Work Lunches

You know what happens when you don’t spend enough time meal prepping at the beginning of the week?  You spend a ton of money on lunches at work. 

At least, that’s what happened to me this week. 

With everything going on last weekend, I was a little too lazy to make any good meals for this week, so I just figured I’d make them as I went.  And well, that didn’t happen.  Instead, I’ve been snacking my way through the week and buying lunch at work many of the days.  Luckily, we have a pretty good cafeteria there, but it’s certainly not cheap.  I’ve been getting a lot of salads, which you pay for by weight, and I must pick all of the heaviest items because mine are always the most expensive salads ever.  (Or, I just eat a lot.)

This one had lettuce, spinach, cucumbers, carrots, chicken, sunflower seeds, craisins, and roasted veggies, with balsamic vinegar.  Okay, I guess that’s a lot of stuff, but still. 

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Another day, I decided to stray from the salad bar and get one of the specials.  It was an Asian stir fry where you could pick what you wanted in the wonton bowl, and I picked chicken plus just about every veggie available – broccoli, peppers, carrots, tomatoes, asparagus… it was awesome. 

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I don’t know if it’s the erratic eating or what, but I’ve been feeling extra tired this week.  It could be that I’m just busy, with working late and and playing flag football and staying up late to catch up on my favorite shows, but it’s just been really hard to get out of bed.  I think another contributing factor is definitely that it’s only 30 degrees outside and pitch black when I wake up now, making the thought of staying in my warm, cozy bed a lot more appealing than heading outside for the gym, but on Thursday, I almost slept through my alarm entirely.

Luckily, I made it at the last second and still got in some pretty good workouts:


I’m looking forward to a nice low-key weekend catching up on some chores and errands. 

Hope you have a good one too!

The Dumbbell Club

Check it out, I’m famous: This Workout Club Not For The Bleary-Eyed.

Last Friday, the lady at the front desk gave me a heads-up about there being a reporter from the local paper upstairs interviewing people.  My first thought was to hope he wasn’t taking pictures, as I head to the gym each morning having just rolled out of bed, but luckily, he wasn’t.  What he was doing was asking everyone questions about why the heck we get up so early to workout. 

Answers varied from ‘it’s the only time I can do it’ to ‘it makes me feel better all day long,’ but it was cool to have him there acknowledging our little club.  It really is the same group of people there every single morning, and it’s really nice to have been able to meet and bond with people over the last year that I’ve been going.  I’ve made some great friends, and I feel like I’m a part of something.  Everyone looks out for each other, and it’s a lot of fun.  When I was out for a few days a couple of weeks ago, people actually asked about me.  Does that happen at other gyms, at other times?  Doubt it. 

(The only thing is that we don’t actually call ourselves “The Dumbbell Club, but that’s reporting for you.)

This week’s workouts have been as tough as always, but I’ve gotten through them.  I wouldn’t have ever done 20 wall walks or carried 45-lb plates during my farmer’s carry on my own, but that’s the beauty of working out with a group.  They pushed me, I did it, and it was awesome. 


This week’s eats have been kind of a free-for-all.  I did prep some chicken and veggies on Sunday, but not nearly as much as I normally do, so I’ve been creating meals on the fly as I go.  The other day for lunch, I had a salad with lettuce, spinach, chicken, cucumbers, strawberries, sliced almonds, and balsamic vinegar, and it was awesome. 


And I guess I was on a salad kick (trying to use up what I have in the fridge) because the other night I made a Chipotle salad with lettuce, spinach, chicken, red peppers, habanero salsa, and a few tortilla chips on the side.  That habanero salsa is spiiiiiiiicy, but I love it. 


Last night, I had a weird craving for pasta… which was extra weird because I never crave pasta.  I really don’t even like pasta all that much, but I blame George for getting spaghetti this weekend.  It looked good, and I guess it stuck with me. 

I had some cooked chicken already in the fridge, so I decided to make one of my old favorites, with just a little twist.  (That post is wicked old and the picture is terrible; forgive me.)  I cooked some gluten-free spaghetti and heated up the chicken in a pan alongside some sliced red peppers.  Once everything was done, I threw it all in the frying pan with crushed tomatoes (basically tomato sauce without anything added), coconut milk, crushed red pepper, garlic, and basil. 

I used to use half and half or cream in this recipe, and it probably made it a little thicker, but coconut milk is a really great substitution if you’re trying to avoid dairy.  It’s still pretty thick, and doesn’t taste like coconut at all (which I’m glad about). 


And on this wonderful Wednesday, I’ll leave you with my favorite quote from this week:

The real world doesn’t reward perfectionists. It rewards people who get things done.

And whether it’s at work, in the gym, or in relationships, I strongly believe that’s true.  You can spend all your time and energy trying to figure out how to be perfect… or you can get things done.  No one’s perfect, and no matter how long you spend trying to be, it probably won’t work.  And in the end, you won’t gain anything from it either.  But if you get out out there and give it your best and get things done, you’ll undoubtedly reap the benefits. 

Just something to think about… Have a good one!

Pumpkinfest 2013

Having friends who you haven’t seen in a while visit you is just about the best thing ever.  This weekend was full of checking out pumpkins, eating good food, lounging around in my cozy apartment, and laughing historically about anything and everything… it was awesome.

On Friday night, I went downtown with some friends from work and waited for my two friends from college to get here and meet up with us.  Colleen and George had a long ride from NYC/CT, but they are troopers and met us at the bar when they finally arrived. It was nice to have them meet all my new friends and we had a great time before heading home and chatting/laughing late into the night.

I couldn’t reveal these before because it was a surprise, but George plays baseball so I carved the Houston Astros symbol into his pumpkin, and I carved a fun smiley face into Colleen’s to represent her lovely personality. The only problem was that when I showed her it as we got home, I dropped it and it smashed. Of course, right?!


Saturday morning, we all were quite tired so it took a little while to get up and moving.  It was great to get to sleep in and relax though, and I don’t think any of us minded taking it slow.  Once we did get out of bed, we made a big French toast breakfast with all the fixings.  I knew it was going to be a long day, and a good hearty breakfast was just what we needed.


After breakfast, we headed downtown to check out Pumpkinfest, along with thousands of other people.  It started at noon, and when we got there at 1, it was already packed with as many people and pumpkins as could fit.  We checked ours in to get counted for the world record and then placed them among the others. 


I think he liked his!


None of us had ever been to P-Fest before, so we made sure we checked out everything, walking up and down Main Street a couple of times.  The wall of pumpkins they make in Central Square is massive, but the pumpkins lining literally every bit of space on the road might be even more impressive.  I didn’t really start taking pictures until it got cloudy, but for the first couple of hours, the weather was absolutely perfect. 






Kids (and some adults) dressed up in their Halloween costumes and they had face painting, a Ferris wheel, and all kinds of pumpkin carving stations. 


The beauty of the town in Fall was enough for me to want to be there!


In addition to the pumpkins and activities, they also had tons and tons of food.  You could find everything from corn dogs to turkey legs to fried pickles and Oreos, quesadillas, local maple syrup, and cider donuts.  With so many options, it was hard to decide which ones to pick, and I really wished I’d had room for more.  We ended up splitting some hand-cut French fries and homemade chili, and it was a delicious lunch.  A lot of the food tents benefitted local organizations like youth sports teams, fire stations, and community groups, so I was happy to spend my money on such a good cause. 


I think a great time was had by all! 


Not to mention… we are the new world record holders of the most carved, lit pumpkins at once.  Over 30,000… Woo!

Once we got tired of walking around and fighting the crowds, we came home for a little rest.  We watched a little football, ate some dinner, and caught up after quite a while apart.  It got cloudy and a little chillier in the afternoon, so it was perfect for some cozy time.  Saturday night we went to a party at my friends’ house, and it was great to get to have my old friends spend some time with all of my new ones. 

We got in pretty late on Saturday and there was some more sleeping in on Sunday.  I think George would’ve been content to stay on that air mattress all weekend!


Once we got him out of bed, we headed downtown for brunch.  The wait was painfully long, but it let us catch up some more, and I was grateful for the time with them.  Living four hours apart from such great friends is tough and I’ll take what I can get!  Once the food came, we all devoured it, with my meal being the standard eggs, bacon, toast, and potatoes.  It was decent, but luckily the company made up where the food was lacking. 


They had at least a four hour journey home, so they headed out after brunch and I got some weekend chores done: groceries, meal prep… the usual. 

And the cherry on top of the perfect weekend was this delicious little caramel apple that I snagged from the festival.  I can’t believe it survived an entire day before I ate it, but it was certainly worth the wait! 


Have you ever been to a pumpkin festival? 

Do you live far from your best friends?

Pumpkin Season is Upon Us!

To say I’m excited for this weekend would be a pretty huge understatement.  Not only is it Pumpkinfest, but I also get to see two of most wonderful friends.  Add to that good weather, great food, and some fun times with new friends, and what more could I ask for?!

Last year, I planned on going to Pumpkinfest, but ended up going home instead.  My grandmother was in the nursing home and not doing well, and my whole family somehow ended up home and together that weekend.  That ended up being the night she passed away, so I felt lucky to have made the choice to be nowhere but there, with my family, on her last night. 

But this year, I’m staying here to go to Pumpkinfest for the first time ever, and I’m pretty excited to finally be there.  I’ll probably end up sick of the crowds after about ten minutes, but I still want to see what it’s all about! 

My company gave 20,000 pumpkins out to the town this year, and it was funny to see all the kids walking home from school with them on Tuesday.  I picked up a couple for my friends and myself, and the other night, I spent some time carving them.  My town is going for the world record, so your admission is one carved pumpkin in order to help us win.  I’m carving my pumpkin on Friday night with my friends from work, but my other friends aren’t getting here until late, so I carved theirs for them. 


The finished products are a surprise! 

I was feeling lazy and thus wasn’t planning on cooking any of the seeds this year, but when it came time to throw them out, I just couldn’t do it.  So, I did what I do every year and cooked them up with a little bit of salt. 


Such an easy, delicious, and nutritious snack!


Speaking of easy and delicious (not necessarily nutritious), I’ve got a pretty good recipe coming at you next week.  These pumpkin spice cake cookies were super simple to make and I think (hope!) they’re going to be a hit.  They’re soft, chewy, and sweet, with just enough Fall flavor. 


I was feeling extra tired on Wednesday, so I skipped the gym altogether and took an unplanned rest day, but Thursday and today, I was back at it:

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Those were tough ones!

As far as meals go, I’ve been trying to keep things as clean and healthy as possible this week because I’m pretty positive that there’s going to be plenty of candy apples, cider donuts, pumpkin beer, and other treats this weekend.  The other night, that clean, healthy meal came in the form of steak with asparagus, red peppers, and spinach.   I bought a different cut of steak this week (a London broil), and man, it was delicious.


One more day of work and then it’s Pumpkinfest time! 

I hope you all have a great weekend… get out there and enjoy the Fall while you can!!

Spicy Chicken Drumsticks

Lately I’ve been trying to be a little more creative with meats.  Usually, I buy a huge pack of boneless, skinless chicken breasts, a top round or flank steak, and maybe some pork chops, and I’m good for the week.  Sometimes I make things interesting with a few spices, but more often than not, I eat meat pretty plain.  Inevitably, that gets a little boring, so lately I’ve tried to expand my repertoire, and it’s been surprisingly easy. 

Last week, I picked up some chicken wings and tried my hand at my grandmother’s recipe, and they were delicious.  This week, I bought a package of chicken drumsticks (legs), and I wasn’t really sure what I’d do with them, but I figured I’d just wing it. (See what I did there?)

When it came time to make them, I raided my spice cabinet to see what I had.  And while I could probably stand to stock up on a few new spices, for what I had, these ended up being very tasty. 

First, I put the chicken legs in a bowl and poured in the spices: chili powder, rosemary, crushed red pepper, and garlic powder.  I’m not going to tell you how much of each I used because 1) I didn’t measure and 2) the amounts you want to use are probably different.  You will have to experiment and figure out how much of each you like; just know that it is a winning combination overall. 

After I rubbed all the spices into the chicken, I drizzled the legs with the juice from half of a lemon and popped them in the oven.  I baked them at 425*F for an hour, and for the last couple of minutes, I turned on the broiler. 


They got nice and crispy on the top, just the way I like it.  It was almost, almost like having a real grill.  (Almost.)


Along with the chicken, I also baked up some green beans.  I drizzled them with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper, and they baked for just a few minutes less than the chicken.


With some fresh, sweet grapes to round things out, it was the perfect meal. 


Besides the cooking time, it only took me five minutes to get everything prepared, and it felt like a much more extravagant meal than that.

And the best part is that I still have leftovers that I plan on eating for lunch today.  I’ve said it before, but making extra at night is the way to go, people.  It’s pretty much the only way to go when you’re cooking for one, but it also allows you to have some pretty fancy lunches, which is guaranteed to spice up any old boring afternoon at work. 



Have a good one!


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