A life where arts & crafts meets food & fitness


Sunday, October 31, 2010

This pumpkin is pooped!

One chocolate covered Friday.

One great Saturday night Halloween party hosted by Hubs and yours truly.

One Halloween Sunday with an approximate count of 136 tricker treaters.

One creepy Lifetime movie.

One camera that needs photos uploaded.

One bed calling my name and telling me I need to get extra sleep.

This gal is happy but WORN out!

Fun food photos soon!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Feeding the spirit note by note

I know that there is always the push to feed the body the right food and get the right exercise to be healthy. For me there is always the push to feed the spirit. I know if I am eating right and what not but I am in a funk about something that can be just as bad as if I am doing nothing and eating fast food takeout and frozen overly processed dinners every meal.

I've been a music junkie my entire life. I still have my cassette single of Poison's Every Rose Has Its Thorn with the paper sleeve. As a kid I dragged around my blue and white Care Bears cassette player. I remember getting my "boom box" for my Communion and the day we went to get my flute to be in 5th grade band, starting my band related career that would go all the way through high school.

It is an escape: a reason to shake my butt like a crazy person to AC/DC to shake off a bad mood; an old school hip hop beat to go at the punching bag; or an endless loop to hoop to in the middle of my living room and get lost for a moment or two.

I realized I hadn't been turning on the radio, whatever kind it might be, for awhile not too long ago. I was cranky. I hate being cranky since I think it is a waste of energy to be angry especially for no reason. I don't remember exactly where we were headed or what was in the works but I turned on the clock radio in our room. It was a simple push of a button and my entire mood lifted.

Now I'm back to having it on almost all the time. Getting ready when Hubs isn't sleeping, check. Cooking, check. Straightening up, check. Meandering the Internet, check. Getting my stuff in order for the next day, check. I just need to start remembering my ipod for public transit.

Is there one element of your life that helps your spirit?

Memories of meals past

Garden tomato & spinach pasta with mozzarella

Apricot chicken with quinoa and mixed vegetables

Tuscan tomato chicken with mixed long grain rice

Spicy Asian stir-fry wraps with chicken, shrimp and mixed veggies (made by Hubs)

Friday, October 22, 2010

Awesome muffins take 2 & crazy appliances

Today's major plan was to make the oatmeal applesauce muffins that I had tried a aways back. Being off today helped too in that I didn't have to make them at night. I included more of the brown sugar that the recipe called for and they seem a bit denser today. It may have been cooking time/over temp as well. Overall they turned out well. Successful baking of something two times always works for me. I have a default double chocolate cookie recipe that always works in a pinch (when I have all the ingredients of course.)

Last night I had a plan to do absolutely nothing but drink numerous cups of tea and watch recorded tv curled up on the couch. Add at least one cat using me as a sleeping location. I was warm, cozy, being purred on and then, the tv stopped working. Shut off. Done. Nothing. Ugh. It went goofy once before because something got loose. It was a simple disconnect/reconnect but it was still annoying. I really hope that it is this problem again because a new tv right now isn't in the budget. We DO have two tvs but during football season the battle begins. YAY for online tv and Netflix though.

My plan to be mellow last night was supposed to fuel super mode today. I'm not feeling it. I do have my garden Converse on. (They travel from everywhere to some places to mild errands to working in the yard.) The motivation to jump up and run out there is in the ih stage. Since it is sunny I will get some done especially since a bunch of my annuals are on their last leg. One day I hope to have one of those rolling compost containers. (Since they do sorta look like a legged version of the Death Star, I wouldn't be suprised if it gets outlines painted on it.)

Tomorrow's "plan" is a trip to the dentist. I can't help but become a giant ball of nerves. Everyone there is super great, nice, etc so it's not them. It's just the visit w the antiseptic smell and getting my sensitive teeth messed with.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Two points!

Well technically two serves resulting in two points tonight for volleyball. I got my goal of one good hit per game so this was a plus. While I'm still not good (just being honest) enough to say that I'm good, I'm getting better. That is a plus. I did get hit in the hip though by a ricocheting hit. That was a minus but I was able to laugh it off since it didn't hurt horribly so. No tears. The guy was really nice and made sure I was ok later.

I'm actually thinking summer sand courts and playing again next year if my friends all do it again. ME actually preplanning group sports?!?!? I LOVE IT! (The planning, not the game. Like yes, love not yet.) Safe to say there is a point where I need to put on my big girl gym shoes and get out there.

So today I also almost saw Luke Wilson. The almost part is that I saw someone who, up until the 5 seconds before I squeeked OMG LUKE WILSON, I thought was him but it wasn't. It would have been amusing and hopefully the guy would have been flattered. I have a friend who looks like Christian Slater and years ago really did. He gets people doing double takes even now.

Have you ever accidentally yelled at someone you thought was a celebrity?

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Adding it to the list

I'm not the best with to-do lists. I can easily get distracted especially doing things around the house. I get hungry. One of the pets do something bad or cute or decide to start tearing about the house like a tornado knocking things over. I remember I recorded something earlier in the week and watch that.

Yesterday I actually did pretty well though. Hubs and I attacked our room which was needing it. The dresser is finally completely finished. (We had used the wrong screw in one place and it messed up progress.) TONS of laundry was done. (Yet I still have more to do today.) That was all the majority of the indoor must-do list but it still really made a big result.

Today is the grocery shopping list day. If we don't go with a list the result is pretty crazy. We once ended up with about six boxes of whole wheat pasta after not making a list as well as checking the pantry. OOPS! True, it ended up being eaten but it took over almost half a shelf in the pantry. I know I will still end up with one or two things we had forgotten to add to the list but overall it won't be bad. Plus bringing my reusable bags help with seeing exactly how much I need to carry in.

Now I really need to get off the computer, eat lunch and get moving. The pumpkin granola cereal on special is calling to me. It better be there and not taunting me.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

17 days away

This has been stuck in my head all day. Probably since it has a little something to do with me and Halloween this year.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Oh my gourd! Wait that is a squash!

The last few days have been all over the place. I am happy that the head cold, probably from one of my adorable 2nd cousins that I saw on Saturday, is not raging at full force. Will it come back to that level? Maybe. Is it gone yet? No. Is it as bad as when I managed to make soap soup on Monday? No.

Yes, that is correct. No typo. Soap soup.

In my I-feel-awful mode, I wanted soup. Made soup - chicken veggie heavy on Tuscan blend of seasonings. It smelled amazing and I knew that the hot broth part of it would make my head feel much better. I fix myself a bowl. Take a tiny taste since it was hot and the "something isn't right" alarm went off. Since everything food wise tasted funny (gotta love when sinuses do that!) I took another TINY TINY sip and was able to identify a soap/cleaner-esque element. Now that I have deliberately tasted cleaner but soap sometimes doesn't always get rinsed off and spray bottles down always only spray where they are supposed to spray.

So that was my second cooking fail for the week. I tried to make Angela's pull apart rolls from Oh She Glows. While I am not a vegan, I like a lot of her recipes since they look like they are able to be modified or I can email her if I have a question. I really should have emailed her with a question since I, being too lazy to go out of the house for more white flour, used mostly whole wheat flour. My rolls ended up Non-Vegan Sorta Springy Wheat Rolls. I am not adding the dinner part to it since it wasn't dinner worthy. They were too dense for my liking. The taste was ok but overall I wasn't thrilled. Hubs liked it with the broth from our pot roast. I had two when still warm but sadly that was my baking fail. I DO plan to make it the PROPER way and not be lazy about getting myself to the store.

Today was a long morning due to a funeral (someone who lived a long life surrounded by kids, grand kids, family and friends, but as funerals are, it was sad.) I didn't want to just settle for take-out especially since we had the luncheon afterwards. Banquet food, while this place was good, isn't take out but it's not homemade. (Plus with this cold my stomach has been out of whack.)

After a bit of searching and looking at recipes, I decided to try something from Cooking, Dunkin Style. I had a butternut squash waiting to be cooked and didn't want it to get forgotten. I ended up making the roasted butternut squash and topped whole wheat spaghetti with it and a bit of Parmesan cheese. I liked the recipe and plan to read more of her blog to see what else I might try.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Zombie.... soup?

The weather in Chicagoland has been way to wacky lately. First you need some sort of light wrap/scarf and this past weekend was shorts weather for some. I just opted for jeans and sandals. Crazy weather changes usually result in allergy attack or some sort of head cold. Since it is technically supposed to be October (yet it was like 75 today), the winner is a head cold! (And the audience doesn't cheer.)

Today it feels like half of my head is on some sort of swing - like top jaw and above - which means my sinuses are all out of whack. Not the worst thing in the world but really annoying. So my coughy sniffly self took a bit of a nap pre-making dinner which did help a bit.

When I'm sick chicken soup always helps. I know there is actual proof in it working but it's also that comfort food aspect to it as well. I just hope when it's done simmering it tastes as good as it smells. (That and I stop snacking and don't ruin my dinner since the nap has it set much later than normal.) Rather I hope it tastes like it should since everything I eat tastes just slightly off. Everything I had today had extra seasoning in it. I just don't want to over do it!

I did that with chili once. Too many peppers. It was good. Then the roof of your mouth started melting.


Survey says! This week is super duper tea, sleep, good food, sleep, more tea and more tea to make me feel better.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Wa Wa Weezer

I am super excited for January. I was excited originally because that is my birthday month and I am turning 30. (Yes I am not panicking for leaving my 20s. I'm actually happy to be starting a new decade, but that is a new topic for a future post.)

The reason I am SUPER EXCITED is that Hubs and I are going to see Weezer at the Aragon in Chicago. This will be my sixth or seventh time seeing Weezer play live. I have gone to every Chicago show in the last 10 or so years that I was able to attend. I even got a chance to do a meet and greet where they signed my Blue Album tape insert. Yes, that is correct TAPE.

I was actually worried because it is a two date series in Chicago. The first is all the Blue Album + other songs and the second is all Pinkerton. I've heard songs from both live and they are all great. While Blue is technically my fav, I couldn't get tickets for that one. Of course, I'm not going to scoff and not see the second show and that worked out. Two tickets to paradise.

Ok maybe not paradise but Weezer-dise works. :)

Friday, October 8, 2010

O is for Onion, D is for Debate

Growing up my mom would saute mushrooms and onions in a bit of margarine (usually Country Crock or something similar.) We ate so many mushrooms in fact that when Hubs and I were dating he would automatically include "mushrooms" before I could answer what was for dinner that night. (We worked alternate shifts and so talked every day as much as possible and saw each other almost all weekend when we could.) It became a running joke for a long time.

Now though we have the onion debate. I don't like raw onions unless it is red/purple onion. He dislikes cooked onions. If I chop them up ity bity that will work or if it is not onion-ey tasting.

Tonight I ended up making dinner for myself and he took care of his dinner. What did mine include? A WHOLE onion... plus mushrooms, turkey meatballs (ih - frozen kind =
ok but much better when finished being cooked in the mush/onion/imitation Country Crock) and Parmesan cheese. SOOO GOOD. The house smelled of caramelized onion goodness. I was very happy and transported back to my childhood home for awhile. Then the cats knocked over something in the living room and brought be back to the current moment in time.

Is there something that takes you back to a prior moment in time when you make it? Can you eat a kind of food raw but not cooked or vise versa?

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Therrorsday 1: Wobble Bobble

In honor of Halloween, that holiday we take pretty seriously in this household (thinking we have at least two large storage tubs and one small one of stuff for it)I am deciding to have Therrorsday. Each Thursday until Halloween will be one thing, supposed to be creepy or not, that manages to give me the creeps!

I can't stand bobble heads.

There is something unnatural, as natural an inanimate object can be really, about the way the heads move. Too wavery, too wobbly. It makes me want to grab it and keep it from moving.

Those little dogs that people put in their cars? I need to look away. It makes me feel like I'm a boat. I find my head wavering back and forth with them which doesn't help much either.

I know the whole concept is something that supposedly it a collectible but the thought of numerous ones sitting on a shelf, glazed eyes.... AHHHHH!!!!

What are your thoughts? Collectible or bothersome?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

I swore we bought olives

Tonight was one of those nights when my brain decides it does not want to work properly. I "lost" a can of olives of the two I thought we just bought. We hadn't gotten two, just one. It, of course, was sitting right in front of me. Hubs looked at me waiting to see if I was joking. Sadly I was not.

Since my channeling Lorelei Gilmore is on high tonight, I will leave you with something while not actual words translates to "MOOMMMAAA I'm HUUUUUNNNNGRRRRRYYYY" & "Yup me too."

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

An Adventure in Re-learning: Wilson?? Is that you?:

I recently signed up for a local community volleyball league and tonight was the first set of games. This particular park district has had leagues like this for awhile and the friends that I am playing with have been part of it before. One other girl and I are the newbies.

I say re-learning because I wasn't the first picked in gym class pretty much my entire gym class taking era. I remember junior high was when it was a contest to see out of about five of us who would be the last pick. While I excelled in school and band, gym wasn't that great. We weren't really pushed to try and more so got pushed to the end of the line for things. Looking back I might have been able to try to stop this more but at ages 13/14 there is only so much you can do. (However if you do call title 9 on a gym teacher because he refuses to let you play w the boy in the co-ed group during softball, you will get sent to the locker room early. Proof that I may not have been good at sports but I was no pushover.)

High school wasn't much better. I later decided to take a dance class and later when my academic waver was lost (AP/Honors statuses = able to not take gym until the school got rid of it) outdoor education (rollerblading, biking, camping, wall climbing etc.) These were fun and did not include the horror of team sports. I take that back. I am great at dodge ball.

When my friends first mentioned the volleyball team I couldn't help but think back to high school and beforehand. True it is blurry now due to it being over ten years, maybe 12?, since the last time I played volleyball. I was back as the braces wearing grunge chick w Bettie Page/Gwen Stefani style bangs in gym class with my skater shoes w the Mt Dew tabs in the laces. I has to shake this off and think that this was a long time ago and yet it led to me ignoring stuff because of it.

Hubs encouraged me to join the team and my other friends were bugging me to join as well. I was on the fence for a long time.They aren't super seriously growly competitive and so I shouldn't worry about being yelled at by a team member (which had happened years ago.) These are people we see on a constant basis, good friends that I text all the time and see at least every few weeks. I was in.

Tonight was a learning experience in that while I may have missed the ball numerous times and have a bruise forming on my right knee, I had fun. If someone had help to give me they actually told me or showed me, not barked orders like some sort of drill sergent. I am actually looking forward to practice. I also found out that we are technically a C team since the league had tiers. That makes me feel better since people who are incredibly skilled at volleyball are placed together (for the most part, but I will get to that in a moment.)

We ended up playing three games with two teams. The first two counted for the league and the third was for fun. The first team were worthy opponents. They were good but we did manage to get some good points scored against them. One girl was really good and the one to watch. Overall we lost but we had fun. I managed to meet my "one good hit" quota for each game. This week is one. Next week may be one more and so on. The second team was really good. I found out about the tiers after the three games were done and were surprised that they weren't a level up. One guy consistently slammed the ball to an extent that got aggravating. There is a fine line when showing skill becomes showing off and then become a little much. Part of me wanted to ask if he was having fun annihilating the ball. Oh and they had a line coach. I am unsure if someone telling them what was going on was allowed. I just pictured it as set back in high school and didn't let them bully me. If it makes you feel good to totally crush a team with lesser skill, go ahead. I'm just here to have fun.

I don't know who we are playing next week. I am planning to do my best, try not to slide in capri pants because that doesn't work (OUCH!), and try to get at least one really good block in.

There is something satisfying about that THWUNK noise when you are the reason the ball is sailing away and over the net.

Monday, October 4, 2010

More than just letters: HLS & HLBs

On May 19th I did one of the bravest things I've ever done. I sat in front of my laptop and opened a webpage. I was a bundle of nerves tied with a bow of excitement.

Tapping of keys.

Deep breath annnnd exhaaaaaaaaale.

Click of a Submit button.

I had just signed up for the Healthy Living Summit. I had registered to attend a conference with 200 people who were technically strangers. I'd only know later that I'd know someone in attendance in real life as well.

I did it because I was inspired by the other blogs I had been reading. It was their own words, thoughts, hopes, fears, successes and failures. I was inspired by their progressions from couch potatoes to runners (both for their own enjoyment as well as to raise money for charity.) I was inspired to try the recipes accompanied by mouthwatering photos. I didn't change my meals to limit calories. Rather I started adding MORE interesting things to it such as some vegetable I thought was odd before such as kale or something as simple as flaxseed.

I did know that walking in alone on the friday of HLS I wouldn't technically be alone since these women, and men I'd later realize, were all there for the same reason. The focus was on a happy healthy life. I knew taking a picture (or several) of my food before devouring it would be the norm. I knew that as a brand new runner there would be dozens of people who had once been in the exact same place and be able to give advice and honest answers.

That friday morning the excitement kept any fear at bay as I headed to the hotel. My babble level was set on high but it was due to being able to meet people in person that I had followed be it via blogs or tweets, comments on posts or a set of "must finds" created due to more frequent contact.

As a newer healthy living blogger, I am aware of that WOW factor in meeting a bigger blogger. I use the term bigger blogger not to set them up as some sort of elitist group but rather as in a more establish one in numbers of posts and followers. While someone might want to see them as larger than life, I use the local music scene to put it in perspective. The rockstar that is being fawned over and nervously asked for an autograph could easily be a person you have known since college or even before that.





This, even with my babbling tendency when super excited about something, was how I approached each and every fellow blogger I met. I may have had an awkward meet or two (or four) but I also had happy shrieky moments and genuine hello hugs.

Real people.


No Photoshop.

No use of "angles."

Often clad in tank tops and yoga pants to be comfy not to send off some sort of "look at me!!!" vibe.

That weekend I learned a lot about myself, about others, about life in general. I came away from it with new friends (or rather blends - blog friends) that I honestly look forward to seeing next year. These are people that if I am in their town I know we'd meet up and of course do the shrieky huggy hello deal.

The positive impact that these bloggers and the Healthy Living Summit weekend made on my life no one can ever take away. The truth can be altered. Words can be taken out of content. Filters can be added and edits made to change the positive light from these inspirational moments and people. The 200+ people in attendance know this and so do the bloggers who pour their hearts out, no matter how many times they post, know it. The thousands of readers reading the thousands of posts out there know this.

People might try to put a negative spin on this community because they don't know it and do not understand the strength hidden within its posts. They might hide in our midst with smiles on their faces but dark motives in their hearts. They might try to increase their worth by attempting to decrease ours. We have the proof, the support, the friendship and the respect for each other. We have each others blogs in our readers, emails in our inboxes, tweets in our follows, texts in our cellphones. We have the smiles on our faces when we think of each other.

We have the power within ourselves to cook a healthy and tasty meal that leaves everyone in a food coma, properly train for and complete a race, or vow to never pick up or purchase a particular magazine ever again.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Strawberry Apple Oat Muffins based bliss

I woke up this morning in the mood to bake. With it being windy and damp this morning, I had no yard work keeping me from making the house smell amazing due to the mouthwatering goodness baking in the oven.

I had found the Oat Applesauce Muffins on the Quaker website a ways back. It looked basic but tasty. This morning I realized that I didn't have regular applesauce and so changed things up a bit.

We had a brand new jar of chunky strawberry applesauce in the pantry so that took the place of the plain applesauce. The strawberry/apple/oat combo is one that I have had before and it quite common so I knew it wouldn't end up odd tasting. Since the applesauce wasn't unsweetened as listed in the ingredients, I lessened the brown sugar about an 1/8 of a cup (measuring cup I was using didn't had small increments.)

They turned out AMAZING! The addition of the strawberry taste was perfect. The chunky applesauce added to the texture so much that I don't know if I'd use anything but that type. It was sweet but not overly sweet.

Hubs and I had two of these beauties for breakfast this morning.

I had to have the "model muffin" for this shoot. Not that it would have gone to waste since Molly was utterly confused on why there was food in the window. (It was the best light at the moment. I know you all understand.) She was verrrrry close but no deal. Good thing she knows the word "NO!"

Will Run for Chocolate... & The Ronald McDonald House

October is always a big deal to me. It is one of my abso favorite (almost put a u in there due to reading various UK/Canadian posts lately!) months. Halloween is my favorite holiday. Hubs and I got engaged in October of 2007.

Yesterday added to the October greatness. I registered for my FIRST 5k EVAH... errr I mean ever. Technically I "registered" though it was more so set up log in/account for race, stare at computer, reread all info about 5 times. Submit information. Stare at information regarding race jacket, rapidly text my IRL friends who run, Cate (from Seriously, You're Taking My Bagels?!? ) and Stina (from Girl Can), with misc questions to make sure I had this all as set as possible. Stare at computer. Think something along the lines of "Ok you are doing this" (which is similar to what I did when I registered for The Healthy Living Summit thinking I'd not know anyone.) Hit submit and immediately get all giggly woohoo-rush.

I am super excited since this is the Hot Chocolate 5k in Chicago. Ghirardelli is the sponsor and there will be chocolate goodness at the end which is a major perk. The bigger "perk" though is that the charity is Ronald McDonald House Charities of Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana. There is a hospital very close to where I live that has one of these houses. I've spoken with a friend of a friend who is a nurse at that hospital. She told me firsthand how families benefit from being able to stay there. True the info from their site/the race sit explains this as well but hearing it in person always sticks with me more.

So now I need tips, tricks, ANY help you can give me for getting ready, continuing training, not-to-do s, etc! One...two... three....GO!