Sunday, January 29, 2012

Cookin' (and eatin') up a storm

I can't believe January is nearly over - where is all the time going???

As I've settled into the new year I've kept on full steam ahead with my resolutions (I've been doing pretty good with most of them!). I'm close to accomplishing my goal of reading two books this month. I've been taking lunch (and breakfast for that matter) at least 3 days a week to work. I've cooked one new thing a week. I got coffee (well, hot cocoa) with one new person. I traveled more (trip to Salem). I've met with my trainer, I'm exercising, I'm walking. I've been going to a new church. I'm updating my wardrobe on a budget. It feels really good to be able to see all that I've accomplished and to hold to the resolutions I've made this year!

The pictures in today's blog are (Surprised? I'm assuming no...) I cooked a couple of things this evening - I tried a new recipe using quinoa (which I've never eaten before) and my new favorite breakfast (leek, sundried tomato, and goat cheese frittata) is cooking behind me. Take a look at some of the stuff I've made (and eaten) this week:

Ok, so this first picture isn't of food...but I went out to grab a cup of coffee from Starbucks with a coworker and couldn't help but snap a quick photo of the office. Sometimes I still can't believe I work here.

So I've started going to Meetups which are topically based groups that meet on a relatively frequent basis. They happen all over the world and there are some pretty interesting ones out there! A couple of weeks ago, I went to a "Europhile" Meetup and had the pleasure of meeting Erica, an ESL instructor here in Boston. After we exchanged contact info, Erica invited out to dinner at a Senegalese restaurant called Teranga and I went! This is a picture of the lamb and couscous dish I tried - it was DELICIOUS! 

Finally - some snow! Not that I haven't been loving this mild winter, but I've missed having some snow. Luckily this one melted off before I had to trudge out in it (and I still haven't gotten some serious snow/rain boots yet so that's a good thing!).

I decided to make some healthy potatoes au gratin - aren't they pretty?

And to accompany my potatoes...some southern comfort food! Pinto beans, collard greens, and a big tall glass of super sweet tea on the side (smackin' my lips) yummmmmmmmmm... Dad I bet you never would have thought I'd make myself some 'beans 'n' greens' huh? ;-)

Can I just say - I love Groupon! (And Living Social, BuyWithMe, ScoutMob, and the rest...) Being able to buy coupons for restaurants and activities for 50%-75% off really helps me go out and try all the things I want to! I treated myself to a quiet and cozy dinner at Pigalle, a French restaurant on Charles Street. With my Groupon (which I purchased at $25 for a $50 value) I was able to get this HUGE rib eye steak (which lasted me 3 meals) smothered in Roquefort sauce and frites, a salad, the dessert below and cookies to take home. Can you believe it???

My dessert of choice? Crème brûlée of course! 

An example of the updates I'm making to my wardrobe... Aren't they FABULOUS????? I can't wait to have some place where I can wear them! (Well, I'll wear them to the office sometimes, but I mean some place really special.)

One resolution is go get coffee with one new person a month. I went to another Meetup on Tuesday and got to meet several cool ladies from the Boston area over coffee at Pavement. Today I had the pleasure of meeting up with a new friend, CJ, at Max Brenner Chocolate Shop for a cup of cocoa and some amazing fondue. It's such a cool place - I can't believe I've walked right by it so many times! Look at the unique cup - it's a 'hug mug' because you have to hug it to drink. 

Delicious chocolate display... 

And tonight's newest cooking masterpiece - aptly titled Quinoa and Black Beans. I made some steak strips (found at Shaw's for only $2!) with fajita seasoning to top it off and at lunch tomorrow I'll garnish it with some fresh-squeezed lime juice and half an avocado (look Mom, I spelled it correctly!). Not bad eh?

Breakfast for the week! I eat it with 2 slices of light whole wheat toast and a cup of coffee or hot tea in the morning...

Fresh flowers for my bedroom because they make me happy...and only cost $4 :)

Don't mess with me - I'm a Kitchen Ninja!

And lastly - gotta walk off all this eating! I've been tracking my steps (you're supposed to walk 10,000 a day to stay healthy) and I traipsed all over Boston to get some exercise in.

So there you have it folks - my life over the past couple of weeks! Now off to pick out tomorrow's outfit, pack my gym bag, and get ready for bed :)

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Saturday, January 14, 2012

Taking 2012 by storm!

So far I'm rocking 2012 :) I'm doing well on my resolutions (not biting off more than I can chew but still making progress), doing well at work, and having fun. Today I took a short day trip with Adanna up to Salem and had a blast! I'd originally planned to go to Marblehead and Swampscott as well, but didn't end up having time. It was cold, but it was really nice to get out of the city, to DRIVE, and to walk around a new town! I'll definitely head back there this summer and around Halloween (it's supposed to be EPIC). Here's a look at what we did today:

So we were driving down the road, trying to figure out which way the GPS was telling us to go and all of a sudden Adanna says "hey look!" and I look and there's a street named after me! I've never seen my last name any other place before, so of course we had to stop for a photo op

Wahoo!!! I'm famous!!! And by I, I mean my last

We found this bookstore with *brand new* books and everything inside was 50% off. I got 5 brand new books for $36. Granted it was a treasure hunt but just look at this place - who wouldn't want to get lost in here for a few hours and surface with a ton of cheap books???

Piled to the ceiling. Don't ask me how you would get to a book on the clue.

And still more....

Oh, you know, just reading :)

One of the books I bought - "Blink" (about making snap decisions)

It never ends....

Oh hey! It's Adanna! :)

Hahahaha I couldn't get over this tote - I wanted to get it but couldn't justify spending $17 on a bag like this.

So one of the big draws to coming to Salem was The Lobster Shanty. A coworker of mine recommended it and it was featured on one of my favorite shows, Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives (video clip can be seen here:

They weren't really kidding about the service...

We made it!

Trying to jump...and failing miserably to catch it on film.

Oh who's that walking up behind me?

It's Radekal! (Radek lives nearby and met up with us for lunch.)

The inside is really quirky...a cute little pub by the sea. I was dead set on getting the grilled half lobster tail on cheesy bacon grits was the last day they were open before closing for the season (re-opening in April) and they were out of a ton of stuff. Including said lobster tail on grits. After being wildly disappointed, we decided to look elsewhere.

We checked out a couple of other spots but eventually landed on Scratch Kitchen (thank goodness for Yelp reviews and smartphones with maps). We were pleasantly surprised to get lunch and a show! And - oh goody - it was bluegrass, my fave (not). I had no idea they played banjos this side of the Mason-Dixon.

The label was too cute. Raspberry lime ricky yes please!

So I got something that to the outsider would seem pretty average - a grilled cheese. But when you make it with a ton of Vermont cheddar cheese on house-made white bread with bacon onion jam and pickled jalepenos, it turns into a thing of pure culinary bliss :)

We passed this adorable shop called Pamplemousse (French for grapefruit) and it was a specialty cooking shop. I loved this window display and when I get my own place I will have dishes that have peacock print on them!

Only in Salem can you get designer witches hats :)

Ended the day with a jumbo-sized red velvet cupcake from Kickass Cupcakes. They only make red velvet on Saturdays and I was lucky enough to get there just as they restocked the tray and got the only jumbo cupcake - success!

Today was a blast and I can't wait for it to get warmer and to take more of these day trips around New England!
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Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy 2012!!!!!

So let's wrap up last year and start on this one :)

My EP Family at our Ugly Sweater Christmas Party

It was almost a great picture ;-)

I'm in the New York Times!!!! You can check it out here:

This is the gorgeous lampshade Chessa found for me on sale at Anthropologie for only $25! Now I just need stuff to match it...

We had a Christmas tree decorating contest at the office... I joined team "Jew-ish" (2 Jews + me (Christian)) and we made a traditional Jewish Christmas themed tree complete with handmade sushi, fortune cookies, and soy sauce packets topped with a chopsticks star. We didn't win but it was still fun!

I made a cookie pie for the cookie party we had at our apartment


I went to watch a couple of friends from work run in the Jingle Bell 5K. It was FREEZING. I feel like I should have gotten a participants medal just for standing out there and cheering them on.

Everybody dressed up! The best was 9 reindeer and a Santa, but I didn't get a picture of them

HOME HOME HOME HOME HOME!!!!!!!! First order of business - Carolina BBQ. Duh.

The mall is gorgeous at Christmas time :)

Benjamin made us promise we'd wake him up when we got home...but there was no waking this tired kiddo up.

Three words: Dad's Christmas Ham. Nough said.

He really is the bestest dad ever. :)

OMG don't you want one???? I have the world's best baby brother :)

The *never been used* vintage luggage set we got for Madeline for Christmas. This was a really hard secret to keep!

All smiles :-D

Hahahahaha I still can't get over how goofy he looks :)

Trip = complete with HOT Krispy Kreme donuts 

This morning I made my very first frittata - it was so easy! Here's step by step instructions:
1) cut the white part off of 2 leeks; slice the stalks down the middle and then slice in very thin semi-circles
2) Heat an oven-safe skillet and melt butter; add in leeks

3) Add in sundried tomatoes (as many as you want)

4) Separately whisk together 3-4 eggs, garlic salt, pepper, and a splash of milk
5) Add egg mixture to tomatoes and leeks, crumble goat cheese on top
6) Let it cook through, then stick under the broiler for a minute or 2 to brown the top

Voila! A healthy tasty breakfast :)

A nondescript black umbrella...

SURPRISE!!!! It's my Chihuly umbrella! I finally got it with....

My MFA membership!!! Yes ladies and gents, you're looking at the now-owner of a museum membership. I can get one guest in for free anytime I go, so who's your new best friend??? ;-)

I've already gotten a head start on my New Years Resolutions - I have 29 in all as of now. I can't wait to work through them all!!!!

HAPPY 2012!!!!!!!!!

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