Sunday, October 30, 2011

The adventure begins!

Most of you are probably either reading this from your couch while watching the football, or on your phone trying to forget that most of Massachusetts and Connecticut are without power after a freak October Nor'easter yesterday...   Or nursing a hangover brought on from over celebrating Halloween.
Yeah I dressed up as a Crazy Cat Lady last night!  Who says all Halloween costumes have to be slutty? HAHA

I however, am feeling very Euro and hip right now.  I am sitting in the Lufthansa Business Lounge sipping on a late and eyeing the free bread (mainly because its bread, but mostly cause' its free).

I am about 2 hours out from my first leg of the trip to Odessa this week!  I am finally getting excited to head back there to see coworkers who have become friends and get our Crew Conference going!  I feel like I have been planning this with everyone for what seems like an eternity!  Although, honestly we start discussing agenda, gift items etc.. back in May.  The past 2 months I have focused mainly on this and I am very excited to see it all play out.  Hopefully my presentations go well and everyone arrives safely and in time!!

I wrote earlier this week about my goal of 1 carry on and 1 handheld bag.  Well I am happy to report that I did accomplish it!  My bag was 2 kilo's heavier than it should be for carry on but the nice guy at check in said that since I was business class it would be fine (Huzzah for selling out and working for the man!!).  I accomplished this by packing outfits that could be mixed and matched together.  With 1 or 2 spare shirts just in case...

I packed one pair of buttery tan (is that even a color) boots and my grey TOMS that I am wearing now.  Also in tow is my FAVORITE Gap pashmina scarf that is a checkered plaid of blue and tan that I picked up a few years back.  This is probably my #1 item I would suggest when traveling.  This multi-tasker can function as a scarf, blanket on the plain and shawl/throw in a pinch.  It also adds a bit more style than a sweatshirt or hoodie and WAY more comfortable than lugging extra jackets to keep you warm.

Other must have items I have tucked away is plenty of chapstick, facewipes and hand lotion.  Planes are very dry and after 7 hours of sitting you would be surprised at how dehydrated and dried out you feel.  A quick face wash with the wipes followed by a good slathering of your favorite lotion will do wonders for your skin and mood at the end of the flight!  SOOO worth it!  No need to go all expensive either.  I use a lavender johnson & johnson lotion and target brand wipes.

Of course, this foodie would never leave without an emergency stash of goodies.  In my bag I have supply of VIA coffee packets, Crystal Light Green Tea/Lemonade Mixes, Oatmeal Packets and plenty of tea bags.  I have found that even in a hotel room you usually have access to a hot pot (or coffee pot) where you can make boiling water.  Plus all of those items are non-liquids so there is no fear of taking away from my 3oz ziplock bag allowance.

I will post later with some actual photos of my outfits and the goodies I have packed once I am settled.  For now, I am going to watch Miami and the NY Giants battle it out. Who am I supposed to cheer for as a Pats fan I could do without both teams!

My wonderful Pats take on the beautiful Steel City this afternoon, but I predict that just like last year New England will walk away from da'burgh victorious!

Have a great Sunday and a Happy Halloween!!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Going over the pond!

Sunday I leave for my annual trip to Odessa, Ukraine for a Crew Conference.  It is a week where us office folk get to meet with the crew all at once for updates, training and networking.
Huzzah for team building! (source)
Could you imagine a bunch of sailors holding hands for team building! HA! Now that would be something!

The entire conference is amazing but this year I am one of the lead planners for the shin dig.  So the normal laid back girl that I am has been turned into a giant ball of stress corralling cats the many speakers from 4 different countries all meeting in one spot!


However, with that being said, this whole event planning thing is TOUGH! Not sure how LV and Fritzy do it full time!
How I feel! (source)

With just a few days till take off I need to reread my post about traveling and why I love it get myself all geared up for TSA inspections, airline food and people watching!

My biggest worry for the trip is making sure I have all the presentations, handouts and agendas in order.  Thanks to USB drives, iClouds & Sharepoint I am pretty sure that there is NO WAY I am leaving anything behind...

Thankfully I know that as soon as we touch down in Odessa we will be met by the hardest working group of co-workers I know!  The Odessa office plans out this conference down to the minute complete with great food, entertainment and accommodations.

My challenge I have set for myself that is not work related is to see if I can make the week trip with 2 pairs of shoes.  1 pair of slip ons for flying/casual evenings and 1 pair of boots that will get me thru meetings and a crew dinner.

For my male readers, you may be asking how is this a challenge?  But trust me, for a girl going 6 days anywhere the thought of going w/out at least 3 pairs is somewhat terrifying!

I am also going to attempt the multi-purpose wardrobe by bringing several staple items (LBD, khaki color skirt etc..) that I can mix and match to cut down on my luggage.  The goal - 1 carry on and 1 laptop bag.

I have 2 International connections out and back for this trip so the probability of my luggage ending up at my final destination is not great!

What I would like to avoid! (source)

I will try to post this weekend what I end up packing before I leave (mini fashion/packing post).

Tomorrow though, I will embrace my inner 12 year old and bust out my finest Halloween Costume on the streets of Boston!

Are you doing anything fun for the holiday or traveling anywhere great anytime soon?

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Satisfy the craving!

A few nights back all I could think about was Buffalo Chicken!
Spicy, crunchy chicken goodness! (source)

Something about fall weather makes me crave all things spicy.  Whether it be spicy chicken tacos, hot pho soup or buffalo chicken, this foodie loves spicy!

The problem with this craving was that I had just gotten home from a loooong day at work, I was fighting a cold and I didn't have the traditional ingredients to make buffalo chicken anything.  So fighting the urge to order take out, I did what any crazy foodie would do... I set out to curb my craving my creating a dish from what I had on hand...

After surveying my fridge/pantry I came up with the decision to make a spicy chipotle chicken and leek mac n' cheese.  I know what your thinking... Beth that is not buffalo chicken at all, but hear my out!

What was I actually craving?  Chicken, Spicy and creamy (read blue cheese dipping sauce).

What did my mac n' cheese creation have?  Chicken, spice from the chipotle peppers and creamy goodness from the cheese sauce.  It sounded good to this girl!

What I found in the apartment...

Whole Grain Macaroni
2 Leeks
3 Tbls Chipotle Pepper Sauce (i usually keep small amounts frozen since a little goes a long way)
1 Grilled Chicken Breast (leftover from previous night)
Unsweetened Almond Milk
Colby/Jack cheese (diced up slices had on hand)
Nutritional Yeast (Optional but I love the cheesy flavor it adds to the sauce)

This did go against my usual method of one pot cooking but 2 pans made the process go by quicker. While the pasta was boiling I was able to sweat the leeks in a bit of olive oil and garlic powder.  Once they have softened add in your chicken (diced) and a few tablespoons of the chipotle pepper sauce (more or less depending on how spicy you like it)
After draining your pasta, use the same pot to melt butter and make a roux .  I let the flour cook a few minutes while whisking to get rid of the raw flour taste.  
 Next add in your milk of choice.  I admit, I did not really measure this but I assume it was aprox 1 1/2cups of milk.  Whisk your roux into the milk until well combined and heated.  It will begin to thicken as it heats.
Next add in your cheese and nutritional yeast (if using) and continue to whisk until cheese is melted and combined.  This sauce was much thinner than my usual mac n' cheese sauces but I think I actually preferred it that way.  When I tossed my pasta and veggie/chicken mixture into the pot the thinner cheese sauce coated every nook and cranny.
Look at that spicy cheesy goodness!!!  Is it wrong that I want to bathe in that cheesy pool of heaven? It is.. oh well!

This may not be the prettiest of dinners or even a classic buffalo chicken mac n' cheese but for using what I had on hand and ready in 30 minutes, I have to say this meal was one for the winning column.

I will make this again but as always will probably tweak it with more veggies or different cheeses.

Have you ever made something on the fly to satisfy a craving?

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Jumping on the Roasted Chickpea Train

The blogging world always seems to have trends throughout the year that I am usually guilty of indulging in myself.  Some of the big trends are ...

  • New Year's Resolutions & Goals
  • Pumpkin Everything come fall (we know this is my favorite!)
  • Baking challenges towards the holidays
  • Overnight Oats
  • Green Monster Smoothies
One of the trends I have been reading about and drooling over is Roasted Chickpeas.  They looked so yummy, healthy and easy to make!

After perusing the many blog posts I decided to go for spicy/savory rather than a sweet snack.  Lets be honest, I love chocolate just as much as the next girl but if given the choice.  I will always choice savory over sweet!

For this culinary adventure I went for a Chili Lime Chickpea recipe.  It couldn't have been easier!

Rinse & pat dry the chickpeas --> roast until crispy --> mix with favorite flavors --> ENJOY!!!

I have been eating these nonstop!  Crispy, zingy and spicy!!


recipe adapted from Willow Bird Baking

Friday, October 21, 2011

Fall Obsessions

I have posted mostly this week about my undying love and allegiance to fall! 

The food, the weather and the sports make it the greatest time of the year!   I thought to welcome in the weekend I would share with you all some of the items I am obsessing about this fall (food and non food related)

Welcome back the reigning Stanley Cup Champions.. The Boston Bruins!!  I fully admit that before moving in with my roommate, I was just a fair weather hockey fan.  Now I live for games and truly enjoy the early season games of fall!
Bs game on Columbus Day

Fall Veggies
I think I have talked enough this week about my love for the fall harvest.  But honestly people, what is not to love about an abundance of hearty, healthy and tasty veggies!

Acorn squash with cinnamon, nom nomm nommm

This is the biggest obsession of them all!  I am pretty sure I went 5 days straight eating pumpkin in some form throughout the day.  Whether it be in overnight oats, in my coffee, mixed in soup, or in my beer this fall veggie is numero uno in my food rotation!!

pumpkin overnight oats w/ morning glory muffin

more pumpkin overnight oats with pumpkin coffee

coffee with pumpkin spiced clif bar (very tasty and not too sweet)


Essie Nail Color
Amazing fall colors, long lasting and much cheaper than getting a manicure every week!  Totally loving the pink/nude colors and the greyish purplely colors. 

Lumene Artic Freeze
Ok so I know this is a foodie blog but I have to share this with you all!  I bought the $3 sample at CVS the other day on a whim...  At 31 I already have several laugh lines forming on my forehead and around my eyes.  I will NEVER get botox but thought a little firming cream couldn't hurt. 

I put this on and I swear to you, not more than 5 minutes later the deep crease in my forehead was barely noticeable!  Pretty sure the sample will last several weeks but I am excited to see the long term outcome after using it for a few weeks.
For the past 5 weeks a group of co-workers and I have been meeting with a trainer for 90 minutes 3 days a week after work.  I was terrified first at the thought of signing up and seeing how out of shape I really was.   However, I can say that I was a fool to be worried for even a second.

Now truthfully, I haven't been pushed this far since my first real bootcamp at Mass Maritime back in 98' but honestly I really love this class!  Our trainer pushes us past where we think we can go but manages to lift our spirits and make us laugh at the same time!  5 weeks in and I have gone from not being able to do one full push up to completing a full pyramid of push ups/squats this past Monday.

I am hoping to continue this class with a 2nd session during the holidays but also take what I have learned and use it at home mixed with a combo of running and yoga.

What are you obsessing about this fall?

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Fall Harvest Feast!

Every fall I get over the moon excited about the fall bounty of veggie goodness in and around Massachusetts.  From apples to pumpkins to winter kale overfilling the farm stands my mind is racing with the many many possibilities of how to cook them!

This past week I decided to cook up a vegetarian dish (I actually think this was a vegan meal) to use up the abundance of produce we had at the apartment.  Roasted squash with wilted greens.  It doesn't sound that enticing but the mix of flavors and textures made this healthy meal insanely delicious!!!  The smells of apple, cinnamon and roasting veggies alone wafting through the apartment  where crave worthy enough!

Acorn Squash

Winter Squash

A bit of earth balance, cinnamon, nutmeg and cumin
While the squash is roasting (350 for about 50 minutes) I cooked down an onion, garlic and apple in a mix of coconut oil and earth balance.  For spices I added a bit tumeric, cinnamon, nutmeg, cumin and chili powder.

Once softened I added a 1/2cup of apple cider vinegar and a 1/4 cup of water along with a giant bunch of chopped kale and bok choy.  I also added one can of rinse blacked beans.
Cover and let wilt for about 10 minutes.  This makes for an amazing wilted greens dish that you can serve on the side of a meal or like me, make it your main attraction!  The protein from the beans is a good replacement for meat, but feel free to add in chicken or pork to this.  (Pork would be AMAZING!)

Once the squash is nice and soft and oozing with buttery cinnamon heaven take it out and let it cool for about 5 minutes (Seriously, otherwise you WILL burn the roof of your mouth!)

Plate your creation, pour yourself a nice glass of fizzy water or cocktail and dig in!!!
I would be lying to you if I said I did't end up picking up the squash and used my teeth to get every bit of sweet squash off the shell!  It was soo tasty and filling.

Any leftover squash can be used the next morning in oatmeal or at lunch with meat.  But I can't imagine that you will!

How are you enjoying the fall harvest?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Clothing Challenge

I was a pretty big tom boy growing up and then went through the preppy stage in high school.  In college I wore a uniform to class and sweats around the dorm.  My idea of dressing up in college was a gap sweater and jeans w/out holes in them.  My first 2 jobs out of college had me in work boots and baseball hats 5 days a week.  So you can imagine when I finally did get the chance to dress up in office attire a few years back I jumped at the chance to reinvent myself and start dressing like a professional woman.

The up side to this reinvention of my style 5 years later is that I finally have a great foundation wardrobe to get me from work to play to fancy shmancy dinners.  The downside is that I am still in the mindset that I need to build my wardrobe.  I find it hard not to pick up a cute top or dress at Target or Forever 21 for $10 here or $20 there(mock if you like they have great pieces!).
My attempt at organizing the critical mass of clothing I have accumulated

Don't be fooled, my closet goes back on both sides AND I have 4 sliding bins under my bed for clothes!
Honestly, I have no need to walk into a store or peruse online for new items and until this morning I hadn't even given my shopping a second thought.  Then I read Gracie's Post about her challenge to not shop for 6 months!  Gasp I know!!  But lets be honest, winter is quickly approaching and I have a full stock of winter tights, jacket, boots and plenty of dresses that can be transitioned from fall to winter with a sweater and tights.  So in theory this shouldn't be hard at all...

However, I grew up in a family where we thought of finding a deal as a sporting event.  Day after Thanksgiving and Christmas are like the world series for my mom and I.  We are out of the house before the sun is up and home by 8am with a car full of deals!  It will be very interesting to see if I can make it though that without shopping for me....

To get myself through the urges to shop I am going to go ahead and try to inspire myself through pinterest and polyvore to reinvent my current wardrobe.  Perhaps it means splitting up a suit or even learning a bit of sewing to tailor items.  Not sure that I will post my outfits or creations here all the time, but I think it might be a good place to keep me honest and hopefully you can inspire me on how to reinvent everyday looks...

Today I actually managed to reinvent a summer dress into a fall look by adding tights and boots!  Perhaps this won't be as bad as I think!

Summer dress + Dark Tights + Boots = Fall Look

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Pumpkin Oat Date & Nut Power Bars

Do you love granola bars?  Yeah me too! 

I usually have purses and drawers stuffed with various Larabars and Clif Bars to subdue my angry stomach when it starts to grumble.  The only problem is that these delicious healthy treats can run you anywhere from $1 to $3 a bar!  That adds up if you eat them for breakfast or post work out snacks like I do.  

So in true blogger fashion, I took to the interwebs in search of a yummy, healthy and cheap homemade version to whip up.  As always, I took 2 recipes I liked and adapted them into one recipe to accomodate the items I had on hand.  

I cannot stress enough, recipes are an outline to cooking.  Unless you are baking feel free to stray from a recipe and make it your own (even baking you can tweek a bit but its a bit trickier)  They are not written in stone!

This experiment below was a success in my mind!  Still not the perfect granola bar, but for the cost, ease of making, taste and # of filling bars it made I will definitely be making these fall treats again!

3 mini squares and a hot cup of java is the perfect quick breakfast on the run!

Bad picture of bar, but I love this shot of my at home manicure :) I did it all by myself!

The first recipe I adapted was from for Oatmeal Pumpkin Cranberry Bars and the second was from for Vegan Cereal Breakfast Bars

Basically I wanted something that included oats (for bulk), pumpkin (for fall taste), dates (had them on hand and LOVE them in Larabars) and cashews (for protein and crunch factor). This was easy peasy to make!  I love the idea of dehydrating and slowly cooking bars to make them crunchy but to be honest, I don't have 5 hours to slowly cook a snack!

Mix all your ingredients in one bowl, spread out onto a greased pan and bake.  Can you get any easier than that?  I think not!

Giant jar of oats! You can never have enough oats!
Blueberry Flax seed adds flavor and nutrients to the bar

kind of looks like cat food... but trust me!

Spread it out and try to make it as even and rectangular as possible.

These came out great!  They are missing a bit of the crunch factor I was looking for.  Perhaps more nuts next time.  I ended up cutting these into small squares (about 2in squared) and divided them about 3 pieces per ziplock bag.  I stored them in the fridge and they have been the perfect "on the go' snack and breakfast for me this week!

I hope you try these or your version!  If you make your own, please send me your recipe and photos.  I would love to share with everyone!

Pumpkin Oat Power Bars:
1 15oz can pumpkin
3 cups of oatmeal (quick cooking)
3/4 cup chopped nuts (I used cashews, sunflower seeds and sesame seeds)
1/4 applesauce (i used one travel cup of organic applesauce)
2 Tbls flax seed ( I used Trader Joe's Blueberry Flax Seed)
1/2 cup chopped dates
1/4 cup Trader Joes Pomegranate Seeds (sweetened crunchy snack)
1/2 cup Agave syrup (instead of maple syrup)
3/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/4 tsp ginger

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl until well combined.  Spread out onto a greased baking sheet into an even layer.

Bake @ 350* Fahrenheit for aprox 20 mins.  Let cool and slice into desired size squares/bars.