Sorry, just had to do it.
If the Kingsguard or ruling Casterly Rock don’t work out, there’s always a career in professional golf.
I’m dog sitting (again!) this week. I’m with two cute and cuddly poodles, in the house of what I would call an elegant minimalist. Everything has a place here, everything is intentional, and the lack of clutter is admirable. The decorations and knick knacks are restrained, far from my typical holiday Dollar Tree decor. Every here and there around the house you get a whiff of Easter, mostly in bowl filled with beautiful Easter eggs. As I get older, and without kids, the holidays that aren’t the big ones, or the ones that don’t involve all day drinking, are something I’m starting to overlook. I don’t think I own any Easter decorations, and we all know the only Easter eggs I have around are the ones that wouldn’t last long in a bowl.
It’s a little bit sad to realize the traditions that you looked forward to as a kid don’t have the same special meaning to you as an adult without kids. I remember so many Saturdays before Easter coloring eggs with my family. We always made sure to make an “ugly egg” at the end – one that got dipped in every color of dye. It’s not that I don’t enjoy the traditions – I still do, but I’m not going to go to all the work to decorate, or bake a bunch of special goodies – my pants are ready for all that extra jelly.
I was browsing through Facebook today when a co-worker came in and said he’s been spending a lot of time on Pinterest lately. I browsed to the site and was instantly hooked on how many creative and awesome Easter pins there were. So…I decided if I’m not going to decorate or make anything special for Easter, I can at least write a blog post on the 20 Coolest Easter Ideas and Recipes on Pinterest. Things that I appreciate and admire for their creativity, but things it’s doubtful I’ll soon try. Enjoy!
Like me, I imagine you, dear reader, as someone who is not independently wealthy and must therefore work, and while at work, spends a fair share of your day on Facebook, clicking away on articles such as “30 Hashtags Every Thirtysomething Really Needs” and watching YouTube parody videos of Taylor Swift’s “22″.
It’s all fun and games up until this point. Certainly you can relate to a 2 beer hangover, or definitely eating an entire block of cheese in bed while drinking red wine. This is all part of the growing up and growing older process, and it sort of sucks and is awesome all at once. But one day you realize that your body hurts, and it didn’t magically heal itself overnight. In fact, it’s your heel that hurts. So you begin navigating the deep dark waters of Web MD, or possibly the slightly less panic-inducing Dr. Oz for Plantar Fasciitis, make a podiatrist appointment and confirm that you, indeed, have Plantar Fasciitis. If you’re like me, the symptoms include – hobbling around like an old lady after getting off the couch, out of bed, off a chair, etc…, pain in your heel and arch, and especially worsening pain if you try to do anything to better yourself, like go for a jog.
Well, shit, this sucks.
Time to resort to drastic measures and reexamine your footwear choices. Glitter Converse with absolutely no support whatsover at least 3 years old that you wear on the daily – check. Not getting rid of those anytime soon. Ok, well, what about the shoes you wear to run in? Surely those things could use some improvement. And yes, they could. I bought a pair of Asics about 8 months ago online, and they just weren’t right from the beginning. I LOVE Asics and have run in them for years, but this pair was just off. Why were the shoelaces so short, to the point where it was difficult to work the double knot? Why did my very small feet look like they were possibly too big for these shoes? I’ve worn a 7.5 in Asics for forever, but these ones just looked and felt tiny.
In my really real life, I’m dog sitting this week, and am fortunate not to have to dance around in my undies at 6 a.m. because my dog owners have a treadmill…and it’s as awesome as you’d imagine. Netflix every morning while logging about 7500 steps – golden; that is, until your left foot hurts so much you resemble a 90 year old woman every morning when you get out of bed. Something had to be done – I couldn’t NOT work out on the treadmill everyday, but I couldn’t handle this stupid foot pain either. So I made the call.
I’d wanted to do it for awhile – go to one of the fancy running stores where someone watches you run on the treadmill, determining if you’re doing anything weird that might require truly special shoes, or if you’re just that slow. I packed up from work and went to Running Away Multisport in Deerfield, certain I would find another pair of Asics – ones that were better and even cooler!
Turns out that’s not what happened. I told the associate that I was interested in getting on the treadmill so she could watch me trying to look cool and run like a real person. She said great and put me in a pair of “test shoes”, the ones they make everyone wear when they get on the treadmill. They weren’t Asics – they were Brooks. And they were the BEST PAIR OF SHOES I’D EVER WORN. I kept telling her that I only wear the Asics brand, but my feet were cheating on my beloved Asics from the moment I put them on. I tried the upgrade pair of Asics just to be certain, and sure enough, I went back to the Brooks.
The other day when I was experiencing pretty bad foot pain, my boyfriend told me to just strap pillows onto my feet, and I swear to God that’s what these things feel like. The interior is all soft and smooth, the cushioning is truly cloud-like, the laces are long, and the color is….well, it’s sort of hideous for $162. But after running on them this morning, and wearing them currently because they’re just so comfortable, I can forgive this shocking baby blue palette.
If you’re interested in experiencing them for yourself, they’re the Brooks Women’s Glycerin 11 Running Shoes, and if you’re curious as to what they feel like before you buy, I definitely suggest going to a store that specializing in shoes for runners. It turns out I have a pretty even (slow) stride, and don’t need any sort of special shoe, so paying $150 for the fancy ones ($162 with tax) felt very extravagant. But here’s how I look at it – I have real foot pain, and now that I’m old, it’s not going away on its own. I’ve apparently got to take care of this
temple body, and if $162 will keep me OUT of the podiatrist’s office, I guess I’m going to have to get used to sucking it up and forking it over.
In November 2013, I embarked upon a
magical journey to a previously unexplored area of my personal fitness – step tracking. Having witnessed some really positive results from a friend who lost a bunch of weight combining a Fitbit Tracker integrated with MyFitnessPal, I decided that I should get one of these nifty devices. My friend has the Fitbit One, and when he demonstrated that you “grow a flower” when you’re very active, naturally I was sold. I, too, decided the Fitbit One was the way to go, and ordered one for a bargain $80 on Ebay.
While there are a few different Fitbit options, the Fitbit One works for me for a lot of different reasons. First, I am not a jewelry person. I can’t even spell it right I wear it so infrequently (thanks, spellchecker!), and when I do wear it, I tend to fidget it with it a bit like an obsessive nutcase. A wristband would just make me more mental than I already am, so the Force and the Flex were out. The Zip doesn’t track sleep or flights of stairs, so the One was really the best tracker for me. I’ve yet to use the sleep tracking functionality of the Fitbit, as you have to slip the One into a special wristband and wear it to bed, and although we’ve already covered that things like that drive me nuts, allow me to paint you a clearer visual picture: Oh look, it’s me, probably around the ripe young age of 21, coming home from a drunken fraternity/sorority bender, managing a small win by using the toilet correctly, but the whole time plagued that I can’t get the cuff bracelet off my wrist. This situation devolved into me slumped on the floor of the bathroom stall frantically picking at the clasp and mentally freaking out, all thumbs from too many Busch Lights. Luckily my roommate was always very helpful, not only in opening the kitchen with her set of president’s keys for drunken late night mini corn dog and taquito fests, but also in jewelry removal. Seriously, the thought of having to wear a bracelet to bed – first world horror. That being said, I am curious about my sleep patterns.
But back to the Fitbit – ah, this thing rocks! It counts all my steps, and you know what earns you steps? Mmmhmm, yes, walking, BUT also step-tapping and step-kicking while you’re drying your hair in the bathroom! And walking in place like a weirdo while you’re talking to your co-workers! And making up dance moves while in your underwear in the privacy of your bedroom!
The Fitbit syncs with your computer and your smartphone (unless you’re like me and you’ve got a very old smartphone), and provides you with a sweet dashboard to track your activity. The Fitbit One tracks steps/total distance, total calories burned and flights of stairs climbed. It also knows when you’re very active (i.e. dancing like a crazy person in your undies), or just lightly active (weirding out your coworkers by marching in place). On the dashboard, you can add friends who also have Fitbits and see where you stand in the step race. Fitbit gives you a goal of 10K steps a day (you can change your settings at any time), and as of February 4, 2014, I’ve hit that goal every single day. Hitting that takes some work – 10K steps for me is roughly 4.5 miles, and you can’t really achieve that lounging on the couch all day. You’ve got to get up and bounce around, circle the conference room table a few times every hour at work, walk a mile and half in negative temperatures with frostbitten thighs, do some Leslie Sansone Youtube walking videos, etc… Basically, my new motto is “I’ll do anything for a step”, which is slightly more fitness-ly empowering than “I’ll do anything for a donut.”
Along with accurately tracking your steps, you can integrate Fitbit data into other apps, which is very helpful. I did a very scary thing when I got the Fitbit – I went off WeightWatchers, a program/lifestyle I’ve been living since 2007. Don’t worry, I still PAY for Weight Watchers Online because I’m an idiot, but I’ve been using the Fitbit to integrate with MyFitnessPal to count calories and shed some lbs. The Fitbit syncs up and tells MyFitnessPal how many extra calories you’ve earned (i.e. how many extra calories you can EAT!), and that has been super exciting and awesome because it’s science and food, my first two loves in life (except that first one). I have to admit, calorie counting is going a little bit slower than Weight Watchers did, but things are moving in the right direction. I’ve lost 6 pounds since the end of January, and am hoping I can up that when meteorological spring finally catches up with the date on the calendar. I’ve actually only had a chance to run with the Fitbit once outdoors since November. You know, cause I basically looked like this everyday of this polar vortex-y winter:
So here’s hoping I can continue to hit my 10K step goal everyday, and I’ll hit you back with another post on the logistics of using My Fitness Pal with Fitbit integration. Uh…someday. But, for right now, I can tell you that I LOVE my Fitbit, and can’t really imagine life without it. It is very motivating for increasing your daily activity, aka – “growing your flower.”
Who here watches Top Chef? Oh, all 3 of my loyal, very patient readers? Perfect. Well, then I’m sure you remember Kristen Kish‘s revamped Crustless Chicken Pot Pie in Season 10. It rang a vague, dim bell for me in the frozen meals aisle of my local Dominick’s, when the Healthy Choice Steamer line was on sale 4/$10. I hadn’t seen this particular Steamer in the store before, so I figured I’d better pick it up with the intentions of blogging about it, then eating it at my desk and totally not blogging about it when I got home in lieu of watching reruns of Vanderpump Rules. Side note, I think we can all agree Bravo has the best programming lineup ever, am I right?
But…I feel inspired by this Healthy Choice Crustless Chicken Pot Pie Steamer – not because it’s really all that good, but because I’m curious about this Google Authorship business. I’ve been spending some serious time at work updating my company’s Google+ profile because I’m pretty sure it’s going to do great things for its SEO, and I’m pretty sure adding authorship to my blog content will also skyrocket me to instant success! Job offers will pour in, I’ll be booking speaking engagements and press tours in no time and will have to write my labor of love memoir/cookbook, which I imagine will be a cross between Sonja Morgan‘s toaster oven cookbook and Teresea Giudice’s “Fabulicious!”. Perhaps should stop watching so much TV.
Back to the topic at hand – this Crustless Pot Pie Steamer. Meh. I mean, you should try it, and I will actually probably try it again, just in case I actually do like it, but I was underwhelmed. This was the Top Chef Season 10 Elimination Challenge winner in Episode 9, “Past Suppers“? I’m sure Healthy Choice got a hold of it and it went something like this:
Healthy Choice executive: “Kristen, this dish is nice and all, but have you thought about using a bland, mildly revolting, translucent sauce as your base? I’m just saying…. Oh, and have you thought about adding pearl onions? We really like pearl onions around here.
Yeah, the translucent sauce is the base of this Steamer, but it does seem to have a better flavor this time around. Described by Healthy Choice as “ juicy chicken breast tenderloins with carrots, corn, peas, and tender dumplings, all in a savory pot pie sauce,” one instantly hones in on “tender dumplings” and gets oneself pretty pumped for this crustless crust. And then oneself is pretty damn disappointed, because the tender dumplings taste like the outside of a Wow Bao, and we all know the best part of the Wow Bao is the bbq pork inside. You wouldn’t just eat the outside of a Wow Bao, would you? The answer is no, you would not.
I would like to say the corn was really excellent in this Steamer. It seemed fresh and delicious, and the chicken wasn’t in the least bit disgusting. It just overall lacked flavor, but I’d be willing to give it another try, just to make sure. In the meantime, I’m going to get back to these DVR’ed episodes of I Dream of Nene. Oh, and if someone stumbles across this blog, it seems I’d also be willing to get famous writing reviews of Bravo reality shows.
Healthy Choice Crustless Chicken Pot Pie Nutrition Facts:
It’s been so long since I’ve blogged, and I blame it entirely on one thing, and one thing only:
If you’ve fallen into the Candy Crush Saga rabbit hole, you know how deep it really goes. I recently spent $4 on extra moves to beat a level in the 200s- this coming from the girl who hems and haws in the grocery store checkout lane, debating whether an extra $1.39 can be spent on a pack of gum. Hours fly by, lives regenerate, and when you just can’t wait, you can ask your high school acquaintances for more! How social! (Actually you can just set the clock forward on your mobile device to get more lives – two hours usually does the trick, unless you paid $16 for the 8 live regenerator, which I did, in which case you’ll want to go 4 hours).
The moral of this story – if you don’t yet have Candy Crush on your phone, go ahead and keep it that way if you enjoy your free time and relative sanity. If you have plenty of free time and are a little nuts to begin with, you can get Candy Crush on Facebook, or your iPhone, iPad or Android device. It’s free – until you can’t beat a level.
Wait, what was I talking about? Oh yeah, blogging and my lack thereof. Sorry, all that talk of Candy Crush made me want to sneak in a few games. Now that I have some free time before my lives regenerate, I can tell you about my renewed and reinvigorated love of Weight Watchers and the fancy schmancy, low-points meals I’ve been whipping up. Oh, and I got a toaster oven, which I honestly don’t know how I lived without. It’s a tiny oven, akin to an Easy Bake. I never had an Easy Bake when I was a kid, so it’s no wonder why I just adore the crap out of my new toaster oven. Besides toasting and baking, it broils – the very secret to melty, browned cheese, like the kind in the Chicken, Artichoke & Gouda Portobello Pizzas I made the other day.
When you’re really counting your points, you’re constantly hungry looking for ways to eat what you really want without using a ton of points. And what I want, all the time, unequivocally, is pizza. I’ve had my share of different skinny pizza crusts – English muffin (2 points) and sandwich thin (3 points), but what I’d never used as “crust” before was a 0 point portobello mushroom cap. It rocked. As my new roommate put it “this tastes like something you would pay a lot of money for at a restaurant.” True, but the best part of these pizzas is that they really are skinny. You can eat one of these bad boys for approximately 4 – 5 points, depending on how fancy you want to go.
Again, you can eat one of these for approximately 4-5 points, depending on how much you stuff into your mushroom. These little pizzas are truly delicious, and one or two with a side salad is the perfect dinner.
One of my goals for summer 2013 is to get back into blogging. Stay tuned…
It’s been a long time since I’ve felt the urge to blog. It happens. But inspiration hit while eating a brand new (to me) Lean Cuisine. Almost nothing excites me more than finding a new Lean Cuisine that I love, so please allow me to share my thoughts on this one with you.
Clocking in at 6 Points Pluses, this Lean Cuisine Culinary Collection Ranchero Braised Beef is described as “braised beef in a spicy red chile sauce served with a side of chipotle mashed sweet potatoes.” Mmmm, frozen meal quality beef – one of my favorites! Seriously.
While this might not look like much (and let’s be honest, there were like 4 chunks of meat in this), it tastes DELICIOUS! The whole thing actually has tons of flavor – the weird beef is fantastic with a bbq-like spicy sauce with weird chunks in it (onions? chiles? who cares!) and the chipotle mashed potatoes are sweet with a bit of a smoky kick. Because I can’t get enough carbs with spray butter, I sprayed the potatoes and added salt. It wasn’t totally necessary, but I have an itchy spray butter finger.
I’ll definitely be adding this to the lunch roto, provided I can find Lean Cuisines on sale (yeah, I’d never pay $4 for this).
My love affair with sweet corn and backyard photo shoots continues. I came across the idea for this recipe from Eat Yourself Skinny. At the time, I was searching for something I could bring to a party, and although I ended up going with the super yummy Funfetti Cake Dip, the Candied Balsamic Tomato & Mozzarella Salad was never too far from my mind. Grape tomatoes already taste like candy to me, so I was intrigued by the idea of sprinkling them with sugar and balsamic vinegar.
After a trip to Trader Joe’s for an engagement party present (aside: after blanking on the fact that I should probably get a gift for said engagement party, I thought buying a bunch of different sparkling wines and including in the card “hope the memories of your engagement sparkle” would be a great idea. I ended up finding this super cute picnic basket at Crate & Barrel, and it really came together perfectly. Trader Joe’s obviously played a vital part for their large selection of cheap champagne!), I also ended up with my favorite mini pearl grape tomatoes. I love those little guys, and you can often find me actually dining on them…at my desk! I took a handful with me to work today, but left the rest for this original recipe. Yes kids, this is truly the first (semi) original recipe on Dining at My Desk. Or, at least one with its own back yard photo shoot.
I can already tell you that I’m not super great with measuring, cooking times, recipe-writing, etc… and sort of cook by feel and taste, so please feel free to add a little more of this or that if you want to recreate this one yourself. I didn’t have any fresh mozz in the fridge, but I DID have corn, and I figured that combination sounded sounded pretty tasty to me. It turned out really great, and I’m actually on track to eat the whole bowl myself while I write this post!
Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, coat with cooking spray. Add tomatoes and cook for about 5 minutes or until tomatoes release juices. Combine sugar, salt and pepper; sprinkle over tomatoes; cook 2 more minutes. Drizzle with vinegar and cook about 30 seconds to 1 minute.
Transfer tomato mixture to a serving bowl. Add corn, onion and basil and toss gently. Can be served immediately warm or chilled. I added the corn in the serving bowl, but you could also add the corn earlier in the pan. The recipe makes approximately 3-4 servings.