Thursday, December 8, 2011

A blessing in disguise?

This week I've been kind of tired and having a hard time feeling "caught up" since I had such a busy weekend last week.  I think I've technically gotten everything back to its usual order (except ohmygosh do I need to clean my floors!), but I still just can't get out of that funk.  Do you ever have that problem?  When I don't have any time to just chill at home on the weekends, I feel like it takes me two weeks to get back to normal.

Anyway, I've been forcing myself to do the stuff I know I should be doing, even though I haven't felt like it.  On Tuesday night, Matt and I went grocery shopping for the week.  We were both starving and we didn't really feel like cooking.  We went through our usual go-to's that are in the house--veggie burgers, ravioli, pasta with homemade frozen meatballs-- but none of it really seemed appealing.  I was thisclose to pulling the "can we just grab pizza?" card, when I decided what we should really have was salmon!  

If you know me, this is a weird thing for me to decide.  I have played a pretty tough nothing-that-swims diet since childhood, but I think I may be a convert after all, because I actually craved seafood.  We bought some mustard and brown sugar marinated wild-caught salmon from the fish counter to grill on the Foreman, roasted some asparagus, and made some 5 minute whole-wheat couscous.
Faster and much healthier than any takeout!
The whole meal came together in about 15 minutes, which is less time than we would have waited to get pizza and I really felt better about eating this.  Also, that mustard and brown sugar marinade was awesome!  Must remember for future dinners.   

I made another Green Monster yesterday and it was even better than the day before!  I decided that for me, I need to have the banana fresh, not frozen.  It adds a creaminess I just love.  This monster was so delish, but I had to quit half way through because I was SO FULL.  I poured the rest into an air tight drink container and put it in the fridge overnight.  I finished it this morning--and I have to tell you--it was even better after sitting over night!  Maybe the oats soaked up extra milk or the ingredients got to know each other better--whatever, I don't care what the reason was, it was so good!

Then, I set my trusty pal, The Crock Pot, to make my dinner for me while I went to work.  Today that little beauty made me Slow Cooker Coconut Chicken Curry.  Oh.  My.  God.  I can't even express how good this was!  I used chicken leg-thigh pieces because that's what I had from our Meat CSA.  The meat was tender and juicy and the sauce was an amazing consistency.  The original poster of the recipe noted that she is not much of a sauce person, but she had drenched her rice in this sauce.  Well I totally AM a sauce person and I went back for seconds... and thirds... of sauce to cover my rice. No grain of rice left behind!  Yum.  I will totally be making this frequently.

The dishes are done, I made lunches for tomorrow (I made myself a salad of 50/ 50 blend, dried figs, a little ham, and some toasted pecans with a mustard vinaigrette.  I'm really excited to eat it tomorrow!), my face is washed, and my teeth are brushed and flossed, so I'm hangin' on the couch watching The Wonder Years.  

Now for the part that goes with the title of this entry.  Today, I was having a totally normal, casual conversation with my boss when he suddenly told me that he's having trouble finding money to continue funding my position.  I did know that my position was technically a one year appointment (I started in March), but he has previously seemed pretty optimistic that he would find funding to continue to pay me.  It seems that may have changed.  So, while I have a position until at least late February/ March, I probably need to find something new.

Why is this possibly a blessing in disguise?  Well, I don't really want to be a scientist.  I've known this for awhile and definitely knew that before I started this position.  I have actually been looking for a new job since I started this one, but I haven't had any bites yet.  Now that I have my boss's blessing to look for jobs and use him as a reference, I feel more confident about applying to more jobs.  I still have this feeling of "wait-you-don't-break-up-with-me,I-break-up-with-you!" but at the very least, I appreciate that he didn't walk in one way and tell me my time had run out and instead gave me some warning.

I don't want to end on a negative note, so I'll say that I have found some jobs I am pretty interested in and I am hopeful that this will be the break I've been waiting for.  Until next time!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Trips to the water cooler...

Being a lab technician is weird in the sense that I think sometimes my boss forgets I exist.  It's kind of nice most of the time, since I can do things like update my blog, read other blogs, play Words with Friends, etc. but since he usually stops in the lab later on in the day I have to at least look busy.

Things I do to look busy:
Write in my lab notebook
Wash dishes
Calibrate scales
Sign off on our waste removal area
Go to the bathroom and run my hands under hot water for awhile (it's freakin' COLD in here!)
Check to see if my boss is still here
Go to the water cooler and fill up my bottle

The last one is key because I've been trying to drink two full bottles a day.  My bottles look like this:

They hold about 650mL of water, so two bottles a day is about 1.3L of water.  Drinking water doesn't seem like a big deal, but have you ever gone awhile without drinking enough water?  It makes me tired and cranky, so hydrate up!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Don't be afraid of Monsters!

I meant to mention in a brief post on Thursday that it would be unlikely that I'd post anything for the rest of the weekend, as I was too busy participating in the wedding weekend of one of my best friends, Robin, and her wonderful husband, Alex!  The festivities began on Thursday night, when we gathered at Robin's Mom's house for dinner.  We continued on Friday by decorating the venue and having the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner.
Centerpieces, all handmade by the bride and her Mom.

Christmas tree loaded with pics of the bride and groom.

Seating assignments in cute pinecones!
The bride is a graphic designer, so all of her table assignments, invitations, programs, thank-yous, etc. were impeccably done.  Her Mom is also a Martha Stewart of sorts, so they hand made all of the decorations.  It was so incredibly beautiful on Friday morning that I could not wait to see it with the candles lit on Saturday night.

We spent some time on Friday eating lasagna and dancing/ singing at the rehearsal dinner.  I sat with some of my favorite people in the whole world!
My other two best gals with our guys.
We spent Saturday morning getting hair/ makeup ready, and wrapped up on Saturday evening with one of the most beautiful ceremonies and most fun receptions I've ever been to.
Congratulations, Robin and Alex!
Naturally, on Sunday, I was totally exhausted.  However, when great things keep happening for your friends, you don't get to rest!  I got myself up and out the door for Krystal's baby shower!  You may remember that I attended Krystal and Mike's wedding back in September.  (Yes, I attended four weddings this year.  R&A's was my last 'til 2012!)  They are also having a baby boy in February!  I am SO excited for them, as Krystal has talked about wanting to be a Mom since I've known her.  

I didn't get to do any housework over the weekend, so I went into Monday feeling less than stellar.  When I got out of work, I really didn't feel like doing anything, but I forced myself to start dinner as soon as I walked in the door, followed by throwing in a load of laundry, and walking downtown to grab a few things from the grocery store.  The loop from my house to the store and back is somewhere around a mile, not much, but it actually did get me to wake up and stay energized to finish the rest of the laundry, cook dinner, and do the dishes.

Taco rice with avocado and Cholula.  Mm.
Now, finally getting to the part about where this title comes from.  I've been reading a few blogs for while that advocate drinking Green Monster Smoothies.  They are basically smoothies that are packed with spinach, giving a bright green color, a whole lotta vitamins, and (supposedly) very little flavor.  I decided that today was the day when I would try one.  I adapted my recipe from Iowa Girl Eats and used 1 cup 1% milk, 1/4 cup uncooked oats, 1 frozen banana, 1 tablespoon Almond Butter, 1 tablespoon of chocolate Carnation Instant Breakfast, and 2 medium sized handfulls of spinach (I was nervous, okay!).
Enough to fill a pint glass, plus a little more.
In the first sip, I could taste the spinach, but it became less and less noticeable as I continued drinking and it was pretty tasty.  I will definitely be making more in the future to use up my outrageously expensive almond butter.  The grocery store I went to last night is VERY small and kind of boutique-ish, so my jar of almond butter cost $15.49!  Ahh!  Too!  Much!  I don't know how I didn't realize it before taking it home, I think I was lost in thoughts about its potential deliciousness.  It is really really good, but I will not be buying it there again anytime soon. 

Well, I suppose I should get to work on the never ending pile of glassware that awaits me in the lab sink.  Have a good day!


Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Work/ life balance.

After finally updating my blog yesterday and doing some other good-Lindsey things, like prepping veggies for a crockpot chicken soup, drinking 1.5 liters of water throughout the day, doing all the dishes, and premaking lunches, I was feeling pretty great.  I was feeling like I could get back into a routine that made me happier and healthier.  I went to bed satisfied.

I woke up with a slight headache and almost overwhelming nausea.  I elected to ignore it while I made oatmeal for both of us and coffee for me.  I had some water and took a Sudafed because I thought my "headache" was living in my sinuses.  I took a really hot shower (hoping to steam that sucker away!), no dice.  I went to work and continued to feel really crappy while I started as assay that I thought would take about 9 hours.  Still in pain, I gave in and took an Excedrin migraine.  It actually made my head feel a little better, but made the nausea way worse.  Note:  they are STILL demoing the floor below me and there is almost constant hammering, drilling, and shaking--not good.

I was hoping that the nausea was just that I had taken meds without eating, so I had my lunch.

Disregard the messy table.  It's not me, it's my coworkers.

I had a turkey wrap with red pepper hummus and sliced avocado, fruit salad, and some cocoa roasted almonds.  It didn't really take away the nausea either.  I expected that I would need to start the next step of my assay as soon as I was done with lunch, so I packed up my stuff and checked on my cells.  Not ready.  And I checked again and again, only to find that they had apparently stopped growing.  My 9 hour assay was now looking like an 11 hour assay.  NOT OKAY!

Fortunately, there isn't a lot of active work, so at around 5pm, I skipped out to run a few errands and grab some dinner.  (So much for my taco rice meal plan!  Although, in a somewhat serendipitous turn, I actually forgot to take out the ground beef to thaw, anyway.)  I stopped at Trader Joe's and grabbed some Spicy Thai Pasta salad.
As far as ready-to-eat grocery store items go, this one is pretty delicious.  I have only ever eaten this meal in my car in the parking lot of Trader Joe's.  I always feel pretty weird when someone pulls up next to me as I'm taking a big mouthful of pasta, but whatever.  Incidentally, I like a lot of Trader Joe's products, but I actually HATE going into Trader Joe's.  It is such a zoo in there and there are always people standing directly in front of the food I want to look at, pondering the meaning of life or something.  

After dinner, I went back to work.  (This is a sentence I hope to never repeat.)  Fortunately, at this point, my anger at staying late at work had either distracted me from feeling ill or I was feeling better.  I finished up my work and walked out of the door at 7:36pm.  When I got home, I was still hungry, so I had some apples and warm peanut butter.
I only had a slightly sad Granny Smith apple leftover from the brie-apple-triscuit bachelorette snack, but with honey roasted peanut butter, anything would be good.  My hilarious friend, Shannon, used to talk of a mythical land where only certain kinds of apples--the kinds that she likes, naturally--existed.  I think her choices are Granny Smith and Macintosh, but I can't remember.  Anyway, I really don't like Granny Smiths, and in Lindseyland, we will eat Cortland apples and maybe Braeburn apples.

I'm now in my PJs, watching Matt play the new Zelda and planning for a better day tomorrow.  It's crockpot chicken soup day, and it's going to be great, damn it!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Back in the saddle?

It's been more than a month since my last post.  I wish I could say that I have some spectacular photographs to show off or tales of an amazing vacation or at least a run down of delicious things I've been eating, but unfortunately, I have none of those.  

Why the hiatus?  Well, I suppose there are a few reasons.  One, I have been incredibly busy with holiday planning, bridal events for a close friend, continuing to get our apartment in order, looking for jobs, etc.  Two, I hit a bit of a slump after my last triumphant post.  You see, all that raving about how amazing my dinner was going to be and how proud I was that I had it all ready to go in the morning, and then when we ate it... it sucked.  I think I said something along the lines of "no such thing as too much buffalo sauce."  WRONG.  There is such a thing and sadly, I found it.  I ended up being able to salvage the filling and make some quesadillas, but for some reason, this dinner let-down put me in a funk.

I did eat some delicious stuff over the last few weeks, but most of it was not cooked by me.  I fell off the wagon and we had a lot of pizza and other restaurant eats for the past few weeks.  Perhaps it's a coincidence, perhaps not, but we've both been feeling a bit under the weather for the last few weeks.  So, today, I'm trying to get back on the menu planning horse.  The wedding I've been prepping for is on Saturday, and I'm a bridesmaid so I've got bridesmaidly duties on Thursday-Saturday this week, so it's only a few meals, but you have to start somewhere.

Tonight, I made a pasta primavera.  Nothing too complicated, but so delicious.  I sauteed onions, garlic, zucchini, summer squash, carrots, and bell pepper with a little olive oil, salt and pepper, red pepper flakes, and 2 stalks of rosemary.  I added a little chicken stock and simmered for a few minutes.  Meanwhile, I had boiled some pasta to al dente.  Tossed them together, put some manchego cheese on top, and voila!  Tomorrow, it's Taco (Rice) Tuesday.  And Wednesday, crock pot chicken soup, which I have been craving for weeks.

While I'm here, I thought it would be a good time to check in on some of my original September resolutions.  I still haven't even begun to play the flute on any particular schedule.  It really needs to be tuned up and re-padded, and I just haven't gotten around to it.  Also, the second I start playing, the dog upstairs starts freaking out and I don't want to torture my neighbors.  As mentioned, the menu planning has been off and on, but I'm hoping today is a new beginning!  I did stick to my reading resolution for all but the last week, when I was simply too busy to start a new book.  I have really started to enjoy reading AND I have the added bonus of knowing how awesome Hunger Games is before the movie comes out in March!

This is  pretty text heavy and totally lacking in pictures, so I'm going to call it quits for now.  I will try to do better on my promise to post twice a week and to arm myself with some pictures.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Who am I?

So, I've been trying really hard to do the meal planning thing for a few months now.  I'd say that I'm tending to fall more on the side of success rather than failure, but sometimes it still doesn't totally work out.  I've figured out that the key for me is planning 4 meals, figuring that on at least one of the nights we will end up going out/ ordering in and on the other nights we can have some of our stand-by meals--veggie burgers and sweet potato fries, spaghetti and homemade frozen meatballs, Annie's macaroni and cheese, etc.  It is Thursday and I have to say that this week might be my biggest planning success yet!

On Monday, I made shepherd's pie.  It's probably my favorite meal from childhood and the ultimate comfort food for me.  I don't think mine is as good as my Mom's, but we still enjoyed it.  I forgot to take pictures, but let's be honest, you know what it looks like and it isn't all that picturesque, anyway.  We managed to eat have some leftovers for lunch one day this week, too.  Score!

On Tuesday, I made baked salmon with lemon-dill butter, gingery green beans, and whole wheat couscous.
One of the healthier looking meals, I'd say.
Healthy aside from the sort of large amount of butter on the salmon.  I'm new to eating seafood and previously the only salmon I would eat had to be marinated past the point of no return in teriyaki.  This was a big step, but it was SO GOOD.  We will definitely have this again.

On Wednesday night, I made some sun dried tomato pesto with spaghetti squash.
Some of my favorite foods combined!  Can't be bad!
I made up the recipe for the pesto, but it was basically: 8 oz of sun dried tomatoes, a handful of basil, 1 clove of garlic, 1/4 cup Parmesan or Romano cheese, a pinch of red pepper flakes, a pinch of salt and a few grinds of black pepper, enough olive oil to bring together.  Pulse the first 6 ingredients in the food processor until everything is chopped finely, then turn the machine on and stream in olive oil until it is a pesto consistency.  The recipe makes more than enough for two people, so I froze the rest for another night.
Today's dinner is what takes the cake, though.  It takes the cake because it's 7:05 am and I have already assembled everything for Buffalo Chicken and Black Bean enchiladas.  I know.  It started last night when I roasted some chicken overnight in the crock pot.
Not a bad thing to wake up to in the morning!
The chicken was roasted so perfectly and fell right off the bone.  I pulled the chicken and saved the bones and other stuff from the roasting pot for a future chicken stock.  I took some cues from Megan at Running Foodie and added black beans and more cheese, and she got the original recipe here.  I also forgot to get red enchilada sauce, but I wanted things to be pretty heavily buffalo sauced, so I used a combo of about 1/2 cup pureed tomatoes to 1 1/2 cups buffalo wing sauce.  I also really like cilantro, so I mixed some in with the filling, too.
It's going to be a long day thinking about this.
And this.
Matt might have band practice tonight, so I left this in the fridge with instructions so he can make it before I get home and have something tasty for dinner before he leaves.

I decided that I might as well just go for it and do all the dishes this morning, too.  So, tonight when I get home, dinner will be cooked and there won't be any dishes to do.  This is a major success.  Did I mention that I haven't even had my coffee yet!?!?!  You'll have to excuse me, I'm very proud of myself.

Have a great day!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Me + my Crock Pot = BFFs

If you are not using a crock pot on a regular basis, you are missing out, big time.  I try to incorporate at least one crock pot meal into my weekly dinner plan.  Why?  Well, there are a few reasons.

1.  The recipes are almost always:  Put some meat in the crock pot.  Add some veggies.  Cover with some broth/ sauce/ spice mixture.  I don't think any combination I've ever used has turned out poorly.

2.  It takes a few seconds in the morning to put this stuff in the pot.  But, I left this at home when I went to work.
A delicious beginning?
3.  Then, I got to come home to this!
Falling off the bone.
What's that you say?  Those pictures don't really look all that different?  Well, it's unfortunate for you that there isn't smell-o-vision to accompany these photos because they smell way different.  Not that it smelled bad this morning.  But this evening, before I even entered our porch I could smell Asian-beef goodness wafting from my kitchen.  

4.  Those smells will make all of the neighborhood animals gather at your house.  Okay, not really.  And, I guess most people wouldn't enjoy that kind of thing, but I would.

The moral of the story here is get a crock pot and embrace it.  It wants to help you.