Thursday, March 29, 2012

So ... I had a free photo book ...

Click here to view this photo book larger

Photo Book Tip: Create an adventurous travel photo album at Shutterfly.com.

My Diet's Best Friend

Whenever I am super in my diet and trying to slim down for a particular end goal, this is my saviour! We have a Caribou in the building, so it's really convenient. Large tropical green iced tea with a half shot of sugar free raspberry syrup and half a truvia packet. Yum!!

I get it almost every morning and sip it throughout the day. It keeps me busy, full, away from the candy jar, and with a good taste in my mouth.

My caribou bill may go up ... But the candy bowl visits and number on the scale goes down!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Greek Feta Chicken Wrap = Easy + Yummy

So, I don't cook much. At all. I don't mind it. I just don't really enjoy it. There are a few reasons: I'm single, I get home late, I don't eat many meals at home, I am perpetually on a diet, I refuse to touch raw meat, i don't like leftovers, etc.

I grew up in a house where we never ate out of a box, so it's not that. And I do know how to make a few things really well. I just don't care much for cooking. If I really want to eat something special, I go out to a restaurant. I never prescribed to the idea of restaurant quality at home. No thanks. I would rather go out.

Hence my normal meal situation. Breakfast is usually a hard boiled egg and tomato/feta salad prepared the night before and eaten at work between morning meetings. Lunch is from the cafeteria and alternates between some combination of two items from this list: half turkey wrap, small salad, cup of soup. Then comes dinner. Dinner happens close to 9pm by the time I get home and manage to eat. Since I won't touch raw meat but I know I need protein, I throw a Tyson chicken breast in the oven for 30 minutes and do some sort of veggies on the side. That's it. Pretty boring. Occasionally if I feel extra fancy I'll do a flat bread pizza or make chilli or tomato bisque on the weekend. But generally not.

Which leads me to today and my awesome and sort of innovative (for me at least) idea!!!! Chicken in the oven - check. What now? Out of seemingly nowhere I took out a wrap, added a layer of tzatziki, then feta cheese, tomato and cucumbers. Then I chopped up the chicken and put it on top. Not the most creative or fancy thing ever ... But it was to me!!!! And it was incredibly yummy! Hard not to be with those delicious ingredients.

I will admit there was too much "stuff" inside, so I couldn't really close it, but who cares!

Yum!!! I'll be making this again!!


Love this - UK Ad for WeightWatchers

Monday, March 26, 2012

Warning: Reading Can Be Hazardous to Your Weekend

Well, not really, but sort of.

What do I mean? Well, it's basically this: I spend too much time reading! I get absorbed by it. I get too involved in it. I ... cannot ... put ... the ... book (or Kindle) ... DOWN! Literally. I will stay up until all hours of the night. I will stay on the treadmill another hour. I will continue to linger over my last two bites of brunch for 45 more minutes. All just to read those last few pages.

All in all ... this is not a bad thing. Not by any means. Someone enjoying reading? What? That's awesome. And I agree with you. Most of the time. But sometimes it just becomes a time-suck because of the way I read. To distraction.

I have an addictive/obsessive personality. Very much "all or nothing". Can be good in many ways ... but there are some times where it just sucks. Where I wish I could go "half way". Where I could put down the book after only 3 chapters ... instead of the WHOLE thing.

Case in point - this weekend. What did I spend it mostly doing? Reading all 3 Hunger Games books. Mind you ... I was NOT reading them for the first time. Oh no ... that would be too easy. No, I was rereading them in honor of the movie coming out. So I started with book 1 on Thursday night while waiting in line for the midnight showing. Then continued Friday night when I failed to go out and be social. Which continued into Saturday where I spent the whole day reading at different places - at brunch, at the lake, at the cafe. Which turned into Sunday where I spent all day reading at brunch, at the lake, and in my apartment. 3 days later ... 3 books re-read. Sigh. I did get other things done. I cleaned the apartment, worked out, had brunch and walked the lake (obviously), cleaned my car, and even went out shopping for a bit. But I wasn't social at all. I read. A solitary activity to be sure.

So there it is. I read too much. Way too much. 5 books a week is too much. I know. I read while I work out, before bed, while eating. Again ... I am a bit obsessive. Obviously to the point of distraction.

Things I should have been doing this weekend that I didn't ... because I was reading:
  • Working on some photography projects
  • Doing homework
  • Reading for class this week
  • Sleeping
  • Socializing
  • Working out more
  • Making that damn tomato soup I have been meaning to make for the last month
  • Reading my magazines ... I am like 3 months behind
Oh well ... there are far worse things to be obsessive/addictive about. I would rather not be able to put a book down versus ... say, a bottle of vodka.


Nothing Tastes as Good as Skinny Feels

I want this pillow ...
But I don't want to spend $116 on it ...


From Jonathan Adler

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Spring (fashion) is here!!!

Orange and pink color blocking is everywhere!!! Did some shopping in my own closet and found some nice pieces to do this with!

Orange Banana Republic top + pink J Crew skirt + purple BR wedges + pink and orange J Crew necklace and bracelets. Plus ... I even have an orange and pink fedora if the mood strikes!!!!


Friday, March 23, 2012

Midnight Hunger Games? Yes. I did.

It was awesome!!!

May the odds be ever in your favor ... to get there early and get a good seat ... and to see it in IMAX because that was AWESOME!

And yes ... I have the soul and spirit of a tween. Good news? I also have a car and a drivers license which means I didn't have to wait for my mom to pick me up when the movie ended.



Monday, March 19, 2012

An American in [Fill In The Blank]

I watched Sabrina (the new version) tonight while working on some photos. This film fell right in line with a recent movie/book theme that I seem to have going for me - American women who need a change and go off to incredible new cities to start a-new and make fresh starts for themselves.

The evidence:




I have always loved this plot line. Girl has some big momentous life event take place (in the States). Girl decides she needs a change. Girl up and moves to London/Paris/Rome. Girl finds herself ... and usually a fabulous boyfriend too. Girl lives happily ever after.

I loved the concept. The idea of just uprooting and moving abroad ... and it actually working out! Most of the time the characters don't even have jobs, they just go over and they make it work. And it always does. Because this is fiction. So obviously it works. Sigh.

Even if the idea is unreasonable and even if it doesn't ever workout that way, it does make me start thinking. Could I do that? Could I look for a job in a city I really really really want to be and just go and make it work. I would like to think that the answer is yes. I really would. I just need the right opportunity and the right situation. Unfortunately, I don't think I could just go as a student or just go and find temporary work. But I am intelligent, with a good career, there has to be something. 

I'm not saying I want to move tomorrow ... but I am saying that sometime in the future, this is really what I want to do. I wand to be that Girl. I want to have adventure in my life ... preferably on foreign soil. I want to discover new cultures and live abroad and have a fresh take on life.

Soon ... very very soon ... (hopefully).

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Someone needs a new graphic designer

Went to the doctor today. Had to laugh at the brochures. They seriously need a new graphic designer.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Mother nature is taunting me

70 degree weather this week. 70!!!! And I'm stuck home for the second day in a row with a fever of 100. Boooooooo.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Another great weekend

As I write, all the windows in my apartment are thrown open to allow this beautiful weather and spring temperatures into my little home!!!! Hurrah for spring ... it is most definitely in the air.

Started out the weekend well by actually leaving work at 4:30 ... which never happens. Friday night I had a friend over and we cooked up a storm in the kitchen while gossiping about work and boys and life (not necessarily in that order). A bottle of Mo√ęt later, the weekend was off to a great start!!!

Saturday found me getting some much needed R&R in the morning followed by a walk out at Lake Calhoun in the beautiful 70 degree weather, with my friend Erin. More girl-talk about work, boys, and life. The weather was just incredible! So great! Everyone (everyone) was out - and the full parking lot proved that! Running, walking, biking, with dogs, with kids, with friends. Most were in light pants and tops, but some were going all out and embracing the weather in shorts, tank tops, flip flops, and sports bras. Wow! Only in Minnesota! It was wonderful to walk around and talk, but I will say that with the nice weather come some challenges. Groups or people who take up the whole width of the path, dogs on too long of leads, people smoking. Oh well, small price to pay for 70 degrees. After walking, we had the brilliant idea to get frozen yogurt. And so did everyone else - it was packed!!!

Then it was home to shower and get dolled up. Dinner at Seven with a friend where we talked more about work, boys, and life. I had gotten fairly dressed up (the nice weather made me want to get out a dress), and I am happy to report I got some nice compliments ... And some nice drinks!!! Hahaha. Met up with some other friends, then onto another bar and more friends, and then one last bar until closing where I got my dance on! Well, as much dancing as can be done in a very crowded bar with people bumping into you.

Sunday found me up early and watching a movie. The onto brunch. I was sooooo excited when I got to French Meadow and saw that they had put tables outside. Yay!!! Good food and a good book while the sun warmed me up! Then onto Calhoun for two pleasant laps around the lake. Then some browsing through Uptown ... and now home!

So to sum up the weekend: lots of girl talk (work, boys, life), beautiful weather, Calhoun, friends, feet in pain from walking around downtown and dancing, and some very nice compliments that made me feel special!!!

70 degrees on March 11 = awesome!
The parking lot at Calhoun - packed! That's my little baby right in the front (the red VW)!
Ready to go out ... i really do have chipmunk cheeks. Sigh.
My favorite cocktail - the pomegranate splash at Seven.
Yes! They set up the tables outside at French Meadow!
 
My view at brunch - good food, good book, OUTSIDE!

Competitive Shopping - Rainbow Foods

Last weekend began the month of "get my finances in order". As part of that, I am doing a personal competitive shopping experiment at various grocery stores. Basically, I am doing my shopping at different stores each weekend and marking down the prices of those items I most regularly buy (and some I never buy, but I know can be found and compared across all stores). Last week was WalMart (see entry here), this week was Rainbow.

A much nicer shopping experience than WalMart (not too difficult). All in all, very nice. Good selection of products, but not too overwhelming. Well organized and well stocked. One thing is that they have a lot of things on deal. That can be good ... but I don't want to buy super large quantities in order to get a good deal! Example: Special K Fruit Crisps; regular price $3.19; but if you buy 8 at once you get them for $1.98. That sounds great in theory, but that adds up to ~$16 on my receipt for this one product. And then I have a whole lot of these in my cupboard ... and I am more likely to eat too many of them. So ... not thank you.


 

All in all, the prices were higher on EVERY single item on Rainbow. Ranged from a few cents to a dollars difference. I didn't really realize how cheap WM was until I am literally staring at a spreadsheet. Overall, for a comparable shopping list, I paid nearly $22 more at Rainbow vs WM.

Monday, March 5, 2012

A very energerzier-bunny weekend

This has to be one of the most busy, social and productive weekends in a very long time.
My dad calls this energerizer-bunny mode. I agree.

Friday
  • Work ... until 7PM
  • Workout ... ran for an hour and then some weights
  • Went out with some friends

Saturday
  • Up at 9:30AM
  • Made my meal plan and shopping list
  • Went to the office and got some projects in order - stayed until 3:30PM
  • Stopped at the library for new books
  • Costco run
  • Drive to Ikea to return a few things (and NOT buy anything else)
  • Competitive shopping at Walmart (my groceries for the week) - see other blog entry here
  • Home to unload (literally) a shopping cart full of things
  • Out with my friend Alli for sushi at Wakame and then drinks and dessert at Social House
  • Home at 11PM at which point I felt like I ate too much and decided to go workout
  • Worked out for 2 hours ... there were good movies on!

Sunday
  • Up at 9:30AM
  • Finished up a group presentation for my MBA class (Marketing - Consumer Behavior)
  • Off to brunch at French Meadow Bakery
  • A pleasant 45minute walk around Lake Calhoun in the refreshing air and sun
  • Home for a real workout - another 100 minutes on the treadmill (that's as high as it goes ... then you gotta start over) plus more weights
  • Hand washed my car in my apartment building garage
  • Shower
  • Lots and lots of cooking - see other blog entry here
  • Cleaned out the fridge and organized my cupboards - did a general cleaning of the kitchen
  • Enjoyed a delicious dinner while watching Amazing Race 
  • Cleaned the bathrooms - scrubbed everything
  • Cleaned out my closet - organized, separated laundry
  • Did 4 loads of laundry
  • Organized and checked all my receipts from the week - updated my budget tracker
  • Wrote three blog entries 

 Talk about being productive ... damn ...

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Cooking up a storm

If you saw my post from yesterday, you know that I am trying to do better about a) getting more variety in my diet, b) making food in advance for each week on Sunday, and c) I bought a lot of groceries!

So this evening I was a tornado in my kitchen and cooked up a storm. I am seriously proud of myself ... and I think even my mom would be!

What did I make:
  • Turkey lasagna - Yummy, my favorite recipe. And it is relatively healthy since it is with turkey and low-fat/non-fat/low-cal everything. 
  • Mediterranean Chicken and Rice (minus the chicken) - One of my favorite recipes from my mom. But she makes it with chicken in the pan and does it fresh since we would all three eat. For me though, it is easier to just make the rice/tomato/olive side and then make a chicken breast in the oven and just heat up the side separately and serve them together. Brilliant!
  • Eggplant Salad - Check out this old entry for the recipe. Delicious, low cal, and EASY!
  • Veggies ... veggies ... veggies ... - I chopped and prepared all sorts of veggies for easy access during the week.
  • Hard boiled eggs - Most people think it is weird, but it is the only think I can eat in the morning. Everyday I take a hard boiled egg and a little tomato/bell pepper/feta salad to eat when I get to the office.
 
This all took - start to finish - about three hours. I used almost every pot, pan and bowl in the apartment. Then to top it off, I made a delicious and healthy dinner for this evening. 
  • Turkey sausage and veggie oven packet - Soooooo simple! Don't know why I didn't think of this before! I bought pre-cooked turkey sausage and sliced up one of them. Then tossed that in olive oil along with bell peppers, broccoli and carrots. Add some lemon seasoning and wrap the whole thing up a tin-foil packet. Place in the oven for 20 minutes. The resulting dinner was so full of flavor and juicy. Yummmy! And super easy! I am totally going to do this again! 
Turkey sausage and veggie packet
Turkey lasagna

Mediterranean rice

SMS of the day

I love my dad!!!!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Competitive shopping - Walmart

March is "get-my-finances-in-check" month.

What does that mean? That means that I am actually using the budget app on my iPhone and putting every single purchase I make in it. That also means that I am going through the grocery store and Costco and keeping a running total on my iPhone calculator so I can be sure and stick as close as possible to my allocated budget. That also means not shopping.

But all those things should mean an extra $500 of savings at the end of the month. If all works out well. But it wont realize for at least another month since I make all my purchase on my Amex. So this month I will pay off February, which means all my good habits won't really be noticeable until next month. In theory though, two months of super-strict budgeting could almost buy a plane ticket to Europe. Now ... that's something to keep me motivated ...

The grocery store is definitely someplace I need to improve. I tend to spend too much for a single person and I tend to buy too much on impulse. I don't make shopping lists and I don't menu plan. Hence, random product purchases. So, this month, I am a) making lists, b) menu planning, and c) trying to use coupons whenever possible.

On top of all this, my dad is always saying that if I want to save more money I should stop shopping at Super Target because it is more expensive. I don't really believe the difference is enough to merit shopping elsewhere. I like the environment and shopping experience of Target. I also find their locations very convenient for my weekend trips (I either do Roseville or Edina).

Anyway, I decided to use this month as a test to really understand the savings I could achieve by shopping at Cub Foods, Rainbow, or (heaven forbid) Walmart. So, I will do my shopping at one of these locations each week and note the base price of most of the items I regularly buy and some other "common" items. Since I am a planner, I have already started an excel document to track all this.

So this week, since I was at Ikea, it was convenient to go to a Walmart. Normally, there is no Walmart that is really convenient for me (and I prefer it that way). So ... parked my car and off I went ... with my shopping list ... and my iPhone calculator.

All in all, I was able to stick to my list and even came in under-budget (but I wasn't purchasing any big ticket items). But the experience was not one I would want to repeat again. I'm sorry, but even if I could save $20 a month - or whatever - it would not be worth it. My personal opinions ...
  • Due to the location of the Walmart, it was a bit sketch. When I got out to my car I had to do a careful lap around to make sure it wasn't damaged. I literally saw someone push a cart in the general direction of the cart rack, miss, and hit a poor little VW Jetta. Yikes!
  • It is overwhelming! There are way too many SKUs of everything and way too many categories. Seriously, I just don't need all of those.
  • Too many displays, too much end cap merch. Ahhhh ... overwhelming!
  • The shelves are so cluttered and messy. I just got dizzy looking at everything. And nothing was really where it should be. And no one really makes sure the shelves look nice!
  • They don't stock some of my favorite products ... 
  • While I am willing to buy Target's store brand (Archer Farm), for some reason, the Walmart store brand (Great Value) just isn't as appealing.
  • Did I mention that there was just TOO MUCH of everything? I did? Well ... there is.
  • I don't like the color blue (haha).

So, all in all, I don't think the extra savings (which I'm sure exist) are worth the headache. It is inconvenient and a poor shopping experience. I'm not interested. And I don't really care of that makes me a grocery store snob ... 

Next week ... Cub Foods. To its benefit, there are locations in Roseville and Edina near the Super Targets I generally frequent.


Walmart = too much stuff!

Well ... as long as I have to be at the office on Saturday ... at least I can watch Twilight

This is definititly what dual computer screens were invented for. Twilight on one screen. Work on the other.

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