cleopatra's Daughter. I also went to a holiday happy hour hosted by my local sorority alumni club (Kappa Alpha Theta, if anyone is curious, and I'm actually the treasurer of our club this year) at the Swizzle Stick Bar (one of my favorite places for creative cocktails), and I had dinner with my friend Heather last night at Il Posto Cafe.
On the task front, one of the most notable things I did this week was get two of the four remaining outside cats fixed at the Southern Animal Foundation. Trapping the cats was actually kind of scary because they went nuts when the trap door closed and I had to wear work gloves to move the boxes because I was afraid that they would bite or scratch me through their cages. However, I am really glad I got it done because the two cats I caught were actually both girls. I'm so glad I prevented two more litters from being born this year! The remaining two cats are boys and I have an appointment to trap them and have them fixed in January.
In other news, I am psyched to say that I got a pair of Spyder ski pants for $30 yesterday! They are actually little girl's pants- my current ski pants (which fit but are old and kind of out of date looking) are a girl's XL (ski clothes run really big!) and I looked at the measurements and realized that I could totally fit into the Spyder girl's size 18. They were marked down to $80 from $100 on Amazon.com. I also knew that my mom had gotten me an Amazon gift card for Christmas. I thought it was for $25, but when I called her to get the number, she said it was for $50. Score!! My pants should be arriving Monday. :)
Today I was as busy as can be. I'm facing a big deadline at work, and I had a bunch of errands to run afterward. I actually trapped the cats last night and took them to the vet this morning. After work, I first dropped by Massey's for waterproofing spray for my new snow boots (Amazon sales have been good to me this fall), then I stopped and looked at the bridal shop (Pearl's Place) down the street. It recently occurred to me that since I want a fitted dress and I don't want a train, a good option for me might be to order a Bridesmaid's dress in white. A lot of bridesmaid's gowns were too shiny, but I really liked this one. It's significantly less expensive than a standard wedding gown, but what I really like is that it weighs so much less than a wedding gown! I know it's a weird thing to be excited about, but I was walking through the store trying to get a better look at some of the wedding dresses, and whenever I would even move one on the rack, all I noticed was how heavy they were! It made them very unappealing to me. Anyway, I think that the dress is really cute on me too. I love the single shoulder strap and the horizontal pleating. I took a picture on my camera phone (please ignore the weird face I'm making and my strange hair)- what do y'all think? You have to picture it in white, of course. After that I went to Symmetry and priced wedding bands (because we have been working out our budget this week- fun stuff), and was pleasantly surprised that my initial guess for that part of the budget was too high. :)
After that I picked up a couple of Christmas presents (I'm officially DONE!) and then went and got the cats from the vet.
Tonight I still need to finish wrapping presents and then wash the dogs because tomorrow is my family's Christmas party in Gulfport. I don't think I've mentioned it on the blog but for the past few years I've gone skiing in Switzerland with my darling fiance and his family during the actual Christmas holiday (hence the snow boots and ski pants), so I celebrate with my family early. I'm looking forward to tomorrow because I got everyone some great presents and I can't wait for them to open them.
Okay, less blogging, more work! Have a good weekend everyone!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Festive



I have to post a picture of the first Christmas Tree I've had in 7 years. I know it's awful that I haven't had a tree since I stopped living with my parents. But isn't my little tree pretty? :)
Other than getting a Christmas tree, my weekend hasn't been too eventful. My office party was Friday. It was fun, but I forgot to take any pictures. We looked at wedding venues and bought the Christmas tree on Saturday.
Today I did chores and ran 6 miles. This evening I made a really delicious dinner. Baked Shrimp with Feta. Pro-tip: triple the garlic, which is basically my motto in life. I served this with quinoa instead of couscous and used the shrimp/quinoa combo to stuff baked red bell peppers. It was really good and very easy!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Christmas Party Planning

My darling fiance and I are having a Christmas party again this year. Last year's party was a lot of fun, but we planned it on the spur of the moment. We literally decided to have the party, then had the party a week later. I was also in Houston for work for three days during the week prior to the party. I quickly came up with a menu, and I think that most of the food was pretty tasty, but I want to seriously revamp the menu this year.
Last year we had:

Bacon wrapped water chestnuts- This was a huge hit and will be served again this year.
Red pepper and goat cheese dip- This was the biggest disappointment for me. The rosemary overpowered all of the other flavors.
Sugar Cookies- Let's just say that when it comes to using cookie cutters, I lack the dexterity that God gave your average toddler. At least they tasted good. This year I will be doing drop cookies.
Gougeres-I thought that these were delicious. However, they really didn't get eaten. I think that I made them too big and people thought that they were biscuits. Pro-tip: this dough is exactly like cream puff/eclair dough, except cheesier, which means that it's hollow inside. I think this would be awesome as the first course of a sit down dinner party- maybe filled with mashed potatoes and topped with a little slice of roast beef.
Slow roasted tomatoes- These were really good, but are more of a condiment. (I served them on toothpicks.) I was told that they were really tasty tucked inside a gougere.
I also quickly stuck a brie in the oven and topped it with some pear marmalade and walnuts.
There were also gourmet cupcakes, brought by my friend Ashley.

This year, the only carry-over will be the bacon wrapped water chestnuts. These are the other options I am toying with:

Pickled veggie tray- baby corn, okra, olives, etc....
Chocolate chip pecan oatmeal cookies- a drop cookie recipe from my mom. It's one of my holiday favorites.
Rotel dip- cream cheese, sausage, rotel...what's not to love? I have a serious problem with dips. Every time I try to make anything remotely high brow, I don't really like it. I'm caving and going back to my Mississippi roots on this one.
Blue cheese and cranberry stuffed endive- I've been waiting for an excuse to make this recipe. It looks so good to me.
Baked Brie- I actually have some puff pastry this year!
Fruit Pizza- I will use raspberries, strawberries, and kiwi's so it will look festive. This is one of the few asthetically pleasing foods I am capable of making.
Goat cheese stuffed pequillo peppers- Lauri made these for Kristi's bachelorette party and I was obsessed with them. Again, I've been looking for an excuse to make these.

So what do we think? Too much? Not enough? Too much cheese? (Like there's such a thing as too much cheese! I crack myself up sometimes!!) Not holiday specific?

In other news, tomorrow is my office party. I will be wearing a very cute, short, strappy cocktail dress (borrowed from Steph). For this reason, the powers that be have decided that the weather will suck tomorrow. It will certainly be cold and drizzly, and it might sleet or even snow. Thrilling.

Okay, I am now going to close my computer and clean my house, which is what I should have been doing instead of blogging this evening. Oops!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Gentlewoman's Holiday Gift Guide

Since there are few things I love more than shopping, I thought I'd put together a holiday gift guide for those of you trying to wrap up your Christmas shopping.

For the foodie in your life, why not give them cheese? Locally, I think that the St. James Cheese Co. gift boxes would be a great treat. Online, I'd go for Dean and Deluca.

For a runner, I'd suggest athletic wear- specifically reflective athletic wear for those dark runs after work. Illuminite shirts like this one look really cool and keep you visible. A Road ID or a Spibelt are also great gifts for runners.

For a drinker, I think that these ice-cube stones are really neat. Pair it with a nice bourbon- maybe Blanton's?

For a writer, some beautiful paper. I love Crane and Co. stationary.

For a DIY enthusiast, I'd choose something from Etsy. Scarves, bags, and jewelry are always lovely gifts.

For someone who loves the great outdoors, I'd get gear. I love these parachute silk hammocks. Camelbaks are also good gifts.

For a snow bunny, try a funny ski hat. They keep you warm and make you easy to spot on the slopes!

For a great cook, I'd go for a nice Le Creuset piece if you're feeling extravagant. I think bakewear like ramekins, pizza stones and tart pans would also be nice. It's stuff a cook will definitely use, but might not buy themselves.

For a homebody, comfy slippers. I love these from L.L. Bean.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

1/2 Marathon Recap


The Gulf Coast Half Marathon was great! I finished in 1:58:55 and came in 91st out of 203 people! I am very satisfied with my time because I had never run more than 12 miles before Saturday. My goal was to run the entire distance (which I did) and my slightly sub 2 hour time is a huge bonus. :)
The morning of the race was really cold. It was probably in the 40's during the entire race, but I wasn't so cold that I didn't end up tying my jacket around my waist after a mile and a half. I did find myself thinking around mile 9 that I was pretty cold, but that was just another reason to keep running. I'd have been colder had I slowed down!
I ran with my friends Margee and Jen. They are more experienced and faster than me (and came in at 44th and 45th because they are awesome!) so I was only able to keep up with them for the first 3 miles (because they picked up the pace after that). I averaged around a 9 minute/mile pace for the first 10 miles or so, then slowed to closer to a 9:30 pace for the last 3 miles. One of my favorite moments in the race were at mile 6, when I remembered how I was huffing and puffing at the end of the Crescent City Classic (a 10K and my first race) and contrasted that experience to my current physical state at 6 miles- I was breathing easy and feeling happy and strong. Also, there was a turn around point where you looped back on the course. When I passed Margee and Jen going the other way, they waved to me and cheered and yelled "It's her first 1/2 Marathon!"
Another highlight was right after I passed the 12 mile marker. A couple of runners said "Good job!" and I said "Thanks, it's my first 1/2 marathon and as of right now, the furthest I have ever run!"
I ran with them for the last 1.1 miles and at the very end, Margee and Jen were waiting for me. They ran to the finish with me, which really helped me find the extra energy to sprint to the end and finish strong. My darling fiance was there too, and he took a picture of us as I sprinted to the finish line!
Overall, I feel really proud of myself for accomplishing this goal. I ran faster than I expected and I really had a good time! This was a great race and I'm really happy that I decided to run it!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanks

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!! I'm at my parent's house, and am about to go to bed so I can get up early-ish and go shopping with my mom. It is definitely in my best interest to not spend very much money tomorrow (a fact that failed to prevent me from going to Old Navy after Thanksgiving dinner...) but I would like a heavy black button down or zip front sweater with no hood or large collar. The one I currently have is a) old, and b) has a flap collar that makes it uncomfortable to wear under a coat. Mom wants new towels. Exciting, I know. We're not getting up especially early, but we're hoping to get out to the stores by mid-morning.
I just want to stop for a moment and reflect upon how blessed I have been this year. This may actually have been my best year thus far!
I am so thankful for my wonderful fiance, family, future in-laws, friends, and pets. I am thankful for my good health and for my athletic achievements this year. I am thankful for my new car and for being able to keep the job I love during a tough economic time. And I am thankful to live in a city that I love. I am also thankful for all the good things that have happened to my friends this year as well. It's been wonderful to see my friends achieve their goals, get married, and expand their families. It's been a wonderful year and I hope that we all have many more years that are just as good!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Wino


I just made my first wine! My darling fiance gave me a kit from The Artful Winemaker for our anniversary, and I just bottled my first batch. I named it Curious Cat Cabernet-Shiraz, in honor of Homer, who meowed at and watched the entire process. I wanted to name it either Cat Hair Cab or Cat Butt Rot Gut, but I figured no one else would try it if I did that. :) It still has to age for a couple weeks in the bottle but I may cheat and try it during Thanksgiving because I want to see how it turned out!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

So good

I've been joking all day that this recipe was developed by a cardiologist in need of patients, but this corn casserole was a hit at the Thanksgiving Potluck I attended today. This is delicious, but incredibly rich- perfect for sharing with a lot of people!

Shelly's mom's awesome corn casserole:

Serves 1 million :)

1 box Jiffy Cornbread Muffin Mix
8oz sour cream
1 can cream corn
1can whole corn (drained)
2 cups shredded cheese (plus more for sprinkling on top)
1 cup chopped green onions (optional)
1/4 cup softened butter
2 eggs slightly beaten

mix all together --pour into greased casserole dish, sprinkle with extra cheese---bake 45 minutes 350 degrees.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Should I go for it?

I just found out that there is going to be a half marathon at 8am the Sunday after Thanksgiving at the Stennis Space Center in Mississippi. Given that I ran 12 miles two weeks ago, 6 miles last Sunday, and am planning on making it to 13 this weekend, I know I can do the distance, although I would have preferred to run 13 miles prior to my first half marathon race (I'll probably do no more than 10 miles this weekend if I do the 1/2 though because you are supposed to taper the week before a race). It would also be on my way home from Thanksgiving with my family in Gulfport anyway, and I would certainly burn off Thanksgiving dinner! :)
It's not what I planned to do, but since I'm so far ahead on my training (I started my training earlier than I needed to so I would have some leeway in case I needed it) I am pretty sure I'll be fine. The race description also says that this is a good one for beginners....
As you can tell, I'm totally talking myself into it, but I'll blog my final decision when I make it. One issue is that it cuts down the time I get to spend with my family, but maybe I can get them to come cheer me on. Also, when I am at my family's house, my nutrition tends to suffer. We eat out a lot because my mom and I both tend to view visiting each other as an occasion for going out, and my parent's kitchen tends to be red meat and no-carb land (they love Atkins, and don't get me started on how much I disagree with them regarding that diet). These issues are fairly minor though, I can come equipped with oatmeal and whole wheat pasta or quinoa (at least my parents have plenty of frozen veggies)- I just have to be diligent about how I fuel in the few days prior to the race and try to stay away from the junk food. Except on Thanksgiving day of course. I'm totally allowed to be a pie eating monster then! :)

And...after about 5 minutes of consideration I've decided that I'm totally going to run the race! Racing is so much fun! I'm excited!!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Bling bling

Yesterday, my darling fiance came home with a dozen roses and two cans of Sofia champagne.
(Fun fact, I LOVE champagne in a can. Yes, I am that classy. :P)
I suspiciously asked what the occasion was and he said "Why can't I just surprise you with something nice?"
Then, he gave me my ring! I didn't expect to get my engagement ring until next Friday, so it was a wonderful surprise!! I cried again, because I am a sap. :)

I love my ring so much! It's even prettier than I thought it would be. :) It's hard to see in the picture (my camera doesn't like to focus on something so small), but the band has pave diamonds on the top and the rest of the band is engraved. The setting itself looks like a chalice and is also inlaid with pave diamonds. It is gorgeous! Here I am, wearing my ring and enjoying my champagne. (I look kind of rough because I'd actually just gotten up from a nap, and, like I said before, I cried.)

Last night was really fun. We had a great time at the GAPSA mixer and at Maison Musique, listening to the Russian Mafia Band. We had a little too much fun, actually- I bought two Russian Mafia Band T-shirts (one for my future brother in law, and one for my boss, who introduced me to the band) and a CD, but managed to lose the T-shirts on the way home. I have no idea how. At least I still have the CD! Here I am with Stephanie and Sarah at the GAPSA mixer, showing the camera my ring. :P

Today we went to visit two potential wedding/reception venues. One is an art gallery on Julia St. and the other is a wedding hall. This was a very good experience because both places are in our budget and are both very nice. Of course, they both have pros and cons and we still have other places we want to see, but it's prompted us to further discuss our vision for the wedding. Nothing was decided today, but I feel like the day was very productive nonetheless. We still have a long way to go, of course!

Between our night out last night and our busy day today, we were both very tired so we've spent a quiet night at home. Tomorrow I only have to run 6 or 7 miles (yay, taper week!) and then we are going to watch the Saints game with our friend Bruce and Simone. This will be the first game we've watched and I'm mildly paranoid that this change will jinx the Saints. So feel free to blame us if they lose!

I also need to finish tidying the house. The front rooms, at least, are nice and tidy. My darling fiance took this pictures this afternoon because the light was just perfect. Isn't our apartment lovely?










I'll leave you with a picture of me and my ring, resting on the sofa after our day of wedding planning. I hope everyone has a great weekend!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Wedding Stuff

It's been almost a month since I got engaged and people have started asking me how my wedding planning is going. My answer is, slowly. In all fairness, we've kind of narrowed the date down to March or April of 2011, so there is plenty of time. On Saturday we're going to look at two potential venues, which I am looking forward to. I want to be able to imagine details of what everything will be like, but I find that to be pretty difficult when I haven't even seen the places where I'm thinking about having the wedding and reception.
Other progress:
We've "envisioned our event," as the knot would say. Basically this means that we have agreed that it will be inside, during the evening, and that the wedding and reception will be in the same place. We favor cocktails and appetizers over a sit down meal.
I know what I don't want in a dress- I am basically going for the opposite of the poofy princess dress. I'd love something fitted and maybe even short. That's all I know- I haven't done much else beyond dismiss the majority of wedding dresses on the internet as entirely too poofy, and wonder aloud if the Jcrew dresses would look good on someone other than Keira Knightly's clone. (I particularly like the second dress I've linked but I don't think it's designed for someone with boobs.)
I have a vague image of white flowers with dark green leaves in mint julep cups.
Oh and I've added a bunch of wedding blogs to my google reader. That totally counts as progress, right?

Other events coming up include my Theta Alumni Club's wine and cheese party tonight (I've made Smitten Kitchen's cheesecake brownies, and urge you to do the same because they are amazing), and a night out on the town tomorrow. We are planning to go to the GAPSA (graduate and professional student association) mixer which gets all the grad students (and their dates) at the various colleges in town together for free drinks; and then we're going to the Marigny to listen to Debauche- The Russian Mafia Band. We keep tossing around the idea of asking them to play at our wedding, but we're worried that they're a little too non-traditional. :) And on Monday my office is having their annual Thanksgiving Potluck which I really enjoy. The food is always really good. I'm making Macaroni and Cheese (also from Smitten Kitchen).

Sunday, November 8, 2009

So Much to Say

There has been a lot of stuff I wanted to blog about this week, but, as usual, I've had a hard time finding the time to blog. So please forgive me if I repeat anything or if I make any giant leaps.
First, I want to write an update on the Pancake situation. It seems like my neighbor is not going to be able to take him. It's a long story, but let's just call this a "no good deed goes unpunished" situation, and leave it at that. Frankly, I've wasted a lot of energy this week fretting over all things cat and neighbor related. The good news is that we are, for the time being, fostering Pancake. He is living on the porch and in my bathroom, depending on the weather, and seems to be doing well. He is all bandaged up and one pupil is markedly bigger than the other (does anyone know how long concussions last in cats?), but he doesn't seem to be in any pain. He spends a lot of time in the cat box, but I am okay with that. Dogs tend to love their crates because they make them feel safe, so I'm working on the assumption that this is also true with feral cats. Pancake has already figured out how to use a litter box, which amazes me! I wish dogs were born with an innate knowledge of where (or more importantly, where not) to use the bathroom! Pancake also continues to be a giant sweetie. When we coax him out of the box, all he wants to do is be held and petted. He is going to be a great cat, but I am still concerned that Homer won't allow us to have another cat. We're keeping them separated for now because it's not fair for injured little Pancake to have to deal with an irate, 18 lbs. cat. So if anyone would like the adopt the sweetest cat ever, please let me know!
Regarding this week- having a house guest in town when you live in New Orleans means one thing: eating out! I have had so much amazing food this week. When Ryan came into town on Saturday, we ate at both Parkway Bakery & Tavern and Cochon Butcher. At Parkway Bakery, we split a surf and turf (roast beef with plenty of gravy topped with fried shrimp) poboy. It was awesome, although I will say that if you like your shrimp crispy, this is not the poboy for you. The shrimp soaks up the gravy, but I didn't mind. I can see why everyone raves about Parkway Bakery. Their poboy bread is the best! After Parkway, we went to Cochon Butcher's swine bar for wine, Boudin, and their amazing Pimento cheese sandwich. We were also treated to a sample of pork jowl, which puts bacon to shame!
During the week we ate at Cafe Atchafalaya and Restaurant August with Ryan. I've been want to try Cafe Atchafalaya for some time now, and I was not disappointed. I split an order of fried oysters with my darling fiance, and had the shrimp and grits as my entree. It was amazing, especially because they make their grits with cream cheese.
Restaurant August, of course, was wonderful. I had the four course tasting menu, and loved every bite. The first course was a salad with frisee, fresh dill and sweetbreads. I absolutely loved how aromatic the dill was and how well it paired with the warm, crunchy sweetbreads. The second course was an acorn squash mezze luna (a half moon shaped pasta) in a brown butter sauce with satsuma slices. I loved the way the rich, savory sauce paired with the brightness of the satsuma in this dish. My third course was wild boar ragu with chanterelle mushrooms and plums, served over polenta. Again, I loved the way the brightness of the fruit paired with the rich, savory sauce. The polenta was also delicious and incredibly creamy. Finally, my dessert was a chocolate Napoleon. Chocolate mousse was layered in between a coffee flavored brittle, and topped with salted toffee ice cream. There was also a swirl of an incredibly dark, rich caramel sauce on the plate. The combination of the chocolate, coffee, caramel, toffee, and salt was so delicious. It was the perfect decadent cool weather dessert!
Of course, my week of decadent eating didn't end at Restaurant August. My darling fiance and I celebrated out 3 year anniversary at Domenica on Friday. I was especially excited to go to Domenica because it is in the Roosevelt Hotel, which is where we got engaged a few weeks ago. Domenica is the newest John Besh restaurant. I consider chef Besh to be the best chef in New Orleans (followed closely by Donald link, of Herbsaint, Cochon, Cochon Butcher, and Calcasieu), and I was thrilled to eat at two Besh Restaurants (August being the first) this week! In fact, here is review of both Restaurant August and Domenica. At Domenica, we shared everything and had the meat and cheese plate, the tagliatelle with rabbit ragu and porcini mushrooms (my favorite!), the stracci with oxtail ragu and fried chicken livers, the slow roasted goat with wild mushrooms, and the gianduja budino (hazelnut and chocolate pudding with candied hazelnuts). We also ordered the truffle service for the slow roasted goat. The chef came out and shaved a white truffle onto our dish! In retrospect, I think the truffle would have stood out more on a less flavorful dish, but I could still taste it. It was really good!
I actually did more this weekend than just eat, of course. On Saturday, we went out and walked through the Barataria Preserve. It was gorgeous and we saw two alligators! After that, we came home, got dressed and went to the LPO's performance of Tchaikovsky's Pathtique. Today I ran 12 miles, which was pretty tough on my feet. I'm actually blaming the heels I wore to the LPO last night! I'm excited to be so close to my goal of 13 miles, even though I won't get there for another two weeks because next week I taper down to 7 miles.
This evening we grilled BBQ chicken and turkey burgers with green onions and blue cheese- so yummy!
Okay, I think that's everything notable that's been going on lately. This week, we are expecting some bad weather due to the presence of Hurricane Ida in the gulf, but I am looking forward to a good rain tonight. I love sleeping when it's rainy outside!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Never a Dull Day

On Tuesday, after all the drama with Mo, another one of the outside kitties, Pancake, showed up with a broken front leg. The good news is that he immediately came up to me, and once I'd gone and gotten Benjy, he let Benjy pick him up and put him in the cat box with no problems.
Of course I spent the rest of the night thinking that there was someone in my neighborhood intentionally hurting cats, which really freaked me out!
The next morning I took him to the Southern Animal Foundation. They are a non-profit vet/rescue organization and I am glad I took Pancake there. Everyone there was really nice (and they LOVED Pancake b/c he is the sweetest cat on the planet) and though I'm definitely spending a lot more money than I had planned to spend this month, Pancake's care has cost significantly less than it would at a regular vet. (And when I called a regular emergency vet, the first thing they asked was if I wanted to euthanize the cat! I thought that was incredibly callous.)
As for Pancake, the vet told me that he was a classic car strike case- broken leg, cracked teeth, messed up claws, and a concussion- poor kitty! At least that means that it's unlikely someone is hurting the cats on purpose. The vet is putting a pin in Pancake's broken arm today and my neighbor (the same one who is adopting Mo, now named Santo- he also needed surgery for his broken leg, but he's going to be okay) is going to adopt Pancake because she didn't want them to be separated.
The other good news is that Southern Animal Foundation will neuter and release cats for $10 ($20 for spaying), so we are going to trap the three remaining kitties and get them fixed. I feel bad about waiting so long to do it, but we thought it would be a lot more expensive and kind of procrastinated for that reason. But we are definitely going to take care of them soon! The vet told me that cat breeding season is right around the corner so it's a great time to get them fixed.

Thoughts and Prayers

A lot has happened since I last blogged. However, before I write about my week, I have to say that my prayers are with everyone at Fort Hood today. I lived in Fort Hood for a year after I graduated college and I'm really hoping that the shootings didn't affect anyone I knew when I lived there. People living in an Army community face so many challenges. I hate that this senseless tragedy has happened to them as well.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Hello Kitty

Kitty Update!
My awesome neighbor knocked on my door at 7 this morning. She had gotten Mo to come in her house. When I got downstairs (in my PJ's and bare feet because I am one classy broad) Mo was literally climbing the door (it has pane type windows) 3 legs and all, trying to get out. We got my cat crate, then cornered her in my neighbors bathroom and eventually got her in the crate. My neighbor is taking her to the emergency vet. I am so relieved!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Rough

This week has been pretty brutal. My trip to Houston began with me getting up at 5am on Tues. to fly out there. The meeting I had on Tues. (which was the only reason I flew out on Tues. instead of Wed.) was rescheduled for Thurs. at 7:30 am practically the moment I stepped off the plane. Otherwise work was pretty uneventful. I had sushi for lunch, and pizza with goat cheese and prosciutto from Bistro Provence for dinner. Yum! I also had the good fortune of getting upgraded to a suite the size of my apartment. I had to make a point to sit in the living room area, at the dining table, and in the chairs in the bedroom. Then I sat around and watched HBO's Bored to Death, which was really funny. I'm sad that I can't see full episodes online though because they only played the first three episodes when I was watching.
Wednesday morning, I showed up for my 8:30 am appointment only to get an email asking for it to be postponed till 9. Since I was already at the office building, someone else let me in and told me that they thought the person I was meeting was actually in New Orleans unexpectedly and that I would have to sit in his office and teleconference with him. I was not happy to hear this, but I set up my computer and waited until 9 to find out what was up. Fortunately, the person who told me about New Orleans was wrong- but I spent 30 minutes being a very unhappy camper! Wed. I got a lot of work done, and met a cool couple at dinner in the hotel restaurant. They had been married for 55 years and had set foot on every continent. That is my new life goal. :)
Thurs. morning I had my appointment at 7:30, followed by an appointment with the person I was working with on Wed. to finish our work. As I was walking into the building, I found out that my 7:30 appointment was canceled. Is anyone starting to see a pattern here? I ended up having the meeting I was supposed to have, just with someone else on the same team, but I would rather have just slept in. I don't sleep very well on work trips, especially when I have to get up early b/c I wake up every hour and check the clock. Aside from that, work went well and I was able to get a ton of work accomplished. I left for the airport on time for my 5:55 flight. Unfortunately, the flight ended up being delayed until 7:30, which meant I walked through the door to my house at 9. What made things even worse is that my darling fiance called me when I was stuck in the airport around 5:30 to tell me that one of the feral cats who lives under our house has a broken leg (he had to leave for night float and couldn't catch her in time, plus he went straight to the airport from work and will be in NYC until Sunday). Of course it's Mo, the nicest one. I just sat in the airport and thought about how much it would suck to have an untreated broken leg and hated the fact that I couldn't get home sooner so I could try to catch her. I couldn't find her last night,but she was around for breakfast this morning. I fed her some turkey I'd brought to lure her into a box so I can take her to a vet. She ate the turkey out of my hand, but ran away when I tried to pet her, which is something she generally allows. So I have to get her trust up enough so that I can catch her. Of course, she's so not stupid. She sat just out of reach under the house, looking at me like "I see that you have brought down a big crate and are wearing work gloves and a denim jacket so I won't scratch you. Good thing I'm cat enough to steal turkey and still get away from you even with only 3 legs!" Then she disappeared further under the house and I haven't been able to find her since then. I am taking a little comfort in the fact that she is eating and getting around. But I hope she'll stay relatively okay until I can catch her. I'm so afraid she is going to get sick or be attacked by an animal or just get worse.
Poor kitty. Hopefully I will be able to get her at dinner time.
Of course, I had to tell my boss that I was going to be late due to attempts at cat catching this morning and when I got in, he kindly asked me if I was ok. Which made me cry at work. Ugh.
On the plus side, Tyler and Kate (my soon to be brother in law and his lovely girlfriend) sent Halloween/Engagement cookies to my office, which was perfect because I have never needed a cookie more!
In other happy news, congratulations to my friend Xiujuan who gave birth to baby Michelle this week and to my friend Bonnie who defended her dissertation!! Actually I think Xiujuan defended as well (if not, she will be defending soon!). Three cheers for my PhD friends!!
As for the rest of the day, I need to clean the house because our friend Ryan is coming in town and staying for a few days, and the house is in it's usual state for a Friday- a complete mess! I am also going to get groceries I think because I have to run 11 miles tomorrow and I'd rather not go to the store after my run. Other than that I am staying in because I am wiped out. I took a nap when I got home from work but it just made me feel more exhausted.
Sorry to be less cheerful than usual, but it's been a rough few days.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Restaurants I Love in Houston

I have to travel to Houston for work this week. I dislike the long hours I work when I travel for business, but I do enjoy having an excuse to eat out. Some of my favorite places near the office are Sushi Jin, Nit Noi, and Bistro Provence. I will also probably get room service for dinner one night of the trip. Getting room service always makes me feel pampered. The other upside of staying in a hotel is that I will have access to cable. I don't have TV at home (by choice), and it's a nice novelty when I get to watch it.
It kind of stinks that I have to travel for work though because I am going to miss my darling fiance (new bloggy nickname, ahoy!). He's actually leaving town to go to NYC with his Mom for the weekend (lucky boy!) just as I get back in town.
Because of this, we actually exchanged anniversary presents this past weekend (our 3 year anniversary is technically on Halloween) and he got me a Wine Maker! My cabernet-shiraz blend is currently fermenting away in the corner of my kitchen- and I am eager to see how it turns out. It's definitely a good gift for the wine loving chemist in your life. :)
Other notable events this weekend were my friend Sarah's Halloween Party on Friday (very fun), the Houston Ballet on Saturday (very good, except for the last Twyla Tharp piece that featured costumes that were distractingly ugly.), and The Race for the Cure on Sunday (I ran with Steph- it was her first race and she did great).
I also used Pumpkin in several new recipes this weekend. First, I made pumpkin dip, which I served in a hollowed out pie pumpkin at Sarah's party. Dippers were apple slices, cinnamon graham crackers, and caramel/vanilla marshmallows. The biggest change I made to this recipe was to dramatically increase the amount of cinnamon called for (I think tripled it at least).
When I woke up the next morning, I made Pumpkin Spice Whole Wheat Pancakes by adding cinnamon (I have no idea how much, let's just say several good shakes) and about 1/4 a can of pumpkin to a half portion of this recipe (to make 4-6 medium sized pancakes)- then thinning the batter to the standard pancake batter consistency with a little water.
Finally, on Sunday, I used the remained 1/4 cup of pumpkin in an easy pulled chicken crock pot dish. I sliced 2 chicken breasts, then added 1/4 can of pumpkin, 1 can of black beans, 1 cup of chopped onion, a few generous shakes of tabasco sauce, and about 2 cups of salsa to my crock pot. I cooked the chicken on high for 3.5 hours, then took the meat out of the pot, shredded it, and stirred it up in the sauce. I expected this to taste very southwestern, but it actually just made a nice brown gravy with beans and chicken in it. I served it on tortillas with cheese and plain greek yogurt, but I think that my darling fiance will be eating the leftovers with bread during the week (in part because we are almost out of tortillas). The best thing about this recipe is that it made a ton of food. So far we each had 2 tortillas worth last night, and I had another for lunch today. I'd say there are at least 3 or 4 servings left. I think you could also add diced tomatoes and chicken broth and make a decent tortilla soup with the shredded chicken. I'll definitely be making this again!

Double Trouble

Congratulations to my friend (and former roomate) Emily- this weekend she gave birth to TWIN BOYS!!! Benjamin Edward and Colton Allen were born on Oct. 23.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

I Amuse Myself to No End


I've been engaged less than a week and I've already found the ugliest dress on the planet. This is seriously like the Chinese Crested Dog of wedding dresses.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Sweetest Day


Wow.
When I woke up yesterday morning, I thought the biggest news of the day was that I was going to darken my hair color. I went to work, then left at noon to go the the salon. While I was at the salon, a car crashed through the window in the front of the salon! I was in the middle of having my hair colored at the time, so I'm pretty amazed that it came out alright. :) The lady who crashed her car ended up being my colorist's next door neighbor who actually had an appointment with my colorist! She had a cast on her right foot and apparently hit the gas instead of the break as she was trying to park. Fortunately, no one was hurt.
After my hair appointment, I was apparently a little distracted, because I accidentally locked my keys in the car when I got home, along with my purse and phone! I ended up making friends with my new downstairs neighbor because I had to wait until 5:30 for Benjy to get home. (Yes, I am departing from my usual pet name for my sweetie, for reasons that will become apparent....)
After that, we had some cheese and crackers (I'd locked my snack in the car too) and got ready to go to the Sazerac Bar in the Roosevelt Hotel. When we left, I called my friend Anne, who was going to be at the bar, and said "You won't believe the crazy stories I have to tell you about today!" Little did I know!
Benjy had been saying all week that he was really excited to go see the hotel because it is a historic New Orleans hotel that has just been reopened. (Benjy is really into New Orleans history and culture.) Apparently Huey P. Long, a noteworthy New Orleans politician, spent a lot of time there in the 20's and Benjy told me that they had restored his old suite on the 10th floor and marked it with a plaque with an "H" on it. We were supposed to meet everyone at 7, but we got there about 10 minutes early, and so Benjy said "Let's go see if we can find his room!" We went up to the tenth floor and Benjy led me down the hall saying "You're supposed to go left, then right, and the room is at the end of the hall." I was gamely walking down the hall thinking it was cute how much he loves New Orleans history. Well, we got to the end of the hall and I was looking around for the plaque, and feeling kind of confused because I didn't see one. Benjy took out a room key and said "I lied!"
He opened the door into a beautiful suite with rose petals scattered on the floor and a table with roses in a vase and a bottle of champagne in an ice bucket...He sat me down and then got down on one knee and proposed!!!!! I'm engaged!!!! I was so surprised and happy! (I cried, of course.) :)

The set up

When Benjy proposed, he gave me a beautiful round diamond that belonged to his mother. Today, we went to Symmetry Jewelers and I chose a design for my ring. It is so beautiful!! Symmetry Jewelers is known for their hand crafted rings, especially those designed by Tom Mathis. Each ring is individually manufactured in their shop, and all of their designs were gorgeous. It was really hard to decide which one to get, but I am so happy with the one I chose! My ring will be ready on November 20th! I can't wait to wear it!

Of course, all my friends were in on the surprise, and after I called all my family and Benjy's family and out of town friends, we joined them in the Sazerac bar. I was talking to my friends when all of the sudden, Mom and Dad walked into the bar!! I was so surprised that I started crying again!

Calling everyone!!

Benjy had also gotten a chocolate and raspberry cake from Sucre that said "Happily Ever After" so we all went upstairs and had cake and champagne. My parents called it a night after that because they had to drive back to the coast, but the rest of us ate at the Sazerac Bar restaurant then hung out in the bar for a while after that.
After we went to bed, I couldn't sleep very well because I was too excited and happy. I kept waking up and thinking about everything that happened! I think I got about 4 hours of sleep, total. So I am pretty tired today. :) This morning we ordered room service and sat around enjoying the suite- it was lovely.

The view from our room this morning

After breakfast, we went home, walked the dogs, and went to pick out my ring.
I keep feeling like I should pinch myself because everything was so wonderful and I just can't believe it's real. It was the best day ever. :)

My wonderful fiance

Friday, October 16, 2009

The Great Pumpkin


This week has been very pumpkin-y. On Sunday, I carved pumpkins with Sarah, Jonathan, and our friend Georgia. This is my pumkin, which I named Zohan Homer after Sarah's cat Zoe (who would have been Zohan, had she been a boy) and my cat Homer. I brought home a bunch of pumpkin seeds and baked them with cayenne, cinnamon, sugar, and salt. I liked the flavor profile but it wasn't strong enough. Also, the pumkin seeds were nice and crispy straight out of the oven, but as they cooled, they got less crispy and harder to enjoy. I think that the seasoning mixture would be good on popcorn though. (Too bad I don't care for popcorn!)
On Monday, I opened up a can of pumpkin and mixed half of it with skim milk, garlic, vermouth, and shriracha (sounds strange, but makes a great sauce). I ended up mixing the sauce with some quinoa. I served it inside half a microwaved heirloom squash (I was going to roast it but I couldn't cut through the raw squash!), topped with strips of roasted red pepper and goat cheese (with the rest of the grilled Italian turkey sausage on the side). It was really good.
I ended up dipping a grilled cheese sandwich in the leftover pumpkin sauce for lunch the next day.
As for the rest of the canned pumpkin- I used 1/4 of the can in some oats for breakfast, along with brown sugar and pumpkin pie spice. This was delicious and tasted exactly like pie, but it didn't fill me up as much as I would have liked. I usually put almond or peanut butter in my oatmeal as well, so I think I needed a little more protein in this breakfast.
I remedied the hunger situation the next morning by making a pumpkin smoothie with 6oz of vanilla greek yogurt, 1/4 can of pumpkin, a banana, some milk, ground flax seeds, and some pumpkin pie spice. This was tasty and filling, but it didn't really taste like pie. Maybe I needed more pumpkin and spice.
Is anyone surprised that I'm not orange at this point? :)
Finally, after all this fall food, the weather seemed to get the hint to cool back down. It's been really depressing to have temperatures in the low 90's all week, given that it's the middle of October! It is supposed to be cool and sunny for the next week though, so I am really looking forward to the runs I have coming up. I have a 10 miler to look forward to this weekend so wish me luck!
Other things taking place this weekend include drinks at the new Sazerac bar in the Roosevelt hotel tonight, shopping at Macy's for charity tomorrow, and seeing Yo-Yo Ma play on Sunday!! I am really excited about Yo-Yo Ma!
I also plan to make a Lime Tart on Sunday b/c someone brought a giant bag of limes to work today- I grabbed several! (But I'll bring the tart to work, so it all evens out.)

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Foodie Week and a Great Weekend

I wanted to share a few recipes I tried out this week that were really good. I mixed things up for breakfast by replacing my standard Greek yogurt/honey/fruit/and granola with baked oatmeal. I made a big casserole dish of baked oatmeal with blueberries, almonds, coconut, cinnamon and vanilla and it lasted me for 3 days. It was really good- my advice is to use a lot of spice because otherwise it can end up tasting a little bland.
My dinners this week have been especially tasty. I tried out this recipe for spaghetti with Kale and my dear boyfriend and I both loved it! I also adapted this recipe for shrimp scampi by using scallops and adding broccoli. (I've also actually used it to make some fantastic shrimp scampi too.)
I also made a couple recipe free dishes that turned out very well. I made artichoke hummus by combining 1 can of chick peas and 2 cans of artichoke bottoms (drained) in my food processor with a couple of cloves of garlic, a little lemon juice, pepper, and a drizzle of olive oil.
For lunch, I made a baked bean bowl by putting a can of baked beans over brown rice and topping it with chopped tomato, chopped green onion, cilantro, sprouts, and a little BBQ sauce. It was really good! I find beans and rice to be very filling, but you can always beef it up with some shredded cooked chicken if you want more protein.
This weekend has been absolutely wonderful. Friday night, my dear boyfriend and I saw Opus at the Southern Rep Theater. We both thought it was a great play. The tagline is "Sex, Drugs, and Chamber Music." It's about the dynamic between the members of a string quartet as they get ready to play Beethoven's Opus 131 at the White House shortly after adding a new member (a young woman) to their group of middle aged men.
Before the play, we went to Iris and had drinks and appetizers. Iris is officially my favorite place to go before a play because it is within walking distance of both the Southern Rep and Le Petite Theaters. The bartender is also known for amazing, creative cocktails. My first cocktail, for example, contained elderflower liqueur, basil, and a pineapple balsamic reduction. My second one contained bourbon, vanilla, ginger liqueur, and Thai tea. My dear boyfriend had one drink that contained scotch, gin, and a plum/cardomom syrup. His other cocktail contained Rye, bitters, beet juice and apple juice. They were all amazing. As for food- we split a cheese plate, 1/2 a dozen oysters, and some short rib rolls that were wrapped in lettuce. It was all delicious!
I also got to wear the purple ruffled shirt that I bought last week. I paired it with black pumps and a pencil skirt. I'm glad I got to wear it because a cold front finally rolled in on Saturday.
On Saturday, I started the day off in a terrible mood because the chance of rain was 75% on and off all day. However, it never really rained! I really wanted to go for a run, but was convinced that the second I got out there, the bottom would fall out. Finally, I decided to just go for it. (I brought my phone with me so I could call home for a ride if I got trapped by rain.) I am so glad I did because I had the best run ever! I was a little nervous because of my horrible 8 mile run, but I shouldn't have been. Clearly, the 78 degree weather played a big part- but I had tons of energy and had a great time! I was also thrilled with my pace. I ran a 9 minute mile pace all the way through mile 6 (54 minutes, compared, for example, to my Crescent City Classic time of 62 minutes), and didn't slow up very much for my last 3 miles. I finished the run in 84:16!
On Saturday evening, we were supposed to have a picnic in the park and listen to the LPO, but that got cancelled due to rain (although it never rained!), so instead my dear boyfriend and I grilled out. We had chicken kabobs, mango chili chicken sausage, and sweet Italian turkey sausage (we cooked a ton of meat so we'd have leftovers to eat this week) along with a side salad. I had blue cheese on multi-grain bread for dessert as well. I really love the amablu Gorgonzola. It is a fairly mild blue cheese that is really creamy. It's great spread on bread or alongside a sliced pear.
Today I have been being pretty lazy. I am about to get up, clean the kitchen, and wash the dogs. Later, I am going to go over to Sarah's house to carve pumpkins, eat pizza, and watch Hocus Pocus. I loved that movie when I was a kid!
All in all this weekend has been just what I needed. It's been so nice to relax and spend some quality time with my dear boyfriend. :)

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Western Wear


Our trip to Oklahoma was very nice. I really enjoyed spending time with my dear boyfriend's family this weekend. It was a lot of fun!
We got to Tulsa around 11 pm on Friday. We got up bright and early on Saturday to go buy my dear boyfriend a cowboy hat. He's been wanting one and found out that there was a sale at a local store. I think he looks pretty sharp. :)
After that we had brunch with his family, then hung out until dinner which was at Elements Steakhouse in the River Spirit Casino. It was really good! I very rarely eat beef for a number of reasons (I don't consider it to be a very healthy meat, and there is so much amazing seafood available in New Orleans that I don't miss it when I am dining out), but I figured that since I was in Oklahoma, I should get the steak. It was medium rare, served with gorgonzola cream sauce, and very tasty. We ended the evening by gambling. I can count on one hand the number of times I've actually gambled,but we all got $15 free dollars to gamble with from the casino (a combination of $5 for signing up for a player's card and $10 certificates given to us by my dear boyfriend's aunt- I'm not sure about the deal behind that) and I ended up spending no money of my own, and winning $4. High Roller! :P
On Sunday we had brunch at the casino, which was also very good. I had chicken fried steak and a roll, both smothered in white gravy; along with some macaroni and baked beans. I also had several chocolaty things for dessert. So yes, I ate enough food to power me for a week over the course of 2 days. Despite this, I later had a bbq pork sandwhich at the Memphis airport during our layover. I am a machine. :P
My dear boyfriend ate his weight in donuts and fried balogna (okay, he only had one piece of balogna, but I'm not kidding about the donuts!) at the buffet and was full until breakfast on Monday.
Speaking of Monday morning, the cat decided that he was too bored for us to hit the snooze button (since we got home around 9:30 on Sunday night and went to bed not much later) and woke me up by biting my hand. He then jumped on my dear boyfriend. He was playing- but being pretty rough. When we shooed him off the bed, he sat down and started howling! Poor kitty was ready for someone to pay attention to him! I spent yesterday referring to him as Cat the Ripper.
As for this week, I am just getting back into the swing of not eating like it's my last meal, getting back in my runs (I didn't manage to work out at all, unsurprisingly), and getting things done at work. I'm hoping I'll have a very low key weekend because the last few weeks have been so busy- it's been a little overwhelming.
Tonight I am driving to pick up my schnauzers! I've missed my little furry boys. :)

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Oklahoma

I love this :)


Fall is in the Air!

Yesterday a cold front passed through New Orleans and it is glorious! I had a wonderful run last night, slept with the windows open, and I didn't get all gross and sweaty walking the dogs this morning. I'm loving the cool weather!
This weekend was a lot of fun. We went to Oktoberfest on Friday night and I feasted on 3 different kinds of cabbage (cabbage rolls, sauerkraut, and purple stewed cabbage- divine!). After Oktoberfest, we went to the Balcony Bar and I also ate part of a fried appetizer with hot wings, fried mozzarella sticks, and jalapeno poppers. So bad, but so so good. :) On Saturday, I was worried about the weather, so I postponed my run and instead tried the Piyo (Pilates + yoga) class at the Reily Center. It was better (i.e. much more challenging) than I expected, but I thought the music was kind of cheesy (it sounded like 80's aerobics music). Saturday night I went to my friend Anne's birthday party. I also bought a sweet pair of dangly silver earrings while I was supposed to be shopping for a gift for Anne. Oops!
On Sunday I finally got around to tackling my 8 mile run around 2 pm. It wasn't very humid, but I guess it was hotter than I thought outside because that run was brutal. I felt really slow and tired the entire time and couldn't snap myself out of my negative thoughts about how lousy the run was. Sometimes my head just isn't in the game. But the important thing is that I pushed through it and ran further than I have ever run before! I ran my usual 4 mile run last night and at first, I felt like I was really slow and I felt the specter of my crappy run just hanging over my head. Fortunately, after a mile or so, I got warmed up and started to just enjoy the run and the weather and ended up with a pretty fast pace overall. I was so happy to have a good run! This week is my "cut back" week and I am supposed to only run 6 miles this weekend. I am not sure that I'll get to run at all this weekend because I upcoming travel (see below) but hopefully I'll at least get in some time on a treadmill.
I am traveling this weekend because I am going to Tulsa to celebrate my dear boyfriend's grandmother's 80th birthday. Of course, I spent Monday night having my semi-annual "I hate my clothes" pity party (which seems to happen every time the seasons change) and decided to go into work early, so I could hit the mall after work and before my run. I speed shopped and picked up 2 dresses (sadly I can only find a link to one of the dresses- the other has a maroon abstract floral print, a deep V in the front and back, and cap sleeves. Super cute!) and a cute purple shirt with ruffles on the front from Macy's, and a pair of light pink chinos from Jcrew (they were on sale for $19!!). I feel better now. :) One of the dresses and the pink pants will definitely be a part of my Tulsa wardrobe this weekend. I'm also really hoping to wear my trench coat because it will actually be cool in Tulsa!!
While I was shopping I also tried on this tunic and thought it was really cute, but I just didn't see myself wearing it that often. I tend to find it difficult to translate "trendy" items into something that looks realistic on me. Maybe if I find it on sale later in the year I'll pick it up but $40 was a little steep for something I'm not sure I'd actually end up wearing.
Other than that, I finished reading The Wide Sargasso Sea (which I loved) and have started reading Anathem, and am really enjoying it so far.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

CCRR Race Results

I just looked up the official results from the Crescent Connection Road Race. I was 35th out of 296 women runners! Go me!!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Bookworm

My bookclub meeting/ Tea party last night was a lot of fun. Everyone liked the food I made, and Sarah had a really good list of discussion questions about the book. Now that it's over and done with, I'm going to go ahead and review the book (before I forget that I meant to).
The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie is a murder mystery that features Flavia, an 11year old girl, as the narrator and main character. Flavia lives in an old English manor house and has to solve the mystery of a stranger she finds dying in her cucumber patch. Armed with her love of Chemistry and her trusty bike, Gladys, she is able to solve the mystery, acquit her father (who was arrested for the murder) and save the day. I really enjoyed this book and found it to be a quick, and generally light-hearted read. Flavia is a very compelling protagonist- the book club decided that she was equal parts Harriet the Spy, Scout from To Kill a Mockingbird, and Angela Lansbury. She is precocious, opinionated, and appealingly bratty. I have to admit that she reminded me a great deal of myself at age 11. This book is written for adults but would also be suitable for older children and teenager. A bonus is that there are supposed to be more Flavia books in the works!
Since I hosted this month's book club meeting, I got to pick the book for next month. I chose Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil because I recently watched the movie and really enjoyed it. We all also thought that the voodoo element to the story would be appropriate for October, especially since our next meeting is going to be close to Halloween. I went on a bit of a shopping spree today and bought not only that book, but also The Wide Sargasso Sea (another one I was considering for next month) and Anathem (which I've been meaning to read but don't know if I would subject my non-sci fi nerd friends to). I love books. :)
Also, I did make it to the black light party this weekend, although I didn't stay very long. Here is a picture of me with my dear boyfriend for your entertainment. We're glowing!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

5770

Sarah's Rosh Hashanah dinner party was so much fun. Sarah and her boyfriend Jon made a wonderful meal for everyone!
We started off with apple slices dipped in honey, for a sweet new year. Then, we had Matzo Ball soup. (I am officially obsessed with Matzo Ball soup now- probably because I have come down with a cold and it was the most delicious comforting chicken soup ever. I want more, but don't have the energy to tackle a new recipe today. But seriously, I can't shut up about soup today.)
Next we tried Gefilte fish. Sarah warned us that it is an acquired taste- but I didn't think it was too bad. It reminded me of eating canned sardines with mayonnaise on saltine crackers which was my grandmother's favorite midnight snack. (But based on that description, I guess you can see why it would be an acquired taste!)
Next we had a yummy salad with greens, olives, cherry tomatoes, and artichoke hearts.
For the main course, we had potatoes in an apricot glaze (that tasted kind of like bbq sauce, actually, but I think it was apricot preserves and soy sauce for the most part), along with brisket and chicken in the same glaze. Everything was delicious!
I made Smitten Kitchen's honey cake to bring to the party, and it was served for dessert. The caked turned out great! The recipe has a pretty long list of ingredients (upon seeing me buying orange juice and whiskey for the cake when we went to the store last weekend, my dear boyfriend was like "What kind of cake is this again?") and a long baking time, but it was really easy to make. It turned out to be a really moist spice cake. It reminded everyone of carrot cake without the carrots (and we actually smeared cream cheese onto slices of it today for breakfast). I would totally recommend making this cake because it was really easy and the flavor profile is perfect for fall and winter.
It was a great dinner and I'm looking forward to celebrating with Sarah and Jon again next year. :)
Today my dear boyfriend helped my friend Steph move a TV she's giving to Goodwill and then we went to Mcalister's for lunch. Other than that I've been resting because I have a lousy cold. Hopefully I'll feel well enough to make a cameo at the black light party tonight because I have a great costume!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

LPO

Holy Cow, it's Thursday again! When did that happen?
I had an unintentionally busy weekend last weekend- when I all I wanted to do was stay in and hide from the world. Work was crazy last week (and has been pretty busy this week as well, hence the lack of blogging) and I just wanted to chill. However, it was my dear boyfriend's golden weekend (a weekend that is guaranteed to be free of work during his rotation schedule) and so we ended up going out on Friday and Saturday. All was not lost though, I did manage to eat takeout pizza from Slice (goat cheese, spinach, roasted garlic, and basil- so good!), run 7 miles (the furthest I've ever run!) and watch both Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil and Swingers.
On Tuesday, I joined the Tulane gym. I have a family membership with the dear boyfriend now which lasts a semester and costs what a month at the JCC costs. I don't love the Tulane gym (because I feel weird around all the college students), but I can afford to join both a gym and a yoga studio this way. Next week I plan to start shopping around for a yoga studio, which should be lots of fun!
Tonight I'm going to see the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra. Their Season Opener tonight is Romeo Meets Rachmaninoff. It should be lovely.
This weekend is also going to be very busy. Friday night my friend Sarah is having a Rosh Hashanah party. I am attempting to make a honey cake. I found the recipe on Smitten Kitchen. If you haven't checked out her blog, do so- the recipes are great! I made her roasted tomatoes and cipollini on Sunday night (using some of the divine garlic bread from Whole Foods that I am currently obsessed with) and it was amazingly good.
Saturday my friend Graham is having a black light themed birthday party. My costume for the party is a white t-shirt worn over a hot pink bikini top from American Apparel, black leggings, neon green leg warmers, and a white pair of those really obnoxious Kanye glasses. It should be hillarious! I also plan to run 8 miles on Saturday morning- wish me luck!!
Sunday I plan to run 2 miles in City Park with Steph. Other than that I plan to spend the rest of the day getting ready for Monday because I am hosting the first meeting of our new book club. We read The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie and I am serving a high tea because the book is set in England. I really enjoyed reading this book and I can't wait to talk about it. (After the meeting I'll post a book review.) I also get to pick the next book we read, so I have to brainstorm for that as well.

My menu for Monday is as follows:

Tomato Basil Soup
Cucumber, Ham, and Chicken Salad Sandwhiches

Scones
Raspberry Chocolate Tart


A Selection of Decaffinated Teas
Punch (Sprite + White Grape Peach Juice=my favorite!)

I'm very excited for all this baking! I actually went out and bought a tart pan and a springform cake pan on Friday.
Okay, now that I'm all caught up, I'll wrap this up with a promise to post more frequently. Hopefully I'll have a goofy picture or two from this weekend's black light party for the entertainment of my dear readers.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Banana-Fana

Last night, I finally got around to trying the Banana Soft Serve recipe I've seen making it's way around the net. It's ridiculously simple- you put 2 frozen bananas in a food processor and blend for about 5 minutes, scraping down the sides frequently, until it's the texture of soft serve ice cream. I wanted to add some vanilla to mine but I am out of vanilla, so I added a little cinnamon instead. It was really good! My dear boyfriend thought that it tasted like frozen bananas, but I thought it tasted like banana flavored frozen yogurt. The one thing I didn't like was that you need to use two bananas (I think this is so the food processor will have enough to work with), which is more than I wanted to eat. I froze half of mine. The best part was the texture- it was incredibly smooth and creamy, especially when it got a little melty. (I guess if I don't like the texture of the half I froze, I can always throw it into a smoothie or try putting it back into the food processor.) All in all, if you have a food processor, you should definitely give this a try!
Three cheers for a 100% healthy dessert!!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Pumpkin Muffins

My friend Heather just reminded me of a recipe I used to make all the time that is delicious and fairly healthy. It's also as simple as can be!

Pumpkin Muffins:

1 can 100% pure
pumpkin (not the pie filling)
1 box duncan heinz spice cake mix
1/2 cup of water

Mix together, which may take a while b/c of the thickness of the pumpkin
. Bake for 22-25 minutes at 350 F.

Thursday Already?


Wow. It seems like time has just flown by since Sunday!
I had a fun day off on Monday that started off with me eating delicious steak and salad for lunch, then taking down two cookie-bars and a small serving of blueberry cobbler with ice cream at lunch. Somehow that degenerated into me having a daiquiri, beer, and potato chips for dinner. Zapp's Tobasco flavored chips will be the end of me. :)
Tuesday was notable because I went to Phiddippides during my lunch break and got new shoes, body glide, and some goo. Three cheers for new running accessories! I was, in all honesty, still sore as heck from the race on Sunday (I was actually still sore yesterday too, but I'm fine today!), but I couldn't resist going for a run to try my new shoes out. I'm not going to lie, it was pretty brutal because I'd had a long day at work (work has been insane this week for various reason- not bad, but busy busy) and in addition to my soreness, I had very little energy. Nonetheless, I'm happy that I went because it kept me on schedule and helped me maintain my good running habit.
I got two different brands of goo at the running store: Power Bar Gel (Rasberry and Apple flavors) and Gu (Margee gave me an espresso gu for my birthday, and I also picked up strawberry bananna, berry, and chocolate flavors). I look forward to comparing the brands and flavors to see which tastes the best and to see how they affect my energy levels during my long (over 6 miles) runs.
A really funny thing happened after I went to bed on Tues. My dear boyfriend woke me up around 4am saying "I think the dog is under the bed." When I asked, still mostly asleep, why he thought that, he replied "Because I hear scratching and whining." I got down on the floor to look under our very low platform bed. Sure enough, Bernie, the larger of my two miniature shcnauzers (who technically needs to lose weight b/c he gained a pound this past year) had somehow gotten under the bed and was too big to get out! I kind of suspect that Hereaux had a hand in putting him under there because when we went to bed, Bernie was in his spot on a blanket on the floor next to my side of the bed. When I looked under the bed, Bernie was basically scooted over about a foot from where he was before, and Hereaux was in his rightful spot, trying to look innocent. I had to tug Bernie out from under there! Fortunately, my tubby little pup was just fine and hopefully he won't go under the bed again.
I've eaten a lot of delicious food that is considerably healthier than my Monday night dinner this week. Highlights include Cornish game hens stuffed with dried figs, onion, and garlic and baked in a cast iron dutch oven with dried rosemary, red wine, worchestershire sauce and a tiny bit of balsamic vinegar for 40 minutes at 425 F (so easy!) for dinner (along with mashed sweet potatoes and brussel sprouts); my attempt at this pasta dish from the blog TravelEatLove (I used feta instead of mozarella- also so easy!) for lunch; and a really yummy snack bar called Bumble Bar. I've had the chai and chocolate flavors and both are super tasty. I like them b/c they have rice crisps and lots of sesame seeds so the texture is really crunchy and satisfying- sort of like a really dense rice crispy treat. (The packaging is really cute too!)
So that's how my week's been going!
Also, congratulations are in order to my friend Amanda, who gave birth to baby Liam on Sept.1 (I'm so negligent for not posting this sooner- please forgive me!) and Amy, who gave birth to baby Josiah this morning! I also just found out that my friend Janette is expecting baby #2! Congratulations, girls!