Thursday, December 31, 2009

Farewell, 2009!

I can't believe that it's New Year's Eve!

This year seemed to go by so quickly. It was packed with happy moments, some sad ones, some I'd never like to think about again. Some milestones were had:

- I graduated with my B.A. in Communication

- I traveled to Colorado Springs and Las Vegas for the first time, also visiting Boston and Nashville for the second time

- Zak and I celebrated our five year anniversary :-)

- I discovered a new fitness passion, horseback riding

- This blog was created in June! It's been an excellent creative outlet, and I just love being more involved within this excellent community of bloggers. Can't wait to do more!

Last year, I had one main New Year's resolution: to spend more time with family and friends, and I feel that I definitely did that! I took two trips to see my sister, visited with my parents more often, and feel closer to everyone as a result. I'd love to see my girlfriends more often, but in the meantime I love our dinners and occasional nights out.

Some resolutions that I have in mind for 2010:

Personal goals:

- Research and buy my first home (with Zak!)

- Put as much money as possible into savings

- Get engaged? :-D

Fitness goals:

- Continue to be as active as possible, each day

- Continue with horseback riding lessons, and start on the trails in the spring!

- Find a good yoga group and practice at least once per week

- Get back into running shape, and possibly do a race in the spring / summer

Healthy eating goals:

- Make at least 3 healthy dinners per week (planning for leftovers). For me, the big thing is dedicating the time to make this happen.

- For lunches at work, limit eating out to once per week

- STOP frequenting coffee shops, take advantage of the free espresso at work

What are your resolutions and goals for 2010?

Tonight's plans include a concert with Spoon and Jay Reatard at our largest venue, the Riverside Theater. I've spent every New Year's Eve for the past 6 years, at work! Luckily I am able to bring Zak and some friends along with to enjoy :-) What are you up to for NYE?

Monday, December 21, 2009

Do you know where your blender is tonight?

It just occurred to me that I have no idea where my blender ended up after our recent move :-(
This saddens me greatly. As of late, I've been craving a delicious green monster (spinach smoothie). Argh, guess I will have to try making one in my food processor.
One of Zak's Christmas presents is also M.I.A. due to the move. It was in a Target bag in the basement, and is likely buried under stacked boxes in our storage area. Hope that I find it soon, otherwise he will be without the present.
I digress... tonight's lame-o dinner included some Health Valley split pea soup (vegetarian) and a toasted sandwich with hummus and havarti .
This soup has tons of fiber and protein per serving, and is low in fat but also lacks any flavor whatsoever. Yech. I doctored it up with some Cholula hot sauce (not pictured), salt and pepper.
The hummus and havarti sandwich was wonderful in texture, but uber bland in taste.
I added some spinach for freshness and crunch, and dipped the folded sammie into the soup to get in on the Cholula action.
Tonight was a productive evening in the kitchen. I made a huge batch of homemade hummus, this time adding 1/4 cup of leftover caramelized onions in addition to my standard couple cloves of garlic and 1/3 cup of green olives. I always say that the flavors need to meld overnight before the hummus reaches ass-kicking flavor levels, however I am trying some out right now and have to say... wow. Caramelized onions are a must from now on.
I also baked a bit, I made the Chocolate Peppermint Bark cookies that have been huge in the blogosphere. I subbed in whole wheat pastry flour for over half of the white flour (because I ran out), we'll see how they go over tomorrow and Wednesday.
I've been on a kick for Peppermint Bark, last night I tried out Meghann's recipe and tonight I attempted to cut it into pieces. Let's just say that crushed peppermint discs are sharp! I managed to break it into cute little portions.
Now, I am going to wrap some gifts and enjoy the guilty pleasure that is Golden Girls... for the next hour. Gawd, I love having cable. G'night!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Five more sleeps 'til Christmas...

Can you believe that Christmas is a mere five nights / four days away?
This weekend was a great time with a holiday party hosted by my dear friends Jason and Heather. I didn't get any photos, but let me just say Zak chose to wear his rockin' 'ugly' Xmas sweater and it was a big hit. I tried out a new dress and may be repeating it on New Year's Eve! Earlier in the day, I fulfilled some maid of honor duties by trekking to Stone Manor Bridal in Cedarburg with my bff Stefanie. Her wedding gown arrived and we went for her first fitting! I cannot divulge photos of the bride (her fiance might read this blog!), but I had fun "holding" a veil while she tried others on...
There's a lot to be excited for this week... my sister is coming in from Colorado on Tuesday evening!! I haven't seen her since September and while we talk nearly every day online, it will be so great to give her a big hug and spent some quality sista time ;-)
Christmas Eve will find my family of four gathered together, enjoying our now custom Tom & Jerry's and exchanging gifts. Then there's Christmas Day, and lots planned with both the families, and coincidentally it will be my final day as a 27-year old. That's right, Saturday I will turn 28!
I am happy to turn 28, but a little hesitant to be closer to the big 3-0. This past year has been so incredible, with travels and time spent with friends, graduating from college and discovering a new passion in horseback riding. Hopefully my 28th year will continue with the positive changes and personal growth. House hunting? Applying for business school, hmm?
As for the actual birthday itself, nothing huge is planned as of yet. It's great to have a Saturday after several years of weeknights :-D
In preparation for this weeks events, I've been cooking and baking up a storm. Here are some recent foodie meanderings...
Caramelized onion, baby bella and spinach frittata.
Vegetarian refried bean dip with dos salsas and creamy havarti.
Wonderful frozen banana soft serve. Gena, this recipe did change my perspective!
And finally, a petit dessert with baked sweet potato.
Now that Internet service is plentiful and ready, I hope to post more frequently. Coming soon: Zak and I visited his sister and her fiance in Chicago a couple weeks back. While there we experienced some great Indian / Nepalese cuisine, and visited a favorite brunch spot. Reviews and photos to follow!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Tonight - The Guy Fieri Live Roadshow, Top 10 Indulgences, Taste and Memory

It has been an embarrassingly long time since I've posted, yikes. While I have certainly wanted to post, work has been super busy and I've been without Internet access at the new apartment.
Don't cry for me, my blog friends - I have arranged for Internet (and CABLE!) to be installed at home next week. I'll be back to daily blogging at that time!
Tonight, we have Guy Fieri (yes, from Food Network) at the Riverside Theater for his live road show, called FOOD MEETS ROCK! It should be interesting! I've heard reports of a 5-foot blender on wheels, awesome... two cases of Cuervo that were purchased for the opening act, Australian 'flair bartender' Hayden Wood... and huge quantities of food that are waiting to be cooked up into tasty dishes. Love it!
What's your favorite Guy Fieri show on Food Network?
There's a video clip of his live show, I just checked it out... looks like there's an entire kitchen that will be built onstage! Of course he comes out to "Kickstart my Heart" by Motley Crue! Haha. I will be attending the show and will provide a review, stay tuned!
In other foodie news... Tina posted today with a recap of a tasting event she attended, and mentioned that cheese and champagne are two of her top ten indulgences of all time.
Umm, cheese and champagne are definitely among my top ten indulgences as well! This got me thinking about my "list" and here it is:
Top Ten Food / Beverage Indulgences
1. Bourbon
I know, you don't hear a lot of women claiming this as their top indulgence! I have no idea how it started, but I love love LOVE a good bourbon, served on the rocks. My favorite brand is currently Basil Hayden's, from the family of Jim Beam small batch bourbons.
2. Fine cheeses
I got hooked while visiting France! It's always fun to try a cheese plate at a restaurant, I often order it as my entree. Especially great: camembert, brie and other soft French cheeses.
3. Formal cakes
Hello, wedding cake? Top flavor contender is red velvet cake with buttercream frosting. I am the maid of honor in my friend's upcoming wedding, and she gave me half of her red velvet sample cake. Giggity.
4. Chocolate truffles
I love to visit chocolatiers while vacationing, and purchase gifts as souvenirs for my parents. Favorite chocolate this year was from the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory in Colorado Springs, in particular their sea salt caramels.
5. Scotch
Another atypical acquired taste of mine. The Macallan is superb.
6. Champagne
Another taste acquired in France. Though I drink it rarely (New Year's mostly), I enjoy it thoroughly. What's not to love about champagne?
7. Pizza
It's one of those things I just could not do without. Love that pizza can be as naughty or as healthy as you care to make it. One thing that's a must is red sauce, though... I am not a fan of sauce-less or weird sauce pizzas.
8. French Onion soup
Meat-sensitive types beware... though I am a vegetarian and do not eat beef, I do love this soup (it usually is made with a beef broth). The melted Gruyere cheese on top is the best part.
9. Gummy red candies
On the rare occasion I purchase sugar candies, they have to be gummy and red. Red coins, licorice, Swedish Fish, Twizzlers, etc.
10. Coffee
I consider it to be an indulgence because if I have too much, I get jittery and weird. I especially love a some extra hot espresso with a few fresh Italian cookies, a la Magnolia Bakery in Greenwich Village with my Mom in 2007.
There you have it!
What are your top ten indulgences?
Taste and Memory
While compiling my top ten, something I found to be fun yet unexpected were all of the memories that surfaced. While writing, I mentioned a particular cup of espresso that was shared with my Mom, over some special cookies we bought at Magnolia Bakery on Bleecker Street, while visiting New York City. I tasted my first champagne while visiting France, and can remember that afternoon quite well despite it having occurred over ten years ago. As for the bourbon memories... those are a bit fuzzier, yet still some of my favorites ;-) Perhaps the main reason that I enjoy these foods and beverages on my list, is because of such fond memories.
This article from the New York Times discusses how scientists tie taste and memory together, suggesting that taste (like smell) "bypasses the part of the brain that is logical and educable and travels directly to primitive brain, seat of instinct and memory." It's an interesting read!
Talk to you guys soon :-D