Gerber Daisies Make Me Smile

Happy  Valentine’s Day! Hope you all have someone special to share the day with.

I received a lovely bouquet of bright pink Gerber Daisies for Valentine’s Day. Gerber Daisies have been my favorite flower for years – they are such a happy flower and always make me smile!

The rest of the day was not so exciting. Scott and I worked most of the day. He worked on a big project for a client and I studied for my CPT exam. I can’t believe I’m taking the test this Tuesday! Happy Mardi Gras to me 🙂 I am so glad that I am off of work tomorrow so that I can study.

Alright, it’s back to the books for me. Have a great night!

One-of-A-Kind

Hey All!

I had such an awesome day downtown with Anne! We met about 9:45 AM at the train station downtown and cabbed it to 1154 Lill in Lincoln Park. If you’re not familiar with 1154 Lill, it is a boutique store where you can design your own purse, handbag, or a bunch of other accessories.

As you can see from the wall of purses, they have ready-made bags to buy on the spot, but you can also design your own – which I think is so much more fun. Anne and I arrived at the store just a few minutes after it opened (how’s that for being punctual!) and then we were heads down for the next hour designing our purses. I originally went into the store wanting to design a laptop bag, but I had a difficult time figuring out what bag would actually fit my laptop. I decided on a bag called ERIKA…

1154 Lill Custom Handbags - The ERIKA Bag


I am still not quite sure that this will fit my 15″ laptop, but it was my favorite out of the choices. Now that I knew the bag I wanted, it was time to start designing! This meant throwing ourselves into the large and very colorful selection of fabrics on hand…

For the ERIKA bag, you have five areas on the bag to choose fabric – the main bag, the horizontal stripe, the straps, the inside bag, and the inside pocket. Oh, decisions, decisions! Because I want this bag to be a more professional work bag, I decided against doing pink or anything too frilly for the main fabric. I also wanted a darker color because I’d be using it quite a bit for travel.

I decided on a deep shiraz color for the base. Now, it was time to decide on the horizontal stripe. This I had a little more trouble with. I am very much going through a leopard print phase right now, but was not sure if I wanted to show it on the outside of the bag. I opted for a velvet/satin blend of pink, tan, and brown Queen Anne’s Lace fabric. The straps and inside pocket were easy – I knew I wanted a dark color to hide the wear, so I went with a dark brown. And finally, I went with the leopard print for the inside of the purse. This is really going to be a one-of-a-kind bag! Who knew that picking out a purse could be so fun and so overwhelming all at the same time!

After making my laptop bag, I was extremely tempted to make another purse. But then frugality got the better of me – I was not so sure spending another $150 was wise right before vacation. So, only one bag for me today.

After our purse-making adventure, Anne and I walked about 15 minutes to her favorite little crepe place – Icosium Kafe in Lincoln Park. The cafe specializes in Algerian-style crepes, so there were a ton of influences from Greece, Moracco, Turkey, and Africa. It’s amazing what you can put in a crepe these days!

I had the Carthage crepe that was filled with mixed greens, peppers, mushrooms, walnuts, and feta cheese – soo good! I am a little embarrassed to say that I ate almost ALL of this huge crepe – but I justified it because I had a very light breakfast 🙂

After lunch, it was back on the train for both of us. But, we are already talking about heading back to 1154 Lill in the spring or summer to make another purse! By the way, if you’re wondering what my final laptop bag looks like, check back after March 6 to find out! 

Now it’s time to study – have a great night!

Crash and Burn

Happy Friday Everyone!

Trader Joe’s Recall

For all of you who have not heard, Trader Joe’s is recalling its chocolate chip chewy coated granola bars due to potential contamination that may cause a food-borne illness.  There have been no reported illnesses as of yet, but they are taking precautions, which I think is very admirable. Way to go TJ’s for being on top of things.

Crash and Burn

This morning, I had a little accident just before getting on the treadmill. A couple years ago, Scott made a rolling cart/wrack to hold a flatscreen monitor. The television can play through the monitor so it is a great way to watch shows or the news while you’re on the eliptical or treadmill. Well this morning, when I was rolling the cart over to the treadmill, it hit a bump and the monitor fell on my HEAD! My head and shoulders literally stopped the monitor from crashing to the ground. You might not think that a flatscreen monitor weighs a lot, and for the most part, the screen doesn’t. But the base weighs anywhere from 8-10 pounds. As it came crashing down on my head, the sharp corner of the monitor scraped my head and left a very nice gash above my eyebrow…

It’s kind of ironic that so many injuries happen on the treadmill each year and my injury happened off the treadmill. I didn’t realize how bad the cut was at first. I was dizzy for a few minutes but then was able to regroup and get on the treadmill. It wasn’t until I reached up to feel my head that I realized I was bleeding – yuck! Head wounds are not so fun. After cleaning it off, the only bandaids that I could find were either Hello Kitty or Batman. I went with Batman – somehow it made me feel tougher. I have since been to the store to get “adult” bandaids.

I’m hoping tomorrow is going to be a better day. I’m meeting Anne in downtown Chicago to make a purse at 1154 Lill. I am so excited! Scott bought me a gift card there for our anniversary in September and I’ve been dying to use it. The last time I made a purse there – 4 years ago – it took me about 2 hours to pick out all of the materials and extras. They have so many great fabrics and patterns, it’s hard to choose! I plan to take lots of pictures of my purse-making outing so stay tuned.

See you all tomorrow.

Weather Obsession

You all would have been so proud of me today! While driving into work, I was really craving a Starbucks mocha frap. I somehow managed to justify stopping just one more time this week, but at the very last second, I said “no”, and went straight to the office! Plus, after dinner tonight, Scott and I played the who wants to go out to get a treat game. I offered to go at first, but then decided we didn’t need to consume the calories or spend the money. Again, so proud!

OK, can I be more obsessed with the weather these days. And it’s not because of Chicago’s recent snowapalooza or the fact that it is bitter cold. I have been obsessed about the weather for my vacation to Florida. I feel like I’m going onto The Weather Channel site every hour, just to see if Orlando’s forecast has magically change. Will it rain or snow? Will it be sunny or cloudy? Will it be warm enough to swim or wear shorts? Only time will tell. And, as soon as it does change, I am going to be the first one to know because I’ve got the Weather Channel booked marked. Strangely enough, I feel like one of those retirees who can only talk about the weather or sales at the grocery store. I’m not alone though. I’m going to guess the folks in the mid-Atlantic states are pretty obsessed with their weather right now too.

Enough of the randomness. I’m off to bed. I have a big day of running, shopping, and studying on tap for tomorrow. Then Saturday, it’s a surprise activity that’s just for all the single ladies – hint, it involves purses!

Have a great night everyone.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

The Good…

I just finished my dessert for the evening – a kid’s size chocolate ice cream with Heath bar from Cold Stone Cremery…

It was VERY small, we’re talking a 1/2 cup at the most. But it was sooo good! Just enough to keep me satisfied. 

The Bad…Chicago’s Earthquake

So, about 4 AM Central this morning, an earthquake rocked Chicagoland. It was a small earthquake – only 3.8 on the scale. To my knowledge it didn’t cause any damage or panic in the streets. Did I feel it? Yes. It woke me up from a dead sleep. Was I scared? No. It wasn’t that bad – more of an odd feeling, like you’re not sure what’s going on. The bed and windows were shaking. I thought it was a slow plow outside the house. But  then I realized I didn’t hear the scraping of the snow and didn’t see any truck lights. When the bed stopped shaking after about 10 seconds, I contemplated waking Scott up to proclaim that we had just experienced an earthquake. I decided against it and went back to bed.

It’s rather strange though. Although I heard it all over the news on my drive to work, NO ONE at work said anything about it. Like it never happened. Strange.

The Ugly…

I received a note from my younger brother today. He moved to Orlando about a month ago to start his new job as a physical therapy assistant. I haven’t seen him since Thanksgiving so we’ve been emailing back and forth about my trip to Orlando in a few weeks. Yesterday, I asked him how the weather was at Disney World and he replied…

It is cold at night. During the day, you will need something to cover your arms. When the sun goes down, you will need some type of pants. The water parks do not open unless the temp is in the high 60s.

I was sooo bummed when I read this!! I wanted to go to Orlando to get away from the cold, but it appears that the cold will be following me on vacation. I know that the whole country is experiencing colder than normal temps, but for some reason I always think of Florida as being immune to the cold weather. Like even when it’s 70 degrees, it still feels hot. Hmm…not so much.

Oh please, please, please Mother Nature, Old Man Winter, and whoever else will listen, PLEASE give me at least a few 75 degree, sunny days on my vacation!

Snow, Pizza, and a Hint

It snowed the ENTIRE day today here in Chicago. Much like the rest of the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic, we are under a winter storm warning until tomorrow morning. I’m still hoping for a snow day 🙂 My office did let us out at 2:30 PM which was great. The roads and traffic were not too bad, thankfully. 

I had originally planned on making turkey burgers for dinner, but had a change of plans at the last minute. Our favorite local Italian cafe was running a “snow day special” – buy one get one free pizzas or pastas. We ended up getting the equivalent of a small pizza and a family size pasta for just $10. Now that’s my kind of snow day deal.

I haven’t had their pizza in sooo long due to our restaurant diet. It was a welcome change from our usual weekday meals. Our pizza included huge slices of pepperoni, red bell peppers, and spinach, all on whole grain crust – it was awesome. We also ordered the country-style rigatoni, which was made with Italian sausage and mushrooms, all in a light garlic cream sauce..

Again – soo good! Although, any meal that I don’t have to cook is a good meal.

Despite the huge amounts of snow, I was surprised to get a special package delivered to the house tonight. Through all of the snow and darkness, I could just barely make out a huge object and red lights sitting in front of our driveway. At first I thought it was a snow plow, but no – it was UPS! Oh how Brown makes me smile! The very reliable UPS man delivered a huge box of Hint water – all for me!

The folks over at Hint were kind enough to send me a few samples of their unsweetened, no calorie, flavored water. As a runner, I absolutely LOVE water. I drink at least 8 – 8oz glasses a day and usually prefer it icy cold. But every now and then, water becomes bland, boring, or just doesn’t seem to be enough for my taste. That’s where Hint can fill this void. It also is a great alternative to my usual diet coke or sweetened coffee drinks. What I also love about Hint water is that it’s made with all-natural ingredients and no sugar.

When I received the packaged, I immediately tore it open and viewed my new flavors. I received 6 of their 10 flavors. All of the bottles were delivered icy cold, no doubt due to the weather. I gave the Mango-Grapefruit a try and was not disappointed. The water had a delicious, but rather strong scent. I expected the actual taste of the water to follow suit, but the mango flavor ended up being very light – just a Hint as a they say. I can really see this being a summer drink for me, either drinking it a alone, or adding it to ice tea or lemonade. Can’t wait to try my next flavor – Raspberry-lime – doesn’t that just sound fantastic? It really makes me wish for summer!

Gotta run for now! See you all tomorrow.

Stress Eating

A few weeks ago, I mentioned that I was working on a huge proposal that, if signed/passed, would leave me with more responsibility and possibly a promotion. Well, since that time, the proposal has gone through several revisions, particularly to the budget.

After all of this waiting – which has actually been over a year – we are having what may be our final call about the proposal tomorrow. This means, we may find out as soon as tomorrow whether or not we have our new “big project” to take on. I will be very disappointed if we don’t get this deal and it’s not just because of the promotion. I have spent so much time on this project that I just want to know either way – I just want to be done with not knowing.

Anyway, enough ranting. Today was not a very good day as far as food goes. I definitely went over my self-imposed 1,600 calorie limit. I find that when I’m stressed, especially about work, I tend to eat more and more often. Running or exercising in general usually helps curb the desire to eat. But when I’m at the office, it’s not like I can hop on the treadmill or even take a walk outside in the winter.

Does anyone else have this problem? What do you do to stop stress eating?

I won’t get into all of the details of what I ate today, but let’s just say I had my fair share of sweets. Thank goodness dinner ended up being pretty healthy to balance things out…

I was able to get home a little earlier than normal so I whipped up some turkey tacos made with green and yellow peppers. Instead of eating actual tacos in a tortilla, I decided to skip the tortillas (which can add quite a few calories on their own) and have some chips and salsa instead.

Chicago is expecting another big winter storm. Although it will be nothing like what our mid-Atlantic friends experienced the last few days, we are still expected to get 10-14 inches in the next 36 hours. My office actually has a secured, internal web site where staff can check from home to see if the office is closed before they leave. Many times, I have rushed to my computer hoping to see that magic phrase – Our offices are closed due to inclement weather – kind of like being in school again 🙂 However, in my 8 years of working there, they’ve only closed the office once, so I’m not holding my breath for tomorrow – although it would be really nice to have an extra day to study.

And speaking of studying, I’m off to do just that! Have a good night.

Super Goal Sunday and Big Easy Irony

Hey All!

This weekend, I planned to accomplish several things, including:

  1. Study for my CPT exam
  2. Run
  3. Shop for groceries
  4. Clean
  5. Study some more

It’s funny that I accomplished all of those things, and more, in just one day! So, I am calling today my personal, Super Goal Sunday! I started the morning with a sweaty run on the t-mill (I’ve got to get that heat turned down – ugh!). I am sooo looking forward to running outside in Orlando in a few weeks. The treadmill is really starting to get old.

Breakfast was a super energizing bowl of Trader Joe’s Greek yogurt with a dollop of all-natural peanut butter and a few walnuts…

Breakfast was followed by a little lot of grocery shopping! I can’t believe I spent more than $80 on groceries – guess that’s what happens when you have two growing kids and a husband who is training for the Chicago triathlon.

Lunch was a carbon copy of yesterday’s lunch…

A reduced fat salami sandwich – only this time I had three-cheese bakery bread. Wow – the bread made all the difference in the world. I swear I could have eaten the whole loaf by itself! Along with my sandwich, I also had a few carrots, some low-fat chips and a juicy naval orange. I have been craving citrus fruits so I bought a bag of oranges today. I just couldn’t wait to dig into them!

After lunch, I cleaned a good portion of the house, then headed off to Barnes and Noble to study. After about an hour of studying, I had a mocha frap, mostly to keep me from dozing (only had 6 hours of sleep last night). I only have about a week left to study before the big test! Tick, tock, tick, tock.

Dinner was Scott’s creation – chicken stir-fry…

Stir-fry is so easy to make and it is relatively healthy, as long as you don’t douse it with sodium-fill soy sauce. Plus, you can add all sorts of yummy and color veggies to it to make it even healthier. 

**Congratulations to the New Orleans Saints! On a side note, here’s a bit of irony – Big Easy style.**

The Year of the Big Easy

  • In December 2009, Disney released it’s Princess and the Frog movie, set in New Orleans
  • We will be in Disney World during Mardi Gras
  • We will be staying at the French Quarter
  • The New Orleans Saints win the Super Bowl

How’s that for coincidence? 

Ok, I’m off to study a little more before bed. Have a great night!

Snack-free Saturdays

Hello everyone!

As most of you know, Saturday is a “no run” day for me. Sometimes I do yoga, but most of the time, Saturdays just end up being a rest day for me. Although I’m still active on Saturdays – running errands, etc. – I definitely don’t burn as many calories as I do when it is a running day. So today, I thought I would try to institute a no-snacking Saturday. Honestly, I have been trying to cut back on snacks altogether, but when I’m also trying to keep to 1,600 calories a day (and not cutting back on my runs) I find that having a snack once or twice a day is almost a must. But on days when I’m not running, I really have no reason to snack, other than the typical excuses, like boredom, habit, etc.

So today, on my first no-snacking Saturday, I started off with a sweet beginning…

I was really in the mood for a pastry of some sort for breakfast. So early this morning, I ran up to Deerfield’s bakery – a local favorite – to peruse their daily breakfast goods. They have so much to choose from that it was hard to decide. What I love about Deerfield’s, aside from the variety of pastries they have, is the fact that they have small bites or mini-size items of donuts, danishes, etc. This way, you can get a few small things to try, instead of buying one big coffee cake. I opted for a mini Cherry danish, which was only about 3/4 the size of a computer mouse…

I savored every bite with a bit of Fairmont Breakfast tea (from a stay at the Fairmont a while back). Ahh…so yummy. After I was finished eating, I realized that I had broken one of my rules of breakfast – to always include protein. I debated on whether to have some Greek yogurt or a spoonful of peanut butter but I really wasn’t hungry. And, I’m really trying to only eat when I’m hungry. So – no protein. 

Lunch was simple – a 1/2 salami an Swiss sandwich on rye with some steamed carrots and a few Reduced Fat Cape Cod chips…

Surprisingly, after having such a small breakfast, this light lunch kept me full all the day to dinner. I guess I really am shrinking my stomach!

For dinner, we opted for On the Border. We haven’t been there in soooo long, but decided to give it a try again since we had a gift card.

After having a dozen tortilla chips and some salsa, Scott and I split the chicken fajitas…

I had two small to medium fajitas, which was just perfect. The fajita meat was really good, better than many fajita chicken meat I’ve had – but Scott’s chicken fajitas are still the best. Hmm…can’t wait for summer grilling season!

When we arrived home, we got the kids in bed, then I cooked an oatmeal chocolate chip cookie for dessert…

Ok, this really wasn’t just ONE cookie – can you tell by the shadow? I actually had 3 very small cookies…

Yeah for me! I did it – I actually got through whole Saturday without snacking! Now, we’ll see if this has any impact on the scale tomorrow 😉

Have a great night everyone.

Weekend Goals

Hey All – I’m gonna make this short and sweet, because I’m off doing what I should be doing – living life.

Goals for the weekend:

  1. Study for my upcoming CPT exam
  2. Run
  3. Clean
  4. Shop for groceries
  5. Study some more

Sounds like a fun weekend, doesn’t it? 🙂

See you all on Saturday.