Monday, February 28, 2011

I have skipped out on the last few Meatless Mondays. I'm still doing my best to eat meatless at least once a week, but I haven't been blogging about it like I should. I have lots of things to share (falafel, vegetarian sloppy joes, a yummy frittata). Apparently I need to take my computer back downstairs so that I don't put writing my blog posts off until I'm literally falling asleep at the keyboard.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

You get what you need...

Have you ever had the experience of something you hear on the radio or TV just hitting smack in the face? I was driving back from visiting my parents earlier this evening jamming to the radio, but they started talking which I generally hate. After scanning the radio, I stopped when I heard them talking about American Idol (I'm sort of addicted to this show. I thought they were probably talking about the new Top 24, but they were actually talking about Mandisa from way back in season 8. The DJ reminded everyone that Simon had made several terribly hurtful and rude comments about her size/weight, but that Mandisa had forgiven him later in the show. They then reported that over the past few years Mandisa has lost 100 pounds through diet and exercise. This was something I needed to hear for two reasons; one I have trouble forgiving people and I hold onto things for a very long time and two I am on my own weight-loss/health plan and it is often a struggle to make good choices. I had been considering stopping for ice cream when I got back to Tampa, but decided against it after hearing this radio segment tonight.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Saturday Fun

I'm visiting my family for the weekend. It's been a very relaxing weekend so far. We did some thrift store-ing, had lunch, hung around the house, went to dinner at Carrabba's (Yum!), and watched the movie RED (which was surprisingly good). I also made pretty good progress in my current book, The Help. I'm really enjoying the book so far and would highly recommend it.

Friday, February 25, 2011

The Halfway Point

I am so very glad it's Friday and that the weekend is now here. I could definitely use the break and some time to recharge. This week was super stressful at work and I had several really difficult cases that have left me feeling especially mentally/emotionally depleted. Obviously I can't say much more about it than that, but it was a tough week.
But there is good news on the blogging front: today, February 25, is my one hundred and eighty third post. I know this seems like an odd and totally post to make a big deal about...or it would if I hadn't mentioned it a few days ago, but this post is the official halfway point in my year of blogging. Most of you know that I stated this blogging project to complete and item from my "Bucket List." I thought that today would be a good time to share that list with you all.
I started my list back in my sophomore year of college and I've been tinkering with it ever since. There have been a few changes to the goals over the years, but not many; seeing the Yankees play in Yankee Stadium was dropped from the list after the original ball field was torn down a few years ago and hiking the trail to Macchu Picchu became just visit (because I'd probably die if I tried to hike at that elevation, yay sea level!). Some of the goals I've accomplished already, some of them are silly, some serious, some clearly came from a college student (lol). Here's my list, with the completed goals in bold:

100 Things to do in Life
1.    Skydive
2.    Be in two places at once
3.    Climb a mountain
4.    See Paris at night
5.    Drive coast to coast, don’t take interstates
6.    Attend at least one major sporting event: Olympics, Super Bowl, World Cup
7.    Runaway to Fiji, at least for a few days
8.    Learn to ballroom dance
9.    Watch every Disney movie. Ever.
10.    Sleep under the stars
11.    Go to Mardi Gras or Carnival
12.    Visit all 7 continents, well maybe not Antarctica
13.    Spend Christmas in the Tropics
14.    Ride in a hot-air balloon
15.    Graduate with my bachelor’s degree
16.    Swim with sting rays
17.    Parasail
18.    Bungee Jump
19.    Spend a day at a concentration camp, say a prayer, and never forget
20.    See Sunset in Key West
21.    Learn to speak a foreign language
22.    Find my soul mate
23.    Stop. Smell the Roses.
24.    Dance in the Rain.
25.    Visit Macchu Picchu
26.    Get a tattoo
27.    Go to an Italian opera. In Italy.
28.    Visit every Disney Park in the world.
29.    Bet $100 on one color in Roulette while in Las Vegas
30.    Go to the top of the Space Needle
31.    Go to the Top of The Empire State Building
32.    Go to the Top of the Sears Tower
33.    Visit Pearl Harbor
34.    Be influential
35.    Memorize a poem. Pass it on to someone else.
36.    Swim with a dolphin
37.    Forgive someone
38.    Write ‘The Great American Novel’, even if no one ever reads it.
39.    Become a published author
40.    Smile as often as possible
41.    Visit the Seven Ancient Wonders of the World.
42.    Ice Skate in Rockefeller Center
43.    Make a wish on a shooting star
44.    Send a message in a bottle
45.    Don’t take things too seriously
46.    Throw a coin into the Trevi Fountain
47.    See the remains of the Berlin wall
48.    Beat my Dad at Trivial Pursuit
49.    See the London Symphony Orchestra perform live
50.    Keep a journal for a year, and actually record my thoughts every day
51.    Learn to fly an airplane
52.    See a Steelers game. In Pittsburgh
53.    Pay off my student loan
54.    Go to Oktoberfest in Munich
55.    See the Northern Lights
56.    Get my Master’s Degree
57.    Go to Graceland
58.    Visit the Grand Ole Opry
59.    Go Scuba Diving- I have sort of half done this
60.    Become a parent
61.    Get married
62.    Be in a food fight
63.    Spend an entire day watching black and white movies
64.    Do something creative
65.    Visit the Lourve
66.    Be happy
67.    Drive on Route 66
68.    Plant a tree
69.    Stand up for something I believe in
70.    Learn to play the violin
71.    Read all 7 Harry Potter books back to back. No interruptions please!
72.    Scuba dive in a sunken pirate ship
73.    Own a house
74.    Live abroad
75.    Go white water rafting
76.    See a play/musical/show on Broadway
77.    See the Red Soxs play at Fenway
78.    Say I love you
79.    Have faith
80.    Open a bakery
81.    Visit Spain
82.    See myself through someone else’s eyes
83.    Visit Tulum, Mexico
84.    Make a difference
85.    Travel to Southeast Asia
86.    Be a Bridesmaid
87.    See my parents reach their 50th anniversary
88.    Visit the French Riviera
89.    Go to the California Wine country
90.    Visit New York  City
91.    Build a snowman
92.    Fulfill a child’s wish
93.    Never really grow up
94.    Be successful, in the way that best suits me
95.    Touch the Grinch Who Stole Christmas with a 39 ½  ft pole
96.    See the world from someone else’s perspective
97.    Invent something
98.    Be self-actualized
99.    Celebrate! Just because I can.
100.    Be Thankful


Thursday, February 24, 2011


I'm trying to write my weekly Things I Love post and I keep drifting off to sleep...

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

So Sleepy

This has been a rough work week; both physically and emotionally draining. I'm glad it's almost the weekend. In other news, Friday will be my 183 post. That will put me officially halfway through my year of blogging everyday.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Tuesday: Weight Watchers Day

Starting Weight: 247.4
Weight Last Week: 236.6
Weight This Week: 235.6

Last week I gained a pound, this week I lost it. I'm glad about that. This week was still pretty challenging in terms of making better choices and I seemed to eat out way more than usual. But now that I'm fully recovered from my sinus infection (or mostly fully recovered) I'm back in the kitchen which definitely improves my food choices. Hopefully I can stay on track and keep with the downward trend.

Monday, February 21, 2011


I burned the crap out of my finger tonight. It's totally my fault; I was trying to clean the stove top while the burner was still hot. It doesn't hurt that badly, but it's right on the tip of my finger and I keep bumping into things (then it really hurts.)

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Reasons Today was Awesome

Today was awesome for a number of reasons:
1. It was one of those awesome equally productive and lazy days.
2. Perfect weather, beautiful days are made of awesome.
3. I got all my laundry done. Woohoo!
4. Greek Turkey Burgers for dinner. Ohmigosh Yum.
5. BFFMandy showed me how to make my iTunes songs into ringtones.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Saturday Night Fever

Today was mostly lazy; spent in recovery after last nights Ybor adventure. But I am going out with some friends from my book club later tonight to a restaurant/bar/club near the my house. It's always a fun time with this group of ladies.

Friday, February 18, 2011

A Night on the Town

It's girl's night out tonight. I'm going to Acropolis (for yummy Greek Food) and then to dance the night away. A group of us are celebrating a friend's birthday. So HAPPY BIRTHDAY, BENTLEY!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Things I Love Thursday

Hi y'all! I definitely feel like Thursdays are the best day to think about what I am most thankful for, what I'm enjoying most in life, or just what makes me happy. Besides the nicely alliterative title, this is the point in the week when I usually start to feel pretty stressed and stretched thin. The goal of this "series" was always just to share things that make me smile, sometimes with pictures or videos, so here's this weeks addition.
Things I Love:
1. Springtime! I know it's not officially springtime yet, but we're having some seriously springy weather in Tampa lately. As much as I love winter's cozy sweaters and cold weather, I'm pretty darn excited about the return of warmer temps (but check back with me in July...I'll be praying for the 50s then).
2. My officemates. I share my work space with a fantastic group of women. They're always there to lend an ear or a tissue on the rough days.
3. I am this close to being able to wear real shoes again. Anyone who has been following this blogging project (or who has been anywhere within 5 miles of me in the last few months), knows that I hurt my ankle last fall. Ok so technically it's my arch no my ankle but whatever. The point here is that at the beginning of March I will have been out of the boot for six months and ready to attempt regular people (Read: not sneakers) again.
4. Fresh Strawberries. Yum!

That's all for this week. Till tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

This post should be about...

This post should be about my first experience with Vietnamese food; which was on Monday at the Anti-Valentine's Dinner with my friends. It should also be about the new (to me) sushi place I ate at tonight with some work friends. But it's not going to be about that because it's Wednesday and I'm totally worn out. I'm also too lazy to upload/edit the pictures tonight. I promise full info over the weekend.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Tuesday: Weight Watchers Day

Starting Weight: 247.4
Weight Last Week: 235.6
Weight This Week: 236.6

I gained a pound this week. I'm retty sure it was a combination of antibiotics and being too tired to cook/eating like crap. I'm definitely going to get back on plan and back to tracking this week. That's all I've got tonight folks.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Pretty Pretty Pottery

Just a few short things tonight:
1. I hope everyone had a good Valentine's Day; whether you spent it with friends (like me!) or with a significant other.
2. I got my the vase I made on Saturday night back. It was super fast I actually didn't expect it till later in the week. I picked up my vase and BFFMandy's pieces before dinner with the meetup girls.

My Vase...though I'm not quite done with it yet.
BFFMandy's Candle Plate, It turned out really well. 
Another really pretty piece BFFMandy made
Sorry for the bad iphone camera pics. Goodnight.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Champagne and Strawberry Cupcakes

I love all holidays except Valentine's Day. Seriously Christmas, Halloween, St. Patrick's, 4th of July: Bring it on! But I am just not a Valentine's Day person. While I understand the history of the holiday, I don't think a holiday that makes people who are usually-fine-happy-fun-loving single folks feel bad about their single status is a holiday worth celebrating. What do I love about Valentine's Day: all of the crazy awesome appropriately pink/red food you can make.
Yesterday's arty adventure at You Do the Dishes was a pre-Valentines celebration with the girls. I of course made cupcakes. Champagne and strawberry cupcakes to be precise. I had previously made plain champagne cupcakes filled with champagne mousse and topped with champagne butter cream a while back (it was before the blog), but they were kind of a fail. They were cloyingly sweet and almost made my teeth hurt. For our girl's night I wanted to try champagne cupcakes again. They were definitely a success.
adapted from Sprinkle Bakes
1/2 cup butter softened
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 3/4 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup champagne, prosecco or your choice of sparkling wine
1 cup strawberries, diced

1. Pour champagne into a medium sized bowl. Add strawberries and stir to cover all the berries. Let sit together for 20-30 minutes
2. Line a muffin pan with paper liners and preheat oven to 350 degrees.
3. In a large bowl (or in a stand mixer), cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. 
4. Add eggs one at a time; scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat well after adding each egg. Add vanilla and mix.  
6. In a bowl, Whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
7. Add sour cream to champagne and strawberry mixture and whisk gently to combine.  
8. Add flour and champagne/strawberry mixture alternately, beginning and ending with flour.  The batter will be fairly thick.
9. Fill cupcake papers with a 1/4 cup of batter (I used a medium ice cream scoop)
10. Bake for 17-22 minutes.  Set aside to cool.

You guys this is the second version of this frosting. The first was really an epic failure. This version is better, but despite adding almost a whole pound of powdered sugar it still didn't really hold it's shape when piped. It did set up nicely after a rest though and it was well reviewed by my friends.

adapted from The Curvy Carrot
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 tsp salt
4-6 cups powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3-4 Tbsp champagne, at room temperature
3/4 cup strawberries, diced fine

1. With an electric mixer, beat together approximately three cups of sugar, butter, and salt. Mix on low until well blended, and then on medium for another two minutes.
2. Add vanilla and champagne, beating on medium for another minute.
3. Place diced strawberries in the center of a paper towel (or an old dish towel). Wrap them up and squeeze out as much of the liquid as possible. I found this to be a really important step and it really affected the texture of my frosting.
4. Gently fold in the diced strawberries. (I let my frosting rest for about 5 minutes at this point). Check your frosting for texture/flavor and add additional sugar as needed.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

I'm an Artist!

Y'all know I'm all about being crafty, but I'm not really an artist. But last night BFFMandy and I went with a group of new friends from my book club to You Do the Dishes. Y'all it was so much fun! So here's how it works; They have like a zillion pieces of pre-fired unpainted pottery (called bisque), You pick the one you want, you paint it, they glaze and fire it, then you pick it up. Now I know part of it was the company cause this group of girls is always a blast, but the painting was pretty fun too. I made a vase and I'm pretty sure it's gonna be awesome. I promise pictures when I get it back at the end of the week.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Black Swan

I finally went to see Black Swan tonight. I might be the last person on the planet who hadn't seen it and I really wanted to see it before the Oscars in a few weeks. I really enjoyed the movie, but I think I expected it to be more twisted. That probably doesn't make sense, but I think since I've been hearing for weeks how disturbed people have been have been by this movie I was expecting something different. Or maybe I can see the underlying mental illness and so I don't think it's that disturbing. Either way it was a very good movie; well acted good plot, lots of Swan Lake (so you know the music was awesome). I'm not sure it's something I'd watch over and over, but I'd definitely recommend it to a friend.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Things I Love Thursday

It's "Things I Love Thursday"! Yay! Are y'all ready for the things I'm loving this week? Ok then, let's go:

1. This crazy awesome peacoat. I have had my eye on this coat since Christmas and I finally got it on sale last weekend. It was a crazy good deal; also mine is green not blue.
2. The Florida State Fair opened today. I love the fair; the food, the rides, the games, the carnival lights and's made of awesome.
3.The Help. I'm reading this for book club, it's stellar good.
4. Glee is back and there were two episodes this week.
5. I finally reached a ten pound loss at WW this week. Yay me =)!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Another Wednesday

It's been a week. I'm still trying to cough up my left lung or well maybe the right one, but left is just more alliterative. I'm really trying not to be a giant whiny fun-sucking individual, but this is what is currently dominating my down time. That and plans for strawberry and champagne cupcakes. I'm glad tomorrow is Friday Eve.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Tuesday: Weight Watchers Weigh-In

Starting Weight: 247.4
Weight Last Week: 237.8
Weight This Week: 235.6

I lost another 2.2lbs this week even though I expected a gain. It's not like y'all don't know this already, but I have been sick since last Wednesday (I know you're probably tired of hearing my bitch about it). That on top of last week's gain and I wasn't hopeful. This week's big challenge was definitely trying to stay on track when I was too tired to think about Points; much less cook, weigh, or measure. I think it was helpful that I had done my lunch shopping before I got sick so I only had healthy options and that I just haven't been especially hungry.
I still sound pretty awful, no voice giagantic hack coughs, but I do actually feel a little better. So hopefully that means I'll find sticking to this weeks meal plan a little easier.I definitely need to get back to tracking my points and writing down what I'm eating if I want to keep losing.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Meatless Monday: Lentils over Polenta

Hi y'all. So this is the first post in my new blog series "Meatless Mondays." I've discussed before that I'm really trying to lead a healthier lifestyle. One of the things I'm really interested in trying out is eating meatless at least once a week. I know all the research on why it's healthier and more economical, but mostly I'm just excited to expand my regular repertoire of recipes. All that being said, I knew when I started looking for recipes that I wanted to use mostly vegetables, beans, and legumes and not rely on tofu and soy products. I also am mostly interested in eating meat-free (rather than totally vegetarian/vegan). So on to the recipe:

Lentils over Polenta
Adapted From The Taste Space 
1.5 tbsp I can't Believe It's Not Butter Light (I know Olive Oil is healthier, but I'm on WW and the butter sub is way less points.)
1 cup chopped onion
4 large cloves garlic, finely chopped, divided
4 cups stock or broth- I recommend Chicken or Vegetable (I used a soup base, but you can use canned or homemade or whatever you have on hand.)
3 cups water, divided
1 cup dried lentils (green or brown)
1 tsp dried rosemary
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp salt
1 large bay leaf
1 cup coarse cornmeal or polenta
3 Tbsps cream cheese ( I used onion and chive flavor, but you can use plain or whatever else you think would be tasty)
1 cup low-fat or fat free mozzarella cheese, shredded

1. In a medium pan (2-quart-ish) pan, heat 1 tbsp of the butter substitute. Add the onion and cook, stirring until lightly browned. Add half the garlic; stir constantly burned garlic is super gross and you'll have to start all over.
2. Add 2 cups of the broth/stock and 2 cups of the water. Stir in lentils, rosemary, thyme, salt, and bay leaf. Let the mixture come to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook for 30-40 minutes; or until lentils are almost soft.
4. Uncover and return the mixture to a boil and finish cooking; liquid will reduce and mixture will be thick but slightly soupy.
5. In an additional pan, bring the remaining 2 cups broth/stock and 1 cup water as well as remaining garlic, salt and pepper to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, slowly stir in polenta; seriously folks you have to stir constantly of your polenta well get all sorts of lumpy. I find that measuring the cornmeal into a glass is very helpful. Stir pretty vigorously to disperse any lumps that do form. Then, reduce the heat to medium. Cook the polenta stirring often; this usually takes 5-10 minutes depending on your cornmeal.Add cream cheese and mozzarella. Stir until well blended.
6. Spoon polenta into plates or bowels. Spoon the lentil mixture over the polenta and serve at once.
Serves: 4
WW PointsPlus: 9
Y'all this was crazy good. It was the perfect warm, filling, and cozy meal at the end of the day and I'm really glad I picked this recipe as my first venture into meat-less cooking!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Super Bowl XLV: Tailgate Cupcakes

I love the Super Bowl; it's football, crazy commercials, and awesome food. And it's not like those of you who know me don't know I'm a Steelers fan. So the fact the my boys are going for the seventh (yes, I did say in the most Super Bowl wins EVER) makes me that much more excited for the Big Game. In celebration, I made cupcakes to support the boys in black and gold.
Time for a brief history lesson: The Steelers logo is based on the Steelmark (which is used to promote the iron/steel industry) which was originally designed by U.S. Steel. It's actually all quite fascinating, but that's the end of the history lesson. Now on to cupcakes. You can use pretty much any cupcake/frosting combo you like. I used a chocolate cinnamon cupcake with cinnamon scented chocolate buttercream. The toppers are the impressive/slightly,but not really difficult part. I am a new blogger and new to choclate/fondant work so there are no pictures of the process, but here's what you need to do:
1. Make a batch of modeling chocolate. To do this a combined 10oz of melted white chocolate and 1/3cup of light corn syrup. I mixed them until well combined and let the mixture cool on the counter-top (but if it was summer I probably would've had to stick that sucker in the fridge.)
2. Once the chocolate was cool, I rolled it out using a pasta roller. You can roll it out by hand, but you need to roll it pretty thin and this stuff is SUPER sticky so use wax paper or spray you counter really well with non stick spray.
3. Once the chocolate is rolled out cut it using a circle cookie cutter. I actually used a doughnut cutter with the center circle removed. My circles ended up being about two and a half inches in diameter. I actually wouldn't recommend going any smaller unless you're pretty experienced with fondant and chocolate.
4. Let the circles cool in the fridge while you prep your fondant. I will tell y'all fondant was not my first choice. My original plan was to pain the design on with colored chocolate, but that was a serious fail. So I tried something else.
5. So the stars are made out of fondant. I will tell y'all; I bought the fondant at JoAnn (actually my Mom bought it for me) and it was already colored. Since this was my first time using it I didn't want to mess with trying to make it from scratch. Anyway, I broke out the trust pasta roller again and rolled this stuff out supper thin. This is where I wish I had pictures; for each star I cut the fondant with a tiny square cutter that was maybe an inch (or 3/4in...i didn't measure it) across. Then I used the wide end of an icing tip to cut out the curves. It took some practice to get the curve just right.
6. After I had all bajillion of the little stars cut out I stuck them on the chocolate disks. They didn't really need anything to make them stick, they just stuck.
7. Lastly, I used black icing to pipe the outer ring. I had every intention of actually writing "Steelers" on all the toppers, but my edible marker wouldn't work on the chocolate and I didn't have a tip small enough to pipe it on.
If anyone out there in internet land has any ideas for next time, I am all ears.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

A Fun Day

I went to the Fresh Market today with a few of the ladies from book club. It was a lot of fun. Also, I got a fabulous deal on a jacket I've had my eye on since Christmas.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Movie Night

BFFMandy and I went to see The King's Speech tonight. It was an exceptionally good movie. I was actually surprised by how funny and moving it was. I would definitely recommend it.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Still Sick

I have been working on super cool totally awesome cupcakes for the Super Bowl (Go Steelers!). I was supposed to actually bake the cakes tonight so that I could assemble them and take some to wok tomorrow, because why do I need two dozen cupcakes for just me and BFFMandy? But I'm still pretty under the weather and super tired. =(. At least they'll be done for Sunday.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Being a great big baby

I'm sick and not like full blown sick (not yet anyway). Just like the early part of a cold and I probably could not be more of a giant whiny baby about it if I tried. I am seriously like the worse sick person ever. However, Nyquil is wonderful. Especially the liquid kind that sort of coats your sore throat. And I am going to sleep early. Goodnight.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Tuesday: Weight Watchers Day

Starting Weight: 247.4
Weight Last Week: 237.6
This Week: 237.8

I almost skipped this post, not today just the weigh-in, because I didn't want to share with y'all that I gained this week. This is the first gain I've had since I got back on the WW plan in January. I'm pretty bummed. I think it's probably cause it's that time of month, but can I really afford to gain weight every four weeks...uh no. Hopefully I'll stick closer to the plan this week.