Can't eat just one…

Evening everyone! I had a fabulous lunch with Anne today! It is amazing how fast an hour and a half can fly by when you’re catching up with an old friend. For lunch, we met at Big Bowl, an Asian bistro about 1/2 way between our houses.

12.22 Orange chicken stir fry

I had a house specialty – the crispy orange chicken. I really wanted to love this dish, but unfortunately the chicken was rather chewy – the citrus sauce was really good though.

The rest of the day was spent running holiday errands, including making TWO trips to Goodwill (yes, that is how much stuff I gave away!), a stop at the post office, and then to a few shops at the nearby mall. 

I tried to study but my brain was just not comprehending anything today. I also was distracted by these little green and red devils….

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I really don’t know why we keep these in the house. They are Scott’s and my biggest weakness when it comes to sweets. OK, could I pick a higher calorie food to be addicted to???? And, you CAN’T eat just ONE! Who would ever eat just ONE M&M anyway – hmm…maybe a stick skinny model from Brazil.

12.22 peanut mms1

When I don’t have them in the house, I don’t think about them. Out of site, out of mind, I guess. But when they are here, they are very hard to pass up. I did fairly well the whole day, but tanked this evening after dinner when I proceeded to have a few handfuls. We all have our vices, don’t we? So, my question to you is, what’s your food vice? Candy, cookies, pizza? What can’t you resist if it’s in the house? I seem to recall that a certain someone loves Oreo cookies, but I’m not naming any names 😉

In addition to no studying, there was also no wrapping in the house today. Ugh…that means all of my wrapping must be done tomorrow!

Ok, I’m off to get some rest before my wrapping marathon. Plus, I’m going to try to get to yoga tomorrow – woo hoo! Trying to stick with Jenna’s challenge!

Night all 😉

Nutcracker Tea

Hi Everyone! I had such a wonderful and festive Saturday! A big part of my day was spending time shopping, chatting, and eating with my sister, Carrie, who drove in from Michigan for a visit. Today, we headed to a tea shop for a little afternoon tea – Nutcracker style!

12.19 Nutcracker ornament

That’s right – the tea sitting was themed after the Nutcracker and each place setting had a little nutcracker ornament for everyone to take home. It was a very nice touch. This is an annual tea that the restaurant serves around the holidays. You typically have to make reservations weeks in advance – which I did – in order to get a spot. Today, the place was packed with groups of women – young and old – many of whom were wearing fancy hats. Sadly, I was not wearing a hat, although I plan to come better prepared next year.

Our indulgences started with individual pots of tea – mine being Republic of Tea’s Lemon Wintergreen Tea. Hmm…sooo good – this may just be my new favorite winter tea!

12.19 teapot

The tea was super flavorful and the peppermint was such a nice, fresh taste to pair with the foodie items. One problem though…even though I poured with quite a steady hand, I still managed to get tea leaves in my cup…

12.19 Lemon Wintergreen tea

No matter though- it was all good. That’s the beauty of being with your sister, you can ask her to look in your teeth to see if there are any stray tea leaves 😉

12.19 Jen Tea 2 Say Tea!

Our full tea service also included a three-tiered tray full of sweet bread, scones, cookies, finger sandwiches, and chocolate-covered delights…

12.19 Tiered tea tray

Absolutely De-Lish! And so pretty for picture taking, don’t you think? On the very top tier laid two very large gingerbread cookies. I’m not a huge gingerbread fan, although even if I was, these cookies were just too cute to eat…12.19 Gingerbread cookies

The desserts included a chocolate-covered strawberry, chocolate-covered lady fingers, and bite-size brownies. By the time we got to the dessert, we could only eat the strawberries and lady fingers – oh-please, twist my arm would you! The brownies were just too much for us so we ended up taking them home for “the guys”.

12.19 tea desserr

After our very filling tea, we walked around a few of the neighboring shops. It was an absolutely perfect snowy winter scene, with the soft, fluffy snow covering the old houses-turned shops and the covered bridges. Gorgeous! But we quickly learned that we are both marshmallows when it comes to the cold so we headed back to the car.

By the way, we never ended up wrapping gifts last night, so we’re about to jump into that right now!

Have a great night!

Workplace Yoga!

Hello out there!

I’ve had a great Saturday so far today, although I didn’t make it to yoga class. I’m beginning to think I should just cancel my membership at the gym because I only keep it for yoga classes. Yet, I can’t seem to get my rear end out of bed in time to go! However – good news! My work announced that, starting in November, we will actually have yoga classes brought to us onsite!!! How awesome is that? So, it will be about $60 for 6 classes (one hour per week) and my company with subsidize at least 50% of it. Plus, it will be held during our lunch hour – now if that isn’t motivation to attend class, I don’t know what is!

Instead of yoga, hubby and I went to the mall (seems like we’ve been doing a lot of that lately) to do a little shopping. However, before heading out, I fueled up on another cereal bowl…

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This was a little different than yesterday. I mixed Multi-grain Cheerios, Kashi Go Lean (mostly for the fiber), and the rest of Bear Naked banana nut cereal – extra crunchy goodness!

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Our mall trip was specifically to pick up some last-minute birthday presents for a party we’re going to tomorrow. But, I was also side-tracked at looking at clothes and shoes – such a girl thing, ya know? I was also excited to hear that on Tuesday, Macy’s starts its Clinique bonus time. I’ve been waiting for this because I need to stock up on a few essentials before my big San Diego trip at the end of the month.

For lunch, we opted for Americanized-Thai/Asian food at Big Bowl. This restaurant reminds me of a PF Changs or even a little of Wagamana in England (also in Boston). They serve Thai-Chinese food with an American flair. I’ve had some pretty scary Thai and Chinese food in my day so I stayed away from it for a LONG time. Then, after moving to Chicago a few years ago, I tried Big Bowl and have loved Thai food ever since.

Before ordering our main course, we started with some of the best chicken egg rolls I’ve ever eaten…

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If you ever have the opportunity to eat here, you must try these!

Next, my husband and I split the make-your-own stir-fry bar..

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Which has all sorts of yummy and locally grown fresh produce – like carrots, snap peas, broccoli, etc, plus standard Asian selections like water chestnuts and baby corn. You basically tell your server what meat you want (we chose the crunchy chicken), the sauce (we ordered spicy kung pao), if you want rice or noodles (we chose brown rice), and then you fill up a big red bowl (hence the name Big Bowl) with all the veggies you can fit in the bowl. You put the bowl, along with your order receipt, at the order station, and a few minutes later, your fully cooked meal comes out.

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Hmmm, so yummy! And you really can easily split one order of the stir-fry bar between two people. Sometimes, we even have leftovers!

Now I need to be heads down working for the rest of the afternoon – although it’s going to be tough because I’m really easily distracted right now.

See ya all later!

Bear Naked Goodies!

Running With Cake Fact: I used to work at Disney World (Magic Kingdom) on the College Program and that’s where I met my husband. Anyone want to guess where I worked?

Hey All!

It’s my day off today as usual and I’ve spent it running errands and cleaning the house! The fun just never ends 🙂

This morning I ran a very relaxing 4 miles. It was a typical “fall” morning, with leaves beginning to fall off the trees and a cool, crisp breeze in the air. I left the house around 7:30 AM which is prime school bus time in my area. I must have seen a half dozen school buses in a matter of 15 minutes.

After my run, I enjoyed a nice, leisurely breakfast. I forgot to mention last night that yesterday, while I was at work, I received a sample of Bear Naked’s new banana nut cereal! Yeah- I love goodies!

9.25 Bear Naked

The cereal is 100 percent all natural and is made with banana chips, oats, dried apples, and walnuts – everything I LOVE! The cereal itself kind of reminded me of Kashi cereal, only with a little more sweetness and not as crunchy. Instead of just eating this as plain cereal, I decided to add it to some Trader Joe’s nonfat vanilla Greek yogurt.

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See it laying on my yogurt – all nice and crispy? Just before I took the plunge, I had a revelation – I should really add peanut butter to this, I thought! And, so I did! I added 1 tbsp of MaraNatha all natural creamy peanut butter right on top.

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Oh my, this was just about perfection! The taste of bananas, chocolate, oats, and the yogurt were fantastic! And the mixture was so thick and creamy – like a little bowl of goopy heaven…

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I washed everything down with Day 25 of Zola’s Daily Wellness shot. Only 5 more days and I will have completed my challenge!

After running a few errands, it was time for a quick lunch. I grilled a homemade turkey-vegetable burger..

9.25 lunch1

A few weeks ago, I took a 1/2 pound of ground turkey and mixed it with a bunch of finely chopped veggies, like carrots, onions, and peppers. I froze 4 very nice size patties from the bunch. Even though I slightly over grilled the burger, it was awesome – so full of flavor.

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I paired the burger with a side of all-natural tortilla chips and Frontera salsa – so spicy and yummy!

Tonight, Scott and I are headed out to dinner to start our anniversary weekend celebration! As of September 28, we will have been married for 8 years – I can hardly believe it! Since our anniversary falls on a Monday, we thought we’d celebrate the whole weekend before our big day. 

For those of you who do not know me, Scott and I met while working at Disney World in Orlando on the College Program. He also proposed to me at the Magic Kingdom right when the fireworks were going off – he’s such a Disney romantic. Ahh, so many fun memories!

All right, see you all tonight – or maybe tomorrow morning 😉

Fancy a Chocolate or 50?

Ok, enough already. I, once again, walked into the staff lounge to find more food….

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Somehow, gourmet chocolates seem to lose their appeal when they are laying in front of me in mass quantities. But, I had to test one out, just for research purposes of course…

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Hmm, dark chocolate covered orange cream…I’m still on the fence about this one. I may have to try the raspberry cream later 😉

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For breakfast, I grabbed a quick shot of Zola’s Daily Wellness drink then had a little cereal bowl…

9.23 breakfast

I had a mixture of Cheerios whole-grain and Cascadian Farm organic dark chocolate almond granola. It was very tasty. However, I became distracted by my pile of laundry, so by the time I ate the cereal, it was a little soggy.

For lunch, I went to Go Roma Italian cafe for some super tomato basil soup!

9.23 lunch

It was just what I needed on this chilly FALL day! Now that I am refueled for the afternoon, I have to do a s-load of writing. Ugh – deadlines are approaching and I’m feeling a little queasy just thinking about them.

Tonight, I’m headed to my first-ever Williams Sonoma cooking class. It’s on weeknight French suppers -doesn’t that sound yummy! I’ll write a tell-all post tonight, so stay tuned!

Sunday Morning With Bob Marley

Running With Cake Fact: I ONLY run in Nike running shoes. I haven’t worn any other running shoe since high school.

Hey all!

It’s so nice to actually sleep in on a Sunday. Before I started my typical run, I had a little pre-run snack..

9.20 Luna1

I had 1/2 of one of my LUNA bars – Nutz Over Chocolate. I usually only eat power bars half at a time. Any more than that and I’m afraid I may feel too full during my run.

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As far as nutrients, this bar had 180 calories, 10 g of protein, and 3 g of fiber. Plus, it combined two of my favorite things – nuts and chocolate! The bar tasted awesome…I just really wish that there was more fiber in it.

My run consisted of a quick 5-miler. Although I was well-rested and it was a gorgeous morning, I just wasn’t in the mood for a longer run – I’m sure you all have been there.

I wasn’t too hungry when I came home from my run, so I ate a simple breakfast of fresh, whole fruit…

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A super yummy pear! I used to hate pears as a kid – I’m not sure why, maybe it was the texture. Now I love them – although they have to be pretty ripe for my taste.

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After the pear, I still had a taste for something a little sweet, so I picked out a few fresh strawberries….

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Now these beauties were VERY sweet and juicy! Just like watermelon, I am sooo going to miss strawberries in the winter.

The rest of the morning/early afternoon was spent house cleaning. My in-laws are coming for dinner and somehow, the house looked like a tornado swept through it. It’s not as if I don’t clean EVERY day, so how does it get like this?

While cleaning, I listened to the melodic sounds of Bob Marley. I typically can’t wait to listen to Bob Marley, Jimmy B, and all of the other summer favorites. But this summer wasn’t that hot and most of the time, it just didn’t feel like summer. Hence, Bob and Jimmy were barely played at all the last few months. I guess today was as good a day as any to bring them back out for a final summer fling. Now, for the next month or so, it will be my Autumn transition music (what I play until I’m allowed to play Christmas music in the house), including Jack Johnson, Sarah McLachlan, Tori Amos, and plenty of classical.

I stopped mid-cleaning and had a simple lunch…

9.20 lunch

…which was a 1/2 salami and ham sandwich with cheddar cheese, and Mezzetta hot peppers, all on 12-grain Brownberry bread. Plus, I had a handful of carrots and my tasty Cape Cod potato chips!

We’re making homemade minestrone soup for dinner tonight, so I’d better get chopping! 

See you all tonight!

Who Has the Best Veggie Burger?

Afternoon everyone! I didn’t get to bed until after midnight! I was sucked into watching V for Vendetta – one of Scott’s favorite movies. I’ve never had an interest in seeing it, but I caught the last half of it last night and decided to watch the rest of it. Pretty dark movie, but still entertaining and thought-provoking.

Because of my late night, I chose not to set my alarm for yoga. I wanted to see if I would wake up naturally, and early enough to make it there on time. Well, I didn’t get out of bed until 7:30 AM, which was probably plenty of time to make it to 8 AM yoga if I rushed out the door. But I really didn’t feel like rushing to yoga.

Instead, I opted for a nice leisurely breakfast. I have been eating so much cereal lately that I just had to have something different today. I’m out of Greek yogurt, so homemade oatmeal it was!

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And so yummy it was too! I used a 1/2 cup of raw oats, combined with 1 cup of skim milk, topped with 2 strawberries and a dollop of MaraNatha creamy peanut butter.

After breakfast, Scott and I took a long walk in a forest preserve – something we used to do quite a bit before our schedules got so crazy.

9.19 forest preserve

The whole trail loop is about 2 miles long and we ended up doing 1 1/2 loops for a total of 45 minutes. It was an absolutely gorgeous morning outside, just cool enough for a brisk walk. I’m really looking forward to walking this route when the leaves are in full color.

After our walk, we headed home to get ready for our lunch date. I was in the mood for a chicken sandwich and french fries (a girl can’t always eat healthy!), so we headed to Red Robin. That place can be dangerous because of the bottomless french fries, but I do like their sandwiches. Today, instead of my usual chicken, I ordered the Garden Burger with fresh tomatoes, lettuce, and pickles…

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And, of course, it came with french fries.

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I’m usually a turkey burger or chicken sandwich kind of a girl. But, I’m really starting to like veggie/garden burgers more and more. However, I really haven’t eaten that many to really know which brand is best. 

So, my question to you all is this – what would you say is the best brand of veggie/garden burger out there?

Ideally, I’d like something that is not overly processed, all-natural, etc. as well as easy to make with a delicious taste. I’d love to hear your thoughts!!

After our very filling lunch, we’re relaxing until we head out to a late summer party tonight. One of our girlfriends is moving to Brazil on October 1 and her family is throwing her a going-away party. As of now, she only plans to be gone for a year – but you never know! I’m looking forward to the party because I know there will be a ton of fun people there, as well as great food and maybe a bonfire!

Must get back to relaxing, so I’ll see you all tonight!

Lazy Friday

Running With Cake Fact: I’ve run in 23 of the 50 United States, as well as Washington, DC.

Hello All! I’ve had such a full day already and it’s not even 2 PM. Friday is my typical day off so I slept in just a tad (6:45 AM but I usually get up before 6!) and was out the door running shortly thereafter. I love my Friday runs. It’s so nice running at whatever pace I want, knowing that I don’t have to rush to get to work. I decided to do an easy 4 miles, and save my longer run for Sunday. 

I forgot to eat my 1/2 powerbar before running so by the time I came back, I was crazy hungry. That’s what I get for eating cereal for dinner the night before a run! So, what did this famished girl have for breakfast….

9.18 breakfast2

You guessed it! More cereal…well it was actually a mixture of 2 cereals and 1 granola. I mixed 1/2 cup of Kashi Go Lean Crunch with 1/2 Kashi Go Lean (both are super high in fiber) and then added 1/2 cup of Cascadian Farm dark chocolate almond granola – a perfect cereal trifecta if you will. But, I seriously think my eyes were bigger than my stomach because the bowl of cereal ended up being HUGE! And, I ate it all! But, I am happy to say that this big bowl of cereal kept me satisfied all the way to lunch.

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After a little breakie, I packed up my things and headed to Target. It was just a regular Target – not a superstore or anything. But, I was amazed and happy to find that LUNA bars were on sale for $1.00! I promptly snagged three…

9.18 LUNA bars

Out of all of the powerbars I’ve been eating lately, so far LUNA is the best. And, I love that they have extra vitamins/nutrients specifically for women. 

After my Target run, I scooted over to the local Italian cafe to pick up a carry-out lunch…

9.18 lunch

..a cup of minestrone soup and a 1/2 veggie panini. I usually get the veggie pizza when I go to this cafe, but I was in the mood for a sandwich. This was my first time eating the veggie panini and it was fantastic! It had spinach, red peppers, tomato, onion, provolone, goat cheese, and sun-dried tomato pesto. I’m glad that it was only a 1/2 because I don’t think I could have eaten a whole.

Now, I think it’s time for a little break. The book I started reading last night – Improper English – is ok so far. The heroine is actually a tad too crass for me. I can’t believe that a girl would actually be saying some of these things, but it’s fiction, right? Anyway, I’m off to read a little more.

Have a great afternoon!

There is such a thing as bad pizza..

Hello All,

My training course today went ok. It was delivered very nicely by my team. Now, how it was received is another story. It’s very disheartening when you put so much effort into a presentation or program and then someone in the front row is texting the whole time. Not cool in my book. You could at least fake that you are somewhat interested. 

Anyway, for breakfast, I tried my new Cascadian Farm organic dark chocolate almond granola…

9.17 granola3

Oh my, this was GOOD! I think I could actually get my husband to eat it. He even commented when he saw the box, “hmm, dark chocolate almond granola… I could go for some of that!” He doesn’t usually eat granola, so, that’s really telling you something.

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I really like this granola – reminded me a lot of my own homemade granola, although I don’t include chocolate in mine. I added it to a bowl of Trader Joe’s vanilla nonfat Greek yogurt and it stayed crunchy the whole time. And, it was yummy!

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I only added 1/4 cup of the granola to the yogurt (only about 70 calories) but I wish I would have added more! The only negative is that I wish there were more chocolate pieces in my box. I shook it around a bit and really didn’t see much chocolate in it.

Between preparing for and actually delivering today’s training session, I was busy from about 9 AM – 1:30 PM, then I had a meeting from 1:30-2:30 PM. Thankfully, the training included a pizza lunch. However, by the time I actually got around to eating the pizza, it was soggy. Oh my, two soggy pizzas in one week = a really bad week!!!

9.17 lunch

The photo of the pizza actually looked BETTER than it tasted, if you can believe that. This was really proof that you can have bad pizza, no matter what people tell me.

Alright, I’m wrapping up and hoping to get out of here soon. See you all tonight!

Just one of those days….

Running With Cake Fact….I’ve run in 8 countries, not including the United States.

Well, it’s just one of those days. You know, when you’re so tired that you just want to go home and crash. I worked until 11:30 PM last night on “office” related-projects and then didn’t fall asleep until after midnight. And, I spent 2 1/2 hours in a work meeting this morning, to which I was very actively involved, regarding the new staff training that is occurring tomorrow. Blah!

When 1 PM rolled around, I was feeling very weak, and rightly so considering I had only eaten a nectarine since I woke up…

9.16 breakfast

It was very sweet and juicy, but still not enough to get me through 6 hours!  So, after my grueling morning, I decided to treat myself to lunch.

9.16 lunch

I had the most delicious chicken and wild rice soup EVER from the local Italian restaurant near work. It was incredibly rich and creamy and had the best flavor! I wish I could recreate this soup at home. If anyone has a great recipe for chicken and wild rice soup, please don’t hold back!

Gotta run now. I’m trying to get out of here by 4:30 so I can enjoy at least some of this gorgeous day!

See you all tonight!