Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Please Don't Go

I seriously think I'm in denial that September has begun. I know that a lot of people are ready and eager for fall. I get it, that yearning for the favorite feelings and comforts of one's favorite season. I guess it's just like I yearn for summer every February when I'm buried under snow. Summer, please please please don't go yet. I'm just not ready to say goodbye. I guess lucky for me, DC temps will be in the 90s all week and then I'm going home where you don't say the word fall until at least October. Whew, seasonal affected disorder crisis averted for now!

So as promised, here are my thoughts on class last night. I am taking a total of 4 classes this semester but the business school divides the semester into two modules. I will juggle no more than 2 classes at a time this way, thankfully. I'm starting with Organizations & Leadership and Financial Accounting. Both were pretty interesting and I really appreciated my OL professor talking about the benefits of a business education. He tried to assure us we were doing a good thing by beginning our grad school careers.

I apparently decided to torture myself by scheduling my 2 classes back-to-back on a Monday from 4:30 - 9:40. At least I'll then be done for the week yet I have a feeling I'll need the rest of the week to recover. Monday night I practically fell into bed and yesterday I had big issues getting my brain to work. I wanted time to organize and process everything I learned! I guess that's part of this adjustment period though and I at least am interested in going back to class in 2 weeks (we're off on Labor Day, woohoo!) instead of quitting so I'm taking it as a grad school victory!

I was really happy that my brain decided to wake up after lunch yesterday. I'm guessing the huge salad helped restore my mind and body. Perhaps I'll have to switch up my morning routine and refuel differently after a 12+ work and class day.

All in all, it was a good start to my grad school experience even if it means that summer is on the brink of fading away.

Are you currently enrolled in graduate school? How do you handle work and school? Do you find yourself eating differently so that you stay alert and clear-minded?

Monday, August 30, 2010

MBA Monday

In honor of the fact I was on campus for over 12 hours, I've declared today a Minimal Monday. I hope you can understand :)  I'll be back to recap my first day of classes more fully tomorrow but here's the minimal details of Monday for your viewing pleasure.

Favorite breakfast, eaten at work.

Romaine, spinach, carrot, pickle, chicken, lentils. Plus half a serving Snyder's pretzels with red pepper spread.

My co-worker baked cakes in honor of the 1st day of classes. 1 for everyone and 1 gluten free cake for me. She used white cake mix from Gluten Free Pantry with chocolate frosting. It was amazing and I of course forgot to take a picture. I also teased her that she's trying to fatten me up :) Cake does make good fuel for your first ever graduate school class, in case you were wondering.

Dinner eaten outside to thaw out in between classes. I had a peach plus a wrap: Food for Life tortilla, 1/4c mashed chickpeas, tomato paste, red pepper spread, spinach.

 I'm on my couch and doubt I'll stay awake for the Real Housewives of NJ reunion but I'm sure going to try. That mindless drama is exactly what my swimming, jello-y mind needs of after a super long day.

How was your Monday? If you're in school, does your brain swim at the end of the day? Oy...

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Onward and Upward

Today was a great way to round out the weekend. After the structure and excitement of yesterday's adventure, it was time to get down to business and get myself ready for the week. Plus some relaxing is a requirement!

Despite giving myself permission to sleep in, I was awake around 8:45 with a stomach ready for breakfast. About 15 minutes later I bribed myself out of bed and got to work on "overnight" hot cereal. Once the bowl was cooling in the fridge I dashed off to the farmers market.

I was definitely torn between summer and fall with my selections: corn, peaches, Asian pears, honeycrisp apples, and eggs.

A few samples helped tide me over for the short trip but I was ready to eat! I had a muesli inspired bowl of hot cereal with apple, a few grapes, and maple syrup added to my standard mix. Of course, it was topped with the obligatory 1/2T peanut butter.

I decided to get my homework for class tomorrow out of the way and headed to the roof. I enjoyed the sunshine and got through all of my reading and then I could relax with a clear conscience for the rest of the day!

I headed to Whole Foods for my shopping for the week. Of course my stomach was more than ready for lunch once I got half way through my list. Hot bar saves the day! In this beauty was:
  • spring mix
  • beets
  • carrots
  • radishes
  • Peruvian rice with corn
  • Cuban black beans
  • BBQ collard greens
  • dashes of feta and cheddar cheeses

Plus, look what I found! Snyder's gluten free pretzels! I had heard about these being on the shelves but hadn't seen them yet. The bag was $2.99 and was pretty full so I would say it's a good bargain. The nutritional stats are decent as well: 20 pretzels per serving, 120 calories, 2g fiber, egg, dairy, and casein free. They are extra crunchy and really delicious!

This afternoon I was quite the handywoman and chef. I moved my old couch down to my building's dumpster all by myself. It was a great leg and cardio work out! Plus I put the slipcover onto my new couch, vacuumed, rearranged some things, and tidied up. OH and cleaned the bathroom! Whew. I refueled with a pear with a spoonful of yogurt and cinnamon.

I did food prep for the week. I baked some chicken breasts seasoned with 21 Seasoning Salute and made a batch of these amazing baked beans. Jenna - you rock! I really enjoyed making my own baked beans and probably saved $0.75 by not buying them canned (and I get an extra serving). Not a bad trade off.

While the beans were baking I started with a salad that contained romaine, spinach, carrot, pickle, one of the crackers I made last night, and Annie's Italian dressing.

Then I had cheese toast on Udi's whole grain bread with a serving of baked beans. These are sooo good. I added extra ground mustard and hot sauce - that's more of the flavor my grandmother's beans have. These were a great, close second! I also used 1/2 a teaspoon of olive oil plus non-stick spray instead of 1/2T.

The night's been full of Emmy watching, blog stuff, washing dishes, and prepping for the week. I can't believe I start classes tomorrow.

Onward and upward!!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Say Yes to the Dress

I knew that all of those nights of watching TLC's Say Yes to the Dress would pay off one day! Today I got to spend time with my friend Bethany, 2 other bridesmaids, and Bethany's future mother-in-law shopping for dresses. Our mission was to find a bridal dress as well as the bridesmaid dress we will be wearing come Memorial Day Weekend 2011.

My wake up call was earlier than a usual Saturday's but I bounded out of bed and got ready for the day. I knew that fuel would be important as no one likes a hangry bridesmaid so I whipped up something quick, filling, and delicious. I had an egg sandwich with one egg white, red pepper spread, spinach, and a bit of Cabot 50% sharp cheddar on a Food for Life gluten free English muffin.

We met at Bethany's which meant a quick Metro ride over to her part of town. However today there was a huge Tea Party rally on the National Mall which added a lot of stress, fantastic people watching, and aggravation to an otherwise pleasant Saturday morning. I finally made it though and it was time to shop!

I'm excited to say that Bethany found her dress. It was truly a great moment and I loved being part of the dress shopping. While I won't show you what she chose, I can promise you it's nothing remotely close to this:

We were ravenous by the time we left the store and decided on the Cheesecake Factory for lunch. I was in the company of a few other hangry folks so we were in no mood to debate where to eat. We started with the chips and guacamole and I had a few.

I loved my main course - the Fresh Vegetable Salad with the cheese and dressing on the side. I ate about 3/4 of the salad and was perfectly content.

Then it was on the bridesmaid dress shopping, round 2. We have narrowed it down to 2 options and now are waiting for the Maid of Honor to try on her dress so we can decide. She lives in South Dakota so she couldn't join us today.

After our shopping I had a quick errand to run and was hungry again. I popped into Whole Foods for a little snack of carrots, peas and corn topped with a bit of black bean soup and feta cheese plus Moroccan chick pea salad. It totally hit the spot.

Its 6:30 and I just got home a bit ago. I don't think it'll be too exciting of a night. Everyone seems pretty tuckered out and this lady has some business homework to do before Monday!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Lessons Learned from Office Supplies

On Wednesday I went to Staples to pick up a couple of back-to-school items. No big deal, right? I love school supplies and getting organized, so an office supply store is one of my favorite places to go. In junior high and high school I couldn't wait to bring my newly penned, master list to the store. I love the crisp new paper, a blank start, and that fresh feeling of being organized and on top of your shtuff.

Mega Nerd Me should have been ecstatic for an excuse to go to the store then. Right? Well, let's just say I walked out of the store with a few nail marks on my hands from tight fists as I tried to calm myself down. (Would that be a sign of a panic attack??)

I was looking for a paper planner, because that's how I've always tracked school work. I want to be able to cross off grad school assignments and keep work appointments separate. I found something that'll work, but it's not the  same as the one I got every year of junior high, high school, and college.

As I walked out of the store I reflected on my experience and what I had just learned about myself:
  • I really like organization and having the tools to help me live that way
  • I am kind of stubborn. I was reluctant at first to purchase the item I did because it wasn't what I used to have. It's fine, I'm 25 and totally expected for a product I stopped buying in 2006 to still be around 4 years later...
  • I really hate change. After 3 years of just being a young professional (which often felt like school and wasn't perfect) I'm taking on more, self-imposed responsibility in the form of classes towards an MBA. That means new schedule, new higher education technology, and remembering my old school habits.
  • College was amazing and I do not want to relive it. I have the attitude towards my time as an undergrad of "been there, done that, most amazing experience, moving on." That may sound trite and I can assure you that I learned and grew more than I ever would have expected to, but that's not what grad school is about for me. I'm still trying to figure out exactly what I want to get out of grad school.
  • I'm hugely afraid to fail or not be as successful as I was as an undergrad.
  • Aside from refining a business plan I've begun to draw up, I kind of want to learn some new stuff, but I'm not all that convinced about this whole little endeavour. My degree is kind of a means to an end, with some letters to add to my resume to give me authority to run said business. I guess that's enough of a goal?
  • My yoga breathing hasn't gone away even though I can't practice full-out yoga as I continue to let my foot heal. I'm 99.9999% sure those breathing techniques are the only reason why I survived my mini panic attack on Aisle 9 of Office Supply Central.
  • Items are fully refundable with a receipt. And by that I mean, if I try classes and don't like it, I won't apply to the program. If I do, I'll keep it and we'll forget all about this silly little fit of fear.
  • I can and will conquer my fears. Stepping in the door and focusing is the 1st step towards doing so. Staying calm will also be extremely important.
You know the ice breaker where everyone shares their favorite office supply? Or item on their desk? My 2 answers to those questions are always: my planner because it keeps me organized, lets me plan my life, and I get to add some color to it; and Silly Putty which has inhabited my desk ever since I started working a full-time job. It's fun, pliable, helps release tension and nervous energy, and reminds me of being a kid. I feel like those 2 items perfectly describe where I'm at and the journey I'm about to embark upon over the coming months.

Do you hate change as much as I do? Are you facing any fears?

And since I can't not ask it: what's your favorite office supply or item on your desk?? :-)

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Daddy's Girl

August 25th has always been an important day in my life. Usually because that's around the time that school started (or in college definitely did start) and it's also my dad's birthday! It makes it easy to remember :)

All day long I couldn't help but think about all the ways in which I'm a daddy's girl. I've long taken pride in that title and anyone who knows us (including my own mother) will admit that it's the truth. What can I say, we're 2 peas in a pod!

A few years ago my dad cut out gluten from his diet. He was convinced it was the culprit behind a couple of decade's worth of stomach issues. I was excited because I got to share all of the great gluten free products I'd discovered with him.

One of those products was Bob's Red Mill Mighty Gluten Free Hot Cereal. That my friends is the official name of the hot cereal I've come to eat during every season. When I'm home, my dad requests that I make him a bowl for breakfast too. Today's standard bowl with Asian pear, black berries, and 1/2T peanut butter was eaten at work, along with an egg white.

I worked diligently throughout the morning and because appreciative of my organization skills. Those too are things I learned from my dad and have even taken to the Nth degree. We are Type-A people who love to-do lists, organization, order, writing things down, and more. I swear we're fun!

Lunch was a delicious and random mix: arugula and romaine with carrot, a serving of baby lentils, a pickle, and Amy's Italian dressing. I also had the end piece of my Udi's loaf (something my dad and grandfather love b/c it's extra crispy!) with roasted red pepper spread and a sprinkle of parm.

I headed back to the office, glad to have walked out some of my jitters. I have always been the kid / college student / young professional that squirms in her seat, prefers to stand, and doesn't ever like to sit still; it's another trait inherited from Phil.

In between squirming and standing in meetings, I managed a few snacks. The first was steamed veggies left over from a lunch and the second was 1/4c of Greek yogurt with a peach drizzled in peanut butter.

After wrapping things up for the day I set out on a couple of errands. 1) Staples and 2) Whole Foods. Those 2 places always seem to be errands Dad and I enjoy running (see above). Others always included walking through Macy's early on Saturday mornings helping my dad match ties and shirts (once upon a time I loved to wake up super early), bike rides and long walks, and many more.

Staples was an adventure in and of itself and Whole Foods was nothing out of the ordinary.

Out of character for me, I wasn't too hungry for dinner so I threw together a repeat bowl of pasta from the other night. 2/3 of a serving of pasta, 1/4c chickpeas, roasted veg, tomato sauce, and a bit of parmesan.

I'm now listening to jazz and Broadway (2 kinds of music Phil loves), doing lots of blog writing because there's lots on my mind, fidgeting, and doing some volunteer work for the sorority. The last item is something I've definitely learned from my dad - the value of giving back to something important, making a commitment, and having fun. The program I run is based on something my dad runs for his fraternity (which I helped design).

Not such a bad night. I mean, who doesn't love celebrating one of their parents, even if they're out having more fun on a Wednesday than you are?!  :-D

Happy birthday to a wise, loving, fun Dad that's taught me so many things in my 25 years!!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Root of it All

It seems like just yesterday I wrote about my August goals and now it's almost September. Is 2010 flying by quickly for anyone else?! I've found myself extremely torn between summer and fall. I absolutely don't want summer to end at all and am savoring the sunshine but it's hard to notice that I'm craving more roasted veggies, apples, and sweet potatoes.

As I've been increasing my outside [walking] time, I've gotten some extra time for thinking, which has led me to uncover the root behind my habits of nighttime snacking. An odd place to make a discovery but I'll go with it.

My medical history has been no secret on this blog. I was diagnosed with my allergies around the age of 6 but continued to struggle to get healthy for many years later. When I was in the 4th grade I started a new school which helped with many things but also meant I had to make new friends and explain why I ate differently and was absent so much for doctors tests, visits, and more. At one point in that year, my doctor ordered me to do a 2 week liquid diet to try to uncover other food allergies and stomach issues that I might have had that were perpetuating my symptoms.

You might be thinking "smoothies galore" or "master cleanse?" but it was actually much worse. A pallet of "juice boxes" arrived of this drink called Neocate.  I think we went with the tropical flavor but they were so bad it wouldn't have mattered much. I was supposed to have ~ 3 (maybe more?) cartons a day as meal replacements. I think the first day I maybe stomached one of those, mixed with Kool Aid, and lots of water. Let's just say that no one in my family likes to remember that stretch of time where I was truly hangry. That drink was beyond foul. It also was the only 2 week stretch of my life where the allergen levels in my blood were relatively non-existent and where a "normal kid's" were. Go figure. I also had 3 of the 7 conditions the drink "tests" for prior to starting this experiment.

I remember that at night when no one was around, I would sneak food. I remember only going for safe foods. I was so hungry I had to just eat something. I felt better almost instantly, eating real food. I'd love to say that was the only time I ate something I shouldn't have growing up, but it wasn't. Before I had true Celiac Disease, and as a kid, carefully avoiding gluten or other allergens didn't matter to me as much as it does now.

I grew out of that phase and don't purposefully cheat now because I know the repercussions of my actions. But as a hungry 4th grader, that habit first popped up, literally for nourishment. Now, I think my night time grazing is something I do mindlessly, to procrastinate going to sleep or occupy my time, or to look for comfort.

It was a goal of mine to uncover why I've been snacking a lot at night and I figured it might be helpful to share more of my story. I've been turning off the tv much earlier, getting to bed at more of a reasonable hour, but still managing my cereal. I guess it's good the month isn't over yet so that I can still work on this goal!!

Have you ever had to do a horrible medical test? 

On to lighter, more fun things - the food!  Breakfast this morning was a new overnight hot cereal concoction. I mixed in a tiny Asian pear plus a few blueberries. This morning I topped it with a few more berries, crushed almond pieces, and 1/2T peanut butter. Plus an egg white.

My big event is on Thursday which means that today was once again very busy. It's scary how productive I am when I have a lot more things going on!  Lunch was a salad almost identical to yesterday's, minus the beans, plus the last of my Hot Pot soup from Thursday.

I took a snack break late in the afternoon - another juicy peach. It was delicious but didn't hold me over for very long.

Today was laundry day and I got started as soon as I walked in the door. After putting clothes in the wash I had an "appetizer" of cauliflower soup topped with a light sprinkle of parmesan and hot sauce.

A couple of hours later, once laundry was folded and put away, I sat down to my real dinner. I had a serving of baked beans, roasted veggies, and a slice of Udi's whole grain toast with parmesan and basil. Yum!

There were a few more things to do after dinner and I enjoyed a dessert of 1/4c Greek yogurt (popped into the freezer for ~25 minutes = delicious!!) with a few blueberries and crushed Puffins.

Time to wrap up and unplug for the night!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Solid Little Monday

Hi there! How was your Monday?  It was a pretty good one for me. The heat seemed to be absent from DC and it was so nice to be outside!!

I kicked the morning off with my standard egg white and a bowl of overnight hot cereal. To the standard mix (1/4c BRM and buckwheat, 1/4 c unsweetened vanilla Almond Breeze, 1/2 c water, 1/2T chia seeds, cinnamon) I added a tiny pinch of brown sugar, a quarter of a peach diced, some blueberries, and a small drop of fig jam. It was topped with 1/2T of peanut butter. I just couldn't decide between summer and fall!

I am planning a huge event at work that's on Thursday so this week will be quite busy at the office. I'm definitely not complaining though because I find myself more productive when I have a lot to do. I guess I like the pressure.

I managed to carve out time to walk home for lunch which was a great way to stretch my legs and enjoy the weather. Alongside a serving of baked beans I had a salad of arugula and romaine topped with a carrot, pickle, and sauteed zucchini and tomatoes (leftovers). I crumbled a Food Should Taste Good chip on top for crunch and used my ever-addicting Amy's Italian dressing to finish it off.

There was a special treat waiting for me in the office today. One of my co-workers likes to bake and decided to try a gluten free cake so that I could have some too. It was such a nice gesture!! And, look how pretty it is! Yellow cake with vanilla butter cream frosting. I had most of one slice and enjoyed every bite. Other co-workers loved it to and commented that they were excited to get to try something GF!

My regular snack a few hours later was a few spoonfuls of Greek yogurt topped with a third of a peach (same one from breakfast, part of it went bad so I salvaged it!) and a few more blueberries.

When I got home I also had a cracker topped with salsa while waiting for my friend. It pays to be the "healthy" one in our group because I get requests to go walking with friends after work. Even though I did some walking during the day I was game for an impromptu catch-up session. Suzy and I walked 2.5 miles in about 40ish minutes which was a great way to unwind and unplug from the day. Even more so because I left my phone home.

It was definitely time for dinner when I got home. I threw together the quickest thing I could think of: pasta and roasted veggies. I had 2/3 a serving of pasta with a quarter cup of chickpeas, some tomato sauce, and roasted broccoli, green beans, and cauliflower. I added some crushed red pepper for some kick. Perfect healthy and easy meal!

I was hungry again after doing the dishes so I had more roasted veg and a peach for dessert. I am excited for the season finale of the Real Housewives of New Jersey. I love my summer trashy tv :-)

Has a co-worker ever brought in a treat with you in mind?

What's your go-to quick and easy meal? I have a few but pasta and veggies meant more leftovers for later this week!

Any favorite summer trashy TV shows?