Sunday, August 29, 2010

Back to the grind...

Hey y'all! While I've really enjoyed spending the first month and a half in of my time here in SC just wife-ing it up (shopping, working out, running errands, shopping, cooking, cleaning, did I mention shopping?), I was getting antsy to start working again. A lot of it had to do with the fact that once you're out of school, so much of your social life revolves around work, I was getting tired of not really knowing many people down here in Greenville. So I am proud to say that I now have a job!! I am working as a recruiter for a recruiting firm that specializes in placing people in jobs in the healthcare industry. It's nice because it has a lot of the sales aspects that I liked about my previous job (aka making commission!), but everything is done on the phone, which means I don't have to go and cold call in the heat! While I still have a ton to learn, from what I know so far, I think that recruiting is a really interesting line of work and is going to be a great fit for my personality. I started work this past Monday, and made it through my first week, yayy! I always hate the first few weeks of any job because there is so much to learn and I hate feeling lost. But I know that time flies, and I've already learned so much this past week, plus everyone is really nice. And I think the best part of my job is the location--the office where I'm working is literally less than 5 minutes from my apartment! For example, one day this week I left my house at 7:42 am, went to the Starbucks (conveniently located right by my work, I'm much more productive after a grande skinny vanilla latte!) and was in the parking lot of my office at 7:57! (I'm supposed to be there at 8) This job is a huge blessing, and I couldn't be happier how everything worked out.

Now that I'm back at work, Cam and I are back to trying to pack our weekends full of fun stuff, as it's nice to have exciting weekend plans to look forward to! This weekend, we had dinner in downtown Greenville on Friday at a really nice restaurant that we had been dying to try. They had a great 3 course prix fixe menu/wine pairing special going on that we ended up trying, and it was incredible, probably one of the best meals I've had since coming back from Europe. Then yesterday morning, we got up, threw our camping gear in the car, and hit the road to North Carolina! We went to the Brevard, NC area, which is in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains and only about an hour and a half from our apartment. We camped by the river in the Pisgah National Forest, picked wild blueberries, went hiking and saw a bunch of different waterfalls, and made s'mores. All in all, a fantastic weekend to celebrate my re-entry into the workforce. Hopefully, I'll be able to keep things up to date on the blog, but bear with me as I'm not going to have quite as much time as I used to! Right now, our biggest challenge is really getting into a schedule that includes work, working out, and making/eating dinner. Cam is really swamped with work for his programs and has to spend most of his week nights working on these reports he has to turn every week, so that keeps him super busy. I like going to the gym when I get out of work, but it's difficult to go to a gym class at 6:45 (as a lot of them at my gym do), not get home until 8, and then not eat dinner until 9:30pm! So that means I'm either going to have to start getting up to workout before work (ughhhh), or have super fast and easy dinners for during the week....Since I'm not such a fan of getting up at 5:30 am to workout, I'm going to try to start making more meals that can be prepared ahead of time. I want to try to find dishes that make a few nights worth of leftovers, where I can re-purpose the leftovers so it's not like we're having the same meal 3 nights in a row. I'll definitely be posting about any successful weeknight meals that I discover, because while we love going out to eat for a date night on the weekends, I really try to avoid getting takeout during the week because you waste so much money and just feel gross. Plus, since I'm going to be sitting down the majority of the day for my job, healthy dinners are going to be key to not gaining 20 lbs by Christmas...

Alrighty, well I'm actually just finishing up our meal plan for this week and am off to the grocery store! But I am excited that we are going to be having our first visitors this week...my mom, aunt, and grandma are making the trip from MI to SC, I'm definitely looking forward to seeing them!! :)

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Meatless Meals

Something that Cam and I have been trying to incorporate into our weekly meal rotation is having one vegetarian dinner a week. Especially in the summer (and the heat of South Carolina), the last thing you feel like you feel like for dinner is something super heavy, so incorporating a vegetarian meal is the perfect way to lighten things up. However, just because you're forgoing meat, doesn't mean your meal needs to be lacking in flavor or protein. Generally in the summer when I'm making a vegetarian meal, it's going to be a salad of some sort. So typically, I like to make it in the early part of the week, that way we can have it as a main dish for dinner, then we have leftovers for lunches/side dishes the rest of the week. Last night for dinner, I made that traditional bean salad that my dad always makes for summer BBQs, except I made a few healthy swaps so it would better serve as a main dish as opposed to a side. Here's the recipe I used:

Summer Bean Salad

Ingredients

6 oz flax rice pasta (I used spirals from Eden Organic, they have tons of healthy pastas, many of which would be perfect in this salad, plus they started in Ann Arbor, so you can't beat that!)
1 can of kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can of pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 can of garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1 can of green beans, drained and rinsed
1 can of black pitted olives
1 chopped red pepper
1 chopped red onion
1 tbs of fresh rosemary, roughly chopped

1/3 cup good olive oil
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
2 tbs sugar
2 tsp oregano
1 tbs chopped garlic

4 oz shredded parmigiano reggiano

Directions
What I love about this salad is that it's super easy! Start off by adding your pasta to boiling water and cook for 10 minutes. You'd rather the pasta be a little bit more on the al dente side then over cooked, otherwise it's going to get mushy. Just a little note about why I chose to use flax pasta--since we weren't having meat in this meal, I wanted to make sure to pick a nutritionally sound pasta that would give the salad some extra protein. The flax rice pasta is both a good source of protein and fiber, as well as providing a good serving of essential fatty acids which are important since I'm trying to make our diet more heart healthy. I also like the fact that the pasta is a little bit darker because it gives some nice color to the salad. You could use any kind of small pasta shape in this salad, as well as trying other types like quinoa or kamut pasta. Once the pasta is done, drain and let cool. Once pasta is cool, combine it in a large bowl with the next nine ingredients. What's great about a salad like this is that you can just use whatever you like (or have on hand at the time!), so feel free to experiment with different types of veggies and beans. I personally really like using the red pepper and the red onion because they add great color and flavor to the salad, and then I threw the olives in there because Cam loves them. Next, wisk together the olive oil, vinegar, sugar, oregano, and garlic. Again, feel free to experiment with the dressing by substituting different oils, vinegars, and herbs. Pour over the salad, along with 2 oz of shredded parmigiano reggiano cheese, and combine until everything in the salad is well-coated. Top salad with the remaining cheese, and refrigerate. The more time that you refrigerate the salad, the more time the flavors are going to have to combine and it's only going to get better, so it's definitely something you could make a day ahead of time if you were having company. One other note is that I didn't include any salt or pepper in this recipe; Cam is really trying to watch his sodium intake, whereas I tend to like things super salty. I've been trying to just leave the salt out of recipes, that way we can salt/pepper our meals to taste individually. This salad is great as the main course or a side dish, and it's packed with fiber and protein from the beans and pasta, as well as looking colorful and summery :)

(The photo at the top was from before I served the salad, while it was all still covered with cheese :) Also, next to the salad are my Barefoot Contessa blueberry muffins, they came out great!!)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Barefoot Contessa, culinary genius

Since I clearly have a lot of time on my hands (as evidenced by this blog!), I have been cooking up a storm lately, as well as watching a lot more Food Network since our move. And with this rise in cooking, my Barefoot Contessa cookbooks have been in heavy rotation. Sorry Rachel Ray 365: No Repeats, you're staying on the shelf for now. I've always liked Ina Garten's food, but when my friend Lisa (who is also Barefoot-obsessed) gave me one of her cookbooks for my birthday last year, I began to see just how awesome she really is (Ina, not Lisa, although Lisa is awesome too haha). All her food is just fabulously delicious. It's just good food, plain and simple. Like she's all about entertaining and simple elegance, rather then making trendy, contrived, or budget food like a lot of the chefs on FN. Her stuff isn't necessarily the fastest or the cheapest, but it's not crazy complicated either. It's just amazing. Sorry to be rambling, but honestly, I just want to be like her when I'm old--rocking my button-shirt, eating delicious food everyday, and loving life. (Cameron is soo my Jeffery haha). So far some of my favorite things of hers that I've made have been her Roasted Shrimp & Orzo, her Lemon Yogurt Cake, her Guacamole Salad, and her Peach and Blueberry Crumble. She's not the healthiest chef in the world, I mean, she probably uses as much butter and cream per episode as Paula Deen, but her French & Italian inspired dishes are really worth it. I seriously want to go to the Hamptons, find her, and ask her to teach me all her secrets. I bought a big container of Michigan blueberries at Whole Foods yesterday, and I wanted to make one of her blueberry muffin recipes, so I went with the blueberry streusel muffins in her Back to Basics cookbook.They are in the oven right now, and I'm not even waiting for them to finish baking to write this post, because I already know they're going to taste amazing. And once we finish the muffins, I want to try out her Honey Vanilla Poundcake...and her White Pizza with Arugula...and basically every recipe of hers that I haven't made yet! So although I have to spend two hours at the gym a day to eat her food, it's worth it, so here's to Ina for being awesome! :)

Our new apartment!

It's taken a little while to get the apartment all set up, but finally things have come together, and Cam and I are both really happy with our new place! We have similar tastes when it comes to decorating, but there are certain things that I like that he can't stand, and vice versa. So we've done our best to try to create a home here in SC that we both love. Our color scheme for the apartment was lots of browns with pops of turquoise (my favorite!) and other accents of blue to keep things young and fresh. My favorite part of the apartment is definitely our new TV aka what Cam bought me to get me to stop bugging him about getting a greyhound (that's a whole other story haha)...but enjoy the pics of our new place & come visit anytime! :)







She's the lady in red when everyone else is wearing tan...

We all have our guilty pleasures when it comes to TV. You know what I'm talking about--that secret show that wouldn't be your answer when someone asks you what your favorite TV show is, but it's the show that you could watch all night in a marathon. For me that show is The Nanny. As embarrassing as it might be, I'm not ashamed to admit, I love this show. I used to watch it a little bit when I was younger, but I think a lot of the humor just went over my head. Now that I can appreciate it for what it is, I honestly think it's hilarious. Fran Drescher (despite the voice) is such a talented comedienne and is really what makes the show. The rest of the characters are so well cast, and I love the chemistry and storyline between Fran and Mr. Sheffield, as well as the comic relief of the banter between Cici and Niles. But what really makes the show is how well-developed Fran's character is--from her hilarious family, her penchant for Loehman's, her constant Yiddish references, to her amazing, over-the-top outfits, I really just love this show. In the current era of reality TV, I'm truly a fan of the 90's sitcom, and thanks to Nick@Night and TVLand, I can get my Fran Fine fix practically everyday of the week! It's the little things in life :)

Monday, August 16, 2010

Easy summer meal


Tonight for dinner, I made a recipe that was passed along to me by my dad via Allrecipes a few months ago. I just had to share it because I think it makes for the perfect simple yet healthy summer meal. When I made the recipe before, I used walleye my dad caught, but tonight I used tilapia fillets, and it came out great. The other variation I made tonight is that I used fresh tomatoes instead of canned. It was still delish, but it didn't have quite as much sauce as when I used the canned tomatoes. I served it along with some steamed french green beans, and I'd highly recommend it for a quick, nutritious dinner! :)

Feta Tomato-Basil Fish

Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 10 mins
Ready In: 20 mins
Yield: 4 fillets (I cut the recipe in half for Cam and I)

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup chopped onion
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can Italian diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh basil
  • 1 pound walleye, bass or other whitefish fillets
  • 4 ounces crumbled feta cheese

Directions
  1. In a saucepan, saute onion and garlic in oil until tender. Add tomatoes and basil. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, broil fish 4-6 in. from the heat for 5-6 minutes. Top each fillet with tomato mixture and cheese. Broil 5-7 minutes longer or until fish flakes easily with a fork.
Nutritional Analysis: One serving equals 295 calories, 10 g fat (5 g saturated fat), 172 mg cholesterol, 799 mg sodium, 11 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, 38 g protein

Quarter life crisis...and gummy bears

So now that we are fully settled into life down here in SC, I am ready to go back to work. Ready is an understatement. This week, I'm pretty frustrated because I thought that I had landed a full-time job with a company down here for a position that I was really interested, and everything was going great. However, suddenly though, I have been unable to get a hold of them, so I have no idea where things stand. I feel like a desperate girl waiting by the phone for a guy, thinking "Why hasn't he called?" and I hate that feeling. So while I still think that this position is a possibility, I realize that I need to keep pursuing other opportunities. Today, I started to contemplate the vastness of the possibilities available to me, and got more than a little overwhelmed. I know, I know, most people would kill to be in my shoes because despite being unemployed, I have a roof over my head, health insurance, and a husband that will support me in whatever I decide to do. Cameron just wants me to be happy and find something that I'm passionate about, and would be completely fine with whatever I choose to do. But the problem is that being in my position where I'm completely free to do what makes me happy really starts to make you question what it is that I want. Part of me thinks that since the next couple years we'll probably have to move around for Cam's career, maybe I should just get a part-time job doing something that I enjoy and volunteer with an organization that I am passionate about. But then the voice in my head keeps telling me 'You went to U of M, you're fully capabable of getting a great full-time job.' So part of me thinks that what makes the most sense is to have a full-time office job where I will make the most money as that's what's really important in these next few years so we can travel, buy a house, etc. But then the other part of me thinks, do I really want to waste the opportunity to volunteer with causes I care about and work at a job, while it may not require a college degree, it would be something that I really enjoy? I really want to start volunteering, but have been hesitant to do it so far because I keep thinking, I don't want to commit, then get a full-time job and have to stop. And then there is a whole other part of me that things I should do something completely different and start a business that I am in control of and can pour my time and energy in to. My concern is that while I sit here and contemplate which path I should take, that I am wasting time by doing nothing, which is what really bothers me more than anything. Meanwhile, I keep putting a guilt trip on myself for feeling as though I'm wasting this time I have at home now by not getting a hobby or learning something new. Like I feel as though since I have this time at home right now, I really should be flying through a stack of NYTimes best-selling novels, learning an instrument or language, teaching myself how to make glass mosaics, sculpt, or some other artistic skill, all the while making gourmet meals every night. So at the end of the day when all I've done is a load of laundry, a half hour on the treadmill, bake a piece of salmon, and watch TV, I kind of feel like I've wasted another day. (This is the overachiever/perfectionist in me haha) Then the other part of me thinks, I need to stop making myself feel guilty for not doing a bunch of new hobbies, I need to be putting all my mental energy into finding a job. So for now, I'm still unemployed, but I'm really going to stop trying to drive myself crazy with all these options and just enjoy the way things are right now. Because one thing I do know is that the grass is always greener, and once things change and I am busier with a job, I won't have time to go to 10 am workout classes, take leisurely trips to Whole Foods, and swim in my pool at 2 pm, so I really need to just live in the moment and enjoy it while it lasts.

But on the upside, during one of my leisurely Whole Foods runs yesterday, I found a new love--Bissinger's Naturals Gummy Pandas. Now if you don't know, I am OBSESSED with gummy bears. I love love love them. It's weird because I didn't really care for them that much growing up, I've always been more of a chocolate person, but over the past few years, gummy bears have become my favorite candy by far. (When we were in Germany this spring aka the land of Hairbo, I ate an obscene amount of them!) However, I know that gummy bears aren't exactly the best thing for you, so that's why I was so thrilled with this find these adorable little bears by Bissinger's. They are adorable little gummy bears that are made with organic sweeteners and real fruit extracts with no artificial ingredients. They come in grown up flavors like Apricot Green Tea, Pink Grapefruit, Pomegranate White Tea, and Goji Guava, and are rich in antioxidants and Vitamin C. I got 2 bags-one of Raspberry Yumberry and one of the Blueberry Acai. I opened the Raspberry in the car on the way home yesterday to try them and ended up eating the entire 4 oz bag. They have the texture of traditional gummy bears but are much more flavorful. And I know what you're thinking, just because they're from Whole Foods and are "natural" doesn't make them anything other than what they are--candy. However, I've realized that as healthy as I try to eat, I'm never going to be able to not eat candy. (and why should I?!) But at least with these gummy bears, I can feel a little less guilty since they have a few good for you ingredients...plus, they're kind of pricey for a little 4 oz bag, so I'm hoping that's what will kick my gummy bear addiction! So while I may be struggling to figure out what to do with my life, at least I've got gummy bears :)

Thursday, August 12, 2010

A little bit of Israel in the South?

Coming down to South Carolina, I figured that we'd be in for a less diverse community than the one we had left in Ann Arbor. And true to my expectations, for the most part, people down here are basically white Christians, and the culture is fairly homogeneous. So I was pleasantly surprised to find a little bit of diversity in the form of some Jewish discoveries I have made in the past few weeks. While on a search for free wi-fi a few weeks ago, I stumbled in to a bagel place by my apartment called Greenfield's Bagels. The walls were adorned with all sorts of different Jewish knick knacks (my personal favorite, a photo of a beagle wearing a kippa) and signs for Hebrew National hot dogs. I felt obligated to buy something since I was using the wi-fi, so I got a cheese bagel toasted with butter. Honestly, this was the BEST bagel I have ever had in my life, so amazing, and I also talked to the owner, who was super nice. I brought Cam back with me that weekend, and he is now obsessed with this place. Like he wants to go there every single weekend to get a Ruben and always ends up buying a half a dozen bagels (so much for cutting down on the carbs!). While it's no Zingerman's, it's great to have a place in our neck of the woods that even comes close!

On that note, Cam and I had quite the interesting experience last Friday when we attended a Messianic Jewish congregation about 20 minutes from our house. For those of you who are familiar, Messianic Jews are Jews who believe in Jesus, or Yeshua in Hebrew, and worship in a style that celebrates, not abandons the Hebraic roots of our faith. A few weeks ago, I happened to flip past a commercial on TV for a Messianic Congregation. My mom attends one of these in West Bloomfield, but I was surprised to find something like this in South Carolina, so Cam and I decided to check it out. They hold their services on Friday evening, the traditional Jewish start of Shabbat, and incorporate Hebrew in their services. Cam and I weren't sure what to expect, but were really interested to find out more about it, especially after Melissa's time spent in Jerusalem this summer. It was a long service, different then we were used to, but it was really neat. After the service, the congregation shares in a potluck meal together, and everyone was very welcoming to us. (They even gave us a loaf of challah for visiting, which we ended up using later that weekend to make french toast--so good!) While I don't know if we'll go there all the time, I am glad we went and am hoping to go back for some of the high holy days coming up in the fall! The Lord really has a sense of humor that after all my years in Ann Arbor at "Jew of M," a place with a huge Jewish population, here I am in South Carolina eating bagels and going to temple. L'Chaim!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Va-va-voom!

During a little shopping trip yesterday, I made an impulse buy at Victoria Secret. I originally went in the store because I had one of those coupons that they send you in the mail for a free panty. (Such a trick to get you in the store that I always fall for!) The coupon was also good for $10 off a bra, and since I had a gift card, I figured that I'd look around. Enter the VS Miraculous Push-up Bra. I had actually seen this bra the past few times I've visited VS, and always thought it was really ridiculous. To say this is a padded bra is an understatement. It claims to add 2 cup sizes, and it has the padding to prove it. It's literally like 2 pillows with straps. When I had seen it in the past, I remember wondering who in their right mind would actually buy this bra. But for some reason yesterday, I decided to give this bra a try. (and no, that's not me in the photo (I wish haha) but it is the bra!) Despite my skepticism, once I had it on, I was sold. This thing is really really padded and honestly makes you look like you have Dolly Parton cleavage, it's absurdly awesome. I couldn't resist getting it. (Cam has nicknamed it 'The Explants' because that's basically what this bra is!) And while it's not something I'll wear everyday, it's nice to have it in the closet for the right outfit or occasion, especially down here in the South where I swear everyone's cups runeth over...now I'm perfectly happy with the bod that I have, but from time to time, it's kind of fun to non-surgically change it up and try a new look! So if you're looking for a 'lift', check out this bra, you won't be disappointed! (I bought it in bright turquoise aka the color that I'm obsessed with, but it also comes in houndstooth (my other obsession) so I'm actually considering getting another one!)

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Say yes...to veggies?

I love when I find great beauty products that are both effective and eco-friendly. Recently, a favorite brand of mine has been a company called Yes To. They have a couple different lines for of skin and hair care products for different needs called Yes to Carrots, Yes to Tomatoes, and Yes to Cucumbers. The company uses high-quality organic fruits and vegetable combined with minerals from the Dead Sea to nourish skin, and what's fantastic is that the products are super-inexpensive and can be found at Walgreens, Target, etc. But the best part is that a portion of the proceeds go to the Yes to Carrots Seed Fund, their 501 (C) 3 non-profit organization that helps support sustainable agriculture. More specifically, they use the money to give grants to schools and communities to promote access to healthy nutrition by helping them build gardens. The company has really fun, whimsical branding, which seems embody their philosophy of saying yes to health and happiness. My absolute favorite product that they have is their Facial Towelettes from the Yes to Cucumbers line. These pre-moistened wipes are great for removing dirt, oil, and make-up and are perfect for the gym or those nights when you're just too tired to wash your face. (it happens to all of us!) Best of all, the wipes are 98.7% natural, and with ingredients like organic cucumber, green tea, Dead Sea minerals, and aloe vera, they are very soothing on skin. The wipes are themselves are biodegradable and FSC-certified, and what I love is that not only do they have a sticker type closure like most wipes, but they have an additional hard plastic closure on top of that to help keep the wipes from drying out. Anyone who's every used similar wipes knows how frustrating it when the sticker closure comes unstuck, so this additional lid really helps keep the wipes moist. The other day I just bought one of their Yes to Carrots C Me Blush Lip Tints, and I love it as well. I bought the shade Sunset Pink, and it's the perfect amount of color and moisturize (in addition to being 95% organic!). They've got lots of other products that I'm itching to try, so I'll keep you posted if I discover anything amazing. So while you still may not love eating your veggies, at least now you can enjoy wearing them and feel good about it too!

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...