The Traveling Blogger

Hi Everyone!

Hope you enjoyed my Veterans Day post from earlier today. Although today was my day off from running, I was up and at ’em around 6 AM. I even arrived at work at 8:30 AM because traffic was SO much lighter, no doubt due to the holiday. Which brings me to the question of the day – Did you have Veterans Day off from work or school? If so, how did you spend your day off?

Before work, I made myself a big cereal mix of Honeynut Cheerios and Kashi Go Lean Crunch…

11.11 breakfast

I know, surprise, surprise. Work was a little busier today because my boss was actually back in the office, which translates into more meetings. Although, he is leaving for the next two weeks, going partly to Korea for a meeting and then taking a vacation. I don’t think I’ve ever been away from my job for more than two weeks – at least not anytime recently. 

For lunch, I drove about 30 minutes from the office to attend a very cool luncheon/meeting. At the luncheon, I listened to a presentation by two former top broadcast news journalists and than chatted/networked with a bunch of older ladies. I would love to show you pictures from the luncheon, but I really couldn’t find a good, inconspicuous time to take photos of the food! I did end up having a really yummy turkey sandwich with brie and tomatoes, plus a little fruit salad, and a chocolate chip cookie.

On my way back to the office, I got a little turned around and actually went out of my way about 10 minutes. But, thank goodness for the navigation system!

Dinner was homemade turkey chili courtesy of Scott.

11.11 dinner

Because I’m trying to add more veggies into my diet, I added about 2 cups of spinach to my chili bowl. I honestly couldn’t taste the spinach that much, but it’s great to know that I got all of the vitamins with it.

I booked another business trip yesterday, this time to Phoenix/Scottsdale. If anyone has recommendations for restaurants for that area, please let me know. It looks like I’m going to be traveling quite a bit in the first half of of 2010. Right now, I have at least one trip planned for each month – yikes! Here’s the line up thus far…

  • January – Phoenix/Scottsdale
  • February – Orlando
  • March – Baltimore (Yeah – Fit Bloggin!!)
  • April – Miami and Key Largo
  • May – New Orleans or Washington, DC

There may also be a last-minute trip to DC in there somewhere as well. I’m pretty certain I’m going to be sick of traveling (or at least airports) by June! However, I’m hoping to indulge in some seriously cool restaurants in each of these cities (great blog fodder) and do a LOT of running.

If there are any bloggers in Miami (or Southern FL) or Baltimore who’d like to meet up, let me know!

Have a wonderful night!

A Veterans Day Tribute: Helene's Story

Today is Veteran’s Day in the US. Each year around this time and around other patriotic holidays I think of the following story about a man’s determination to serve his country and a woman’s determination to keep her husband and family together. I hope you enjoy…

11.11 flag

A Veterans Day Tribute: Helene’s Story

Helene was a young wife and mother living in the Pennsylvania army barracks with her husband Worthy and their daughter and son, both under the age of 5. It was the early 1940s and the US had just been thrown into WWII. Helene was familiar with the sad but dutiful routine of comforting other young wives and mothers who had soldiers heading off to war, or worse, those who had soldier husbands who had died in the war. She prayed constantly that Worthy would not have to join them. 

Yet, that fateful day came. Worthy announced to Helene that it was his duty to serve his country overseas and promptly filled out the paperwork to do so. Knowing that his eyesight was extremely poor -he was legally blind in one eye – he had to figure out a way to pass the mandatory eye examination. He memorized the eye chart which helped him pass this final test with flying colors. Worthy was given his assignment and he was to leave in just a few short weeks with rest of the boys to go “over there”.

Helene cried for hours, maybe days.  She was also hurt and confused. How could he have passed the test when he was legally blind in one eye? She knew that Worthy could never pass the eye exam for overseas combat so how could he survive “over there”? She didn’t want to be one of those young wives comforted for the loss of her soldier husband. She didn’t want to be left alone with her two children. She had to do something.

And that she did. Helene wrote a letter to the army officials on base explaining of her husband’s condition. She even produced doctors’ notes and medical files that said her husband was not fit for combat due to his blindness. A few days later, Worthy was called in to see his commanding officer. He explained to Worthy that he would not be joining his group overseas because he had neglected to report his medical condition. They would eventually find out that, of all of the soldiers in Worthy’s would-be platoon, only a handful survived the war. 

Worthy never found out that Helene had written the letter. Helene and Worthy went on to have two more daughters and, eventually, 13 grandchildren.

I am one of those grandchildren.

To all those active and inactive in the armed services, thank you for keeping our country, and my family, safe.

Peace to all – 

Jennifer

Another Reason to Eat Chocolate?

Despite getting up at 5:40 AM, somehow I managed to not get to work until 9 AM. I am really despising traffic these days. I need to invest in some books on tape. Too bad Jenna’s book isn’t ready yet 😉

Because I was up so early, it was still dark out and I had to wait for about 30 minutes before heading out to run. I did my typical 4-miler, although it was pretty fast. I am actually sore right now, but I’m not sure if that is from the run or from sitting in 2 hours of traffic!

Being that it was so late, I ate a B-nana in the car…

 

11.10 breakfast

I really should NOT be taking photos (or eating for that matter) when I’m driving. My blogger alter ego is such a bad influence on the regular me.

Work was another totally laid back day – sweet! I could really handle this lifestyle for the next month or so – just get me to Christmas baby! Lunch ended up being Rachel Ray leftovers…

11.10 lunch1

Just look at those little dumpling’s, aka gnocchi, they’re showing off for my new camera…

11.10 lunch2

Later in the PM I had a snack attack and noticed some freebie granola bars in the staff lounge – bonus! Nothing like a healthy and free snack…

11.10 snack

Surprisingly, we have not had our usual obscene amount of food yesterday and today. Ahh, it’s the calm before the holiday food storm.

Scott’s teaching tonight so I had to fend for myself. Why is it that when I have to cook for myself, I end up eating leftovers or a sandwich?

11.10 dinner1

But one thing is for sure, I do eat less when he’s not around. Boys are bad influences on girls in the eating department – for the most part anyway. I wish I could do the reverse and inspire him to eat healthier – or at least smaller portions. I’m just saying it like it is.

11.10 dinner2

News of the Day…

This just in – a new study from Spain reports that chocolate can help prevent hardening of the arteries (arteriosclerosis) which is a precursor to heart disease. Not that I actually need another reason to eat chocolate, but I’m happy to hear that it does the body good! Now, if they could just find that chocolate helps you make more money and get a better night’s sleep, then I’d be all set!

I celebrated this new-found chocolate wisdom with, what else?

11.10 cookie

A few more of my oatmeal chocolate chip cookies that I made last night.

I need to get some sleep tonight, so here’s to a wonderful and restful night to all of you!

My New S90 Camera: A Great Substitute for the DSLR

I love that it is now getting light earlier! I don’t know how long it will last, but I’ll take it for now. I was able to be out the door running at 6:15 AM. Before the time change, I wasn’t heading out until at least 6:45 – what a difference, especially during the work week.

After my run, I did a few stretches and a 15-minute ab workout – which I normally do but just never write about. Then, it was time for a big cereal mix for breakfast…

11.9 breakfast

It was a mix of Honeynut Cheerios and Kashi Go Lean Crunch – perfect post-run breakfast!

Due to construction literally everywhere I turned, it took me over an hour to get to work today so I didn’t get there until 9:30 PM – yikes! Thank goodness it was a slow morning and a slow day. That usually happens the few weeks after our big meeting. People need a few weeks to unwind and regroup on projects.

Because it was slow, I was able to meet Scott for lunch at a local Corner Bakery…

11.9 lunch

I had the Greek salad once again, but it wasn’t as good the second time as it was the first. I think it was that it had way too much dressing on it.

After a very slow afternoon, I decided to leave work a little early at 4:30 PM. Little did I know I would spend over an hour trying to get home. Ugh – I so do NOT like construction – and particularly at night.

When I arrived home, I was so excited to see dinner was almost ready, but even more excited to find out that Scott bought another camera!! I guess one just isn’t enough for two bloggers.

11.9 camera

So this is the newest edition to our blogging family – the Canon PowerShot S90IS. This is a point and shoot digital camera and takes high quality photos – especially close-ups. I’ve only played with the camera for a few hours but can already tell you that I like it better than the Canon PowerShot SD980IS digital elph. I’ve had the elph since early October and, although I haven’t had serious issues with it, it doesn’t take the greatest close-up shots of food. Believe me, I’ve tried!

We are not convinced on keeping both cameras, but we will very likely keep the latest one. The way Scott explained it was that the Canon S90 takes quality photos, like the SLR (although obviously not as good) but without all of the bulk. So, the rest of the photos that you will see tonight will be taken with the new Canon S90.

So now, back to dinner. Scott made one of his favorite dishes – Basil Chicken Stir-fry from the William’s Sonoma Chicken Cookbook…

11.9 dinner1

Yes, the stir-fry tasted as good as it looks! Notice the difference in cameras?

11.9 dinner2

I swear this is not me trying extra hard to make this camera look good. From what I can tell in 3 hours, this camera is awesome! I told Scott he could have the other one and I would keep the S90 he he!

After dinner, I made some homemade chocolate chip cookies – the famous Nieman Marcus recipe…11.9 dessert2

Fake Nieman Marcus Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp. soda
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups blended oatmeal **
  • 6 oz. chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 oz. Chocolate Bar (grated) milk, semi-sweet, or dark
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 3 cups chopped nuts (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla

 Blend oatmeal to a fine powder and combine with flour, powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. Using a high powered mixer, cream the butter and both sugars, then blend in egg and vanilla. Add the dry flour/oatmeal mix to the wet ingredients and blend well. Blend in the grated chocolate followed by the chocolate chips, and then the nuts if you are using them. 

Roll into balls and place two inches apart on a cookie sheet. You can also free the dough balls and bake them frozen as instructed below.

Bake for 9 minutes at 375 degrees or until the cookies are slightly golden. Immediately remove them from the baking tray and place on a plate or counter covered with wax paper. Makes about 44 small cookies.

I don’t feel bad giving away this recipe because it’s ALL OVER the Internet and has been circulating for years.

11.9 dessert1

These cookies are so easy to make and taste awesome! When you make them without nuts and make the cookies on the small side, they come out to be about 75-80 calories per cookie. I’ve experimented by adding more chips and/or more chocolate and different types of chocolate. I’ve used ALL dark chocolate before and they were fabulous!

OK, nuff said for tonight. See you all on the flipside!

Could I actually like a Miley Cyrus Song?

Hi All!

It was another glorious day in Chicagoland, which means another awesome run! I ran a very fast 5 miler but felt like I could have run 6 or 7. I am attributing my energy to not only the weather, but also the LUNA bar I had about an hour before I ran…

11.8 prerun

I received a coupon via email from LUNA saying that I could buy two bars and get one free, but I had to download the “coupon printer”. It says it’s “safe” to download this software, but I’m always hesitant to download things on my work laptop for fear of it crashing. Has anyone downloaded the coupon printer before? What was your experience?

While I was running I heard this great song that actually made me want to sing along with it. I had heard the song before but had no idea who sang it. Come to find out – it’s MILEY CYRUS!! OMG, I can’t believe I actually like a Miley  Cyrus song, but her “Party in the USA” song is so fun. I don’t plan on turning into a Hannah Montana fan anytime soon, but I will definitely not turn this song off when it comes on the radio.

After my run, I enjoyed a quick yogurt bowl while getting ready for the day…

11.8 breakfast

I had Chobani’s vanilla Greek yogurt with a handful of walnuts for added MUFA and crunch – super filling and so YUM!

After breakfast, we spontaneously decided to head out to the zoo for the day. Although it was spontaneous, it seemed to take us forever to get out the door. We didn’t actually arrive at the zoo until noon! Of course on the way, we made a couple stops, including Barnes and Noble for my sweet indulgence on this “last day of summer”…

11.8 starbucks

Because we arrived at the zoo right at lunch, we plopped down at a picnic table and enjoyed some homemade salami/ham and cheese sandwiches…

11.8 lunch

Although we’ve been to this zoo many times, today was the first day I had ever seen the bats. Creepy but kind of cool. The giraffes and Meerkats are more my style.

Dinner was another Every Day With Rachel Ray recipe from this month’s issue. Tonight it was the BLT Creamy Mac & Cheese

11.8 dinner mag photo

The above picture is actually a photo I took right from the magazine, but check out how closely my creation resembles the real one…

11.8 dinner2

Woo Hoo – another recipe winner! This recipe was fantastic, although I’m guessing pretty high in calorie due to the cream cheese and bacon. Ok, did I mention that I like bacon? I was never really a fan of bacon until I was an adult and learned to make bacon the exact way I like it – crunchy! I try not to eat too much bacon, but when I do I buy/eat the uncured/all-natural kind. Bacon really kicked this dish up to a whole new level and the added spinach (substituted for arugula) gave the dish some much needed veggies. This dish is definitely going into my recipe book, not only for the flavor but also because it only took about 30 minutes to cook!

After dinner, we decided to celebrate my last evening before going back to work by heading to the ice cream shop – Maggie Moo’s, which is similar to Cold Stone, although I think they have better-tasting ice cream than Cold Stone. I was so torn between Red Velvet ice cream – because you all know I’ve been on this Red Velvet kick – but decided to go with the…

11.8 dessert

Blueberry Muffin ice cream! I just adore this specialty flavor – although it’s very rich so I don’t suggest making it a habit. I had mine with walnuts – I needed to make it healthy somehow! Sorry about the odd looking photo. I forgot the camera so I had to rely on Scott’s iphone.

Gotta head to bed. I want to make sure I’m fresh and ready to go for work tomorrow. Have a great night!

Outdoor Grilling in November – In Chicago!!

Hi All!

It felt awesome sleeping in this morning! I didn’t get up until 7 AM. I’m sure I’ll get a reality check on Monday when I go back to work.

Today started with a big bowl of Kashi Go Lean Crunch – I’m making up for lost Kashi from last week – he he!

11.7 breakfast

After a morning of more cleaning and shopping in 70 degree weather, Scott cooked up some burgers on the grill for us…

11.7 lunch

I can’t believe that it was 70 degrees out day!!! It’s like I never left San Diego!

In addition to the burger, I also made myself a small spinach salad with…

  • 2 cups of baby spinach
  • 1 chopped carrot
  • 1 tbs Mezzetta jarred red peppers
  • 10 grape tomatoes
  • white cheddar cheese

And I topped it all with a little EVOO and balsamic vinegar.

Later in the day I ran to Trader Joe’s to pick up a few things for dinner tonight. While in San Diego, I picked up the latest issue of Every Day With Ray. It has so many fabulous recipes, including the one I tried tonight…

11.7 dinner recipe

Sorry about the fuzzy photo. Scott thought it would be a good idea to at least show you what the recipe looked like but you can actually get the full recipe on Rachel Ray’s site.

The main ingredients of the recipe are chicken and store-bought gnocchi which I so conveniently purchased at TJ’s. Surprisingly, Trader Joe’s only had one type of gnocchi and it wasn’t even whole wheat. The actual recipe was super easy, although be very careful when simmering the sauce, my first attempt boiled over!

11.7 dinner2

My second try went much better, especially because I watched it much more closely. And now, the final product…

11.7 dinner4

This seriously looks just like the photo – which means I done good! And, not only did the photo turn out well, but the dish tasted awesome! However, I would NOT eat this dish on a regular basis. Between the gnocchi and the cream sauce, this dish was very heavy and I’m sure not very low in calories either!

11.7 dinner5

I just finished watching (or glancing at) the Fantastic Four on FX. This is the first time I’ve really seen Jessica Alba act. I’ve heard so many good things about her so was surprised that her acting skills in this movie were less than great.

We are in for another 70 degree day in Chicago tomorrow – can’t wait! We’re still debating on what we’ll do to enjoy the weather, but I guess you’ll all find out tomorrow!

Have a great night!

Still Adjusting To The Time Change

Hello Everyone!

I don’t know about you but I felt like I could have slept all day today. Between the time zone change- going from Pacific to Central – and Daylight Savings time ending, my sleep schedule is all out of whack. I’m hoping I’m back to normal on Monday – my first day back in the office in about a week and a half.

Despite being super tired, I headed outside in the brisk air to run my Friday 4-miler. Although it was nearly 50 degrees, it felt much colder with the wind and the fact that I had just been running in 60 degree weather for an entire week.

Breakfast was a bowl of Kashi Go Lean, which I haven’t had at all in over a week. The closest thing I could get to Kashi out in San Diego (at the hotel anyway) was Raisin Bran, which was not great, but adequate.

11.6 breakfast

With the time change and just being plain tired from working 70 hours this week, I was moving in slow motion all day. Browsing through Target seemed like it took forever. I didn’t even want to attempt to go to the grocery store.

Lunch happened to be leftover chicken soup that Scott made a few days ago…

11.6 lunch

I guess you could say this was my first home-cooked meal in over a week. Ahh, chicken soup really does soothe the body and soul. 

I spent the afternoon cleaning and then rewarded myself with an hour’s worth of reading a bunch of new magazines that were delivered right after I left for San Diego. Woo-hoo! I love holiday issues of magazines. They are always so thick – granted a lot of those pages are ads – and they have such colorful, creative, and festive photos.

Tonight, Scott and I went up to our local outdoor mall to see holiday fireworks. I know what you’re thinking – holiday fireworks? It’s only the week after Halloween! Well, I didn’t make this year’s fireworks schedule, but every year the mall welcomes the holiday season with a visit from Santa followed by fireworks. It seems that this day gets earlier and earlier every year.

Prior to the fireworks, we headed to Go Roma for dinner. I was really NOT in the mood to go to yet another restaurant. However, on the night of the fireworks, if you don’t get there by 5 PM – dinnertime – you may not get a parking spot.

For dinner, we started with a little toasted ravioli…

11.6 dinner1

I seriously eat toasted ravioli probably every two years. It’s not that I don’t like it but, in most cases, it just does nothing for me. However, I had the toasted ravioli once or twice in San Diego and it was really good. So when I saw it on the menu tonight, I thought, why not?

We then split a full plank of pizza – 1/2 cheese and 1/2 pepperoni/veggies.

11.6 dinner2

I am really surprised I didn’t have pizza at all in San Diego, with how many times I went out to eat. 

After the fireworks, which were rather short this year due to the strong winds, we headed to Barnes and Noble for a little book browsing. I also topped off the night with – guess what? Another cupcake!!!

11.6 dessert

I really have to stop this cupcake obsession! But I just can’t get past the cream cheese frosting – soo goood!!

Ok all, I need to get some sleep. Stay tuned for a some exciting things in the next week or so!

Home Sweet Home Chicago

Wow – it’s GREAT to be home in sunny Chicago! Sorry my posts have been so short and sparse. However, now that my big meeting is over, I’m hoping to go back to my regular twice daily postings.

Well, after being away from home for a full week, I’ve come home to a fully-cleaned house, lots of paperwork, and leftover Halloween candy. After walking in the door and unwinding for an hour or so, I realize that there several things that I’m going to miss about being away on business.

10.30 lunch-Seaport

Things I love about Business Travel:

  1. Running in new places – Exploring news cities on my daily runs is probably one of the very best things about business travel – at least for me. Can’t wait for Vancouver next year!
  2. Not having to clean up after myself – I am by no means a slob, but it’s definitely nice to not have to worry about making the bed or cleaning the bathroom.
  3. Not having to deal with the mail and other paperwork – I dread sorting and filing paperwork at home. So, if nothing else, business travel is a vacation from the giant paper mound at my house.
  4. Spending other people’s money – Want a magazine? No problem? Need a Starbucks? Go for it. As long as it’s not my money, I don’t think twice about these little luxuries – although I don’t take advantage of it either.
  5. Having “people” – Aside from the great hotel staff who are always willing to help with a reservation, etc., we regularly hire vendors to help us with our meetings. This allows us to spread the craziness across many more people and take some of the pressure off of us.
  6. Taking the elevator downstairs to work – With a 45-minute commute, each way, from my regular office, going 8 floors down to work is a bonus I will greatly miss!

On the other hand, there also many things I miss about home when I’m away on business:

Things I love about coming home after Business Travel:

  • Eating home-cooked meals – I love going out to eat but eating at restaurants twice daily for a straight week is a bit overkill. I’m really looking forward to some of Scott’s great cooking!
  • Having a normal sleeping schedule – Ok, I admit it, I just can’t hang with the college crowd anymore. Getting up at 5 AM and not getting to sleep until 11 PM or later is tough, especially when you do it for 7 days in a row. I’m sure I have a bunch of new wrinkles to show for this crazy sleeping schedule.
  • Not having junk food around every corner – As I have explained in the past, my organization never does anything small, especially when it comes to food. This year at our meeting the food was fairly good, and somewhat healthy, although there were still plenty of unhealthy items to balance it out!
  • Sleeping in my own bed – We generally stay in very nice hotels with equally nice beds, but no matter how nice the hotel bed is, I never sleep as well in a hotel bed than I do my own.
  • Seeing my husband – Although we talk on the phone and video chat, I’d much rather prefer relaxing on the couch, chit-chatting with Scott after a long day.
  • Now I am back to reality and looking forward to a clear sense of normalcy – for my life at home, work, and as a blogger. 

    Thanks for hanging with me this past week, I hope to catch up with you all soon!

    San Diego Recap

    Woo Hoo! I am finally done with our big meeting and it went fantastic! For 4-6 months, the meeting pretty much consumes my life and the lives of everyone in my office. Now, after 7 days, it is finally finished. There is definitely a huge sense of accomplishment seeing the whole meeting come together. 

    On that note, let me give you a recap of my week…

    • 4 days of running (about 15 miles)
    • 7 days of walking about 2 miles a day
    • 1 1/2 Starbucks consumed
    • 10 minutes of television watched
    • 4 glasses of sangria drunk
    • 3 visits with my brother
    • 3 Gourmet cupcakes eaten
    • 6 receptions attended

    When I look at this list, I realize that …I’ve had one hectic and exciting week. And, to top things off in true RWC style, I grabbed a night cap with my brother and a little dessert…

    11.4 dessert

    This is a pomegranate mousse layer with chocolate crunch cake. This dessert looked mighty fancy, but quite honestly, it was just ok.

    But now, onto bigger and better things, such as trying to remember how I got all of my clothes to fit into one suitcase!!

    I’m outta here for the night. See you tomorrow evening!

    San Diego: One Cupcake At A Time

    Hey All! I’m going to make this short and sweet (how appropriate for my post below), so on your mark, get set, GO!

    I think I am slowly eating my way through every flavor of cupcake in San Diego. Well, it’s really not that bad, but I have officially caught the bug – not H1N1 or avian flu, but the cupcake bug. Today will mark my 3rd cupcake in 4 days from ….

    11.3 cupcake sign

    Heavenly Cupcake in San Diego. What started out as a novelty has become a challenge – a challenge to try all of my favorite flavors before I leave on Thursday morning. I guess you could say I’m making my way through San Diego, one cupcake at a time! So far, I’ve tried the red velvet, the chocolate peanut butter, vanilla (a taste), pumpkin (a taste), and now today…

    11.3 cupcake

    Tonight I had a strawberry cupcake with strawberry frosting. And on the cupcake menu for tomorrow is Lemon! They only offer lemon cupcakes on Wednesday, so I hope I get there in time to try one.

    OK, that’s short and sweet enough – even for cupcakes! I have an early morning run planned along the bay then it’s back to work for me. Tomorrow is my last day here – woo hoo! But, I will miss the absolutely gorgeous weather we’ve been having here – boo hoo!