Friday, October 30, 2009


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

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. :)