Lunch with the dinosaurs

Hey all!

Hope you had a relaxing Sunday! I started the day with an interval run on the treadmill for about 40 minutes. I started at 7.0 and then maxed out at 7.6. What a great workout! The run was followed by more squats and lunges – so great for the toning the legs which I totally need for my upcoming trips to Florida.

Breakfast was rather light – only a 1/2 Luna bar and 1/2 a pink orange…

This was the first time I’ve ever eaten or even seen a pink orange! The sign for the oranges didn’t give any indication that they were pink so their color really took me by surprise. Does anyone know why oranges can be pink sometimes???

The rest of the day was spent at the Field Museum (aka home of Sue the dinosaur) in downtown Chicago. I was really itchn’ to get out of the house for some reason, so going to a museum seemed like a good plan. When we arrived at the museum, we immediately ate a packed lunch so as not to buy any of the expensive (and mostly unhealthy) food there…

It was a PB&J sandwich made with all-natural peanut butter on whole grain bread, with a few chips, pretzels, and carrots/celery on the side. We ate in a little cafe area which had a great view of some of our new best friends…

I am not a huge natural history fan – I’m more of an arts and artifacts kind of a girl. But, the museum is great for kids and is not too expensive as far as admission. After about 3 hours at the museum, I had had my fill of dinosaurs and stuffed mammals. 

Dinner, again, was on the lighter side. I had a small salad with:

  • Red leaf lettuce
  • Cucumbers
  • Carrots
  • Tri-color bell peppers (sauteed)
  • Red onion
  • Bacon, 1 slice
  • 1/2 hard boiled egg
  • 1 oz of white cheddar cheese

I topped it all with a little spritz of olive oil and a bunch of balsamic vinegar. Super yummy and healthy! But of course, I just had to throw in something to off-set that healthiness…

Scott and the kids actually had hamburgers/turkey burgers tonight. I just wasn’t in the mood for a burger, but these oven-baked fries sure hit the spot!

I’m off tomorrow for MLK day – woo hoo! But, because I’m only in the office on Tuesday and Friday this week (due to my trip to DC), my two work days will be jam-packed.

Time to get studying – see you all tomorrow.

The Restaurant Diet

Hello All!

In July 2009, Scott and I went on a diet. Now, I typically don’t believe in dieting, but this was no ordinary diet. When Scott and I realized that we were averaging $475 a month on eating outside the home, we nearly passed out right on the floor! I seriously can’t believe we were going out to eat THAT much. But the numbers didn’t lie. We were going to eat that much and desperately needed to stop.

Restaurant check: http://www.flickr.com/photos/38475709@N00/129116434

So, we put ourselves on a diet – a spending diet. We called it our Restaurant Diet

The Restaurant Diet – For one month, it was no spending any of our own money on Starbucks or any other restaurants, including take-out. Was it difficult?  You bet it was! I felt like every Starbucks was calling my name. I felt like everyone in the world was going out to eat but me. Although my family knew of our self-inflicted plight, my coworkers did not (I guess I was too embarrassed to tell them). By the end of the month, I think I just about ran out of excuses for why I couldn’t go out to eat (unless, of course, someone else was buying!). Our only reprieve was a gift certificate that we strategically used and the welcomed business trip that allowed for a Starbucks or two.

Although there were several great reasons why we did this little experiment, the main reason was to save money. And, believe it or not, after one month on the Restaurant Diet we shaved $500 off of our food bill! Wow, it felt so good to say that we saved that much money on food. And we did it by following these 8 Strategies for Dining At Home

Although our diet only lasted for one month, we said that we would try to cut down on eating outside the home. Yeah right, that lasted a few weeks, then, it was back to the old Jen and Scott – spending money freely.

However, after seeing our December food budget go through the roof (granted, the holidays were thrown in there), we decided that January was as good a time as any to start our diet again. We would have actually started this sooner, but our intentions were clouded by the excuses in our heads, including…

Excuses for Eating Out…

  1. We’re too busy, so we must rely on going out to eat as our Plan B – but plan B quickly turned into our plan A.
  2. We don’t want to clean up. We don’t mind the cooking park, it’s the cleaning that sucks.
  3. We’re tired of our “go-to” recipes and must use restaurant food to get us out of our slump.
  4. We have quite a bit of traveling coming up, so how can we avoid going out to eat when we’re out of town?
  5. We both agreed – food just tastes better when someone else makes it for you.

OK, no more excuses. Tomorrow, January 4, we will officially begin the second round of our Restaurant Diet, which will last through February 3. Although this diet is difficult, it really is simple in theory because it only has one rule:

Rule #1 – No spending our own money on food/drinks other than groceries*

*Gift cards, gift certificates, and spending other people’s money are all fair game!

Ready, set, go!

Happy New Year's Eve!

Happy New Year’s Eve everyone! 

So, what are you all doing for New Year’s Eve? Scott and I are playing in low-key tonight. I’ve actually been sick the last couple of days (tummy troubles – ugh!) but am trying to still have fun tonight. Hope you all have a wonderful time tonight, whatever  you’re doing.

I’ll be back tomorrow with a recap ;-) Be Safe!

Jen

Christmas Goodies

Happy Day After Christmas Everyone!

From the looks of your posts (or lack of them ;-) ) I gather that all of you were doing quite a bit of merry making and rightly so. I, of course, did quite a bit of celebrating myself. Instead of giving you every detail about the last three days, I’ll just give you the highlights starting with Christmas.

I can hardly believe it, but it ended up being 45 degrees and sunny on Christmas morning in Chicago!! I was absolutely thrilled to be able to run outside on Christmas. It felt awesome to breathe in the cool, crisp air, and see the glistening snow in the trees. After my run, I enjoyed a fantastic breakfast – a 3-egg omelette (1 egg and 2 egg whites) courtesy of my egg-loving husband…

12.25 Christmas omelette 2

He put all sorts of goodies in it too, like broccoli, red peppers, mushrooms, spinach, and cheddar cheese – I’m such a lucky girl!

12.25 Christmas omelette

Then it was PRESENT time!! Most of the gifts I gave to Scott came from JCrew, that’s what he likes, so that’s what he gets. In turn, most of MY gifts came from Anthropologie. I LOVE Anthropologie but rarely buy anything there because their items are so expensive. I think that’s why Scott shops there for my birthday and Christmas because he knows that I won’t spend the money on myself.

For starters, I received some cool European-esque dish towels…

12.25 Anthropologie towels

I feel like we go through a ton of dish towels each week so these were a very welcome gift. Next up were some cute little bejeweled hair clips…

12.25 Anthropologie hair pins

He knows me so well and knew that I would fall in love with these little darlings. He also gave me a very trendy cupcake book…

12.25 Anthropologie cupcake book2

Surprisingly, there was no red velvet cupcake recipe to speak of. I find that very odd – how can you do a gourmet cupcake cookbook and NOT include a red velvet cupcake? It is still a very sweet book though! I can’t wait to make some of these cupcakes, especially because I can put them on my brand new Anthropologie plates…

12.25 Anthropologie plate 1

12.25 Anthropologie plate 2

Oh my, was I ever having fun opening these presents! And, last but not least, came my favorite gift of all…

12.25 Anthropologie teacup 1

A new tea cup! Scott knows that I’ve been wanting a new tea cup for work and for home. I kept saying how I needed to find just the right cup, not too big, not too small, and just the right design. I definitely won the lottery with this little cutie!

12.25 Anthropologie teacup 3 The detail around the cup is fantastic – especially the cute little flower by the handle as well as the inside design…

12.25 Anthropologie teacup 2

Ok, how lucky am I to have a guy who can go into Anthropologie and buy frilly things for his wife!

I also received a very pretty top from Anthropologie although it’s too big :-( 

After presents we hustled over to my in-laws for the rest of the day. We were having so much fun opening presents and eating that I really didn’t take many pictures. But, let’s just say I ate my fair share of dip, cheese, and cookies. I am SO feeling that today too!

Moving on to today….Saturday is normally my day to take off from running. But instead, Scott and I headed to the sledding hill for a little outdoor fun. Unfortunately, I became cold really fast (only went down the hill twice) and had to take a rain check.

I warmed up with some hot Tazo Awake tea and a few little walnut cookies…

12.26 Walnut cookie and Awake Tea

These walnut cookies, courtesy of my Father-in-law, are so yummy! They taste a LOT like mini coffee cakes, so it’s no wonder why I love them!

12.26 Walnut cookie

Lunch was warmed-up turkey chili from the freezer – perfect for a very snowy and cold day…

12.26 Turkey Chili

Then it was time for a much-needed nap. I am usually not the napping sort of gal, but I do love a good nap when I’m on vacation.

Dinner was my own creation tonight – mesquite grilled chicken with spinach risotto and sweet carrots…

12.26 Spinach Risotto 2

The risotto was especially good, although Scott thought it had a little too much spinach it it.

12.26 Spinach Risotto

Now, were eating a little popcorn and watching Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince – another Christmas present.

Ok friends, that’s all for now. I want to want the rest of my movie then it’s off to bed! Have a great night everyone!

Merry Christmas From Running With Cake!

Just wanted to let you all know that I’m thinking about you and hoping you are all having a wonderful Christmas. And, for all of my Jewish foodie friends, Happy Hanukkah (belated)!

I’ll be back soon to fill you in on all of my food, fitness, and family antics, plus a few surprises ;-)

Peace, Love, and Cupcakes!

Pretty in Pink

Hi All! Well my sister and I had fun-filled day of shopping! We found ourselves all over the place, including…

  • Crate and Barrel
  • Bath and Body Works
  • Gap
  • Ann Taylor Loft
  • Lucy 

Whew! Now were so exhausted, but not too tired to have a little late night dessert…

12.18 raspberry swirl cake

Raspberry and white chocolate swirl cake with a side of Edy’s peppermint ice cream – so yum! And I love the pink colors – how girly, don’t ya think?

Now, we’re getting ready for a little gift wrapping party – fun, fun, fun! Tomorrow, we’re headed to a Nutcracker-themed afternoon tea. I love the practice of taking tea in the afternoon – it’s so old-school British! We’re also hoping to go for a morning walk/run – although it might be too cold (30 degrees – brrrrr…)

Signing off for now, but stay tuned for pics of my cool loot from Lucy!

10 Days of Christmas Goals

Today was officially my last day of work until December 28 – whoop whoop! I LOVE being off the whole week of Christmas. It’s so nice to just concentrate on the holiday instead of worrying about work (and my commute). We used to get the whole week of Christmas off as a freebie, but now we actually have to take vacation time, other than Christmas Day.

To maximize my 10 days off in a row, I have decided to set a few goals for myself. Some of the goals are holiday related, while others are just plain goals.  

12.17 wrapping paper: http://www.flickr.com/photos/31493432@N08/3131341442

Goals for the Christmas Break…

  • Wrap the enormous amount of Christmas gifts that I have stashed around the house. Seriously, I have like 40 gifts that I need to wrap. I can just feel the pressure building.
  • Go through all my clothes and set aside the things that I want to give away
  • Take a bunch of stuff to Goodwill. It’s a tax write-off ya know!
  • Practice yoga at least once (sorry, Jenna, that’s about all I can give right now!)
  • Study for my personal trainer certification. I’m hoping to take the test by the end of January – yikes! I get nervous just thinking about it!

Ok, I think that’s enough for 10 days. So, what are your goals for Christmas break?

 My sister is in town now and we’ve got a busy weekend planned. I’m signing off for now – have a great night!

"The Office" Holiday Party

As I mentioned last night, today was my office holiday party. Each year there’s a different theme or piece of entertainment to go with the party – this year, it was literally The Office holiday party. Our whole office arrived at the steakhouse around 11:30 AM to find little bobblehead Joe dolls on the table…

Dwight Bobblehead

I was soo excited to find Dwight at my table! I know he is the antagonist of the show, but I think his character is hysterical! It turns out that one lucky person at our table would actually get to take that bobblehead home – it was my boss! However, since he has NEVER seen the office, I offered to take the doll off of his hands, but then so did several other people. Being the fair guy that he is, he offered to pick names for the winner. Unfortunately, I was NOT the winner (I’m still bitter – don’t ask) and my winning co-worker promptly traded Dwight for an Angela at the next table…

Bobblehead Angela

I seriously can’t believe she chose Angela over Dwight – Dwight epitomized the bobblehead! Bitter I tell ya, just bitter.

Anyway, before the main lunch was served were enjoyed a few appetizers and cocktails and then all settled down to our salads…

12.10 Green Salad 1

A fresh and leafy green salad, a perfect way to start the meal. For our entree, we could choose between a filet of salmon or beef or risotto. I do not eat beef or salmon, so I had the very tasty spinach and mushroom risotto…

12.10 Risotto 1

It was served on HUGE plate that dwarfed the rice, but there was actually more in the bowl that I thought. I ended up eating the whole thing (minus a few overwhelming mushrooms) and I was really full.

12.10 Risotto 2

12.10 Risotto Name

Just prior to dessert, they held a raffle, that included cool prizes like 1-2 night stays in downtown Chicago hotels, gift certificates to Borders, etc. No, I didn’t win – but one of my team members won 6 dozen bagels and gave everyone on the team a coupon for a free dozen bagels – it’s all about sharing the wealth baby! I’m still not crazy about bagels, but they are a little more tempting when they’re free.

Dessert was slightly disappointing. Seriously, there were 2 bite-size brownies, 2 small cookies, 2 tarts the size of a silver dollar, and a 2 oz ramekin of creme brulee – this was for 4 people! That’s not dessert, that’s a snack! My boss and I kept waiting for something else to come out – actually hoping for something to come out – but it didn’t.

12.10 Creme Brulee

I’m not a creme brulee fan normally, but I decided to try it today. It was good, but my boss and I were still contemplating a Dairy Queen run.

To Bonus or Not To Bonus

And now – the moment we were ALL waiting for – Bonus Time! We anxiously awaited to get our holiday cards – the vehicle for our bonuses. Although I was pleased to still get a bonus, I couldn’t help but be a little disappointed because it was lower than last year. I shouldn’t complain though – most people do not get bonuses. Considering the economy, I think it’s very generous for my company to still keep this tradition.

It’s Personal…Training That Is!

Tomorrow afternoon, I start my very intense personal training class. At one point, I thought I could skim through books ahead of time, take the class, study for a couple weeks, then take the test. I have officially comes to terms with the fact that this plan is NOT going to happen. Of the two books I have to use as study materials, the one book is about 3 inches thick. OMG, I nearly passed out when I started reviewing the anatomy section! I’m giving myself a new goal of taking the test by the end of February/early March, but that’s even a crap shoot.

OK, gotta get some rest so that I am ready to go to my class. Take care everyone!

Finding My Life's Purpose in 7 Questions

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Hello Everyone - 

Last night, Scott sent me a link about how to find your purpose in life, by asking yourself a few simple questions. Both of us have actually been struggling with what we want to do in our careers – for me, it’s more about whether or not I want to go into business for myself (writing, editing, fitness advisor, etc). I thought it couldn’t hurt giving these questions a try. So, here it goes…

Westminster Abbey

7 Questions to Finding Your Life’s Purpose 

  1. What do you love to do? I love to travel and also plan trips for myself and other people. Discovering new places makes me so incredibly happy! But, figuring out a way to fund my travel adventures makes me very unhappy. I also love helping people live healthier lives – knowing that I made a difference in keeping them healthy is a big plus.
  2. What do you do in your free time? I do a LOT of research for my blogs, as well as vacation spots. But, I also try to sightsee locally (Chicago). Of course, running/exercising is also a huge part of my free time.
  3. What do you notice? I notice how fit people are and I especially notice if a person is a runner, or not. Don’t ask me how, you can just tell. I also notice people’s accents, whether they are from the South or England or Israel. I love hearing different accents and trying to guess where people are from (in my head, not outloud!)
  4. What do you love to learn about? I love learning about new ways to get and stay fit/healthy. Likewise, I love to learn about nutrition and overall wellness. Aside from those things, learning about travel destinations is something else that I love, although it makes me a little sad thinking that I may never get to those places.
  5. What sparks your creativity? Travel – plain and simple. Whether it’s an overnight business trip or a week-long vacation, going on any sort of trip somehow makes my life become clearer. After my trip, I usually feel empowered and more confident about the challenges ahead.
  6. What do people compliment you on? I often receive compliments on my dedication to health and fitness, particularly running, but also my strong public speaking/presentation and writing skills. These skills may or may not be apparent on my blogs, but writing is about 50 percent of what I do at work.
  7. What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail? Take a year hiatus from my current job to become a travel or health/fitness writer/review – ie. a cross between Samantha Brown and Gabby Reece. But know that I could get my old job back at the same pay with no problem.

Travel Writer: http://www.flickr.com/photos/60843921@N00/23094429

Where do I go from here? I’m not really sure, but these questions sure make you think. I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again – I love my employer and what I do in my current career, but I KNOW deep down that I am meant to do something greater than this.

So, I charge you, fellow food and fitness bloggers, to step back for a moment, and ask yourself, what do YOU really love to do? Because, if you love writing for your blog more than you do your 9 to 5 job, it may be time to make a change.

Randy lay there like a slug…

… it was his only defense.

Ha!! My brothers and I used to laugh hysterically whenever we watched this holiday classic – A Christmas Story. 

Ralphie: http://www.flickr.com/photos/66044164@N00/2074273454

So, just because it’s the holidays and I’m feeling nostalgic, here’s a shout out to my bros Steve (aka the Cone) and John Boy. Here’s to watching a few holiday movies while sipping on soda, eating potato chips, and begging mom for 5 more minutes of TV time. Ahh…those were the good old days. Well, have they really changed that much? ;-)

Holiday Movies We Loved As Kids (and still do!)

  • A Christmas Story
  • National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
  • Home Alone
  • Planes, Trains, and Automobiles
  • Miracle on 34th Street
  • Charlie Brown Christmas
  • Mickey’s Christmas Carol

Now, I throw it to you….What holiday movies did you most enjoy watching as a kid?

Ta for now, because I really need to get my rear end in gear and STUDY!!