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Archive for September, 2010

Camera Phone Flashback

Good morning everybody – wow the week has flown by so fast! I’ve got a lot to tell you (some awesome eats & even more awesome running) but for now, let’s play a fun flashback game since I finally figured out how to get the pictures off my camera phone 🙂

This is me before being interviewed on camera for a project at work – obviously I don’t look like this most days (makeup & straightened hair with a business suit), but sometimes it’s fun to play dress-up.

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Truth is, most days I look like this…

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Yeeeesh! Pale skin, bags under eyes, frizzy hair, and one of my mom’s old t-shirts – covered in sweat and chugging smoothies 😛 This is basically what I looked like for over 5 years in college LOL I always wore workout clothes to class. These days, the fiancée leaves for work before I’m even out of bed, and gets home after I’ve already changed into my running clothes, so he usually sees me in either pajamas or workout gear – which is why I like to dress up on the weekends. Tomorrow night we’re going to a party at the new Orlando Magic Arena and I’ve already picked out my outfit – a sexy red sundress and heels. 🙂

With the cold weather rolling in, it’s baking season! I like to bake cookies for the fiancée’s coworkers to show them I’m domestic too… sometimes it doesn’t turn out so pretty!Photo134

This is an example of what we call “The Private Reserve” – i.e. the cookies that stay at home while we send the pretty ones to work!

Speaking of food at work, after months of avoiding lunch & learns and packing my own food instead, I finally got a decent vegetarian sandwich from a product vendor! This is some type of greek wrap with veggies, hummus & feta. I’ve had some NASTY vegetarian sandwiches (Jason’s Deli) that always remind me a free lunch isn’t necessarily a good lunch. Photo160

And then I’ve had some awesome vegetarian lunches… like at Amura in downtown Orlando – on the left is a sundried tomato cream cheese cashew roll, and on the right is a tempura sweet potato roll (my favorite!) Photo163

And here’s a goofy picture just to make you laugh…

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I love our scooter 🙂 The fiancée says I look like a motorcycle cop when I ride it – yeah, those shades are a little over the top! Most of the distances I travel for work & fun are less than 6 miles, so it’s too far to reasonably bike in Florida weather but perfect for scootin’!

OK – time to down some pumpkin oatmeal before work – and tonight I’ll tell you all about my awesome running this week 🙂

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Groceries & Garden Tour

Hey! How’s your Sunday going? I just wrapped up some grocery shopping… wanna see?

That’s from three different grocery stores: Publix, Whole Foods, and Chamberlin’s. Alright, here’s what we have for this week…

 

From Publix:

  • Kefir (way cheaper here than anywhere else)
  • 2 cans of pumpkin
  • Mozzarella Cheese
  • Cottage Cheese
  • Yellow & Orange Bell Peppers
  • 6 Bananas
  • Whole Grain Shells Pasta
  • Can of Organic Tomatoes (Italian style)
  • 2 Big Eggplants
  • Carrot Chips for dipping in hummus

From Whole Foods:

  • Annie’s Organic BBQ Sauce
  • 5 apples
  • 5 pears
  • Whole wheat pasta
  • Two giant tubs of hummus (roasted red pepper and garlic lovers, on sale!)
  • Block of pecorino romano cheese (using this instead of parmesan b/c it’s a lot cheaper)
  • Arugula
  • Quinoa from the bulk foods bins

From Chamberlins:

  • Organic Raw Cacao Nibs (had these for the first time at Menchi’s and love them! guess who’s making raw cookies this week…)
  • Mung Bean pasta (recommended by Fitnessista) – super high in protein
  • Two new Larabar flavors: chocolate & chocolate coffee… one of them didn’t survive the ride home 😉

Try not to laugh while I do simple addition…

So it’s a little bit over the $75/week budget – but last week was under (we usually are under), and I got to try a bunch of new stuff I’ve never used before, so I’m OK with that.

Sundays we do a lot of laundry, and we always like to hang the sheets on the clothesline (not just to save energy, but because I love how they smell when they come off the line!).

The fiancee usually hangs the laundry out since we divide up the chores inside = me, outside = him. He finds a way to hang everything at once…

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Yes, those are washrags hanging off of towels lol and yes, that’s a hotel pool towel… don’t judge 😛

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He’s also got the green thumb in the family (ironic since I used to work in a greenhouse…) – check out our herb garden:

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He planted a mixture of basil, jalapeno peppers & cilantro.

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And our pride & joy, the lemon tree 🙂

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It’s over 10 feet tall now, and next to it is the grapefruit tree that we got as an engagement gift so the two can cross-pollinate 🙂

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FYI – the fiancée grew this tree from a seed from a lemon that he used to make lemonade while we were dating in grad school. He nursed it from the spaghetti sauce jar it germinated inside and transplanted it into bigger pots as it grew. It’s always been a reminder of how much he cares about me, since he puts so much time & love into growing this tree. Soon we’ll have to put it in the ground or a much bigger planter.garden (7)

A friend told us that since the lemon tree has thorns, the lemons will be sour & not sweet. I’ve never had a sweet lemon, so sounds good to me!

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Date Night at Universal

After a long day of running, naps & chores, the fiancée and I went out on a date 🙂 We’d been planning a date night for a while now to go out for a nice dinner & a concert, and this weekend it just so happened we got two free tickets to a random concert at Universal called Pinktober Phishfest, which we knew was a breast cancer benefit but had no idea what kind of music they were playing or what to expect… we were confused to say the least.

Before we drove to Universal, we went back & forth over what to eat for dinner:

  • Orlando Magical Dining Month too expensive ($30 each – whaaat?)
  • Restaurants at Citywalk not many good vegetarian options
  • Indian Food on I-Drive with coupons we had horrible reviews
  • Steak and Shake impulse, not veg friendly
  • Cheesecake Factory too busy on a Saturday night

We wanted something relatively cheap (remember we have a honeymoon coming up!) and vegetarian-friendly, and we finally decided on Crispers at Winter Park Village. This development is a great place for date night because they have a movie theater and tons of restaurants & shopping, but you don’t have to pay for parking or fight crazy tourist crowds.

We haven’t been to a Crispers in over a year so it was good to go back and see what was new. I got the butternut squash soup (mmmmmmmmmm)

and an awesome margherita flatbread.  I’ve been eating a lot of margherita pizza recently because it’s vegetarian but carnivores still like the taste (I think it’s the garlic that wins most people over). Let me just say this is the best flatbread I’ve had in a LONG time, and the price was just right, so if you have a pizza craving I recommend this place for lunch or dinner. It’s casual too (like a Panera bread).

After dinner we drove across town to Universal, and passed the almost-finished Amway arena – so excited to go to the opening ceremonies! It’s cool to see it be built from the ground up 🙂

Plus Kellie has season tickets – ohhhh yeahhhh 🙂 Here’s us during one of last season’s games. Photo139

We got to Universal a little after 9 (after circling the area for a few minutes to beat the $15 parking fee before 9pm!) and walked over to the Hard Rock where the concert was, and took a few pictures by the water.

When we got inside, we quickly figured out this event wasn’t exactly up our alley… so we left and planned on going to Halloween Horror nights until we found out it’s $65 each for Florida residents & you don’t even get to ride the rides… yeeeeesh! So finally we decided on a movie that we both wanted to see.

This was SCARY! At one point I screamed “OH $#!* – OH $#!*#!” Everyone else in the theater was scared too, so I didn’t feel that bad for shouting profanities at the movie screen 😛

What’s the scariest movie you’ve seen?

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Surprise – we did a 5K this morning. I say surprise because this run wasn’t in my half marathon training plan, but once we saw that the course is right through the fiancée’s childhood neighborhood & that his mom wanted to do it, we couldn’t resist 🙂 Enter the Miracle Miles – aka the 2nd biggest race I’ve ever done.

This morning began with the usual pre-run snackage: toast with PB & apricot preserves.

We got out the door and drove to the other side of downtown to meet up with the fiancée’s mom – her house was half a mile from the starting line so it worked out perfectly. We walked in the dark to the race start and saw a lot of her neighbors joining us in the race.

Don’t judge – it was 6:45am in that picture! :) 

When we got to the race site, it was jam-packed and so many vendors had come out to give information & free stuff – this was the biggest race I’ve done next to the Corporate 5K and I love the crowds.

We all stretched & were off running before we knew it. The picture came out a little blurry, but you can get an idea of what it looks like having thousands of folks marching down Orange Avenue!

Beautiful sunrise over Lake Lucerne just south of downtown Orlando:

This was the fiancée’s mom’s first race ever, and she was so pumped because for the last week she’d been driving through her neighborhood seeing the signs.

She is new to running and has been getting a lot of time in on the elliptical but this was her longest distance ever on the pavement, so we walked most of the race to help get her adjusted to the outside conditions (humidity & pavement). Everyone was in good spirits and walking was a nice change of pace (literally), considering we were up late the night before.

Note: if you are planning on racing for a real time (i.e. trying to do it fast) – spare yourself & don’t drink the night before – I woke up at 3am dehydrated after the buzz from my 2 ciders wore off. Yes, training has basically eliminated my alcohol tolerance (which helps save on bar tabs!)

The scenery was gorgeous, with neighborhood parks & cute houses – it was awesome to be on a stroll through the streets where my fiancée grew up 🙂

I like to think that every race is a learning experience, and sometimes what you learn is what your body is capable of, and what to expect in future races. Today’s lesson: drinking coffee before a race will give you energy but will also make you have to take a detour to your house & have a potty break. We’re all human 🙂

The final time when we got to the finish line was 1:06:02. Yes, it took us more than twice as long as the last race we did, but how many times do you get to say that you actually came in last place? We were laughing the whole way and catching up, and it was FUN – and the fiancée’s mom wants to do another 5K with us too 🙂 I’m so glad there’s a “next time” for her because the look on her face when she saw all her neighbors & their kids & grandkids out socializing was so warm, like it was all of her old friends just hanging out in the street 🙂

And what race would be complete without some free stuff? I got enough of these Powerbar energy gel blasts to get me through this whole season of long runs!

Never used these before, but I’m all about trying stuff out for free before buying a lot, especially since these little guys are not that cheap! Note to other cheap athletes: if you want to try a bunch of protein powder & protein bar flavors, go to a fitness show (i.e. bodybuilding) – they have SO many free varieties for you to take home!

All in all, this was a great race, tons of fun and we made a promise to do it again next year 🙂

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Fall Dinner Party

Hey there! This week marked the start of fall, so let’s celebrate with some cold weather foods & a dinner party 🙂

This week has really gone by quickly, and I’ve been a little drained of creativity (but for good reason that I hope to tell you about in the next few weeks…) so it’s been a while since the last post. Let me show you one of our favorite vegetarian dinners (no matter what time of year!)

Sweet potatoes with baked beans and broccoli – I got this idea from Caitlin and we LOVE the combination – you’ll probably be seeing a lot of this meal over the next few months (sweet potatoes are SO cheap right now!) For two people, we chopped up two sweet potatoes into tiny breakfast-potato-sized chunks, cooked in a pan with olive oil + salt + pepper + chili powder, and topped with a 1/2 can (of the big family-sized cans) of vegetarian baked beans.

We also made a whole 1lb bag of frozen broccoli on the stove (sautéed with a little bit of soy sauce).

I just found out one of my pregnant friends reads the blog, and she said the pictures give her cravings so I should make them look good (yeah, Indian-food-in-a-box doesn’t always look very appetizing), so hopefully this will wet her whistle 🙂

Last night my BFF Kellie hosted an awesome autumn dinner party for a group of friends, complete with seasonal decor 😉 She is such a homemaker and has the prettiest cookware of anyone I know!

The menu included green bean casserole,

sweet potato casserole (I promise there are delicious sweet potatoes & pecans underneath that lovely cloud-o-marshmallows),

the best stuffing I’ve had in my whole life (celery + onions + carrots + apples + raisins),

fluffy layered biscuits,

and some seasonal pumpkin beer!

Kellie – I’m officially extending to you a permanent invitation to my house for future Thanksgiving dinners 🙂 Please bring your epic stuffing & future Gator babies lol

I’m pretty sure Kellie’s stuffing would make our pregnant friend drool :-P 

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Lucky

I woke up this morning feeling especially lucky… but more on that in a bit – let’s get to the eats!

Yesterday was a slow & fun 3-miler with the fiancee & the BFF, 3 miles in 42:26. Afterwards we laughed at our slackness and headed to Tijuana Flats to indulge in deep-fried vegetarian goodness covered in queso – it’s all about balance 🙂

Today I ran with the fiancee and covered 2 miles in 24:54 – not bad, but still slower than I’m used to. Dinner was chili cheese veggie burgers and sauteed spinach…

… aka I was too lazy to cook.

So… back to the luck. This morning I woke up and had a strange thought – I had pushed snooze a few times and was laying in a weird position that made my leg cramp up, and I thought “I’m lucky to have legs”. Because seriously, if it weren’t for my legs, I wouldn’t be able to do these crazy runs & so many other things… like wearing outrageous Gladiator costumes,

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and climbing up waterfalls.

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One of my main reasons for staying so active is the thought that one day I might not be able to… whether it’s because I’m recovering from a freak snowboarding accident,

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or busy taking care of a couple of these.

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(my nephew)

I spent much of my spacing-out time today thinking about the other things I’m lucky to have been able to do.

I’m lucky to have been able to live the lifelong dream out in California (no matter how short it lasted),

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and to have fallen in love in one of the most beautiful places on the planet 🙂

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Lucky to have great hair,

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and a hot butt ;-) 

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Lucky to have a Mama who loves me,

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and lucky to have had this little fur baby to take care of for a year.

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Most important, just feeling lucky to be healthy & happy 🙂

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Grocery Budgeting

Happy Sunday! We woke up this morning and feasted on a cereal mix (Kashi Go Lean Crunch + Puffins + Publix Flax Flakes) with chocolate protein powder, soymilk & raisins – I’m on a serious cereal kick recently, maybe too many smoothies?

Breakfast also included a sweet birthday treat from the fiancee’s mom…

CHOCOLATE!!! How to choose one? Well, you could use the fancy descriptions…

I chose this little ball of trouble.

It looks like a chocolate planet…

… a chocolate planet that just got totally destroyed!

Immediately afterwards, flossing happened 😛

On a typical Sunday, we clean up the house, take out the recycling (paper goes to Paper Retriever where the profits go to the high school in our neighborhood – love it)…

… and do our grocery shopping.

Grocery Budgeting Tips

Having been a college student for way too long, and now being a couple saving for a wedding+honeymoon+home during a recession, we’ve become really aware of where our money goes, especially on groceries (my domain). Each year we sit down together and go over what we spent the previous year in the major categories (rent, utilities, internet, groceries, dining out, vacations, gifts, gas, insurance, etc.) and see where we think we can improve. Last year we found we were going out WAY TOO MUCH for meals (including breakfast – the cheapest meal of all to do at home!), so we decided to make a change.

We were spending around $50/week for two people on groceries, which usually left us with an empty fridge & a hankering to go out to eat. We decided to increase the grocery allowance to a firm $75/week (for both of us!) so we’d have more food at home and less reason/desire to go out for meals. Plus this gives us more room to buy pricier foods that we hadn’t had before to expand our tastes & cooking skills.

The $75/week doesn’t include alcohol (since most of the alcohol is either “yard beer” or wine for special occasions) – it kinda gets its own budget category. We still haven’t quite figured this part out.

We made the $75/week rule before we decided to stop eating meat, so it turns out we now usually spend less than $65 – woo!

My main tip for grocery shopping is don’t go shopping without looking in your pantry first! (or your fridge/freezer/cabinets) I can’t tell you how many times we’ve bought something like cheese, only to come home to a full unopened bag of cheese in the fridge that we had forgotten about. Yeah, we’ll eat it eventually, but I’m not breaking our $75/week rule to stock up on stuff that would probably go bad before we got to eat it. That said, we DO stock up on stuff that we know will keep (i.e. brown rice, lentils, beans, vegetable stock, Lara Bars, frozen stuff) or that we know will get eaten quickly (i.e. hummus on sale) – but not to the point where we’re bringing home 50 lb bags of brown rice and storing them in the laundry room 😛

Another good tip I’ll never forget: “It’s not a deal if you don’t need it.” This means even if your Sunday paper comes with a coupon for nacho cheese dip half off, don’t buy it unless you were planning on eating nacho cheese dip soon! A lot of people make their grocery lists around what coupons are available (I used to do this too), and that can leave you with a bunch of stuff that you don’t need or isn’t good for you.

This week’s shopping included:

  • Three boxes of Kashi cereal
  • Two cartons of Almond milk
  • Cream of Wheat
  • Coffee (for the fiancee, I drink tea @ work b/c it’s free)
  • Three containers of drink mix (also for the fiancee, I’m not into artificial sweeteners)
  • Whole Wheat Spaghetti (we’re carb-loading this week for an unexpected race on Saturday!)
  • Spaghetti Sauce
  • Fresh spinach
  • Whole wheat pitas (we wanted tortillas but couldn’t find any without partially-hydrogenated stuff in them)
  • Hummus
  • 6 peaches
  • 7 bananas
  • Shredded cheddar cheese (for tonight’s chili)
  • 2 sweet potatoes
  • Marinated artichoke hearts (for lunch wraps)
  • Organic yogurt (for smoothies)
  • Kidney beans (for the pasta sauce – added protein)
  • Grapes

We used a few coupons, including:

  • $2 off 2 containers of Almond Milk
  • $3 off fresh fruit when buying 3 Kashi products (found this coupon stuck to the cereal box in the store!)
  • $1 off Cream of Wheat (perfect since cold weather is coming our way again)

The grand total for the groceries was about $55 – for two people for a week! Sometimes it’s more, sometimes it’s less – just depends on how much stuff we have leftover from the previous week & in the freezer.

Tonight’s dinner includes all stuff that we had bought before today’s grocery excusion – CHILI!

In the slow cooker for 5 hours on low, we put:

  • Half a bag of black beans (cooked this morning on the stove)
  • A large white onion (already sauteed on the stovetop)
  • A whole bag of chopped red & green peppers (leftover from our epic trip to BJ’s)
  • Banana peppers & jalapeno peppers
  • A jar of spaghetti sauce
  • A can of vegetable stock
  • About 8 cloves of garlic (roasted from our last carb-loading night)
  • Spices: cumin, salt, pepper, chili powder, cayenne pepper, crushed red pepper
  • Louisiana hot sauce
  • A big scoop of a frozen chipotle sauce the fiancee made a while back
  • *Topped with cheddar cheese after it’s done

So glad to break out the slow cooker b/c I didn’t feel like cooking this on the stove tonight! You know it’s fall when the Crock Pot comes out of the cabinet 🙂

What are some of your grocery budgeting tips?

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