Saturday, August 15, 2009

Food, Inc. and Sante

Last Saturday night Matt and I headed out for our first "date night" in a while - mostly with the intention of seeing Food, Inc. and relaxing after a long day of work. We ended up having quite the local experience from dinner to the theater seats we sat in. These are some reflections:

There's no shortage of print media about the perils of factory farming and Big Agriculture these days. There is, however, a drastic shortage of video - we don't see much about issues of Agriculture on the news or on the big screen. Food, Inc. is the movie equivalent of all those books (well, more specifically, the movie equivalent of The Omnivore's Dilemma). Basically, I learned a few new things from this movie - i.e. more details about the way seed patents influence farming techniques - but most of the info is contained in the most popular written works on this subject. However, I would still recommend going to see this movie, because the images that are presented along with the well-known information are really powerful. I also applaud the makers of this movie for bringing faces and images to the population of people that are just never going to read a full book about the importance of eating seasonally and locally. It's sad that we live in an age where many people don't take the time to read a well-written article, but we do, and it takes people like the producers of Food, Inc. to get important messages out to the public.

At the same time, don't expect Food, Inc. to be an objective view of the state of agriculture in America today. The intent of the movie is clear from the start, and the voice of BigAg is basically non-existent in the movie. However, the facts presented are well researched and sourced, and make logical sense - so don't write the whole thing off as just propaganda!

Basically, is Food, Inc. worth your time to go see when it comes to your area? Absolutely. It'll make you value your local farmers' market so much more! Go check it out. But as with everything, take your thinking cap and do your own follow-up research if you haven't already.

Image from The Inlander.

Another part of our local evening was the venue. The Magic Lantern is one of the few (if not the only) theaters that show independent movies in Spokane. Unfortunately for us Spokanites, it had been closed for quite a while. BUT, it was reopened recently, and we got to experience the awesomeness that is a small, independently-run theater in the heart of downtown. And, to top it off, all tickets are only $5 - so cheap for a movie these days! If you're in Spokane and looking for a movie to see, be sure to check out The Magic Lantern (and you can read more about the reopening from The Inlander, here).

The final part of our evening was dinner at Sante's restaurant in downtown Spokane. I have no pictures of our food, but trust me when I say - delicious! It's a little pricey for Spokane - the meal with a drink for each of us, an entree for each of us, and dessert came to about $75 - but I think it's a great *really* special occasion restaurant. My two favorite parts of dining there? A complete vegetarian menu (diners are presented with both a vegetarian menu and a "regular" menu upon seating), and an amuse-bouche! I'd never received an amuse-bouche at a restaurant before - even though I've heard about them tons on shows like Top Chef - so it was pretty awesome to finally go to a classy place that serves them! Also, super fun fact that really fit with the evening - Sante's lists all of the farmers that they get their food from right on the menu.

So that was our date night in Spokane last Saturday. A good movie, a good venue, and delicious food. Can't ask for anything better!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Project 18: Fail Sauce

Ugh, epic fail. A month ago, I wrote about wanting to change my morning routine. I wanted to get up earlier, get more out of the morning hours before work, and do a better job of getting to work "on time" (or before 8:30). Honestly, the first day of the project went well. The rest of the month? Not. So. Much.

It's hard to drastically change a routine that I've become so used to, even though it's detrimental to my life in so many ways! I really needed to exert the effort to make this a consistent habit for a few weeks, in hopes that it would stick, but I just couldn't do it. I could blame all the craziness going on and time off in Portland that I took, but it really is my own fault for not making this a priority.

Instead, I'm going to give it another shot. Except I'm going to wait until September, because I'm taking a trip to the East Coast for 9-ish days before the end of the month - and that's not going to help cement any sort of "getting up early" project into habit. Come September, I will succeed in making myself a morning person! It just seems like such a waste of perfectly good hours in the day to not take advantage of these beautiful summer mornings.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

I really don't mean for this blog to turn into a bunch of whining...

... but seriously, this weekend was LAME! My job has this tendency to give us last-minute notice of mandatory overtime, so on Friday afternoon I learned I'd be putting in a full 8-hour day on both Saturday and Sunday. Sure, they bought us lunch both days as a sort of consolation, but I was sadly out-voted and we ate Red Robin, both days. Now I'm trying to catch up on everything that was on my giant to-do list for the weekend, while wandering around with a grease-bomb in my stomach from the huge burgers and trying to make up to Matt for being gone all weekend.

But it's not all bad! I still miraculously got to a yoga class on Saturday morning (talk about a sanity saver!), and Matt and I managed to sneak out for a date night last night (which I'll probably write about tomorrow). I also made sure to decompress especially well on Friday and Sunday night, including the construction of a few birthday cards for some special ladies with birthdays this past week.

Happy birthday girls! Love you all!

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to enjoy my glass of wine while folding a few loads of laundry, watching Who Wants to be a Millionare (did that carnival worker guy suck it up or what?), and reading some of my new book, Three Cups of Tea. I'm definitely not ready for the work week to start again tomorrow but I'll do my best!

Menu Plan Monday

I missed menu plan Monday last week! Oops! We got some great deals at the farmers' market this week, so our meals this week will focus on delicious fresh veggies. I love that summer gives us opportunities to incorporate such a variety of freshness into our diets. Yum! As always, check out Org Junkie's website for more plans and planners!

Wednesday: Stir fry or curry of random veggies, served over jasmine rice

Thursday: Amy's canned soup and grilled cheese

Friday: Dinner out - gotta take a break from cooking sometime!

Saturday: Lasagna Rolls

Sunday: Leftovers - because no one wants to cook on Sunday!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

On my time off...

...I learned a few lessons.
  • Sometimes the cure is worse than the disease. Horrible reactions to antibiotics are just that - horrible. It's alright, my brain is back to normal size now and I'm all better.

  • Trying new things in yoga will make you sore. Yoga doesn't usually make me sore. Deciding to go the extra mile with your high-hip extensions - and then doing like, 10 on each side - will literally kick you in the butt the next day.

  • Getting a Costco card means you will eat your weight in Costco cookies. Immediately. And good lord those Costco cookies are delicious. We (Matt and I) joined Costco on a joint account while they were offering a bunch of specials for his company - and we got $3 off a package of cookies and a free rotisserie chicken. Thank GOD we had guests this weekend to help us eat stuff!
  • Once you stop blogging, it's hard to get back into it. Basically you just have to sit down and write something to get yourself started again, regardless of how interesting that particular thing is (for reference, see this post). Hopefully this will serve as the jump-start to blogging for the rest of the week!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Lazy Bones Barbecue Restaurant

Yesterday, Matt, Rachel, and I headed up to a new barbecue joint in southern Spokane. Of course, we forgot the camera to adequately document our adventure, but it's alright, I feel like blogging about it anyway.

So you're probably thinking to yourself, "What? A vegetarian at a barbecue restaurant? Riiiiight..." But no! This place is the only barbecue place I've ever been to that actually has an extensive vegetarian/vegan menu, AND an extensive gluten-free menu! Seriously, check this bad-boy out. Vegan side-dishes, lots of tofu, and separate cooking surfaces to keep meats and vegan dishes from mixing. A local vegan blog and the local weekly newspaper have both declared their love - so we had to see for ourselves!

So what'd we have?
  • I ordered the tofu slab sandwich (with slaw) and a side of mac-and-cheese
  • Matt got Diablo burger with a side of fries
  • Rachel got the pork sandwich and a side of southern greens
I really wish that I had pictures for you - both of the food and our clean plates! I think we all enjoyed our food a LOT. I don't know that I'd get the mac-and-cheese again, but I would certainly get the fries - Matt (jokingly) got mad at Rachel and I for stealing some of his, but they were good! Matt's burger also looked fabulous - full of veggies and cheese and barbecue deliciousness. It was also nice to see that all of their sauces were vegan, making it easy to pick out condiments to indulge in. And of course, beer and wine are available for purchase as well. Can't have a barbecue without the beer, right?

So vegetarians, vegans, and those that enjoy a good barbecue - if you're in south Spokane any time soon, stop by Lazy Bones to see what's up. No matter what your dietary preferences, they can grill you up something good!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

An Ode to Reality Dating Shows

So, no secret here, but I freaking LOVE reality television. I honestly don't know why, but it seems like every show I watch a few episodes of I get hooked on. This, of course, includes the last season of The Bachelor. Jason ended up being kind of a tool (come on, you know you think so, too!), but who didn't absolutely love Jillian? I wanted her to be the one Jason chose, but I was super excited when she was announced as the new Bachelorette! Of course I was glued to this season, and wasn't this moment just awesome last night?

Photo from NY Daily News

Oh Ed, even with your short shorts, you still were obviously the perfect one for Jillian. But Ed's fashion choices aside, one of the best things about this season was Jillian's fashion choices! I loved her sense of style, and every outfit she wore had me going "God, that's gorgeous, I'd love to wear that!" Obviously, we're completely different body types (I think Jillian is 5'1", and I'm a hurking 6'2"), but I still love her clothing and how she tastefully showed off her (rocking) body throughout the season.

This is one of my favorite photos of her, showing how something as simple as a white button down and cuffed jeans can look so cute and fun. If I were dressing myself in a similar outfit, here's what I'd do:

Click on the photo for product information. I'm restraining myself right now, I swear! Since I live on the West Coast, I'm still waiting to see Jillian and Ed bask in their love on the After the Final Rose reunion special, but seriously. Could those two be any cuter?

In the mean time, I'm watching Fox's new reality dating show (that's basically a rip-off of The Bachelor) about "larger" people finding love. I think the thing that is really bothering me right now is that the majority of these "average" women are super tall! There are so many 5'9"-6'2" women in the group - and we all know that isn't average! And honestly, the name - while cheeky and easy to remember - seems borderline insulting to me.

Did you all watch "More to Love"? What did you think about the producers' definition of "average", and the way the the show handles weight/body issues?

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

Wow, the internet has been a-buzz with delicious recipes that I'm just dying to try this week. Yum! I'll admit, a lot of it has been the fault of Healthy Yum, which you have to check out if you haven't yet. Also check out Org Junkie's website for more menu plans and planners!

Monday: Indian Curry in the Crock-Pot, served over brown rice

Tuesday: Avocado-Stuffed Sweet Potatoes with some baked tofu marinated in bbq sauce

Wednesday: Sri Lankan Palak Dal, served over brown rice

Thursday: Fried rice made from leftover brown rice (based on this recipe)

Friday: Dinner out, or grilling random stuff.

Saturday: Something simple - like soup and grilled cheese (and maybe some cucumber salad)

Sunday: Leftovers

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Wow, I really sucked at posting this week!

I guess it's hard to get back in the swing of things after taking a super busy, whirl-wind 4-day weekend away. This is evidenced by my inability to post this week and the fact that I just unpacked my suitcase... a few hours ago? Yeah, not so much success in the "back to normal" department this week.

I had a couple of posts that I wanted to make this afternoon, but realized that I sent Matt off to see a concert out-of-town with my camera in tow. So this note is just to say that Organize THIS! really will be returning to normal tomorrow.

Oh yeah, and thanks new subscribers and followers that have joined up in the past week! There are a few more of you than usual, so welcome!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Grocery Blogging

Ugh, I haven't blogged about grocery shopping since last month - mostly because I haven't done a good job of grocery shopping! It's been a busy few weeks, with some time away from home, so tonight Matt and I cleaned out the fridge and then took off to the grocery store to restock on delicious, (mostly) healthy foods!

Tonight we spent $68 for groceries that'll last about 2 weeks. Wanna see what we got?

Most of the goods!

Tonight's goods included the following:
  • Tofu
  • Bananas
  • 1 package of baby spinach
  • Organic strawberry yogurt
  • Sour cream
  • Milk
  • Boxed shells and white cheddar
  • 1 sweet potato
  • 1 onion
  • 3 heat-and-eat soups (for Matt's lunches)
  • Barbecue sauce
  • 1 can diced tomatoes with chilis
  • 1 can red kidney beans
  • Wheat Thins
  • Baby Carrots
  • 3 Lean Cuisines (for my lunches)
  • 2 red bell peppers
  • 2 mangoes
  • 1 head of cauliflower
Not pictured above are some items that Matt was excited about as well. First up, some "locally" brewed beer...

Alaska is pretty close to Washington, right? :D

...and a frozen pizza for those days when he has to eat without me.

California Pizza Kitchen Sicilian Pizza.

Yum yum yum! These groceries will definitely make my menu plan for this week a delicious one, and feed into next week's planning. Now I'm off to watch the premiere of Hell's Kitchen - I love Gordon Ramsey! They edit him to make him sound so mean, but apparently he's super nice in real life. Good night!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

This is a true menu plan Monday this week! Since we just got home this evening from our weekend in Portland, I haven't had time to plan out this week's meals until now. We'll be taking it easy this week cooking-wise, just because traveling is hard and I need some recovery time! As always, check out Org Junkie's website for more menu plans and planners!

Monday: We picked up Thai food from Thai Bamboo after getting home tonight. YUM, curry!

Tuesday: Amy's Mac-and-Cheese with steamed veggies and barbecue-marinated tofu

Wednesday: Sweet Potato Chili in the crock-pot

Thursday: Falafel wraps or salads

Friday: Curried Quinoa Salad and some steamed veggies

Saturday: Leftovers

A very long weekend recap

Hello lovelies! How I love love love 4-day weekends! I'm currently sitting in the Portland (Oregon) airport awaiting my plane back to Eastern Washington - how smart is it that Portland has their entire airport connected via free wifi? - and am very happy that I decided early on in the weekend to abstain from internet usage. There was just too much to do!

What's that, you ask? You want a recap of my weekend? Sure!

It all started with Friday. Oooooh Friday. We had all of our official wedding appointments scheduled for Friday, so we headed to the caterers first. Since our meeting wasn't until 1, we stopped at McMenamin's Barley Mill Pub for some cajun tots... YUM! Matt gets these every time we're in Portland. Then it was off to Vibrant Table for an hour-long meeting -- got so much stuff done, the most exciting of which was deciding on colors! I'll write more about that in Wedding Wednesday in a few days. After that Matt, Matt's mom and I headed downtown, where we met up with Nurse Paul. The boys headed off to a record store while Matt's mom and I hit up the Nordstrom's Anniversary Sale! I was so excited to not only be in a big city for it this year, but to be in a big city without sales tax! Check out what i got:

After Nordies and a quick stop at the Portland Visitors Center and a look at the sand castles on display and being built at Sand in the City, we met back up with Matt and Nurse Paul for some cupcake sampling at Cupcake Jones. And then it was off to the main attraction on Friday: DEATH CAB. Death Cab for Cutie was playing at McMenamin's Edgefield property, which was a pretty awesome concert venue. We snagged some free food at the end that the concert vendors hadn't been able to sell, and then it was home for the night.

And that was just Friday!

Saturday started out a little more tamely, with a leisurely breakfast at Vita Cafe with Nurse Paul and another college friend and her boyfriend. Their corn pancakes? DELICIOUS. Then, because every time I go to Portland I have to go to Powell's, we went to Powells. I bought two books (a biography about Leni Riefenstahl, and Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs and Steel) and a reusable shopping bag to show my Portland love in Spokane. After that, it was off to the International Beer Festival in the Pearl District. We sampled tons of beers - and a few other things, too - but my favorite was a Mango Weizen by Trade Route Brewery. Then, immediately following quick Taco Bell and Burgerville stops, we headed back to Edgefield to listen to the soundcheck and wait for Decembrists concert #1! While chilling on the porch, Nurse Paul, Matt, and I split a bottle of wine, some marionberry ice-cream, and tried to avoid being in the wedding photos of a couple that were getting married at the property. The Decembrists were playing 2 shows in Portland, along with Blind Pilot and Andrew Bird - they were fantastic! After the concert, we waiting out the parking lines by getting some food in Edgefield's Black Rabbit Restaurant - I had a Portabello mushroom sandwich that was delicious. Then it was home to bed!

Sunday was another wedding planning day! Matt's parents, Matt and I went to the Hands on Cafe at the Oregon College of Art and Craft. I had some delicious buckwheat pancakes topped with peaches, blueberries, and cream. Then Matt's mom and I took of for some mother-in-law/daughter-in-law bonding. We headed to Home Depot to get some paint swatches that match our new wedding colors, and then took off to The Wedding Cottage to check out things like favors, invitations, unity candles, and other accessories. Our final stop was at Saint Cupcake, where we picked up pricing info and a 10-cupcake sampler pack. Following a brief taste test with Matt's parents, Matt and I took off to get Nurse Paul for our final concert of the weekend - Decembrists concert #2 at Edgefield. Decembrists concert #2 wasn't as good as Decembrists concert #1, but both were awesome and I'd love to see them again sometime soon. Because we decided we hadn't had enough fun yet, we went to see the new Harry Potter movie after the concert. Overall, I'd say the new movie is "meh" but thought it was still pretty entertaining. It didn't stand out over the rest of the series for me like it has for others.

So now I'm sitting in the Portland airport, waiting for my flight! We made a quick stop at Ikea to get Matt some record storage units (always the organizer, eh?), and then we headed over here. It was a fun weekend, but I'm looking forward to going home (and reading the 250+ items in my google reader!).

Hope you all had great weekends!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Wedding Wednesdays - Episode 10

I had every intention of making this post about wedding "colors" and the direction I'm leaning... but why write about my wedding when I can write about other's weddings??

I woke up early this morning (go Project 18!), and after doing some 30 Day Shred, turned on the Today show. And what do you know, the Today show hosted a wedding for 2 cross country coaches live on air this morning! Don't get me wrong, I'm having a great time planning my wedding, but how awesome would it be to have everything picked and arranged for you - and completely paid for?

As with any wedding (especially one where everything is decided by the general population of the US), there are things that I'd want to change if it were me. But this one was pretty good overall, and I could only think of two things:

Striped Tommy Hilfiger Suit (image credit: Indochino)

The groom and weddign party wore grey-striped Tommy Hilfiger suits. They looked quite a bit like the one above, and I was not a fan. I'm not sure what Matt and his entourage will be wearing, but it will not be these suits.

Martina McBride

I don't like country. There will be no country music at my wedding (unless it's as a joke - like Matt and his entourage singing me "Achy Breaky Heart" or something ridiculous like that). And our first dance will certainly NOT be to Martina McBride. But, you know, to each their own, and they seemed to enjoy it - that's what matters, right?

I will, however, be very happy to accept NBC's donation - or anyone elses - of a honeymoon to Australia (good choice America!). Any takers? Anyone?

You can check out the video if you missed it on the NBC website. And seriously, these two are super cute - since they're runners, they "ran" down the aisle after being pronounced husband and wife, and Leigh's vows included a reference to "spinach chicken surprise".

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Get Real Simple Magazine for $5

So I'm sure this is flying around the blog world as I type, but in case anyone has missed it, you can get a year of Real Simple magazine on for $5 right now. I love this magazine, and have spent way more than $5 just picking up issues off news stands. So if you're like me and have been putting off signing up for a subscription, go now!

P.S. Thanks Sarah Elizabeth for alerting me of this offer!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Project 18 Update

So on Friday I wrote about wanted to change my morning routine, and today was my first shot at getting up at the crack of dawn (which obviously means 6am) and stop being a lazy bum. And I was successful! But not necessarily of my own accord...

There's a ghost in Spokane/my shower, and it wanted me out of bed at 6am this morning. Who am I to say no?

At exactly 5am, my shower developed a noisy, twice a minute drip. This of course drew me out of bed to see what the deal was, since our shower has never dripped (except due to user error). And then, through nothing my blind-as-a-bat-without-contacts inspection revealed, the shower inexplicably stopped dripping at 5:30am. And obviously, I'm already wide awake at this point.

At exactly 6am, the torrential downpour that began last night abruptly stopped, yielding a damp but still slightly warm morning. Which, in case you're wondering, is absolutely perfect for a morning run.

Call it fate, the stars aligning, or the intervention of a Higher Power, but my butt was at work by 8:30 after a morning full of working out, breakfast, lunch-packing, blog-checking, and the ever important SHOWER. Hallelujah!

Day one of Project 18: COMPLETE.

Decluttering Your Closet through Smart Clothing Purchases

Does anyone constantly struggle with the state of their closet like I do? It feels like a never-ending battle to both keep things organized and actually find stuff that I want to wear. In the past 12 months I've removed many more things from my closet - including virtually all clothing items purchased in the 1990s - than I've added. And honestly? I think the sheer number of things I used to have was keeping me from making good clothing choices. I think that closets are another one of those things where "more" doesn't necessarily equal "easier". Even though Cher had an awesome closet, she still had a hell of a time deciding what to wear every day!

Who didn't want Cher Horowitz's closet in the 1990s?

What I've learned about my closet and my clothing in the last year is this: the way to keep your closet under control is to closely monitor what goes into your closet - if you don't buy it, you don't have to worry about it! I've cut down on the things I buy by ensuring that the majority of new items adhere to one major rule: multi-seasonality!

Anthropologie Short-Sleeved Cardigan
Perfect example: I need a cardigan for summer; I also need a cardigan for winter. Why not choose a cardigan in a color close to neutral, and a style that can be worn alone (summer) or layered (winter)? The short-sleeved cardigan from Anthropologie above can be paired with shorts and a tank-top for a light summer look, or layered under a turtleneck for a warmer winter look. One piece, multiple ways. Now instead of needing 2 pieces, I've found a cute way to get by with just one.
Nordstrom Patterned Skirt for Winter and Summer
I love love love patterned and embellished skirts, which are a little trickier to get so that they are wearable in both summer and winter. However, I've found that patterns using browns and lighter grays (as opposed to black and darker grays) as their neutral are more versatile for varying seasons. The example above is a brown and yellow skirt: for summer, play up the yellow and throw in a complementary color of accessories (I chose blue). For winter, play up the neutral tone, and work in the pattern's colors in the accessories. Again, I've found this works well with patterns that have lighter neutral tones, as opposed to the heavy black and dark gray that tends to scream "WINTER!" no matter what.

So when you're shopping, buy pieces that can be used in both summer and winter - you'll save space in your closet and keep more money in your pocket! Happy shopping!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

This week's menu plan isn't super complex - mostly because Matt and I will be venturing off to Portland for a combination of friends, concerts, and wedding planning in the latter half of the week! To say I'm excited is quite the understatement... this future "mrs" is looking forward to a 4 day weekend (and no work), and only one real day of cooking! As always, check out Org Junkie's website for more menu planners.

Monday: Falafel wraps on whole wheat tortillas with cream cheese, spinach, and whatever else we end up throwing in.

Wednesday: A "use up the produce" stir-fry/curry served with brown rice.

Thursday: Grilled cheese and soup before heading off to catch a plane.

Friday - Sunday: In Portland! Probably out and about eating delicious food with friends and (future) family!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

TIme for another personal confession...

Ladies, I never foresaw my admission to my participation in a certain... *ahem* extracurricular.... happening on this blog. But now, as i sit to write a post about what I'm doing and have done on this particular Saturday, I see no way around it.

I am...

A former pageant girl. And by that, I mean that I competed in one Miss America preliminary shortly before my 21st birthday. But, nonetheless, that has classified me as a pageant girl (and crossed one of those "what-if" things off my adolescent to-do list. I didn't do well - it was quite comical in fact - but it's one of those experiences that you glad you took advantage of while you still could.

Want proof? I give you... the infamous pink bikini (that played a part in Rachel's blog name):

Yeah, it's pretty heinous, isn't it? Crocheted pink bikinis will do that to ya.

So I hope you all will excuse me while I continue to watch the live webcast of the Miss Washington and Miss Washington's Outstanding Teen pageants tonight instead of contributing anything blog-worthy (again) tonight - except for maybe that photo up there. Don't blackmail me now y'all!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Project 18 - Morning Routines

My morning routine (or lack-thereof) has really been biting me in the butt this week. I used to be such a morning person - getting out of bed at the crack of dawn to workout, starting the day early with loads of energy, and still being able to stay up through to the wee hours of the morning. And seriously? It's only been two years, but I've apparently become well settled into "old lady"-dom. It's ridiculous!

Basically, I stopped having a morning routine when winter came around, and now my lack of routine has turned into a routine in and of itself - and not a good (or helpful) one! A typical morning for me these days looks something like this:
  • 7AM - Matt gets up, I rearrange myself so I take up the entire bed, and fall back asleep
  • 7:30AM - Matt wakes me up to tell me he's leaving, I debate whether or not to get out of bed
  • 7:45AM - I bite the bullet and drag myself to the bathroom to brush my teeth/put in contacts
  • 7:50AM - Still not awake, I decide to forgo a shower and check blogs/watch the morning news instead
  • 8:05AM - I decide that I can still make the 8:06 bus, and sprint to the bedroom to get dressed
  • 8:06AM - The bus goes by, and since I still don't have pants on, I decide it's time for a nap
  • 8:15AM - Finish getting dressed and put make-up on
  • 8:20AM - Start packing lunch for the day
  • 8:29AM - Begin the frantic search for enough quarters to get the 8:36 bus
  • 8:34AM - Sprint out to the bus stop, praying I'll make the bus the whole way
  • 8:36AM - Either get on the bus, or watch it roll past me (in which case, I will have to walk the 1.75-ish miles to work) - more often than not this week it's been the latter.
  • 8:45AM - If I caught the bus, roll into the office; if I didn't, lament about how I should be to work by now while still being far away, and on foot.
See what I mean? Not a great way to start the day. Especially when the rest of your coworkers show up at 8AM and schedule 8:30AM meetings that you're constantly being late to.

A little bit of blog research has shown me that morning routines are a pretty popular topic in blog-land, and that everyone likes to wake up in the 5am hour (good lord, really?). While my before-6AM-wakeup days are over for sure, it seems like everyone accomplishes a lot more in their mornings than I do - working out, fixing food, actually eating breakfast, and showering (ugh, I know). It'd nice to be able to do all (okay, maybe at least two?) of these things during my mornings as well.

So this is it. I'm giving myself a month. What is today, July 10th? August 10th it is. I am going to change my morning routine (for the better!) by August 10th. My tangible measurements of this change will be arriving at work before 8:30 and showering in the mornings (can you tell I'm really hung up on the fact that I don't do this anymore? Because i am).

Resources: There's a great article on Zen Habits entitled How I Became an Early Riser that outlines a gradual progression into morning activeness. Unclutterer also wrote an article a while ago called Streamlining Your Morning Routine to help you figure out where you're wasting time. And The Simple Dollar has an awesome article about starting new habits that should be pretty helpful. More productive morning, here I come!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

A blah evening ahead

I had every intention of writing an insightful blog post tonight about something, but honestly - I'm exhausted, there's laundry to be done, and I really need a shower.

On the plus side, I went on a super fast and energizing run with the Flying Irish tonight, watched a running friend get her club shirt, and afterwards enjoyed 2 beers and lots of laughs with friends, coworkers, and fellow runners. And, due to my inability to control myself in the local Rite Aid, I have 2 new wedding magazines to peruse tonight, in bed, after my shower.

So with that, blog friends, I bid you good night, and hopefully I'll return tomorrow with more energy and some sort of meaningful blog post. Hope you all have fabulous evenings!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Wedding Wednesdays - Episode 9

Today's "Wedding Wednesday" is going to feature everyone's favorite wedding topic - THE DRESS. Or, more specifically, the QUEST to find the dress. I've learned so much in my three dress shopping excursions that I feel I have to share the struggles and successes that I've had so far. And no, I'm not going to be showing you my dress in this post, for 2 reasons: 1) I haven't found it yet, and 2) Matt reads this blog and I'm old fashioned - it has to be a surprise!

So anyway, here are three lessons that I've learned so far that I feel it's imperative to share with fellow brides searching for dresses, or those helping brides search for dresses.

1. Bring your own underwear. Especially if you're a "weird" size. Now, I'm not a particularly weird size (*cough* 34A *cough*), but I'm a weird height, and unfortunately for me the third bridal shop that I went to only had strapless bras that also were intended to suck in your stomach - oh yeah, and no 34A. Why is this such a big deal?

Improper undergarments may make you appear pregnant.

If the bridal store happens to have undergarments that will make you look even better in a gown, awesome. But don't depend on them to provide you with what you need - especially if your mother is like mine and tends to get hung up on how many months pregnant your aunts might think you are.

2. Don't be afraid to try on things that your bridal consultant might think you'd like - as long as they're in your price range. One of my bridal consultants (I had 3) was AWESOME at suggesting dresses that she thought I might like. Considering that I walked in saying "no lace, no beading below the bodice, simple, classic, and elegant", she managed to find a dress that I really liked that didn't fit any of my criteria.

Me in the dress. Had it not had the halter top business going on, I think I would've walked out with this one.

I never would have picked this dress off the rack, yet the sales assistant looked at the first few dresses I tried on, asked what I liked and didn't like, and came up with this number. This dress is a close third to the top two I'm currently considering. So basically, trust your consultants - they know quite a bit about dresses and what you might like.

3. Stick to your gut, and don't be afraid to say no. Having been on three appointments, there can be a tremendous amount of pressure to buy a dress that you're not 100% happy with - whether it's from the saleswoman or the friends and family you've brought along. Don't be afraid to say no for now and take the information for the dress. 99% of the time, the dress will be still be there the next weekend or next month, and will still be the same price. Wedding dresses are a big investment, and you should always be happy with your investment. Be sure to get a card with all the dress info, though, of your top choice(s), so that you can go back and see them immediately.

My final tip really only applies to tall girls - walk in knowing exactly how tall you are and how high you want your heels to be when you get married. Especially if you're over 6 feet tall, bridal saleswomen tend to assume you'll be wearing flats. If you're not, tell them up front. And if you're over 6 feet tall, don't bother bringing bridal shoes with you - sample dresses are NOT that long. In fact, the first question out of your mouth when you find a dress you like should be "How much longer can I get this dress?" It's important!

Case in point: Me in my bare feet in dress #1. Shoes? Who needs 'em?

So this is what I've learned in my dress shopping experiences so far. Any other brides out there with tips to share for finding THE DRESS? Share away!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Kraft Bagelfuls Product Review

So I was asked to try Kraft Bagel-fuls a couple of weeks ago, and thought "Why not? I like bagels and frozen things!" So Kraft sent me a coupon for a box, I picked it up, and now here we are.

In the interest of full disclosure, let me say: I am definitely NOT a morning person, and I hardly ever eat a "proper" breakfast. As proof, I give you my attitude towards sampling this morning:

Tired and skeptical. Possibly not super enthusiastic. Notice the bed-head.

But after a shower and a bit of waking up time, I was much more excited to check out Bagel-fuls. Matt also tried one, although he had his before I'd even gotten out of bed - and therefore avoided my not-so-skillful morning photography skills.

Ready to chow down!

First, some info on the product itself. There are tons of different flavors - so I chose to try the Original (plain bagel with plain cream cheese). Bagelfuls come in boxes of 4, and at a Fred Meyer in Washington State, they'll set you back about $2 a box. The Originals are 200 calories, and based on some quick internet research, this is pretty comparable. You store the box in the fridge, and then heat up the individually packaged Bagelfuls in the microwave for 30 seconds or the toaster.

In my hand for sizing reference, heated up and ready to be eaten!

I cut mine in two to make for easier eating, and was greeted with warm, gooey cream cheese oozing in the middle and out of the ends. Now to be completely honest: these DO NOT replace the traditional bagel and cream cheese. If given the choice between Noah's Bagels and Bagel-fuls, I'd choose Noah's Bagels hands down. Another negative - the ingredients list. I don't make ti a habit of eating processed food very often, and this ingredient list contained quite a few things that I couldn't pronounce and had to look up (all ingredients are listed on the product website).

Gooey cream cheese oozing out, ready to be munched.

However, these were quick and easy to fix. I don't have a lot of time in the mornings (which is one of the reasons I don't eat breakfast), but I could definitely take 30 seconds to pop one of these in the microwave while I'm rushing out the door. While they're not as flavorful as a fresh bagel with cream cheese, they taste pretty good and are a good substitute. I'm also super sodium sensitive, and found that these contained quite a bit less sodium than the average single-serving frozen/chilled processed food. Additionally, if you live alone (or don't eat a whole lot of bread products), I'd recommend these so that you don't have to buy a whole pack of bagels and cream cheese that will go bad before you can finish it.

So will I be eating Bagel-fuls on a regular basis? Probably not. But I can definitely see myself picking up a box of these in the near future to have on hand for quick snacks and house guests, especially considering how often I have guests!

P.S. Matt's thoughts: "It was pretty good!"

Monday, July 6, 2009

The Importance of Farmers Markets

It's no secret on this blog that I go to the farmers' market nearly every weekend, and shop at the local CSA otherwise. I'm a big fan of locally grown food - it tastes great and is so fresh! I've had chain-grocery produce and CSA produce in my fridge at the same time (asparagus), and the CSA stuff literally lasted a week longer than the store bought! Anyway, that's not the point of this post...

Some fresh, locally grown Bing cherries purchased at the farmers market this weekend

Recently my city has been discussing the importance of farmers' markets to the community as a whole, particularly in light of some actions by the Washington State Department of Revenue. Basically, an official at the DoR decided that since the farmers' markets are on church parking lots in this area, the church parking lots cannot be classified with the rest of the church and must pay taxes on the land. The full details can be read in this article written by the local paper. So the churches have to pay the tax or shut their markets. Isn't that ridiculous?

All of this has got me thinking about why I support farmers' markets and locally grown food. I know a lot of my readers feel the same way that I do, but in case there are some that don't frequent CSAs or farmers markets, here's why I do.
  1. Economic benefit to me and my community. Doing a direct price comparison of organic produce at the chain grocery to the organic product at the farmers' market has shown me that my farmers' market produce is always equal to, but more often than not less than, the price of produce at the chain store. And that money is going directly to support the person who is growing my food, and staying in my community!
  2. It's delicious. Seriously. Matt and a friend that was in town this weekend bought some fish (how cool is it that my farmers' market is close enough to the Pacific and Alaska to have fresh fish???) and honestly exclaimed that they'd never had better. We've seriously spoiled ourselves with the caliber of spinach, asparagus, squash, and apples that we've gotten through the market and CSAs.
  3. Connection to food and agricultural education. There's so much to learn from each and every grower. Growing methods, use of (or lack of) chemicals, harvesting methods, any processing that goes into readying the food for market, and just general life experience: all are there to be learned from the growers by consumers, kids, and other curious parties. It's a learning experience! And, because the farmers markets in Washington accept government food assistance programs, this education is available to everyone - not just those with the luxury of paying for local organic food.
  4. There's so much more than just food! One of the most common misconceptions that I've encountered is that there's only veggies and fruits at the farmers' market. NOT TRUE. There's meat, fish, flowers, honey products, local wool and other cloth-type materials, and various community organizations that set up booths and make themselves available to the public during farmers market days. And CSAs tend to be well connected with all these entities as well. And, perhaps my favorite part of the farmers market - sprouts! Many vendors sell seedlings that they've sprouted at the farmers market so that you can begin your own garden, and provide important tips on how to be a successful gardener.
I could go on and on about the benefits of locally grown organic food and why I shop at farmers markets, but I think a lot of you do this already and I certainly don't want to preach to the choir! For more information, I highly recommend Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver and The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan (or any of his other books, really). Also check out for information on local farmers markets, CSAs and fruit stands.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

Another week, another menu plan! After a fun-filled long weekend, it's back to work and back to eating "real" (re: not charred on the grill) food. As always, check out Org Junkie's website for more menu plans!

Monday: Baked tofu (marinated in bbq sauce) and Baked Asparagus in Balsamic Butter Sauce

Tuesday: Vegetarian Chili in the slow-cooker

Thursday: I'll be honest, probably fast food after my run (shameful, I know!)

Friday: Boxed pasta (probably Amy's) with steamed veggies and Poor Little Eggplants

Saturday: Either dinner out somewhere, or a stir-fry (with brown rice) to clean out the fridge

Sunday: Leftovers - because no one wants to cook on a Sunday!

I need some workout music recommendations!

Now that I have a new computer that can actually connect to the internet, it's time to download some new workout music. Basically I've been listening to the same few mixes of workout music for a loooong time, and it's time for a change.

I've got a few songs in mind already that I've heard and immediately said, "That would be a GREAT song to run to!" It's just a start, but here's what I've come up with:

Kanye West's "Love Lockdown" is definitely leading the charge on this front.

And there's also this gem by Kat DeLuna, although I'm told that Busta Rhymes isn't actually in the record version of the song.

I'll be honest, I also fell in love with this song during several of those dance-y artsy reality competition shows. But I really don't like Lil Wayne, so... we'll see.

This is a great start (in my opinion!), but it certainly won't make up a whole new workout play list! So I turn to you, readers. What's your favorite workout song? What song really gets you pumped up to push through and finish your workout?

Saturday, July 4, 2009

New Year's Resolutions Update

Happy 4th of July everyone! Hope you are all celebrating the birth of our nation with your friends and family and enjoying every minute of it! I'll be hanging out with a few friends, getting some sunshine, and of course watching some fireworks.

The beginning of July also marks the halfway point of the year, and what better time to revisit those New Years' resolutions? I wrote about my resolutions earlier this year, and I think I've done a pretty good job with them. Let's revisit, shall we?
1. Read more books for pleasure. I'm getting there! Now that I'm officially done with classes, I have a lot more time to read, and I fully intend to get to the goal of 50 by the end of the year.

2. Apply to PhD programs. Eh... haven't started yet. I'll put this on the top of my list for the summer! It'll also be a lot easier to accomplish this one after I finish my thesis. We'll see!

3. Win the biggest loser competition at work. Check! I didn't win, but Rachel came in second. I consider this one complete and a win!

4. Get my passport. It is in my possession! Hooray!

5. Make a budget and stick to it. Er... not so much! I need to get on this one.

6. Meal Plan every week. I've only missed a few weeks so far this year, so I think I've been pretty successful on this one. Just have to keep it up now!

7. Go on 2 mini-vacations (as in 3- or 4-day weekends. Matt and I hit up Missoula for a weekend not too long ago, so one of two has been completed!

8. Go on an extended vacation (as in a week) with Matt. This is still in the works, but looks like it's going to happen

9. Set up a weekly volunteering activity again. Have not done this yet, need to get on it!

10. And last but not least, make a better effort to keep in touch with all the people that I love that are far away from me now. I've been horrible at this one too! I really need to make a better effort here.

So even though I've only got 2 that I can cross off, I think I'm doing pretty well!

How're you all doing with your resolutions? Hope you're enjoying your holiday!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Long Weekend Plans

I can't even tell you how excited I am to have a 3-day weekend here at home. I've done a lot of traveling in the last few months, and have a 4-day Portland weekend coming up later in July, so it's nice to not worry about going anywhere for once! Hooray!

But just because we're not going anywhere doesn't mean we're not doing anything! On the contrary, the weekend will hopefully include a few fun things. For example:


There's a strawberry festival going on a few miles north of Spokane, and it includes U-Pick strawberries. I hope we get some juicy fresh strawberries like these, and turn them into strawberry shortcake!

It's supposed to be awful, but maybe IMAX will make up for it?

I really want to see some hard-core special effects on IMAX film this weekend, and figure Transformers 2 will come through in that regard. Plus, Matt can make Shia jokes the entire time. Everyone wins, right?


There always has to be fireworks on the 4th, right? Spokane has a huge 4th of July celebration featuring fireworks on the Spokane river, and lots of music and festival food in the park at the center of town. Not sure how much of the rest of the festivities we'll take part in, but you can bet we'll have ourselves situated for the 10pm show tomorrow!

Alright, I'm off to run before it gets to 90 degrees today (ugh!). Hope everyone has a fantastic 4th of July weekend and enjoys a little extra time off!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Project 17: The Office/Guestroom - Completed!

So a little over two weeks ago, I wrote about how I needed to clean up our guest bedroom to make it livable for our guests and also an office for me (and Matt if he decides to use it that way). I thought it would only take me a few days, but there was a lot more stuff in the room than I thought! So, after a lot of sorting and organizing, as well as some shopping, I've finally created a space that fits all the requirements!

Again, here are some before pictures. And here we go with the afters!

A new book-shelf to hold all of our books, and everything in its place.

The desk and window with new curtains, as well as a glimpse of the guest nightstand.

The new workout corner with the inspirational Rosie the Riveter poster to motivate!

A close up of the desk space, complete with new laptop.

In all, the room transformation cost about $70 - for the bookcase, the curtain rod, and the curtains. Not bad for how different the room looks overall! For the most part, I reused other furniture and organizational pieces that we already had that weren't being used to their full potential, and I'm really pleased with the results! It's so nice to finally have a workspace, I've been sitting at the desk just to sit at it! And you'd better believe I'm writing this from my chair new desk right now.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Hot Soup for a Hot Summer

Is it weird that, even as the temperature is reaching the upper 80s and 90s, I'm still reaching for steaming hot bowls of soup? I know a lot of people associate hot soup with winter and couldn't imagine eating a bowl on a hot day, but I love it!

I wish it was only 5 cents!

My lunch today came from Soulful Soups, by far the best lunch spot in downtown Spokane if you ask me! A large steaming bowl of Tomato Bisque was just what the doctor ordered to wake me up after my long night yesterday. And I was delighted to see that I wasn't the only one craving a hot bowl of deliciousness on such a warm day - there were a few other patrons indulging themselves as well.

Soup - winter warmth, now also a summer delicacy!

New Fitness Journal

Ugh, I'm really dragging my feet this morning! I had a really nice dinner out last night (at C.I. Shenanigans on the river in downtown Spokane) with my mom and a family friend after spending two hours dress shopping. It was a long, tiring night, but it was also fun and I got a lot done!

So my mom is leaving to go hom this morning, and it's back to life as normal for me. Hooray! One of the things that I've been slacking on in the last few weeks as I've jet-setted back and forth from my various travels is food and exercise planning/tracking. I've gotten back into the Menu Plan Monday swing after a few weeks off, but I've yet to get back into my personal meal tracking. I wrote a few months ago about a notebook I'd been using to track things, but on a recent trip to Houston I found this gem in the airport bookstore:

It was on the clearance rack at the Houston Airport Borders, so it was less than $4!

There are two reasons that I bought this journal. First, I love how organized (yet detailed) it is. There's space for every meal and snack, with boxes for writing how many grams of fiber and calories there are. The exercise portions are divided into weights and cardio/other exercise, and it works well to get you motivated to fill up the space.

A sample exercise page from the weekly portion.

The second reason I love this journal is that it allows you to track yourself and make goals along various time frames. While most of the journal is taken up with pages for the weekly tracking, there are also pages and spaces for monthly tracking and making monthly goals. But it wants you take pictures of yourself... no thanks, exercise journal!

A monthly page from the journal.

So basically, I'm in love with this little book. It puts my own tracking notebook to shame! Unfortunately, it was so discounted at Borders because it was not going to be carried there anymore... I don't know what I'm going to do when I fill it up! I'll have to photocopy the pages or something and make my own.

Now I've got to catch up on The Bachelorette since I missed last night's episode! I'm curious to see what Jillian's going to be wearing... she's got a great sense of style!