Archives for October 2009

Pinkberry on the Pacific

Hey there! 

I’m writing to you from sunny San Diego – well actually, it’s dark now, but it was definitely sunny earlier! I arrived in San Diego about 11 AM local time. But before I get into that, let’s start from the day’s beginning…

Very early this morning I had a dream that I woke up late and the car service guy was knocking at my door to pick me up – yikes! I woke up in a sweat and realized that it was only 5:00 AM, about an hour before I really intended to get up. Well after that dream, I couldn’t really sleep so I got out of bed to get ready and finalize my packing.

I arrived at the airport sans drama and had a pretty calm 3 1/2 hour flight. During the ride, I snacked on one of my all-time favorite airport snacks/breakfast…

10.30 breakfast

You can’t go wrong with vanilla yogurt with fresh fruit and granola, although I still prefer Greek yogurt.

When I arrived in San Diego it was about 70 degrees and amazingly bright here immediately when we landed – how perfect – did they order this weather just for me, or do they do this for everyone? 😉 I would take this weather any day over the cold/rainy weather I left in Chi-town.

After checking into our very fancy hotel, my colleagues and I lunched at Harbor House, a seafood restaurant located in a cute little shopping district on the water.

10.30 lunch

The yogurt was filling but man was I starving by the time I ate lunch. I ate about 3/4 of my chicken salad wrap and most of the french fries as well (I know I’ve been so bad lately with the fries 🙁 )

After lunch, my colleagues and I had to tend to a few work-related duties, then we took a walk to a very close-by Pinkberry yogurt!! When we work our annual event, we rarely have time to do anything else but work, eat, and sleep. So today was a special treat to be able to walk around the city a little. And of course, Pinkberry was top on my list to try in my limited free time. Yes – this was my first ever Pinkberry yogurt EVER…

10.30 pinkberry

How cute is that! I had the small original flavor topped with chocolate chips, mixed nuts, and strawberries. It was amazing! I think I may have to venture there late in the week to get another fix before I return to Chicago.

When I arrived at my room a small package had been delivered to me…

10.30 goodie bag

It was the “welcome bag” that my training team and I made last week. It has all sorts of goodies in it like gum, a lint brush, a plastic hand clapper, and hand sanitizer. What a nice touch!

In the evening, all staff were asked to attend a special wine/cheese reception with some of our members. It was actually quite fun because I was able to see many of our VIP members who I adore and hadn’t seen since last year. 

After some polite chit chat, my brother and his wife Liz picked me up at the hotel to take me to dinner in Del Mar. We ate at a charming bistro called Sbicca, which was again, on the water (or close enough to it!). Unless you’re really far inland, it seems that everything in San Diego is “on the water”.

At Sbicca’s, I started with a mixed green salad with tomatoes, feta cheese, and lemon pepper dressing.

10.30 dinner1

Quite good, but then again, what salad isn’t good with feta?

For dinner, my sister-in-law and I split the garlic chicken with mashed potatoes and feta cheese…

10.30 dinner3

This dish was fantastic! It has a ton of flavor and the presentation was equally as good. Thankfully I split this dish because I know I could not have eaten all of it.

Plus, I wanted to save room for dessert….

10.30 dinner5

Pecan bread pudding in a caramel sauce topped with caramel gelato. Oh my, this was way too good to be true! Luckily, this was another split dish because, as you know, 1/2 the food = 1/2 the calories. Besides, i was too full to eat a full dessert by myself.

Ok, I’m starting to fall asleep. It’s now 11 PM Pacific, but really 1 AM my time, which is way too late for this chica to be up and blogging. 

But, before I go, I will leave you with a view from my hotel room…10.30 Harbor view

Ahh, I love where i work!

Have a great night!

The "Glass Slipper" of Running Shoes

Hello Everyone!

I have to make this quick because the car service is picking me up for the airport at 6:45 AM tomorrow and it’s already 11 PM!

My day started like this…

10.29 shoes2

I had Happy Feet in my new 2010 Nike Air Pegasus running shoes! I have been wearing the Air Pegasus for about 10 years and absolutely love the way they feel. When I put these on for the first time a decade ago, it felt like Cinderella finally fitting into her glass slipper – a perfect fit – without the horse-drawn pumpkin.

Avid runners know how important finding the “right” running shoe is for their performance. Runners can also tell a good shoe from a bad shoe within seconds, many times without even trying the shoe one. And, when runners finally find their “glass slipper” of the running shoe – the perfect match in their running life – they rarely stray from that style of shoe, or at least the brand. I just pray Nike never puts my glass slipper out of commission!  

10.29 shoes1

So, with my new shoes on, I went out to run 4 miles in 55 degree weather – again, perfection! It was just beautiful outside this morning. At one point, I ran under a huge maple tree, with all of it’s leaves still on it, and a big gust of wind blew a shower of fresh leaves on top me. I love the Fall!

The rest of my day went like this:

  • Breakfast
  • Packing
  • Macy’s to return an item
  • Lunch with Scott
  • Hair appointment
  • Dentist appointment
  • Trip to the bank
  • Starbuck’s run
  • More packing
  • Dinner
  • More packing
  • Work/blogging

I literally had no time to rest today, except for when I was getting my hair done. However, I am very happy to report that I am all mostly packed and ready to go. But I still have a few more emails to answer before I go to bed.

Have a great night everyone and I’ll chat with you all tomorrow from my hotel room in San Diego!

A Salad Duet

So this morning started off very early, or what seemed to be really early. I didn’t end up going to bed until nearly midnight and then my alarm went off at 6 AM. I really wanted to just stay in bed but I knew I’d better run today because I did not run yesterday. 

It has not been getting light until 7 AM here in Chicago – yikes! That is way too late for me to start running during the work week. So I was on the treadmill again today. I’d better get used to it because winter weather will be here before I know it. However, with the time change this weekend, it will get light by 6 AM instead – bonus!

I literally had my breakfast in-hand this morning as I walked out the door…

10.28 breakfast

There’s nothing wrong with a little all-natural creamy peanut butter on Brownberry’s double fiber bread. Gotta love that it’s a very nonmessy and portable breakfast.

I was heads down at work from about 9 AM to 1 PM. I’m so glad I brought my lunch because I had no time to run out…10.28 lunch

Leftover taco salad saved the day! The protein in the meat and cheese was a huge help after a full morning of work. It kept me energized all the way to dinner too. 

Dinner ended up being a close replay of last night (and today’s lunch actually) – a salad duet if you will. Scott baked parmesan crusted chicken tonight, but I chose to have mine in a salad rather than eating it with potatoes and steamed carrots…

10.28 dinner

I’ve just been in the salad mood lately. This is the third one I’ve had in two days! Salads are so easy and healthy to make, especially when you have a salad spinner. I just chop all the lettuce up at once, rinse it off really well, spin it, and leave it in the fridge for a week. I take the lettuce out whenever I’m in the mood for a quick salad, or we use it for other things like tacos. Again – so easy!

After dinner I headed out to finally get my new running shoes! And that is exactly what I did. I’m so excited that I have new shoes to run in and I’m especially glad that I have new shoes for my trip – the old ones were getting pretty bad. I didn’t take a picture of them tonight because of the bad lighting, but I’ll post one tomorrow for you all to see. FYI – I am very picky about my running shoes. I have worn the same make and model (hmmm….sounds like a car) for most of the last 10 years.

On my way back from Dick’s Sporting Goods, I stopped at Cold Stone to pick up ice cream for Scott. I had a coupon to buy 2 ice creams for $5 so I ordered one too, just to save money really 😉

10.28 dessert

I’m not very fancy when it comes to my Cold Stone. I usually just get chocolate or dark chocolate and one mix-in. Tonight, it was chocolate and red velvet cake! Kudos to Cold Stone for venturing into the red velvet cake territory – it is a favorite of mine, especially when the cake is done right. I also tried a little taste of the pumpkin ice cream – hmm…not a fan – way too pumpkiny, but then what did I expect?

I am off tomorrow as is customary the day before I travel. Then, Friday is the big day – I’ll be off to sunny California. My brother and his wife live there and I’m so excited that I get to see them on Friday night for dinner!

OK, gotta run before I turn into a pumpkin. Have a great night.

Too Much Anxiety and Too Little Sleep

Hello All!

How did your day go? I woke up at 3:30 AM and could NOT go back to sleep. Ugh – I hate that! I think it’s anxiety related to my trip/meeting. So, as you might have guessed, too much anxiety and too little sleep = no running this morning. The alarm went off at 6 AM and after having only 5 hours of sleep, I decided to stay in bed for an extra hour.

Breakfast was a quick cereal bowl – only Kashi Go Lean Crunch this time…

10.27 breakfast

Then I was out the door so fast I left a trail of dust behind me. 

I was busy, busy, busy all day today. I was dealing with my projects but also helping my boss with his. All in a day’s work!

Lunch was pasta and sauce leftovers….

10.27 lunch

I swear I can never get tired of this meal! It is so amazing. I only wish I had a meatball to go with it!

After work, I attempted to call Disney’s Dining reservations line to make our lunch/dinner reservations for our trip in the spring. I had to call 10 times just to get through. They had been having problems with their system all day apparently. So then I waited for 25 minutes on hold – on my cell phone no less – but there was NO chance of me hanging up for fear of not being able to get through again. It’s kind of like calling for concert or baseball tickets. After being on hold, I spent about 30 minutes making all of my reservations. Whew! That was rough. Although we had planned out where we wanted to eat, making actual reservations was a little dicey when we weren’t sure what park we wanted to visit on what day. But, after nearly an hour of cell phone minutes, I have 12 reservations to get me started!

Dinner was on my own tonight so I threw together a very yummy and flavorful grilled chicken salad…

10.27 dinner

For my salad I included

  • 3 cups of red leaf lettuce
  • Shaved carrots
  • White cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 grilled chicken breast

And I topped it all off with a little olive oil and Trader Joe’s Balsamic Vinegar. This was JUST what I needed tonight. Something light, yet pleasing to my tastebuds.

I’m off to do a little more work. I will hopefully have time to blog more and comment on all of your other blogs after next week.

Take care and have a great night!

A Successful Shopping Trip

Evening everyone!

I switched my weekly day off to today because I will actually be traveling on Friday. I started off with run on the treadmill then a cereal bowl quickie…

10.26 breakfast

It was a mix of just about every cereal that is open in our house: Honeynut Cheerios, Kashi Go Lean, and Kashi Go Lean Crunch. I accidentally poured way too much Kashi Go Lean into the bowl (it comes out too fast!) so I did not end up eating all of it. After breakfast, I was out the door to run work-related errands until lunchtime. 

Thankfully, I finally had a successful shopping trip! Ironically, it was not with clothes. I needed to get a bunch of Clinique things for the trip but didn’t realize that yesterday was the last day of Macy’s “bonus” gift time. It turns out, they still had a few bonus gifts left so they gave me one anyway – yeah! Honestly, I only use 2 or 3 of the free items I get, but it’s more the excitement of getting something free that I like.

Since I was at the mall and near several good restaurants, I popped over to Corner Bakery for their new Mediterranean salad…

10.26 lunch

This salad was SO completely yummy that I ate EVERY morsel. It really was fantastic and made me wonder why it has taken Corner Bakery so long to get a full Mediterranean salad.

After lunch, I headed home and worked for about 2 hours. I still haven’t finished all of my projects so I’ll be working more tonight. 

Because I was home this afternoon, I volunteered to make turkey tacos, using Scott’s secret recipe of course – because how would I ever know how to make tacos by myself if they were not from a box – right Scott? Not to toot my own horn, but the tacos turned out amazing…

10.26 dinner

I was so happy that Scott stopped for guacamole on his way home from teaching class. I used to hate guacamole (I actually had never tried it and just thought it looked gross) but now I feel like my tacos are naked without it!

Shoe shopping (running) was on the agenda for tonight but I am very tired and can’t bring myself to go out again. I absolutely need to get new running shoes before I leave for San Diego on Friday. My Nike’s are Terrible with a capital T! Experts say you should replace your running shoes every 6-8 months, depending on how many miles you run each week. I’m probably more in the 8-month range. I can’t even remember when I bought them but I know it was over 8 months ago. 

I’m only in the office two days this week. But, those two days are going to be packed! I’m trying to get everything done by the time I leave the office on Wednesday so that Thursday can be a packing day. I guess we’ll see how productive I am!

OK, time to say good night! Have a great evening everyone!

Orzo Risotto Improv

Hey there!

Well my headache from last night has continued through today, although I have had intermittent headache-free spells. I did take over-the-counter sinus medication last night. It really helped me sleep, despite being the daytime kind.

Getting a good night sleep really helped me with my run this morning. It was a gorgeous morning for a run as well, so I ran about 5 miles and felt GREAT! Only problem was that it has rained the past few days so when I ran through the grass, my shoes were a completely soggy mess! No worries though because tomorrow I’m heading out to buy new running shoes – yeah!

I was nearly starving when I returned from my run, so I made an awesome breakfast…

10.25 breakfast

Nothing like a huge bowl of homemade oats to curb the appetite! I added a little brown sugar, sliced almonds, and of course, all-natural creamy peanut butter. I mixed it all together which promptly turned my oatmeal into a giant gooey, but very yummy, mess in a bowl.

I ran out to Target soon after breakfast to pick up more medicine and a few essentials for my upcoming trip. Then I stopped to take a walk in the park (rather a forest preserve) which was just lovely with all of the trees at their peak color.

Lunch was similar to yesterday…a simple and fairly small salami and ham sandwich, but this time I used the three-cheese bread that we bought yesterday.

10.25 lunch

Oh my, high quality bakery bread makes all the difference in a sandwich!

I spent the afternoon doing MORE shopping for my big meeting. I still haven’t found any new clothes to my liking, but my frustration was replaced with excitement as I purchased a few new pieces of jewelry! Bling, bling!

Scott and I decided to stay in for dinner tonight. I offered to make risotto to go with the mesquite chicken he was making. Come to find out, we had no aborio rice! Ugh! But, never fear, we had orzo, so I improvised.

10.25 dinner2

I boiled the orzo according to directions but added a cube of bouillon to the water. After it was cooked, I drained it and added sauteed red peppers, onions, shaved carrots, and baby spinach. Top this with parmesan cheese and it’s good to go!

Almost forgot to mention that, while we were cooking, Scott and I polished off a box of Trader Joe’s spinach and artichoke dip…

10.25 dinner1

This is fantastic dip, as I mentioned before, and way cheaper than anything you could buy in a restaurant.

I still have a bunch of things to get done tonight so I will say my goodbyes now!

Have a great Sunday evening!

Saturday Night Headache

Hi Everyone,

I’m going to make this quick because I have a terrible sinus headache. Morning started very early for a Saturday. I was up around 6:30 AM – yikes – way too early! 

I was not super hungry so I made a smaller than normal breakfast…

10.24 breakfast

I mixed about 1/2 of a Trader Joe’s vanilla Greek Yogurt with about 1/4 cup of Kashi Go Lean cereal. This was just enough to get me up and going.

I had to run a bunch of errands this morning – dry cleaner, eye doctor, Target, etc. And then, it was time for lunch…

10.24 lunch2

I made a 1/2 low-fat salami and ham sandwich, with a side of carrots and a few Lays salt and pepper chips for good measure 😉 I really LOVE these chips and would probably eat the whole bag if Scott was not eating them with me. 

Scott and I popped up to our outdoor mall after lunch. It was a little chilly but very sunny. I thought it was quite the perfect autumn day. I headed off to Saturday evening mass shortly thereafter and came home to an awesome dinner…

10.24 dinner1

It started with garlic bread made from three-cheese bakery bread. OMG, this was fantastic. And, of course, I ate a few too many of these.

10.24 dinner2

Then came the fantastic main course – homemade pasta sauce and turkey meatballs, with a side of broccoli! Again, way too good and ate way too much! Can you blame me? Just look at this meatball…

10.24 dinner4

Plus, I washed it all down with a little vino…

10.24 dinner3

I can’t be certain, but this may have contributed to my headache.

At this point, my head start throbbing like crazy so I laid down for about an hour. Even after taking Excedrin and resting, my head still hurts like I have a nasty sinus infection. 

So, with that, I am signing off. See you all tomorrow, hopefully headache free.

Costco Blowout

Evening everyone!

Hope you all had a great Friday. Today is my typical day off, but I found myself working on and off from home. This is how it goes every year around this time. 

After a rousing 4 mile run on the treadmill (still raining – ugh!), I enjoyed a big cereal mix…

10.23 breakfast

I had Honeynut Cheerios, with Kashi Go Lean, and Kashi Go Lean Crunch. It tasted sooo good! I miss you Kashi Go Lean Crunch – so glad that you were on sale this week 😉

Scott was home today as well and he worked ALL day on a project he has coming up. I guess it’s just work, work, work for us. We did stop for some lunch and surprise, we actually stayed home for lunch today!

10.23 lunch

We really did consider going out to eat. However, Scott made so much chicken soup yesterday that we decided to save money and just eat at home.

After lunch, I ran up to Costco to get just a few things and wound up spending nearly $200!!! Oh my gosh, how can stores like Costco and Target cause me to spend that much money in one outing??? Of course, I had to get essentials, like chicken, Italian sausage, and ground turkey. But I also bought $80 640 ct. cotton sheets, and a few Christmas presents.

Later in the afternoon, I had a little snack to take the edge off of my shopping trip…

10.23 snack

Ahh, popcorn! I just love popcorn especially when it’s only 100 calories a bag.

Dinner was another Jennifer specialty – my Italian sausage and pasta dish

10.23 dinner

This dish is so incredibly yummy and super easy to make. It’s rather versatile too – you can change up the peppers, or add peas, mushrooms, or other veggies if you want.

After dinner, we popped out to the bookstore for a bit. I love checking out the new calendars and planners for the upcoming year. I saw at least 4 that I would love to buy. Only problem is that I’ll use them for a month and then never look at them again. Does anyone else have that problem? 

On our way back from Barnes and Noble, we stopped at the Cheesecake Factory to pick up a slice of Chocolate Black-out Cake. They actually used to sell this cake at Barnes and Noble, go figure, but in a smaller version (it was cheaper too). However, they stopped selling the cake last year and now we must go right to the source to get our fix. Mind you, we do NOT do this very often because the cake is more than $7 a slice!! But it is sooo worth every penny!

10.23 dessert1

Now, we’ve just settled down to watch Numbers on CBS. No more Psych until next year – sniff, sniff. But, very soon we will find out who killed Trudy on Monk.

Have a great Friday night!

Eating With One Foot Out The Door

Hey Friends! 

Yikes! This time next week I will be all packed and ready to head to sunny San Diego. Boy, this meeting sure came up quick. Even after a whole year of planning, I still feel like I need more time to prepare.

Even though I’m a little lot stressed at work and always seem behind schedule, I still find time to run – no matter what. And, believe it or now, even when I work 10-12 hour days at our big meeting, I get up at the crack of dawn, actually before the crack of dawn, and run on the treadmill in the hotel. My coworkers say I’m crazy but really, it’s one thing that keeps me sane and feeling healthy during the busy week.

This morning started with a 4-mile run on the treadmill (55 degrees, but raining outside 🙁 ) Breakfast was a bowl of Honeynut Cheerios and walnuts…

10.22 breakfast

I was practically eating this cereal with one foot out the door because I was running so late. I really do NOT like eating “on the run”. I either don’t feel satisfied or my stomach ends up hurting. But, even with my tardiness, I did manage to stop by a Starbucks for a nice mocha frap – ahh, now that was worth being an extra 7 minutes late.

I only had one meeting this morning. Thank goodness for that because I have a bunch of “little” things to take care of before I leave. All of these little things have been put to the back burner so that I could take care of the big things. But now all of the little things have piled up and have become one BIG thing. Are you confused yet?

I stepped out, in the rain no less, around 1 PM for a little soup-to-go…

10.22 lunch

I didn’t even have time to put this in a fancy smancy bowl for y’all – just ate my minestrone straight out of the paper cup!

My commute home from work was terrible, even though I left at 4:20 PM! I was so happy to be home after 45 minutes of being in the car. I was also happy because I was able to see Scott before he left to teach his class. He made homemade chicken soup for us for dinner! It was piping hot on the stove which I promptly transferred straight to my bowl…

10.22 dinner

Yes, those are homemade noodles!!! A man who makes his own noodles and is a tech guru? Can it get any better than that?

After dinner, I was so busy doing laundry and playing on the Internet that I completely forgot about the new episode of The Office! Oh, where would I be without Hulu!

But, I DID remember to eat a little dessert…

10.22 cookie

It was another Cherly & Co. cookie that I snagged from work yesterday day. This double chocolate frosted cookie was fantastic! Honestly, it really was much smaller than it looks in the photo 😉

Now I’m off to do a little shopping – online! I still need some new clothes for next week and I have T-7 days to get them.

Have a great night!

Dessert For Breakfast

Leave it to my office to serve dessert for breakfast. I arrived at work this morning, expecting a nice breakfast spread. So I was not surprised to see the standard bagels and lox and fresh fruit. But we also had two huge chocolate bundt cakes that were masked as coffee cakes. You’ve all heard the saying, call a spade a spade. Well, if your breakfast has chocolate, sugar, butter, flour, and frosting, just call it what it is – DESSERT!

10.21 breakfast1

You can see the cakes at the FAR back/top of the picture.

When I arrived to the buffet, I immediately skipped over the bagels/bread and moved right to the fruit. The fruit was fantastic – I haven’t tasted honeydew that good in a very long time. I really should have filled my plate up with fruit and stopped there. Next in line was a mystery dish, that a coworker told me had egg, pasta, and blueberries in it – are you serious? Ok, I had to try it just because it was so strange.

10.21 breakfast2

As for the mystery dish, after one bite, I did not care to see how that story ended. Now, onto the cake! I took a relatively small piece of the chocolate chip bundt cake. It was not as dense as I imagined it to be – kind of like a hefty croissant only shaped like a cake. Next on the breakfast menu were the obligatory cheese blintzes with blueberry and strawberry toppings. I’ve tasted these dandies before and did not care for them in the slightest, so it was bye bye blintzes.

Our kick-off meeting went very well. It even ended a tad early, which we were all grateful for. But, immediately after that meeting, I had another “meeting” to stuff welcome bags for all staff going to San Diego. We stuffed the bags with survival items like mini lint rollers, gum, hand sanitizer, granola bars, etc. In the past, our VIP’s have always received a little something when they checked into our meeting. I thought it was about time for the staff to receive a little something too. Sorry, I didn’t take a picture of the bag but I’ll try to do that in San Diego next week so I can show you all the goodies I received!

For lunch, I made a quick trip to Go Roma for one of my fave soups – chicken and wild rice!

10.21 lunch

I really should have walked the 10 minutes to the restaurant instead of driving. It was 67 degrees and B-eautiful! I was really pressed for time so driving seemed the best option. 

Well, on top of our breakfast, and all of our welcome bag treats, our organization also treated the staff to gourmet cookies for an afternoon snack…

10.21 cookies

The cookies were the prepackaged kind (which I’m not a huge fan of) from Cheryl & Co. They came in several varieties, including pumpkin with cinnamon icing, double chocolate with chocolate icing, and a sugar cookie shaped like a pumpkin with orange icing. As you can see from above, I grabbed one of each – just for taste-testing purposes of course. I had a taste of both the pumpkin and the sugar cookies – oh my, I can NOT have the cookies in the house! They were so moist, sweet, and they nearly melted in my mouth. These did not taste like the prepackaged cookies that I remember – but then again, they are gourmet.

For dinner, Scott and I warmed up some Trader Joe’s spinach and artichoke dip – hmmm, this is outstanding!! I think I have mentioned this dip before but seriously, you don’t know what you’re missing.

10.21 dinner1

We also heated up some of the homemade minestrone soup Scott made a few weeks ago. Unlike pasta sauce, this soup actually seems to lose some of its flavor after freezing. It’s still good (especially when loaded with parmesan cheese!), just not as good as the day you make it.

10.21 dinner2

After dinner, I went out shopping again for about an hour and still didn’t find anything. I keep going back to all my old favorites – JCrew, Banana Republic, Ann Taylor, etc. I have this image in my head that if I go to those stores enough the perfect piece will suddenly appear on the sale rack. Wishful thinking I’m sure.

OK, it’s getting late and I must call it a night. Have a good evening everyone!