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Pho and Cupcakes

18 Jan

Boy oh boy are the temperatures dropping in DC this week! Between the clear skies and the wind chill this morning, it was a freeeezing walk to the bus stop. It sure is a beautiful day, though.

IMG_1897[1]Last night was spent celebrating my roommate’s 25th birthday! We went out for dinner at a Vietnamese place nearby, which serves up delicious bowls of pho and a killer avocado smoothie.

The birthday girl and her avocado smoothie!

The birthday girl and her avocado smoothie!

With the cold temps outside, a big bowl of hot soup sounded like the perfect way to end the day. In Seattle, the pho places around the campus of the University of Washington has choices for different sized bowls, which range from extra small to extra large. The extra large bowls are big enough to bathe a small baby inside, which, after explaining this to my other roommate, he suggested performing baby baptisms in pho bowls. Somehow I don’t see that catching on.

IMG_1878[1]I love adding lime and basil to my bowls of pho so they take on a nice citrus-y flavor. I am convinced that a big bowl of this stuff will cure most ailments.

After dinner, it was back to our house for some funfetti cupcakes, specially requested by the birthday girl. I didn’t use any substitutions or try to ‘healthify’ them – they were just some good, all American, straight-from-the-box cupcakes.

IMG_1880[1]Complete with frosting from a container, of course. The boys seemed to enjoy them.

IMG_1894[1]Sorry for the blur – they were just too speedy for my camera.

By the end of the night, the cupcake count was as follows:

K: 5

Birthday girl: 1

Me: 1 (plus inordinate amounts of frosting)

M: 3

Stef: 3? 4? I lost count, because he kept cutting them in half and filling them with frosting to make “cupcake sandwiches”

Attempted house picture while hopped up on sugar.

Attempted house picture while hopped up on sugar.

It was a lovely celebration and reminded me once again of how awesome the roomies are.

This morning, it was time to get creative in the kitchen. I do my grocery shopping on Friday evenings, which means the morning before I go grocery shopping is usually slim pickins. After preparing my lunch, I scrounged together enough ingredients to make a pretty delicious omelette, with a side of sweet potato and juicy red grapes.

IMG_1895[1]Inside the omelette:

  • 3 eggs
  • Handful of baby spinach
  • Three sliced mushrooms
  • 1 wedge of Laughing Cow Creamy Swiss
  • A few tablespoons of salsa

Good combination of carbs and protein – I’m a fan!

I’m not sure when egg yolks got turned into the bad guy, but I can’t see myself ever tossing them out – I can’t bear to waste any food! I know there’s lots of cholesterol in them, but who ever heard of someone dying because they ate too many eggs? It’s a risk I’m willing to take.

The first part of this weekend is looking pretty low-key, so I’m hoping to get some reading done. I started a book that I picked up at the used bookstore when Stef and I were in Old Town last weekend.

IMG_1898[1]I really like this author, who is Italian (though the book is in English). I read one of his other books, called ‘La Bella Figura’, which is about trying to explain Italian ways of doing things to foreigners. Being a foreigner, but having lived in Italy, I found the book to be totally hilarious in its accuracy. If you have ever lived in Italy, or even visited on vacation, I recommend you read it. In this installment, Severgnini turns the tables and tries to explain the United States from the point of view of an Italian. I am really enjoying it so far and I’m looking forward to reading it on my lunch break today.

Food for Thought: Do you have exciting plans for the long weekend? For fellow DC-ers, are you planning on going to the inauguration?

I am trying to prepare my outfit for Monday, because it’s supposed to be freezing and we’ll be standing out there for hours. Layers, anyone? I’m totally okay with looking like the Michelin Man for a morning if it means I’ll be comfortable.

For your viewing pleasure:

The birthday girl is a huge 90s music/boy band fan like I am (which explains why we get along so well) and she introduced us to the wonder of boy band satire, as presented by a group called 2ge+her (pronounced ‘together’). Their repertoire includes masterpieces like The Hardest Part of Breaking Up (Is Getting Your Stuff Back), with lyrical gems like these:

“You borrow stuff every time I turn my back.
(hey that’s mine!)
I can’t believe I went out with a KLEPTOMANIAC!”

You’re welcome.

Have a wonderful long weekend, everyone!

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Breaking Routine

13 Nov

How’s that for a way to start out the day? Oatmeal is warm, sticks to your ribs, and feels like you’re putting a sweater on the inside of your body. It’s a great way to fuel when the weather outside is cold, rainy, and windy, like today in Washington. I have dubbed this particular batch Sweet Potato Spice and here’s how it goes:

Sweet Potato Spice Oatmeal

 

  • 3/4 cup of raw oats
  • 1 cup vanilla soy milk (or almond or regular, whatever tickles your fancy)
  • 1 sweet potato (nuked in the microwave for about 4 minutes)
  • 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • Optional: Agave nectar or other sweetener, to taste

Make your oatmeal however you prepare it. I did it in the microwave, along with my sweet potato because I’m lazy efficient. When the sweet potato is soft, mash it with a fork inside of its skin, then scoop out and mix in with oatmeal. Stir in the pumpkin pie spice and sweetener, if you’re adding it (I added just a tiny drizzle of agave nectar). Enjoy!

On the top, I sprinkled the very last bits of the pumpkin spice granola I picked up from Trader Joe’s, which added a nice crunch on top. Feel free to add granola or something else with a crunch if you’re a texture loving guy or gal, it makes it that much better.

 

What was supposed to be my lunch yesterday (chunk of feta cheese, pita slices, hummus, and celery sticks) turned out to be my dinner. On holidays where we are working, my office gets into the habit of buying pizza for lunch. I totally forgot and brought my lunch yesterday, but ended up eating pizza instead (three slices of veggie from Papa John’s). When I returned home from the gym, I just opened my lunch box and ate dinner while watching Julie and Julia with my roommate and a friend of ours. I just can’t get over how similar Meryl Streep is to Julia Child. She really has her down pat.

Did you know that Julie Powell, the author of the book on which the movie was based wrote a sequel? It’s called Cleaving and it’s about the unraveling of her life after her first book is published. She ends up involved in this love affair and apprentices at a butcher shop to learn how to slice meat. I haven’t read it, but I think I’m going to refrain because a) I don’t want the sequel to ruin her character in the first book and b) I love her husband’s character in the first book and it makes me sad that she had an affair.

I’m looking forward to going to the gym after work today because I am going to try a new group fitness class instead of my usual Zumba. My gym offers a boot camp class and they describe it as such:

“The boot camp class offered focuses on high heart rate training, designed to improve stamina, endurance, and body composition. Because life doesnʼt happen in a vacuum, we emphasize movement in space to prepare your body for the challenges it will face day to day. Functional and athletic exercises are the norm, so be prepared to be challenged and surprised by how fast your body improves. Our program is designed to accommodate individuals of all fitness levels, and encourage them to progress based upon their own standards.”

I am looking forward to switching things up and breaking out of my current fitness routine. I have been sticking to the same workout schedule for over three months now and I think it’s time for a change. I will be sure to let you know how it goes in tomorrow’s post! For now, have an excellent Tuesday and I will catch you all later!

Food For Thought: Do you participate in group fitness? What are your favorite fitness classes?

Another class I really want to try is spin, but I am not very good on a bicycle and I’m nervous to try it alone. If you’ve done it, what are some helpful hints for a total newbie??

 

 

NaNoWriMo

1 Nov

Happy November! Can you believe October has already flown by? Is it socially acceptable to start playing my Christmas playlist on Pandora? I’m probably getting a little ahead of myself.

First off, I want to give a shout-out to one of my oldest and dearest friends, Stephen, for his 23rd birthday. He and I have been friends since 5th grade – it’s crazy to think that we’ve known one another for almost 15 years now! Happy birthday, Fuzzy!

I hope everybody enjoyed their Halloween – to my knowledge, my house didn’t get any trick or treaters. Then again, I didn’t get home until almost nine, so I’m guessing that the majority of kids were off the streets by then.

Oh well, more for me.

The beginning of November marks the first day of NaNoWriMo, also known as National Novel Writing Month. It is an event designed as a challenge for participants to write a 50,000 word novel in one month, starting the first of November and ending on the 30th. In their words,

“Valuing enthusiasm and perseverance over painstaking craft, NaNoWriMo is a novel-writing program for everyone who has thought fleetingly about writing a novel but has been scared away by the time and effort involved.

As you spend November writing, you can draw comfort from the fact that, all around the world, other National Novel Writing Month participants are going through the same joys and sorrows of producing the Great Frantic Novel. Wrimos meet throughout the month to offer encouragement, commiseration, and—when the thing is done—the kind of raucous celebrations that tend to frighten animals and small children.”

I have thought about writing a novel for a long time now, but I have always been intimidated and just haven’t had enough free time to actually sit down and write something that isn’t a paper for school. Now that I’m a “young professional” with time on her hands (theoretically…), I decided that this would be a great challenge. Last year, over a quarter of a million people participated in NaNoWriMo! If you are interested in participating or just want to learn more about it, head over to their About page and check it out!

And now, back to your regularly scheduled programming….

Yesterday’s lunch was kind of a hodgepodge of various vegetables: some sweet potato, some kale, some carrots – you get the idea. I didn’t do a regular grocery shop this past weekend, so I’m getting creative on lunches for the rest of the week.

Today my boss is taking me out for lunch, so I just need to make it to Friday’s lunch and then I can re-stock. One thing I have to avoid today is the kitchen, where all the office snacks are stashed.

 

There was a Halloween contest in my building yesterday and somebody in my office won this huge basket of treats. Fortunately, he decided to share. Unfortunately, he decided to share. The basket has all sorts of goodies, ranging from not-so-good-for-you to seriously-you’re-putting-that-in-your-mouth bad for you. I snagged a small bag of pretzels that I can keep on hand as a snack. For the most part, I’ve been able to do a good job keeping my hand out of the candy jar at the front desk – we’ll see how long that lasts!

After work, I decided to do a back-to-back workout at the gym, which consisted of a Body Pump class and immediately followed by a Zumba class. I think I’m ready to up the weights on the leg sets again, though I’m still struggling to complete the arm sets with my current weight. Hurray for progress!

By the time I got home, it was nearly nine and I wasn’t in the mood for anything to complicated for dinner. For some reason, pizza flavors are really calling to me (remember the cauliflower bowl?), so I made a mini pizza on a whole wheat wrap: pizza sauce with shredded mozzarella and the last of my turkey pepperoni.

I ended up turning into a wrap and it was kind of like those pizza Hot Pockets that you can buy frozen, except it was a million times better.

On a completely unrelated note, guess what I’m sending off today?

My ballot! After drying it off and filling it out, it is finally ready to be sent off. I tried to mail it yesterday, but was thwarted at the post office when there was a fire in the building and everybody had to evacuate. Whomp, whomp. Hopefully today will be a little more successful.

Since I didn’t have to make lunch this morning, I set my alarm for 7:00 AM, instead of the usual 6:30 and made my way downstairs for breakfast. I forgot that I had run out of tea at my house, so plain old water had to do for today. On the menu: blood-orange Chobani with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich thin. I bought a pack of these at Costco over the weekend, so they will be making frequent appearances here in the next few posts.

I just love all the different flavors that Chobani creates! I generally try to eat plain yogurt and sweeten it myself, since most fruit yogurts have so much sugar, but every once in awhile I like to indulge. I bet if you froze these cups, they would be the perfect dessert!

Food For Thought: Have you ever thought about writing a novel? HAVE you written a novel? What type of genre would it be?

 

 

 

 

 

Frankenstorm

29 Oct

Good morning, everybody! I’m writing to you from home, because work was canceled today, due to Hurricane Sandy. My office follows the federal government for closures, so we closed after the government made an announcement that their offices would not be operating. Hurricane Day!!!

It’s like snow days in high school. Despite the closure, the weather in Washington is still fairly mild – it’s not very windy right now and the rain is pretty light. I hope all of you in the northeast and mid-Atlantic are being cautious and have prepared yourselves for the storm. Stay safe, everybody!

We’ve got the Weather Channel on and are tracking where the storm is headed. It looks like we could get quite a bit of rain, but the winds won’t be nearly as high as those in New York or Connecticut.

Let’s backtrack to the weekend. My office threw me a surprise party for my birthday! I didn’t see it coming at all, but was so pleased. One of my co-workers even made adorable mini-cupcakes.

I’m so thankful for the wonderful people I work with for making me feel so special.

Saturday was a nice, long walk all over the city with Stefano. Our first stop was to Eastern market to check out the fall foods.

The market is chock full of homemade cheeses, sausages, baked goods, along with fresh produce of every sort imaginable. For lunch, we stopped by the bakery to get lox bagels on fresh bread. A strawberry smoothie made an appearance, too.

On our way to the market, we stopped by a cute bookstore that was tucked away in a small courtyard, complete with fountain.

We popped in, but I didn’t see anything that caught my eye. Kindle or no Kindle, the real things are still #1 in my book (Ha!).

After grabbing lunch at the market, we moseyed over to the Capitol building, which was surrounded by tree in the middle of changing colors – so beautiful!

Stef and I spent a long time playing in the leaves, throwing them around and making big piles. We’re really mature.

That evening, we went to a friend’s Halloween party. Neither of us were really planning on doing Halloween this year, so we scrambled to come up with costumes. He ended up as an Italian soccer player and I dressed up as Liz Lemon from 30 Rock. I even had a bag of cheese puffs. Our friends took some pictures, so I will post those when I have them

Speaking of friend, I told you guys last week that I had some visitors in town. Their last day was Sunday, so we went out to brunch at Busboys and Poets near U Street. I have been there several times and each time, I love everything I eat! That morning, I ordered their Oaxaca omelet with home fries.

The omelet was so flavorful and creamy, thanks to the black beans and guacamole inside. The potatoes were just wonderful! I could have eaten a plateful of those.

After brunch, Stef and I had just enough time to do a Costco run while the girls were packing and returned home just in time to see them off. Luckily for them, they were on one of the very last flights out of the airport before it was shut down for Hurricane Sandy. They let me know that they got home safe and sound, though the flight itself was a scary one – they must have hit part of the storm while they were flying!

Today looks like we’re going to stick out the storm, though the power is still on and it just feels like a gloomy Sunday. Stefano is hard at work grading papers and I will probably dive back into a book I’m reading called ‘Sex and World Peace’, which is about how microcosmic events of gender inequality affects national security on a macro level. Yes, it sounds textbook-y and yes, I’m a total nerd. If any of you have read ‘Half the Sky’ by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, check this book out!

Food For Thought: Are any of you in the line of the hurricane? What have you done to prepare?

Being from Seattle, I really don’t have any experience with major natural disasters, so I wasn’t sure how to prepare myself. We’ve got candles, flashlights, and bottled water so hopefully that will be all we need!

False Alarm

30 Aug

Well, hello Thursday, it’s nice to see you. Not because I like Thursdays, but because it means tomorrow is Friday. I warned you all that I was going to be antsy this week, and here it is. I woke with a huge start this morning, panicking because I thought I had slept through my alarm. When I checked the time, the clock read 6:12 AM. False alarm! Unfortunately, my alarm clock was due to go off only 18 short minutes later, so I didn’t even bother going back to sleep, though I stayed in bed until 6:30. Don’t you hate it when you wake up before you’re supposed to, but it’s not early enough to merit going back to sleep? If I’m going to wake up unnecessarily early, it should be at four or something, so I can roll over and catch a few more zzz’s before the alarm goes off.

Breakfast this morning was an English muffin PB&J, with some chia seeds sprinkled on top. I had a few apple slices alongside, which was a refreshing complement to the richness of the peanut butter. For some reason, I am on a serious sugar kick this week, which might explain why I have been feeling so groggy in the mornings. Definitely need to lay off the sugar.

You know it’s bad when the first thing your co-worker says to you in the morning is, “Wow, you look like you didn’t get any sleep last night!” I’m thinking about doing a little nighttime yoga before bed, to get my body relaxed and hopefully promote a more restful sleep. Also, I think I just need to get to be earlier, period. I stayed up past midnight again, reading this Danielle Steel novel, and I am paying for it today. Goal tonight is to be in bed by 11!

Quick Question: Do you have difficulty falling asleep at night/waking up in the middle of the night? What are some remedies you use?

 

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