Tuesday, July 31, 2012

One Year City Anniversary

Yesterday marked the one year anniversary of me moving to the big city to persue my Masters’ in genetic counseling.  (On another note: this also means that I blew right by my one year anniversary of blogging…)  The day was a celebration all around.  I started off with a very decadent breakfast of Nutella oats in a jar.  I made the oats with a half blend of rolled oats and oat bran along with chia seeds, flax, maca powder, and an egg white cooked in.  Honey flax peanut butter on top!


I spent the early evening at a salon party put on by the Yelp Elite Squad.  It was held at a salon right up the street from me so I walked there and was greeted by friendly faces, chocolate, and wine.


I also scored a free eyebrow wax.  Felt good and boy, I needed some desperate reshaping.  Mission accomplished.


To continue the celebration in the late evening, Mitch and I went for half-priced cheesecake at The Cheesecake Factory much like Joshua and I did when I first moved in a whole 365 days ago.


We were seated in only 15 minutes, a far cry from the hour some Joshua and I waited last year.  Carbs were our first stop, obviously.  Their brown loaves are to die for.


For a light dinner, Mitch got the arugula salad with golden raisins and walnuts and a lemon vinaigrette (though he asked for it to be tossed with ranch too).  I got the beets and goat cheese salad with pears, arugula, and pecans.  I realized halfway through the whole plate that I totally could make this at home so for a moment I felt silly for ordering it and paying $5.  Oh well, it was yummy.


Next up, the cheesecakes.  We ordered two, one per person, to take full advantage of the offer and to make sure we got as much variety as possible.  Hershey’s and carrot cake were both slices of perfection.


I’m not sure which one I liked better!  I’m a sucker for carrot cake but the chocolaty goodness of the Hershey's might have stolen my heart.  We devoured these while deep in conversation so it actually took us a while.  I was impressed with our restraint, or rather our focus on our discussion topic.

After dinner and dessert, we paid and headed our separate ways.  I got home just in time to collapse into bed, sadly missing men’s gymnastics on TV.  I caught up today on the DVRed coverage and I must say that we kind of self-destructed but kudos to the Brits.  Way to be great!

Questions: What is your favorite cheesecake flavor?
How do you celebrate anniversaries?

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Cupcakes For Grief

This weekend was one of needles and nice evenings, sports and sugar.

Friday night saw Jack and I taking his mom and Don out for dinner.  Earlier this week a dog from Jack’s childhood passed on so it had been a rough few days.  We figured coming up and spending some time, as well as providing sustenance, would be a nice “thinking of you” gift.  After my massage and chiropractor appointment, the four of us went a local restaurant.  I had been to the downtown location but on a restricted menu so I was interested to see the whole of their offerings.  I ended up getting the steak avocado salad which came with a slice of the establishment’s famous coffee cake.  No picture, sorry, but I wasn’t about to whip out my camera during the dinner.  I can tell you though that it was a bed of crisp romaine topped with bleu cheese, cucumber, tomato, scallions, avocado chunks, black bean salsa, and perfectly cooked (medium) steak nibs.  It was served with an avocado ranch and I couldn’t get enough of it.  I loved the entire bowl of greens and goodness.  On the side, the coffee cake slice was beyond delicious and moist and nutty.  I wanted the whole cake.  Haha.

We had gone to dinner early, according to Jack’s family’s typical timetable, because I had to fast for at least twelve hours before my blood draw Saturday morning.  We finished up around 7:30, right on time, but then we got home and these consolation, sorry-for-your-loss, cupcakes happened –>


There was a salted caramel, chocolate chocolate chip, wedding cake, and carrot cake spread.  We couldn’t help ourselves and split each of them into four pieces.  My plate had a bit of every flavor and boy, they were totally worth having to start my fast at 8:30 instead of an hour earlier.  All of the cupcakes were delicious.  The carrot cake was moist, the chocolate chocolate was nice and rich, the wedding cake light and perfectly vanilla, and the salted caramel was like Heaven on a plate.  You could give me a vat of that frosting any day!


We departed a bit later after dessert and got some sleep.  I woke up at my regular early time to get some sweaty gym time in.  I did 20 minutes on the elliptical followed by some weights.  I would totally write down what I did but I started to and I couldn’t remember everything.  I know there were some decline push ups, some “stir the pot” ab work, exercise ball crunches, Olympic presses, and bicep curls.  Anyways, we came back to the apartment and showered.  On the way to the blood draw lab, Jack ate breakfast and I didn’t.  Silly fasting.  We were told to expect to be there about three hours.  This blood draw was meant to clarify some of the truths that came out at the doctor’s office on Thursday.  My first draw was at 8:45am and it was six tubes of blood.  The last two seemed to be incredibly hard to fill and I honestly got a little woosy.  I was then bandaged and sent out into the waiting room to dose myself with 75g of sugar.


This test is very similar, if not identical, to the traditional gestational diabetes test given during pregnancy.  The phlebotomist even asked me how far along I was, which made me giggle.  I obviously told her I wasn’t pregnant and then went on to explain why this test was ordered.  Back to the drink though, I had five minutes to get it all down then the hour waiting period would start.  I had heard some bad things about the flavor and such but it wasn’t awful that way.  It was just incredibly saccharine and almost made my teeth hurt.  And that never happens…  In the following hour some interesting things happened: 1) I got tingling in my fingers, toes, lower legs, and arms. 2) My stomach felt like it had a rock in it for like 15 minutes. 3) My whole body felt warm and sort of heavy. 4) I continued to get a little light headed on occasion but I was sitting down so it wasn’t awful.

My second draw came at 10am and they had to use another vein in my arm.  Only two tubes this time around.  Back out into the waiting room I went.  This time, instead of reading and watching the Olympic men’s cycling road race on TV, Jack and I played gin rummy.  He beat me several hands in a row but I beat him eventually in a single hand.  It was conveniently timed too because I was called back for my final draw right then, at 11am.  With two sticks already behind me, the next needle had to use yet another vein.  Another two tubes of blood later, my arm looked a bit abused.


Thankfully though, we wrapped it up with some cotton and Jack and I headed out to get some food.  I had fasted for twelve hours then had a massive dose of sugar so I was really wanting some real grub, and fast.  We stopped off at a local Walmart to pick up a prescription and then parked at a Hotcakes Emporium for a late brunch.  We had been told to try out the black forest pancakes so I ordered that and Jack got the western skillet with two eggs sunny side up.  We also split an order of loaded hash browns.


The review: nomnom!  The black forest pancakes were fluffy as all get out and had the perfect ratio of chocolate, cherry, and salty butter.  The western skillet could have used salt and pepper but otherwise was a nice dish but the loaded hash browns were seriously yummy.  I probably scarfed down half of them before I came up for air.  After all that sugar earlier I wanted salt and savory!  The gravy was perfect for that.  We both chased our food with cups of coffee.  I used amaretto creamer in mine.


The rest of the afternoon was spent at home, watching some Olympics and going through various blog posts on my Google Reader while Jack took a two and a half hour nap.  Around happy hour time, 5p, we were getting hungry so we meandered down to BRU and took our seats on the patio.  It was about 75 degrees outside and sunny which made for the perfect weather to enjoy a lazy evening.  When we sat down, Jack ordered a local beer and I got a pear cosmo (my favorite drink from their bar).


To knock the edge off the hunger as we decided what we wanted, we ordered the goat cheese plate to start off with.  It came with creamy goat cheese, roasted peppadew peppers, arugula pesto, some grilled baguette slices, and a balsamic reduction.


I constructed my toasts with pesto on the bottom, a layer of peppers, then a smear of goat cheese and balsamic scraped from the plate.   I was really impressed by how well all the flavors worked together.  It was probably the lightest appetizer we have ever had there but perhaps one of the best.  You know I’m a sucker for goat cheese after all!  In terms of main dishes, Jack got the BRU burger (one of my favorite ones they do and the first one I had ever had) and I had the Pacific Rim burger with shrimp, bacon, guacamole, swiss, pineapple, and a sweet chili mayo.


I definitely liked the guacamole on the burger and the sweet chili mayo was just enough kick to light up your taste buds.  All in all, a very good meal for us, though, we have yet to be disappointed at BRU.  After we finished our second drinks, another beer for Jack and a glass of cabernet for me, we walked home in the setting sun.  The couch called us and we hunkered down for Olympic coverage until midnight.  Then it was time for bed.  Nine hours later, I woke up and turned on more sportage.  The women’s cycling road race was on followed by some gymnastics and volleyball.  Breakfast was a joint effort: blueberry-bacon waffles.


I topped mine with maple syrup, butter, and some flax seed for good measure.  The batter was a bit thin so the waffles seemed slightly anorexic in some spots but they were all sorts of packed with flavor.  The sweetness of the blueberries mixed with the saltiness of the bacon was almost more than I could handle.  Perfect way to star the day, if I do say so myself.  Not that we really needed a boost because we sat around all morning watching the Olympics.  We were bums but seriously, this kind of competition only comes around every two years.  Lunch came just short of two o’clock.  Jack made a peanut butter and jelly to keep him awake and alert on his drive home and I had a goat cheese and fig & ginger jam sandwich with some sourdough pretzels on the side.


I spent the remainder of the afternoon watching beach volleyball and men’s gymnastics.  I also cleaned up my room a bit and thought about what I needed to pack for our trip this weekend.  Despite not doing too much, toward dinner time I was hungry again so I made myself a salad (light on the lettuce since I didn’t have too much left) and a half red curry tuna salad sandwich with cheese.


The sandwich was actually my favorite of the two items for dinner however, dressing my salad in BBQ sauce and sweet/hot mustard was a stellar idea on my part.  Now I’m off to catch the women’s 3M synchro diving event and some more gymnastics, this time the women’s events.  Can’t get enough!!  I love these summer games.

Questions: What is your favorite Olympic sport to watch?
Do you DVR the games or follow it live online?

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Welcome Back Weights

Today was an emotional rollercoaster.

First up: sweat session.  I did a 20 minute, go-as-hard-as-you-can elliptical session followed by some weight lifting circuits.  I’ll say it felt great to lift again.  I didn’t lift while I was doing Insanity so it has been close to two months since the dumbbells and I had a date.  For this morning I did each set three times through.

  • 10 body weight decline pushups
  • Wall sits with 10 side-to-side rotations with a 10lb dumbbell
  • 20 in-and-out abdominal crunches
  • 10 hip to chest slides with 2-10lb dumbbells
  • 10 upright rows with 2-10lb dumbbells
  • 10 body weight tricep dips
  • 10 plié squats with 15lb dumbbell
  • 10 reverse lunges
  • 25 “kayakers”
  • 10 power jumps (courtesy of Insanity)

I was really tired by the end and with a 330 calorie burn I felt pretty nice.  After a shower, I made a chocolate breakfast cake and topped it with flax peanut butter and chia seeds.  I’ll admit it was nice to eat it at my desk rather than in the shuttle on the way to work.


It tasted delicious and it kept me full as I drove over to school.  I took my car today instead of the shuttle because I was going to the doctor’s office in the middle of the morning.  I did some work early though, and by work I mean I spec’d close to oh 80 some samples.  I also did back-ups for 79 of them (one didn’t qualify by volume alone) before heading to see the doctor.

The whole appointment went alright.  I’ll admit some conclusions were reached that were hard to hear and I’m not sure if I’ll share quite yet but know that I’m okay and I’m working through some things.  I actually have to go and get blood work on Saturday morning (it’s a three hour draw…ugh) to help further clarify some things.  Now, honestly, I would have taken pictures of lunch but I ate it half in the office room waiting for the doctor to come in and half in the car on the way rushing back to school for preclinic (which I made it to like twenty minutes late, thankfully my supervisors already knew that was a possibility).  I can, however, tell you what I had for lunch: a goat cheese and jam half sandwich, some grape tomatoes, and dried apple slices.  Delish.

After preclinic conference I devoted my time to calling out patient results and finishing letters.  There were a lot of things to fax, document, and discuss.  It was a rushed afternoon but it felt sooooo great to get rid of some charts (aka finish them off so they can be re-filed and off my shelf in the student room!).  So, with that in mind it was all sorts of productive.  I snacked around 3:30 after rounds on a cherry dark chocolate granola bar.


These things are seriously delicious I must say.  If you like cherries and chocolate (seriously, who doesn’t?) then these are totally for you and that stats aren’t too bad either: 120 calories and 5g of protein.  Later, Mitch and I closed down the student room with each other around 5 o’clock.  On the drive home I cranked up some music and tried to drown out my thoughts on the day.  I worked for a bit but when I got home they all came rushing back.  I was also pretty hungry so I figured I would eat something.  I was in no way wanting to prepare anything or wait for cooking time so I pulled out the leftover half of my Moroccan chicken salad sandwich from last night.  After the Yelp Elite party…


…a few friends and I went to a Moroccan “fast food” restaurant.  Basically it looks like a Subway set up but instead of sandwiches they have all sorts of great dishes, spreads, meats, and breads.  If it’s your first time there they give you a full sampler platter because they use of 150 types of spices so to describe the flavors in everything is incredibly difficult.


They would much rather you try it all for yourself and make your own decisions.  I chose to make a sandwich with the following: Moroccan chicken salad (a sweet version with golden raisins…it blew my mind!), cilantro pesto (holy moly yum), marinated mushrooms and artichoke hearts, fresh tomatoes, and chunk feta cheese.


Tonight for dinner I had the remaining half of it (the whole thing was very, very large) with a side of pretzels and probably seven more handfuls off camera.  It was just as good the night after as it was when I first tasted it.  I will definitely be back again to this place.  I wanted to have more of just about everything!  Plus the service rocked my socks.

After dinner, which was eaten early around 5:50, I ended up on the phone with mom some more discussing all that had transpired today.  I also loaded the dishwasher, did some other dishes, made food for tomorrow, and gathered up what I needed to clinic tomorrow.  Now I need to take my leave and go shave my legs so I can wear a dress in the morning.  Catch you later group!

Questions: When was the last time you got more than you bargained for at the doctor’s office?  What is your favorite chicken salad recipe?

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Jungle Jims

This past weekend I traveled to visit my best friend and his wife.  He moved out of town for his first big boy job ever.  He’s salaried.  How weird.  It’s like we’ve spent all this time trying to get to this point and now, all of a sudden, he’s here.  Joshua’s made it.  When I got there on Friday we went to one of the oldest restaurants in the city.


It is known for German food, obviously, so we started with their sampler.  On the plate: sauerkraut balls, fried pickles, and their famous potato pancake topped with sautéed apples and sour cream.


I LOVED the pickles.  Instead of chips or thin slices, they were whole spears.  It gave you a better pickle to batter ratio.  I could have eaten a whole plate of them.  The sauerkraut balls were good too.  I always think I’m going to not like sauerkraut and then I always so, especially when paired with thousand island dressing.  Lastly, the potato pancake was really interesting.  You go the saltiness of the potato, the sweetness of the apples, and then the smoothness of the sour cream.  Again, I could have eaten a whole plate!  Shortly after we got the appetizers (read: while we still had food on the plate) our entrees arrived.  I had a small plate of seared sea scallops with parsnip puree and apple cider vinegar reduction.  On the side I had spaetzle to cure my craving for it.


The scallops were cooked perfectly which was good because the parsnip puree fell a tiny bit flat.  I think it needed so more seasoning.  The spaetzle was super delish.  On the other side of the table, Joshua had the wiener schnitzel with asparagus and German fried potatoes.


While I wasn’t in love with the meat on the plate, the potatoes were to die for.  The crust on them was beyond incredible.  Luckily Joshua shared.  =D  We were asked if we wanted dessert and we did indeed entertain the notion by perusing the dessert tray but nothing called to us as strongly as the possibility of froyo.  We paid and a few minutes later we were waltzing into a nearby self-serve café.  In my bowl: taro frozen yogurt (some of the best I have ever had) and cake batter froyo all topped with cookie dough, buckeyes, cheesecake bites, peanut butter cups, animal cookies, snow caps, hot fudge, and a cherry.


Thankfully, this was indeed exactly what we wanted.  I was so happy with this cup.  Oh froyo, it’s been too long!  While we were sitting there devouring our desserts spoonful by spoonful, we noticed a sign that made us both laugh:


Seriously, let’s be honest.  If you’ve ever been to a self-serve, pay-by-the-ounce froyo place, you are well aware that a cup of that size, filled up like that, does NOT cost only $2.26.  Haha.  It’s cost so much more!  Full and content, we headed back to his apartment and slept.  I had the couch which was remarkably comfortable.  By the time morning came around, I felt like I hadn’t moved at all.  We three, his wife included, went to the fitness center to work out.  I did some elliptical work and then weight machines followed by a few Insanity moves done as a circuit.  Joshua joined me for a few of the Insanity numbers.

After showers and a nice brunch, we decided to tackle one of the largest grocery stores I have ever seen, let alone been in.  The place is called Jungle Jims and right from the start it had character.


Now, the crazy part about this store is that where a normal grocery has sections for things like pasta or Indian food, this place has whole AREAS, whole WALLS, whole AISLES for these.  They even have a map.  No joke.  And there are tours.


Now, check out some of the goods.  First up, the best cheese section you have ever seen.  There was a whole cooler just for goat cheese varieties.  Man, it was a super good thing I had no way of taking these home with me or I would have walked out of there with multiple wheels of goodness.


A whole buffet of different types of olives.  My dad would have been in heaven.


How about a wall of hot sauces or chocolates?


I couldn’t believe the honey selection.  If I had unlimited money I would figure out ways to use all of these.  Maybe straight spoonage would be involved??


The bakery was also breathtaking.  Cakes, truffles, donuts, breads, etc.  It was mouthwatering.  You could even have custom caramel apples made!


So was the Jelly Belly wall.  I could have filled up a whole bag for my own munching pleasure.


This place also had a huge wine selection.  I mean, who on Earth carries an $8000 bottle of wine.  Really?  Really.


One of the cutest things was their play on Two Buck Chuck.  The Two Bill Jill.  Aw, it’s named for me…


Oh, and if you need enough carrots to feed a small army, they have that too.  Honestly, the bag was the size of a little child.  Who needs that many carrots?!


Lastly, this supermarket had a whole cooler devoted to Jeni’s ice cream.  I fell in love with these unique flavors when I went to a Jeni’s store during Thanksgiving break with the family.  If only these pints weren’t $10 a pop, I’d be all over them.  You cannot beat their goat cheese and cognac fig ice cream with a stick!


So, basically, this THREE HOUR trip was really awesome.  I had such a fun time exploring the whole of the huge store.  In the end, I restrained myself enough to only leave with some cherry chocolate granola bars and some greatly priced flaxseed meal.


The rest of the day was spent baking pretzels, eating cheese fondue, and chocolate fondue, watching The Blind Side, and having some beers.


It was a nice way to finish off the night and by the time I hit the sack I was more than ready for sleep.  I had to wake up super early to get on the road to come back home.  I had church in the morning and I almost cried during the sermon.  My favorite Reverend seems to have that effect on me sometimes.  He just speaks to the heart of me most days.  I’m glad I went.  All in all, great weekend.

Questions: What is your favorite German food?
What type of granola bars do you like?

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