Sunday, November 18, 2012

The Real Deal

Undoubtedly the week I decide that I need to stop eating so many sweets and am determined and motivated to cut back was the week everyone and their mother brings in stuff and wants me to try it. I can't say no, especially with the eager faces waiting for me to take a bite. So I didn't. My colleague is cooking more and made really yummy pumpkin, walnut, chocolate chip cookies. Then my friend Amy invited me over to help her make "Christmas Crack" and of course I said yes. I've never had the stuff but let me tell ya, it lived up to its name.
And for the first time in...I honestly cannot say how long...I ate a real potato chip. THE REAL DEAL. A real Ruffles potato chip. I think my eyes popped out of my head for a second. It was to die for. Salt, fat, crunch. Mmmm baby it was good. Well "Christmas Crack," at least the recipe we used, is made up of potato chips, melted chocolate chips, peanut butter, and usually whipped cream but we forgot that part. Oops. It didn't look too appealing (kind of like no bake cookies) but boy of BOY OH BOY is it tasty!!! Amy brought some to work and Britney and I nearly inhaled the entire bag throughout the day. DELISH. 

And in other news...
I was in California for 8 days to visit my parentals. It was the best vacation to date. I went to Monterey, Pebble Beach, Carmel, San Francisco, Sausalito, Oakland, Alamo, Danville, and Napa Valley. I'm not a huge fan of the western climate. I've lived in a few places in the west and none terribly appealing to me, though certainly not lacking in their own unique beauty, but it just didn't do it for me. Northern Cali is a whole different story, at least the parts I went to. BEAUTIFUL. I loooooved San Francisco. LOVED IT. All of the places I went to were so pretty. Boston ranks, always and forever, as my favorite U.S. city, but San Francisco is a close second, though you can't even begin to compare the two. But I love them both and found myself very comfortable with San Francisco. More on the trip later...

Back to this week. I was reunited with my pooch last Sunday after 9 days of being apart. I can't lie. The break from responsibility was nice, but having this little man do his snort dance and high-pitched "I'm-so-excited-to-see-you" bark, made my heart melt. He's a little furry and getting groomed tomorrow. Gotta get fancy for Christmas break! 

During one of my walks with Scotty, I found the most perfect autumn leaf, don't you agree? 

I carefully placed it in my pocket and kept feeling for it to make sure it hadn't fallen out and was safe. I've pressed it and hope the colors don't fade into ugly blah hues as a few of the other leaves I've tried to press did. Also, it's been cold and rainy and gloomy here. Not gonna lie, I'm a fan. It makes it feel like it's the holiday season and heading into winter. I appreciate each of my seasons. If only it was snow, just a little dusting!!! Probably not here in the south, but hopefully we'll get some snow while I am home in New England. Pleaseohpleaseohplease!!

 I've decided that I need to cook more and bake less. I often come home from work and find that I am bored with my "quick, easy" dinner choices of eggs and toast, PB and jelly, turkey and cheese sandwiches, grilled cheese, etc. because either I've had some of these things already for breakfast or lunch, or I don't want to repeat, or I need something a little more substantial. However, I have a few confessions and issues. Cooking is not as exciting for me as baking. But that's also not fair to say or compare the two because I'm also better at baking and I've baked a whole lot more than I have cooked. Secondly, I can handle most leftovers for up to 3 days and then I'm done. I just can't do it. Thirdly, I get bored of the same old things all of the time so I have to vary my recipes up, and, you know, cooking for one isn't exactly easy when I don't want a ton of leftovers but I do want to eat healthy and stretch my dollars. See?? A dilemma!!!! Naturally, I headed to Pinterest to begin the search for some easy recipes. Well, I was actually on Facebook and one of my pals had posted a picture of homemade English muffins so I clicked the picture and link and ended up at the blog site that has forever changed my life:

She is my hero. She has a bazillion recipes and breaks them down by COST per meal and per serving (I'm a numbers girl so this is like striking gold!!!!!) and her recipes are wicked easy but delicious, wholesome, and reasonable (both in amount of ingredients, because anything over 10 ingredients gets nixed, and for price). I decided to make roasted vegetable burritos this week and friends, for the love, they are faaab!!! I made 13 burritos for a whopping $20. SHAZAM!!!! I altered her recipe a little: medium whole wheat tortillas instead of large white flour ones; brown rice (instant, the boil in a bag kind) instead of white rice; and I added two shredded carrots to the roasted vegets (that's short for vegetables in case you are thinking ???) recipe. Oh. My. Lantus. The roasted vegets were great!!! YUM! I could have eaten a bowl of the veggies alone and been a happy girl. The brown rice said it made 2 cups but it wasn't enough for all 13 burritos, but I didn't care. There were plenty of beans, roasted vegets, cheese, and cilantro to go around. So I popped all 13 burritos in the freezer and now when I want one, I unwrap it and zap it in the microwave. Whabam! Tasty, wholesome, delicious dinner ready to rock. I found 6 more recipes to try in the next couple of weeks. I'm giddy with excitement. Baby steps. Before you know it I'll be whippin' up a Thanksgiving turkey no problem...well...give me a year or two. I've got some cooking confidence to build up.

 I printed a bunch of pictures to frame from my California trip because I need to get serious about decorating my apartment. I refuse to buy frivolous "cutesy" decorations. I read a quote that summarizes my decorating mantra that said something like everything in my home is either usable or I love it. So here are the before and after pictures:

Don't judge. I realize some aren't even and the spaces aren't perfect but I really didn't want it to be too structured. I plan to fill in the gaps with more pictures as life continues. I still have a few pictures that I couldn't find the right frames for and I also didn't one to get everything all at once because that kind of takes the fun out of finding the perfect thing. 

It's pouring, cold, and gloomy out today and so it's the perfect day for baking and cooking! So I made whole wheat oatmeal bread and sweet potato fries. Usually Scotty lays near me or within sight but today I couldn't see him so I called for him and this is what I saw when I looked up. 
Your heart just melted right? It should have. I giggled for about 5 minutes and then sent the picture to my family and then ran over and snuggled with Scotty. He's just the cutest. 

I love bread. I think I've only mentioned this about 158 times since I started blogging but I do. Homemade is the best. I thought I was out of sandwich bread so I measured out the yeast this morning and then went to make sure I had enough whole wheat flour (which I store in the freezer, keeps it fresh longer--fun fact!) and whattayaknow there was a loaf of store bought (eh...) bread. Well, I was already determined and set on having homemade bread in my tummy house so I went ahead and made some! I decided I'd just freeze both loaves buuuut, as you can tell that didn't happen. One got sliced about 38 seconds after I took it out of the oven. Let it cool....haha! Good one. Yummmmmmmmmmmmmm!!!!

So about California. I was there for 8 days so I have a lot to tell you about!!! Thus, I am going to break it down beginning tomorrow, or Tuesday because I have a lot to do tomorrow. Also I signed up for a 10K Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving and now I am kind of not thrilled. I haven't been running as consistently as I think I should be. I took a week off after my half marathon to recover, then I got sick, then I went to California and even though I did go running a few times and we walked a ton while in Cali, it's not quite the same. Oh well. I am not looking to set a record  or anything. I've decided to just run for fun. Maybe I'll surprise myself, but I'm not going to beat myself if I don't cruise through it. My friend Amy, who I am running it with, has been POUNDING the pavement the past couple of weeks, and so I'm a little intimidated to run with her but I already told her she can burn rubber with this race but I'm just going to have fun. I feel about 10x better about that (though my competitive side will likely kick in a bit on race day so we'll see how it really goes). 

So here are a few teaser (I know, I know, I'm cruel!) pictures from my California adventure:

(Of course there is a purpose and a tale to accompany this photo!)


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