Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Peace Out Girl Scout

Guess what arrived today via my boss at work??

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That’s right.  It’s Girl Scout cookie season!  I snagged a box each of Thin Mints (the classic) and Dulce de Leche (a new flavor for me).  The verdict: both are delicious!  It’s probably a good thing I only have a box each because I could eat seven times that.  =D

In other news today, I exercised my rights to Stage 2s.  Essentially that is code for DNA extraction.  It’s tedious but the steps where I get to actually see the interface and the DNA starting to clump and fall away from the supernatant, those are really cool.  It reminds me of being back in general genetics class in undergrad when we dumped cold ethanol into our beakers and got out a whole clump of “snot” (aka DNA) derived from bovine liver.  Sorry if I just grossed you out but seriously, it’s really neat to see.

My workday was broken up by a brief 15-minute lunch break.  On the table was a big bowl of vegetarian chili with a whole coconut oil cornbread muffin crumbled up in it and an apple on the side.  It really hit the spot.

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From there it was back to work and then over to the student room to finish up some paperwork and to start more patient prep for Friday.  As I used a program designed to take in patient information and spit out differential diagnoses, I really wished there was a way to filter out the “neonatally lethal” conditions.  After all, if I have a 3-year-old or 14-year-old in front of me, that patient doesn’t have a condition that would kill them a few months after birth.  Case closed.

I took this beautiful afternoon as an opportunity to walk home.  It was a balmy 60 degrees and a bit overcast, sadly, but still wonderful.  I tried out a new Target brand protein bar on the way and wow, it was wonderful.  Seriously, we’re talking closest thing to a Reese’s you could safely expect from a “nutrition bar”.
 
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When I got home I burned some time and then headed to the fitness room for 30 minutes on the bike.  My workout companion this time around was a book on grieving styles and gender differences in grief expression for Psychosocial class tomorrow morning.  Talk about dry reading!

When I came back to the apartment I set out to roast some veggies while I did more Jillian Michaels 6-week 6-pack.  In retrospect, this wasn’t the greatest idea.  Yes, by doing this I managed to get a good 30 minutes of baking time out of the way while I worked out but on the other hand, I had to inhale roasting oil smell the whole time.  It was a bit weird/sickening.  Oooopps.  On the bright side, the veg came out delicious.  Come back on Friday for the recipe!

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I ended up pairing a generous portion of the vegetables topped with parmesan cheese with a chicken sausage and BBQ sauce.  Nice, quick, flavorful, and filling.  Right after dinner I kept reading on grief.  A chapter or seven later I busted out some homemade frozen yogurt (yogurt mixed with stevia and marshmallow fluff then stuck in the freezer for 45ish minutes) covered in chocolate/caramel sauce and crumbled cookies, one Thin Mint and one Dulce.

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I was pleasantly surprised at how well this turned out.  It isn’t the most perfect substitute for ice cream (which I really wanted) but it worked well and it definitely is more healthy than the alternative.  I was happy overall.

Now I should go read more, yes more, on how men and women are different.  Why must I be so studious and actually do the reading for class?  Blah.  Off I go but first, you need your weekly tune don’t you!  Well, here it is, an oldie that used to play on the radio when mom would drive a 10-year-old me to 5am ice skating practice –>


Questions: Have you ever frozen your own yogurt?
Which is your favorite Girl Scout cookie?

Sunday, January 29, 2012

A Dinner To Share

You know what happens on Sundays.  Church and parish breakfasts that’s what!  Oh yea.  Today I decided to walk so I didn’t have to deal with parking downtown.  The walk wasn’t too bad as long as I wasn’t walking straight into the wind.  When I got there I served up a mean plate of biscuits and gravy, egg, sausage, yogurt, fruit, and cereal.  We had around 20 people show up for the meal this morning.  When the line wound down, I served myself up a bowl.  On the bottom was half a biscuit.  I topped this with a scoop of scrambled eggs and ladled just enough gravy over the top to wet everything.  It was so great.

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I’m proud of the compromise I made.  Biscuits and gravy is not one of the healthiest breakfasts around but I really wanted to taste it because that selection is not one I make in my own home.  The idea of the calories in it though made me nervous but in my effort to establish a better relationship with food, yay New Year’s Resolution #3, I had my little bowl with only half a biscuit instead of the whole thing, with eggs for more protein and staying power, and not as much gravy as I was supposed to be doling out to everyone else.  All in all, a delicious victory.

When I finished eating and helped put away some clean silverware and plates, I headed up to the nave for the 11am service.  We sang one of my favorite hymns today and I almost cried.  I associate it very closely with my paternal grandmother’s memorial service so it brought up some emotional memories but it felt good to sing again.  The sermon dealt with doing things in “Christ’s name” instead of just slapping “Christian” as a label onto something and calling it a day.  I’m not sure I completely understood exactly what was being said but I’m going to think about it more over the week.

After I got home from church in the early afternoon I set out to get my sweat on.  I first started off with level two of Jillian Michaels 6-week 6-pack.  Man, this level seems more about the high intensity cardio intervals while still working the core.  It kicked my butt for sure but when I finished the 35 minute circuit I wasn’t stopping there.  I headed to the fitness center and did 45 minutes on the reclined stationary bike followed by an upper body circuit:

  • Bicep curls: 3 x 8 reps x 15 lbs
  • Tricep dips: 3 x 10 reps x own body weight
  • Chest press: 3 x 10 reps x 30-40 lbs
  • V-raises: 3 x 8 reps x 10 lbs

When I returned to my apartment I made myself up a protein packed refueling snack in the form of yogurt mixed with peanut flour, chia gel, plums, blueberries, and wheat germ on top.

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It tasted light and refreshing and was just enough to hold me over through my shower and the late afternoon (which I spent working on my family genogram for Psychosocial class) before I met up with an old acquaintance, Haley, for dinner at Rock Bottom Brewery.  We haven’t spoken in a long time so it was nice to catch up.  To start we both got ice-free, lemon-added waters and an order of soft pretzels.

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These had been haunting me since earlier this past week when we first made these plans.  I knew I needed them in my life ASAP.  They were large and in charge and did not disappoint. For my entrée, which came in the middle of my pretzel because I was talking so much that I didn’t eat it quick enough, I chose the 2:00AM burger which was breakfast for dinner in the best way possible.

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I demolished this entire plate, including the housemade chips which were perfectly thin and crispy, crunchy.  I eat freshly made chips with ketchup… Weird huh?  In terms of the burger, the egg squished out yolk everywhere and was a creamy dream.  The hash brown on the bottom could have been seasoned with a bit more pepper but it was entirely scrumptious.  A bit after I had practically licked my plate clean, the server came back to clear my side of the table and he took one look at me and one look at my empty dish and said:

“I like a girl who can order a
two-handed burger and put it away!”

It was honestly pretty cute.  I giggled…and then ordered dessert.  Haha, that’s right, I went back for more, baby.  You can’t say you didn’t see that coming!

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You all know I am a sucker for carrot cake so this was a no brainer for me especially since I had read RAVE reviews on Yelp about it.  I was honestly going to get a piece to go is Haley didn’t want to share but luckily for my waistline, she did.  We spent probably another half an hour alone taking bites out of this tasty behemoth piece.  In total, we spent about three hours at dinner.  I think this was an important vent session for her.  I’m glad we did dinner.

Now that I’m full, happy, satisfied, and at home I think I should seriously consider heading to bed because I have freezer room training at work tomorrow bright and early.  With that, I am going to go stir my crockpot full of steel cut oats (I’m making a big batch overnight so I have great, hearty breakfasts for the week ahead), brush my teeth, and slip under my sheets.  G’night all!

Questions: What’s your favorite flavor of cake?
How are you doing with your New Year’s Resolutions so far?

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Questionnaire Work, Anyone?

Today was a very nice and relaxed Saturday.

It started out with my first run in two weeks.  I fueled with a date filled with peanut butter and went for a 30 minute run.  I got around 2.6-2.7 miles and my shin pain came back.  Crap!  I guess two weeks wasn’t enough huh?  This whole resting thing is going to be harder than I thought.

When I got back from my run I showered quickly and shoved my protein packed breakfast into my mouth as I skipped out the door.  I had a piece of wheat toast smeared with Trader Joe’s hummus, sweet & spicy mustard, full-fat feta, and a poached egg.

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On my way to the chiropractic office, I caught up with my mom who is visiting her mother, her brother, and his wife on vacation.  It’s been a while since they’ve had time to spend together so I bet they’re having a blast.  Once I arrived, Dr. J adjusted the heck out of me.  I’m all out of whack so it’s no wonder that I’ve been dizzy lately.  After I was all back in alignment, I started my long grocery run.  Target was first for store-brand protein bars, bath tissue, and paper towels.  Whole Foods was just across the parking lot and I picked up some goat cheese (still the best price around), bulk oat bran, and bulk Turkish apricots.  Sam’s Club came next where I scored lots of blueberries, plums, apples, and 6+ pounds of chicken breasts for under $2/lb (which I promptly came home and portioned out into 4oz bags and froze).  Last on the list was Aldi.  I grabbed celery, green peppers, party mix (think generic Chex Mix), and yogurt for myself; pineapple and BBQ sauce for a crockpot chicken dish later in the week; and cheese and crackers for my turn at providing refreshments for clinic on this coming Friday.  Like I said, long grocery run, so I was really glad that I brought an apple along with me.

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I ate it drenched in sunshine in the Aldi parking lot.  This held me over until I got home and had put everything away.  When I finally settled down and started working on my graduate thesis questionnaire, I was hungry again so I chowed down on the last of my Bold Chex Mix (there were only dregs left hence why I got more earlier in the day) and a sliced pear.

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The combo may have been a bit odd but it was really what I wanted so it hit the spot and really satisfied me.  I spent the rest of the afternoon/early evening working on writing questions for my graduate thesis.  It is so much harder than you think to write up completely unbiased questions and to anticipate all the possible answers someone could give to a certain inquiry.  Every time I thought I was done, or at least at a stopping point, I would come up with a few more tweaks, a few more specifics that I needed to include.  I’m afraid it’s going to get too long, have too many questions, that people aren’t going to want to fill it out.  Well, I suppose that is what my committee is for.  Perhaps they will know better than I do at this point.

Around 6p I started getting rumbly in my tummy so I decided to whip up a pizza inspired by Bazbeaux’s quattro formaggio greatness.

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I used an Italian 6 cheese blend, goat cheese, and ricotta on top of a crust covered in tomato basil sauce, center cut bacon (already cooked), and mushrooms that I nuked for one minute after tossing in worcestershire sauce.

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Seriously, this may have been one of the best pizzas I have ever made.  Damn it was delicious.  I ate the whole thing while Skyping with Jack.  We really enjoy doing this.  It makes us seem so much closer.  If you’re in a long distance relationship I would highly recommend it.

The weirdest part of today was realizing that not all regular yogurt can be made into greek yogurt as I demonstrated a week ago.  I picked up yogurt at Aldi while I was there and figured it would work like any other plain nonfat regular kind.  Boy was I wrong.  I let the contents sit for 4.5 hours and I got absolutely nothing in terms of drained whey.  Seriously, like four drops.  The yogurt was completely unchanged.

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I guess I’ll just have normal yogurt for this week but you can believe I will be getting Great Value from now on.  I like my homemade Greek yogurt wayyyy too much to care about the $0.20 I save by getting it from Aldi.  Tonight, I used the sadly undrained yogurt for dessert in the form of a plum and blueberry bowl topped with chocolate/caramel sauce and the awesome sugar, chocolate, and coffee grinder.

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Seriously, ridiculously delish.  It was a great way to end the day.  I’ll admit that when I went to put the bowl in the sink I had the urge to eat my weight in cookies and sweets but I allowed myself a piece of homemade chocolate I made last week and, to my pleasant surprise, that urge to eat a ton went away.  That is a big victory for me.  Now I’m off to read in bed for a while.  I’m getting up semi-early tomorrow to make breakfast for my parish at church.  I can’t remember what’s on the “special” schedule but I’m sure whatever it is, it will be delicious!

Questions:  Have you ever had to write a survey/questionnaire?
What is your favorite “special” for breakfast?

Friday, January 27, 2012

Swap Me Something Good

Hi everyone!  I hope your Friday was awesome.  Mine was fairly decent.  I think today started out so great because last night was really nice.  Catechumenate started off with a super delicious dinner of pot roast; baked potatoes; sautéed carrots, parsnips, and onions, gravy; and salad.

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I washed my plate, sans gravy, down with a cup of tea.

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After dinner we went up to pray and used the Book of Common Prayer this week.  We did an evening devotion as a group.  There is honestly something so calming about sitting in the choir pews right up next to the altar in a dark church.  It’s almost angelic the way we sit under a halo of lights.  Pretty ethereal I must say.  When we made our way back down to the parish hall, there was dessert waiting in the form of ice cream, sorbet, and cookies.  I had a bit of the vanilla ice cream, a taste of each of the sorbets (mint, pineapple, raspberry), and a chocolate chip cookie and a peanut butter cup cookie.  Perfect end to a lovely meal and the perfect kick off to our night of discussion.

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We talked about the bible, what we though of it, how we thought we should read it/treat it/present it and such.  I liked the discussion and the line that most resonated with me out of the hour and a half was “In human beings we encounter God.”  My journey to the church is 100% proof of this.

Today’s joys were in seeing my second patient ever.  The 10 month old baby boy was so adorable and an absolute pleasure to be around.  He was on his best behavior.  I was also pleased that I was able to keep up with the neurogeneticist during this exam.  For not knowing all the cranial nerves and how they’re tested, I did pretty well… And by pretty well I mean that I scribbled everything that he uttered and then sorted it out later.  Hey, don’t knock it, it worked!

Other awesome parts of the day revolved around friends, new and old.  First off, I had lunch with my good friend from undergrad, Christina.  She works in the research department of my current grad school and interviews subjects for alcohol and obesity studies.  It was nice to catch up with her, especially about my patients.  Second off, Mary invited me to a clothing swap at one of her friend’s houses.  If you have never been to a clothing swap, or you’ve never heard of one, here’s how it works:  get a bunch of ladies together; open a bottle or two of wine; feed them salty meats, creamy cheeses, and delicious dips; have everyone pile their donated clothes and have at it!

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All the ladies at this party had a blast.  We all rummaged around and then tried everything on, slowly creating piles of clothes we were claiming to take home.  I made out like a bandit.  Seriously, apparently I was just the perfect size for everything.  I ended up scoring some sweaters, long sleeve/short sleeve t-shirts, tank tops, two dresses, and a nice pair of dark jeans!

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I also snagged a bright yellow purse for a nice change of pace.

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On the whole it was a great day.  I really enjoyed getting to know some more wonderful young women.  I sincerely hope to see them again and hang out.  What a way to kick off the weekend!  Now I’m off to bed for some good rest! Sleep well world.

Friday French –>

OLD ONE
Phrase: Bonsoir. or Bonne nuit.
Translation: “Good evening” and “good night” respectively.
Story: For when you need to round out conversation at the end of the day.  =D

NEW ONE
Phrase: Voulez-vous danser?
Translation: Would you like to dance?
Story: This week I drove up with David to surprise Jack up at a weekly swing dance jam where he goes to school.  We had a great time so I figured I should learn how to ask people to dance.

Questions: Have you ever been to a clothing swap?
What is the hardest piece of clothing for you to buy?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Day of “Doesn’t”

So, what does a girl eat when she wants nothing more to stuff her face with Mexican food but she doesn’t want to cook, doesn’t want to work out, and doesn’t want any leftovers from the fridge??  Well, I’ll tell you that she devours a huge bowl of cereal soaked in unsweetened vanilla almond milk and topped with blueberries.  She also eats a side of celery, carrot, and [fake] crab sticks dipped in mustardy hummus.

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For a sweet note, she nibbles on a graham cracker spread with peanut butter and Nutella.

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This baby was topped with a new awesome find at Trader Joes: the sugar, chocolate, and coffee bean grinder.

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I went for cookie butter and came out with this because sadly the store is out of the delicious spread and has no idea when they are getting more.  I hope it’s soon!  Anyways, I’m going to try and shower to snap out of my “doesn’t want” funk.  I need to do some research for my Friday patient as well before bed.  Blah.

On the up side I have a great piece of tuneage for you today.  Check out this new Jason Mraz song.  I’ll admit I cried when I first heard it.  As Jack said to me: “You're an adorable sap when it comes to songs.”  I am and always have been, can’t help it.  Hope you like the song as much I do!

Questions: How do you deal with “funk” days?
What is your favorite no cooking required meal?

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Weekend In A Word

1. Crockpot.

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[Apple butter goodness from yesterday.]

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[Salsa Chicken simmered today with green pepper and onion added in.]

2. Worship.

[I went to church today and had a great time serving breakfast as well as being a part of the service.  I played “kid wrangler” for Ellie and Charles (two freakin’ adorable little kids who always sit in front of me) when their dad went up to read the Prayers of the People.  Best quote of the sermon: “The glory of God is a human being fully alive.” said by St. Irenaeus in the second century.  It really resonated with me.]

3. Sugar.

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[Brown sugar crusted French toast: this morning’s parish
breakfast special because sticky buns got cancelled.]

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[Chocolate chip cookies I made for my committee meeting tomorrow.]

4. Scented.

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[New cherry blossom body wash!]

5. Foggy.

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[The world was engulfed all Sunday by this greyness…blah.]

6. Cancer.

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[Homework for the day: colorectal cancer syndromes review]

7. Dizzy.

[After my accident I was dizzy for about a month and then it went away.  Unfortunately it came back after all the dancing I did last weekend.  So, sadly, this weekend I had to avoid tipping my head this way and that way.  I really don’t like the feeling of the dizziness wave overcoming me.  Hopefully it will go away soon.]

Questions: How was your weekend in a word?
What’s your favorite body wash scent?

How To: Homemade Greek Yogurt

If you’re like me, you like thick and creamy Greek yogurt.  Also if you’re like me, you despise the price.  There is no reason that 32oz of Greek style should cost upwards of $5 when 32oz of the regular stuff costs only $2!  Fed up with the money discrepancy yet still desirous of that awesome texture one day, I decided to strain my own yogurt.  Essentially, the reason why regular yogurt is so much thinner is that it has more whey in it.  You have probably seen the accumulation of it when you open up the large yogurt containers and you see that watery layer on top.  The goal of straining is to get rid of some of that whey so that the yogurt becomes thicker.  So here’s how to do it –>

Step One: Buy a container of regular yogurt.  I always get nonfat plain but you can get whatever you want: full fat, flavored, whatever as long as it is regular/not already Greek.

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Step Two: Assemble your drain apparatus.  Place a colander on top of a pot or measuring cup capable of holding at least two cups if you’re planning on draining 32oz of yogurt.  Inside the colander lay a few layers of cheesecloth or a very thin dish towel.

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Step Three: Drop your yogurt into the strainer and tie up the extra towel or cloth on top (mostly to conserve space).

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Step Four: Place in fridge for 4-6 hours depending on how thick you want the end product to be.  4 hours should get you the consistency of Chobani or Dannon Greek while 6 hours essentially forms cream cheese.  Take your pick.  I prefer about 4.5 hours.

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Step Five: Carefully remove the straining apparatus from the fridge (don’t spill the whey!) and scoop out the newly Greek yogurt.  I put it back in the original container that I washed while everything was draining.  You can see the total amount roughly halves in size.

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When all is said and done, I usually end up with just over a cup of whey which you can discard or repurpose for other uses.  I throw mine away most days but I think next time I will try to use it for something else.  Experiment, people!

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I hope you enjoyed this tutorial and I sincerely encourage you to try it out.  I absolutely love doing this because, in a silly way, I feel like I’m kind of cheating the system in.  I pay only $2 for regular yogurt but I end up with thick Greek yogurt with all of five minutes of effort and five hours of waiting.  Awesome, right?  Let me know if you try this out.  =D

Questions: Which brand of Greek yogurt do you prefer?
What is your favorite flavor of yogurt? (Yes, plain counts!)

Saturday, January 21, 2012

A Night Out

I always love weekends.  Sleeping in is a happy occurrence in my life.  I slept until 9:45 this morning.  I grabbed two frozen banana bites and then walked over to the fitness room to workout.  I did 35 minutes on the reclined bike and then headed back home.  I was going to do Jillian Michaels 6-week 6-pack right away but instead I started to make apple butter since I remembered it had to cook for over 10 hours.  I peeled and diced the apples, coated them in some brown sugar, sucanat, and Stevia along with cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg.

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The crockpot ran on low for 10 hours and then I pureed the mixture and it went back into the pot for another hour and a half on high uncovered to thicken the mixture.

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Seriously, the place smelled delicious the whole time.  The smell is one of the best parts of doing a crockpot recipe.  When it was all done cooking I scooped the thickened, spiced apple mixture into a jar and set it in the fridge.  I can’t wait to spread it all over toast!

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Anyways, after I did my apple butter prep I met with Ms. Michaels for a sweat session.  I may be crazy but I feel like some of the exercises have gotten easier.  I guess I’m getting stronger.  Once I was finished with my abdominal workout, I headed back to the kitchen and whipped up chocolate protein waffles which I topped with peanut butter, bananas, maple syrup, chia seeds, and wheat germ.

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Just what I needed to refuel before my shower.  Once I was clean, I headed out for some errands.  First up, Dollar Tree.  Basically this is the only place to get roasted red peppers at a decent price so I picked up some of those as well as new body wash.  Second up, Walmart.  I grabbed some candy molds as well as a refill on my dark cocoa and another $5 bin find: The Island.  Seriously, Walmart’s crazy DVD sales haven’t let me down yet!  If you’re wondering why I got candy mold it’s because I’m experimenting with making my own chocolates.

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As best I can tell, they need some work.  I modified the recipe by using powdered stevia instead of liquid and so the coconut oil separated a bit.  Hmm, next time I’m try maple syrup and a bit of coarse sea salt.

My third stop was Payless Shoes.  I needed new dress flats for clinic visits and new sleek black shoes for when I wear skinny jeans.  Thankfully I found both of what I was looking for and the store had a BOGO event going on so I got one of the pairs for half off.  Yay!!  Finally when I arrived back at my apartment I unloaded the groceries that needed to be refrigerated (yogurt and butter, that sort of thing) and then made up a bowl of pears, blackberries, coconut, chia, and the last of my yogurt out of the old container.

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I was hungry!  This hit the spot though and kept me going until Mary and I went out for dinner at 7 o’clock.  We drove over and ended up waiting for about 15 minutes and then got seated at the bar.  The restaurant, Sahm’s Tavern, was a bit smaller than we anticipated so the bar was really the only place for us at that moment.  We went with the idea of doing the 2 for $30 deal going on and chose the “shrimp cigar” appetizer to start.  They were kind of like mini egg rolls made from wonton wraps filled with herb cream cheese, mire poix and gulf shrimp.  The sauce was a teriyaki sesame one and complimented the flavor in the roll really well.

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For entrees I ordered the herb stuffed chicken which was a rolled breast around an herbed cream cheese.  The outside was coated in panko and oven-broiled.  It had a lemon caper sauce all over.

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Mary got the salmon topped with roasted corn and avocado salsa and the cilantro cream on the side.

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We were both supposed to get steamed broccoli as well but apparently they ran out of green veggies and the other choice was steamed carrots.  Please, both Mary and I decided we could totally make those at home for ourselves so we asked for other options and ended up getting wedge salads.  I had the house cranberry poppyseed dressing and it was the best part of the whole thing.

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For dessert we were torn between the Tollhouse cookie pie and the bread pudding with bourbon cream.  When we asked the bartender which he would recommend and he wasn’t much help at all.  Then I figured I could make the cookie pie and I have already so we chose the bread pudding and boy the sauce was scrumptious!

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So, on the whole, the food was good though the service of the night was pretty awful.  Mary and I had to be very proactive in getting orders placed and it took quite a while to get any food.  When we were trying to pay, it took forever!  Mary remarked that we probably could have walked out and no one would have noticed.  I completely agreed.  We didn’t though, we finally flagged someone to split the check and run our credit cards.  Oh well, the best part was getting to know her.  Making friends one night out at a time.  We’re planning on hitting up BRU next time.  Can’t wait to go back since I loved the first time so much!

Now I’m off to bed to get some shut eye before waking up and making breakfast at church tomorrow.  I haven’t done it for a while, what with being gone over Christmas break and all, so I look forward to seeing everyone again and getting my hands dirty in the parish kitchen.  Hope you all are enjoying your weekends!

Questions: Do you like bread pudding?
Have you ever made your own chocolate?

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