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!

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!

Cupcake Heaven

Hola Todos and Happy Halloween! California is still sunny and beautiful, and I still have 4 days left here!

I started my Halloween with a super fast 4-mile run on the treadmill. I woke up around 6:30, jumped out of bed and was in the hotel fitness center by 7 AM. About 5 minutes into the run, as I was staring out the window at the ocean, I thought, why the hell am I running inside? Duh – I don’t know what I was thinking.

Due to a few work issues that came up, I had a late breakfast, which ended up being a very small bowl of blueberry yogurt with chopped walnuts…

10.31 breakfast

I spent the morning working on a few projects that I should have finished last week, but just didn’t have time. Through all of the work and chaos today, I did actually find time to eat lunch. However, because I was so hungry, I completely forgot to take a picture of what I ate. It would have also helped if I would have brought my camera to the restaurant. Anyway, I had a huge turkey and brie sandwich – the sandwich was serious 6 inches high!! I only ended up eating 1/2 the sandwich, but I polished off the fries in record time.

Later in the afternoon, as things were winding down for today’s activities, a colleague and I walked to a nearby pastry shop that specializes in cupcakes. Heavenly Cupcake is located in the Gaslamp District of San Diego. They sell AMAZING cupcakes. They have different flavors of cupcakes each day, such as pumpkin, carrot, vanilla caramel, and lemon coconut. I had one of the best cupcakes I’ve every eaten…

10.31 Heavenly Cupcake2

A red velvet beauty with cream cheese frosting. Oh my, absolutely sweet and sinful! Obviously, this is not the actual cupcake I ate (photo from Heavenly Cupcake web site) but you get the idea of how gourmet these babies are. We were so excited at our new found dessert heaven that we purchased a dozen cupcakes to put in our staff lounge at our meeting. I highly recommend this boutique dessert store (although the staff were NOT very friendly) although you may need to save your pennies to eat here.

Tonight, I attended a special VIP dinner. I did not pick the menu personally, so therefore there were very few things that I ate at the dinner. However, I did start off with a very nice salad…

10.31 dinner

It included what looked like bibb lettuce, grape tomatoes, and hearts of palm – all topped with lime dressing. Very good, although I wish my salad had been bigger. When the entree came out, I was give the beef with a side of sweet potatoes and asparagus. Hmm, who needs beef when you can eat pureed sweet potatoes?

Having a lighter-than-normal dinner made it easier to say yes to the super awesome dessert that was served at the dinner…

10.31 dessert

This dessert was cross between chocolate mousse and a white chocolate torte. So yummy indeed, but I only ate about 1/3 of it because of the cupcake I had earlier today.

Once again, I am falling asleep as I’m typing away. I must go recharge my battery with a good night’s sleep.

Happy Daylight Savings Time!

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!