I Was Reminded Of Two Things Today

1. Don’t go to Trader Joes on an empty stomach.

2. Cooking at home, with real food, is a good, good thing.

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I think it’s been about 3 weeks since I’ve set out and cooked an actual meal (as opposed to heating up something pre-made or grabbing something to-go). And even though it was simple, it was light and summery and the perfect antidote to the torture I put my body through over the holiday weekend.

Greek-Inspired Quinoa Salad
Serves: 2, or 4 as a side-dish.
Total cooking and prep time: 30 minutes.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup quinoa, uncooked
  • boneless, skinnless chicken breast (2)
  • 1 cup red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 cup cucumber, chopped
  • 1/2 cup onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup + 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lemon
  • 1/4 cup fresh herbs, chopped. I used: basil, oregano, and parsley (You can substitute dried herbs, but the fresh herbs really give it an extra fresh punch of flavor)
  • Salt and pepper to taste.

Directions:

  1. Cook quinoa in a saucepan according to directions.
  2. While the quinoa is cooking, in a seperate pan place 2 tbsp of olive oil and cook the chicken breasts 4 minutes per side over medium heat. When the chicken is cooked, remove and set aside. Let cool, and slice or chop into bite-sized pieces.
  3. In the same pan you used to cook the chicken, add the onion and garlic. If you need to, you can add another tablespoon of olive oil. Cook for about 3 minutes, and then  add the red bell peppers. Continue to cook for another four minutes, or until all of the vegetables are cooked through, but still firm.
  4. Add the 1/2 cup olive oil, the juice of one lemon, and the chopped herbs to a small mixing bowl. Whisk together and add salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Slice the chicken into 1-inch pieces and add all of the ingredients, including the cucumbers, into a large serving bowl and enjoy!

I enjoyed this both hot and cold, and I liked it both times. It’s easy, not very expensive, and surprisingly filling.

The only thing missing that would have made this an absolute home run, would have been a nice piece of crusty bread. I also think the addition of some greek olives would add a nice salty dimension. Can’t wait to make this again and experiment further.

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Wearing

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Drinking

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Best…or Greatest?

I mean… does it get any better?

I’ve been in this serious cooking rut, but with the days getting hotter, work getting busier, and always finding myself with a refrigerator full of cheese…it’s hard not to fall back on my old standard: the cheese plate.

I have plans to make something delicious this weekend (perhaps some pulled pork?). But until then, you’ll find me happily munching away on various plates of fruit, cheese, and the occasional deli meat.

I’m the very picture of health.

Weekend Shenanigans

There really weren’t that many, but ain’t weekends grand?

I didn’t do anything ground-breaking, but I had a fantastic time. So what did I do?

I did some gardening.

The before….

The after…

I did some painting:

(Please ignore the GINORMOUS pile of laundry…)

I did some dancing with two of my favorite people:

I did some eating:

I just love these kinds of weekends.

Oh yah, I also saw the Avengers. Finally. The verdict? I LOVED IT!!!!

Budget Friday

For the last 15+ years I have been an Essie/OPI snob. They are the only nail polishes that have graced my nails. But you know what? Not so much anymore. About two weeks ago, on a complete whim, I picked up a new polish….by Wet n’ Wild. For $1.99. And you know what? Four days later, my nails still looked amazing and didn’t have a single chip. That’s never happened to me before.

Those four nail polishes cost the same as one Essie or OPI, and last longer. I really like the applicator brush- it’s wider than normal and I think that helps in creating a nice and even coat. And the most convincing attribute of the line?  The light pink/beige that I picked  up (the second one from the left in the picture above) went on smooth and looks  absolutely streak-free. I could never achieve that with my old stand-by, Essie’s ‘Ballet Slippers.’ At least not with a good 4 coats. And by that point, it was a thick, goopy mess.

Since my initial purchase two weeks ago, I think I’ve added another five or six polishes to my collection. And I’m not going to lie, I will be purchasing many more in the future.

Seriously, give them a try.

Anyone have any other nail polish gems I’ve been missing out on?

(I’m not doing this on behalf of anyone, I just really like these polishes and I wish I would’ve discovered them years ago!)

Living La Vida Loca…Or Not

I haven’t really been up to anything the past few days. I haven’t cooked anything (but I think I’m finally getting the itch to experiment in the kitchen this week), I haven’t done or gone anywhere particularly exciting. I’ve just kind of been.

Here’s a few things that have taken up my non-work time:

New hair color. The blond is gone. I feel serious and smart.

Okay, maybe not serious.

I’ve been eating these by the handful:

They are so delicious.

I’ve been painting my nails:

Listening to rad music:

And I’ve been hanging with this happy fellow:

I’ve also gotten back into a proper running schedule. This makes me all kinds of happy.

Here’s to a week full of good food and exciting events. Or not. Life is grand.

Author Yes, But Dog Lover Foremost

That’s how I will always remember Maurice Sendak.

Is that weird? Let me explain…

As a child, and really, until I was in college, I have been surrounded by German Shepherds. I have some very early, vague memories of one of our German Shepherds, Kaiser, pulling our sled (our being my sister and I) around the backyard of our home in Minnesota. He was a beautiful dog and gave Rin Tin Tin a run for his money in the looks department. Later we had another German Shepherd, Frasier, who I used to imagine was part wolf. He was almost completely black and well over a hundred pounds and I took such pleasure in the gasps (seriously) of admiration he would receive while walking him around Lake Harriet on the weekends. He had the silkiest fur and was absolutely stunning. Later we had Quito, Petza, and my beloved Maggie May (yes, after the song). Maggie was my fierce protector during college and the sweetest dog you have ever met. I had her since she was born and her passing two years ago remains one of the saddest days of my life.

Maggie May and I circa Christmas 2007

So what does that have to do with Maurice Sendak? Well, he was a well-known dog lover. Especially German Shepherds. His long-time canine companion was a German Shepherd named Herman (named after Herman Melville). I know this because when I was younger, I read a book by the Monks of New Skete called the “Art of Raising Your Puppy”. The Monks of New Skete are a group of Franciscan Monks who breed and raise German Shepherds. I could go on and on about this book (they have others too) but I’ll try to stay on point. In their book they have an interview with Maurice where he talks about his relationship with his dogs (his dogs were all trained by the Monks and so they had a very close relationship). Ever since reading that, I have felt a special kinship to this beloved author. He’s a German Shepherd lover just like me! He gets it! Reading his books were always that much more enjoyable knowing we had a common interest. I love dogs. I’ve had many breeds of dogs apart from German Shepherds. But let me tell you, nothing compares. They are a breed above the rest.

To most Maurice Sendak is a beloved and venerated author. To me, he was an advocate and lover of dogs who wrote some amazing books.

Meh?

The past week or so I haven’t felt like writing anything. My mind has been, well, blank. I haven’t really cooked anything lately. I haven’t gone anywhere extraordinary. I’ve mostly worked, and….existed? Call it a pre-summer restlessness.

Oh wait. I did finally get caught up on ‘Mad Men.’ I’m not going to lie to you, I did NOT like it at first. The first season seemed sooooo slow. And then suddenly, we were in the middle of Season 3 and watching 3 episodes a night. This season has been especially great.

Anyway, Mad Men aside, one other thing I have been doing is feeding my newest addiction. I call it the Walgreens-Target-CVS-who knew they had amazing stuff?- addiction. I know. What?

Let’s just say that I have always had a thing for makeup. I love it. Nothing makes me happier than a new lipgloss or nail polish. Give me an afternoon at Nordstrom and I won’t even make it past the Beauty department. Chanel, Nars, and Bobbi Brown have long been my brands of choice. However, in recent years I’ve been less and less satisfied with my regimen. This probably has to do with me not doing my homework, or not really sampling new products before I purchase them. I’ve been in a makeup rut.

The old standbys:

Unfortunately, in recent weeks I’ve been trying to seriously limit my discretionary spending. And let’s face it, I’m not dipping into my wine fund anytime soon. So I’ve been experimenting with drugstore makeup.

The verdict? Drugstore brands have come a loooong way since I first bought a Covergirl pressed powder. (You weren’t anyone in junior high unless you had that green compact!)

Some of my recent loot:

Some of them have been winners. Some have been ‘meh.’ I think I might go through my favorites in the next few weeks (and actually, the duds too). In the meantime, go get yourself some liquid eye liner by e.l.f. It’s an instant and cheap way ($1!!!) to channel your inner-Joan. And I think we can all agree that that’s a good thing.

p.s. if anyone has some recommendations, send them my way!

Crossing My Fingers

That Monday calls in sick tomorrow.

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Maybe I’m A Ditz, But At Least I’m Happy

I would never describe myself as particularly “girly.” I would MUCH rather spend the evening watching hockey and drinking beer (go Coyotes!) than going dancing and sipping some fruity drinks. That said, I love clothes and I love makeup. Although I’ve had to remind myself of that lately.

It’s easy to get in a rut. Back in law school I ALWAYS took time for my hair and planning cute outfits. I took a lot of crap for that. A lot of people thought I was ditzy. And yah, sometimes I am. I’m definitely goofy and I do not take life seriously. But you know what? I felt good about myself, had fun, AND I got pretty good grades too. After law school however, I kind of lost that. My first job out of school had a starting time of around 6AM. I’m not a morning person and my routine quickly went from a full face of makeup and coordinated outfit to mascara and lipgloss and whatever was ironed/clean in my closet. It’s gotten better, but still.

makeup!

So this month I’m making it a point to put a little effort into my appearance. It’s silly, but those 10 extra minutes make me feel like a million bucks. Coinciding with this effort I’m thinking of rolling out a new series of reviews on my favorite makeup products. I’m a beauty junkie, and I’ve tried ALOT, so why not share?

It’s okay if you think I’m a little ditzy. I probably am. But at least I’m happy!