The Excellent Adventures of Kim and Kev

Monday, February 28, 2011

Bean Soup

I'm in Raleigh.  I drove here this morning with a car packed to the gills.  In fact, I don't think I have ever packed that much for a four day trip before.  And hopefully, Kev won't tell you otherwise. 

That is the thing I love most about driving to my destination.  Being able to pack whatever you want. 

I packed so much that I had to borrow the luggage cart from the front desk to get every thing up and into my room. 

It was embarrassing.  Especially because we (me and the cart) did not get along.  I bumped him in to just about every wall and door that I could. 

The reason for my heavy packing:  FOOD. 

At least most of it was.  Minus the hang-up bag, suitcase, pair of cowboy boots, camera case, computer case, purse, and makeup crate.

And just so you know I just rolled my eyes at myself for the above sentence.

As far as the food goes, I had an ice chest and a tote bag full of goodies. 

I'm such a party animal on the road.... wining and dining myself in the hotel room.

But so far it has worked fabulously.  Especially since I am literally working from open to close every day this week. 

And I am not just living off of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and apples... even though I have packed plenty of those items..... I am having real meals.  Of buckwheat noodles and bean soup.

 I call it a soup - but it is really a chili.  A thick, hearty, healthy chili.  A chili that tastes great cold when you don't have access to a microwave.

I actually made it for our dinner last night... allowed Kev to eat a bowl full... and then packed up the rest for the trip.

It is super easy, convenient, and took about an hour to make - 45 minutes of that was simmering.

However, don't be fooled by my glorious pictures (haha) and assume that I have a great photo session all planned out.  Because I don't - AT ALL.  And even though I tried to take pics of every thing... I ran out of time and just ended up throwing the other items in the pot.  Food continues to cook whether you have had a chance to take a picture or not.

I also wanted to clean out my fridge of all produce before I left home - so, it is a lot of randomness.

I started with caramelizing some leeks in olive oil...

Then added one green pepper, one red pepper, two jalapenos, and two chili peppers...

As you can see, I am not a very patient chopper.  I almost always end up using more of a "chunk" instead of a "finely diced" veggie.  I just cut the hot peppers in rings.  Which is super fun if you get a couple in your mouth all at the same time.

Two large cans of whole tomatoes with juice/sauce.  I used organic.
And then this is the point that I realized I was taking way too long and the chili was becoming impatient.  So, I threw in a can each of black beans, garbanzo beans, and kidney beans.  And about a cup of chopped green onions.  Then added chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper.

And set it to simmer...

I LOVED it.  It was filling and chunky and full of flavor.  And the best part is that I didn't have to open a container of veggie broth and end up wasting the rest because it goes bad so fast.  ( I hate that!!)

Kev's meal: Large salad with cheese, two honey wheat rolls, and the "soup"

Kim's serving: minus the bread and cheese...

And now I must call it a night.  I've got another long day ahead of me.... starting with my 6:30 wake up call to hit the hotel gym!!  I'm actually kind of excited about that. 

We will see if I feel the same way once my alarm goes off.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

While The Cat Is Away....

The mouse will play.

With food he has been missing over the last couple of months.
Fun snacks...

"Fish and Chips".  (So good with vinegar and tartar sauce!)

A chocolaty treat...

For the record, I had plans to make healthy banana peanut butter muffins.  But who knew that we could go through TWO bunches of bananas in ONE week. 

So, plan B was brownies.  And I'm sure that Kev is not complaining one bit.

And last but not least, a home cooked "comfort" food meal.  That he can spread out over a couple of days.  This meal was per his request - and I don't blame him because it is as comforting as food can get. 

Mine looks a little different because I added in some green beans ( gotta get the veggies in somehow) and three cups of rice.  ( I cooked the rice separately and added it in after the casserole had finished cooking.)

I also made some Sister Schubert wheat rolls ( they are amazing!) and brushed them with butter and honey. 

Kev will definitely be well fed over the next four days - whether he likes it or not.  :)

As for me, well, that will be another post.  But just know that it includes an ice chest and MULTIPLE plastic containers.

Some call my food planning obsessive, I call it SO MUCH FUN!

We hope you all had a wonderful weekend.... and hopefully got to enjoy some good weather!

Post Race Celebration

What a glorious day!!  I am enjoying this weather more than you know.   In fact, I'm sitting outside right this very minute listening to the sounds of Spring, smelling the beautiful weather smells (pool chlorine and fresh air), and drinking the most refreshing drink.
The La Croix - very berry flavor - which is new (to me).  I've grown to really enjoy this flavored (all natural) sparkling water and it really hits the spot when you are having a craving for a soft drink or a cocktail.  Except for I would probably be having a cocktail right now if I could.  Especially after Kev just told me about a watermelon sangria that he just found the recipe for.

It sounds perfect for a Fourth of July party.

Or for just about any warm, beautiful day.  You know that I can always find a reason to have a "party".

Today has been so relaxing.  And productive.  I have cleaned out the fridge, cooked, baked, vacuumed, packed, planned, and loaded the car.

I have also spent a lot of time thinking about the run yesterday.  Especially, after I read a post from Caitlin regarding negative self talk.  I just wish that I had read it a day sooner..... or ten years ago, for that matter.  It is a great read if you have the time... and if you don't, then it would do you good to make some. :)  Today was all about focusing on the positives.  Focusing on the experience.  Focusing on the reason that I love to run races in the first place.

First of all, I am barely sore.  My quads are a little tight and my hip flexors are a little sore... but other than that I feel amazing.  That includes my KNEE and my SHINS.... which ALWAYS hurt after a lot of running.  I give credit to yoga.  It has absolutely changed me!

Second of all, I feel that I did a wonderful job with my breathing.  I can some times (especially when I get flustered) start breathing a little too hard which makes me sound like a prank caller and results in people running faster to get away from me.

Or maybe it is just that they run fast anyway.

I was also able to have a conversation with that 82 year old gentleman.  That along with my limited soreness tells me that I am on the right track.  That I have potential.  That I should not (and will not) give up.  And so Kev and I discussed a better training plan.  A plan to get me more focused on my goals of running.

Kev would make a great personal trainer.  I'll have to add that to his his list of features... just in case I ever need to sell him on Ebay. 

As far as celebrating last night.  Well, it got a little crazy in our house.  Because of these beauties...

I had three delectable avocados.  $1 each from Trader Joe's.  And they were creamy buttery perfection.  I had originally planned to make a bean chili for dinner... but upon feeling the need to have a celebratory meal I decided to make guacamole and nachos instead. 

And, of course, Kev thought it was a fabulous idea.

I kept it very simple.  Fresh tomatoes.  One jalapeno.  Salt and pepper.

I could seriously eat this stuff by the gallon.  It just makes me so happy. 

But what made me even happier was my discovery of these chips...

They are the healthiest chips I have ever seen in my life.  I have read the package at least seventeen times trying to figure out what is bad (unhealthy) about them.  And cannot find a thing.  I can even eat them on my cleanse.  And I'm telling you for a fact that they taste better than Tostitos.  In fact, I don't think I will ever go back to regular chips.  They are so crunchy and perfectly salted and full of healthy goodness.... like seeds.  Seeds in will just have to trust me!

For the main course of nachos, I used organic blue corn chips.  Which were o.k. straight out of the bag - but were amazing once heated up.  I put a layer of them on a baking sheet and topped with rotisserie chicken, black beans, caramelized onions, red peppers, green peppers, and a smidge or two of pepper jack cheese.

Then I broiled it until it got hot.

It tasted divine.  And was the perfect meal to end a wonderful day.

And luckily it made so much that I was able to make several more meals out of it for Kev while I am out of town.  I've already portioned it out, bagged it up, and put post-its on the outside to let him know when he should eat it. 

Just because I am out of town doesn't mean that he will be free from my OCD food planning.  :)  At least he doesn't have to wait for me to take pictures of it before he can eat.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

I Finished!

But it wasn't pretty. Or graceful. Or smooth. But it is done. And I crossed the finish line. And for that I am grateful.

I actually slept last night. Like real sound sleep. Which I haven't done in a week. So, you can imagine when my alarm went off this morning at 6:30, I wasn't feeling it. It was like the entire week had caught up with me and all I wanted to do was sleep the day away.

But I couldn't. I had a race to run.

So, I got dressed in my specially set aside outfit. An outfit that when I asked Kev if I looked cute or lame he responded with "Are those my only two choices?"

I didn't ask him what he meant or give him time to explain. I just told him why I chose what I did and went about my business.

I had chosen my yoga pants. Because #1 I don't have "running" tights/pants/whathaveyou. #2 The pants I normally wear to the gym are oversized elastic waist full length pants ( I make them sound so lovely) and I just knew that it would be frustrating to run in all that fabric. It would weigh me down. #3 I don't have any other reasons.

I clearly need to update my workout apparel. And I will do that when I win the lottery.

Then I had breakfast.

Two pieces of Ezekiel bread with almond butter and bananas. With a drizzle of honey (not pictured because I forgot until I had my first bite)

And a glass of green tea.

I went to the bathroom about eleventy times - ( I'm sure I have mentioned before that I have a major paranoia about going somewhere that I am unsure of their bathroom situations)

And then I headed out on my 30 minute journey to the race location.

I spent the entire drive motivating myself with "You can totally do this" "It will be great" "Stay focused" and "You better finish before "Cry me a river" comes on".

That was my ultimate goal.

And then the problems began. My brain is ALWAYS going a mile a minute. Worrying about EVERY.SINGLE.THING!


I over analyze and strategize and worry and analyze some more.

I'm a complicated person to deal with.

And as soon as I arrived, the negative thoughts started creeping in my head. I was too cold. I don't have good running shoes like every one else. What did I get myself in to? What do I do if I have to go to the bathroom?

Which I did have to. TWICE. In a fifteen minute span of time. ( Luckily, the race was sponsored by a church and they were kind enough to let us use their facilities. Over and over and over)

So, I let out a big sigh. Slapped my face a couple of times to knock some sense in to me. ( I 'm sure I'm a great person to watch if you are into that people watching sort of thing) And took my place at the start.

In the very back. In case I ran too slow.

And then we were off.

I realized pretty quickly that I had chosen the WORST thing to run in. Yoga pants with no elastic or drawstring in a size too big for me PLUS underwear that was two sizes too big... resulted in an immediate malfunction. Which means my pants started to fall down.

I suddenly forgot about my pantyline showing... and just started worrying about how I was going to keep my pants up.

Then the Ipod fell out of it's makeshift holder. And started swinging between my legs. So, I had one hand on my pants/underwear holding them up and the other was trying to wrangle the Ipod and ear buds back on to my body.

Thank goodness for my hat. It helps me disappear to my happy place. Where no one can see me.

I put the Ipod under the left sport's bra strap and the case under the right strap. I was an eighties version of a dysfunctional runner. And I hope that the "shoulder pads" drew the attention away from me lifting up my shirt, pulling hard on my underwear, and then pulling my pants up as high as they would go. Over and over again.

You can imagine how hard it was to focus at this point.

And then we hit the hills. I remembered the first one around mile 2.... but the rest of them? When the heck did I move to Colorado? I felt like it was hill after hill after hill.

The thing with me is that it is VERY hard for me to focus on one thing. My job requires me to multi task constantly... so, when I just have just one task to complete, I have a very hard time with it.

So when it comes to running, it is so hard for me to focus during the first mile...I'm usually thinking of a million other things that need to be done. Until I get in my groove and am able to clear my mind. Then the time seems to fly by.

Except for the only running I have done lately is at the gym, in the DARK theater room, while watching a movie.

And the only movie I saw today was how the crowd of runners in front of me kept getting smaller and smaller and smaller.

But I reminded myself that I was doing this for ME. And it didn't matter what I did as long as I finished.

And then I made the horrific decision to walk for a little bit after mile three - to get myself situated again. ( my "shoulder pads" had moved to awkward places)

Once I started walking, I was NEVER able to get my running groove back. And all of the negative thoughts started flooding back in to my head.

I even ran past my sister's house and debated on just knocking on her door and asking her to hide me until the race was over.

But then I started running along side a man who was 82! He had triple bypass surgery one month ago. AND HE WAS RUNNING! He was out there making the best of it, having a great time, and couldn't care less when or how he finished.

And we became fast friends.

Until he sped up and left me in his dust.

At mile five, a wonderful lady stepped out in to the street to high five me. She was cheering and clapping and screaming. I asked her the time. When she told me, I realized that my goal of completing this race in an hour had been missed. And I guess I looked really disappointed because she immediately said "You are fine! You are doing great! Don't you worry about the time."

Then Journey started playing in my ear. "Don't Stop Believin'". I had Kev put it on my play list because of Laura. She never stopped believin' and it worked out so great for her. So, I hoped it would do the same for me.

And it did. It pepped me up and gave me the energy to run up ANOTHER hill.

Then I heard the words... the words that I had been waiting to hear since the race began.... "You have only got HALF a mile left!! You've got this!" The words were from a police officer that was directing traffic. I smiled so big at him that he had to put his shades on.

And then I heard the first beat of the song "Cry Me A River". And there was NO WAY in heck that I was going to let that song finish before I crossed the line. NO WAY!! I used every last bit of energy to run as fast as my legs would let me. And I crossed the finish. In blubbery, dramatic tears.

But all that mattered was that I beat Justin Timberlake. I made it before he stopped singing.

Thank goodness that is a long song.

I'm sure I was a sight to see. My hat was basically covering my eyes... but I was bawling. For what reason, I don't know. Conquering goals are very emotional for me. And even though I know that a lot of people run 6 miles for breakfast, lunch and dinner - and it is nothing to them - it was still a lot for me. And was my first race since I've started getting back in shape.

Not to mention that I showed the town of Lexington my butt crack.

I bypassed all of the celebration tents and food and people.. and just went straight to my car. I needed to talk to Kev. I did every thing I could to calm myself down. I stretched. I walked back and forth. And breathed deeply.

But as soon as I heard his voice on the other end of the phone... I completely teared up again. He asked me if I was OK. And all I could mumble out was "I walked some of it".

I'm sure at that moment Kev thought we had hit it big. Because my dramatics were going to get me a job on a famous soap opera.

Bless my heart.

But that is one of the reasons that I love him so much. Because he stayed calm. And positive. And maybe laughed a little. And said I should get some good running pants for next time and should train a little more on an incline.

Then I was ALL BETTER. See, I even smiled this time for the camera.

Now I am enjoying my post-race snack. A green monster. Doubled.

And I'm already planning what I should do next.

There is a half marathon in Columbia in April.... just in case you were wondering. Which gives me 49 days to correct all of my mishaps.

And maybe run a little more other than on a treadmill in a dark room.

Friday, February 25, 2011


Tomorrow is my first race since I have been "back in the game". I'm nervous as all get out ( whatever that means) and anxiously awaiting the race start of 8:15am.

I already went and picked up my race packet. Having that means I will get a little extra sleep in the morning.

I have showered ( surprising, I know!). And set all of my clothes out. I even tried on my "outfit" and "jogged" up and down the hall to make sure it felt good.

It is important, you know.

That it feels good and that you can't see panty lines. ( I seem to have a slight obsession with that)

I ate my pre-race meal.

Buckwheat noodles with bean sprouts, green onions and a drop of sesame oil. And veggie sushi ( that got messed up in the container) and edamame.

( Kev ate the same but he also had grilled dumplings and soy sauce)

And Kev is currently downloading a special play list to my Ipod for me to run to. Songs with a good beat. Like Lady Gaga, Black Eyed Peas, Jay Z. And songs that just make me so happy. Like Guns N Roses, Bon Jovi, and Journey.

Kev timed the songs to finish when I should finish. It will help me keep track. And if I get to Justin Timberlake's "Cry Me A River"... then I know I have taken too long. And then I will be crying a river for real.

Except for I'm running this race for me. I'm challenging myself. So who really cares how long it takes me or if I stop every once in a while to do some dance moves.

It is all in fun. And for health.

And for the awesome t-shirt that I received.

You gotta love a new t-shirt.

And with that... I am off to bed. My alarm will be going off before I know it.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

A Long Day

I went to Greenville today. For work. And it was the first day I traveled while on "the cleanse".

Which is why I had a bag FULL of food with me.

My favorite oatmeal concoction.
An apple.
A banana.
A Lara bar.
Green tea.

Just in case I got hungry. Or was stranded on the side of the road. Or was stuck in a blizzard.

I was covered. No matter what happened.

But my biggest concern was what to eat for lunch. Because it was a business lunch which means that I couldn't choose the place.

When did I become so high maintenance?

Oh yes, I remember. The day I was born.

I feel that I need to clarify that after March 22nd I will be back to normal. I am not planning to live my life in such a strict and ridiculous manner. It just wouldn't make any sense. Or be any fun. I am just being a stickler for thirty days in order to see the amazing results I am hoping for.

And then I will eat cornbread and cheese for 20 days straight. Maybe.

But back to lunch.... luckily we ended up going to Brixx. Which is one of my favorite places when I visit that area. And even though I love it because of their pizzas, I opted for a salad. A salad with grilled chicken, pine nuts, veggies, and dressing on the side. It was perfect. And filling.

And I was able to continue about my day in a focused manner.

Focused manner? I don't even know what that looks like when it comes to me.

And just in case you were wondering.... I DID stop by Trader Joe's after work. For my fix. Because it was necessary. And I stocked up on groceries for next week... for my trip to Raleigh. I going to stock the fridge in my hotel room with healthy foods so I don't need to eat out. My body and my company will thank me in the long run.

As far as my love for trying new restaurants and trying new food... well, I will just have to put it on hold for now. Even though there is a Cheesecake Factory right by where I will be staying.

The last time I went to Cheesecake Factory... I ordered TWO pieces of cheesecake. Because I couldn't decide which flavor I wanted the most.

I'm sure it got ugly. I can't remember because I was passed out from all the sugar and deliciousness.

But I'm sure my avocado hummus, almond butter, and seaweed snacks will comfort me in the same way.

Except for I won't get the sweats.

After I loaded my car with food, I started the drive home. And drove right on past the gym. I needed a rest. And a break. And some food.

And then comes the best part of the day. I had made dinner the night before. And all I had to do was stick it in the microwave when I got home.

I made a roasted veggie pasta bake.
I brushed some zucchini, eggplant, and onions with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. And then roasted them for twenty minutes.

I cooked some whole wheat pasta. Added some fresh tomatoes... Crushed red pepper ( of course)... and organic pizza sauce (leftover from pizza night).

And pepper jack cheese.

But only to Kev's.

And we both had a big salad.

It was O.K. Good but nothing special. It probably would have been better if I had added chicken. But it was light and flavorful. And easy to prepare as our lunches for the next day.

In fact, Kev is still eating on his. My idea to split the recipe in half didn't seem to work out quite right. He better hurry and finish it because I have a lot of recipes planned to make this weekend.
And wasting food gets my undies in a bunch.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Wednesday Wrap-Up

I realize that Wednesday is just the middle of the week and therefore not necessarily the best day to conduct a wrap up.

But this week has already been so crazy and I feel the need to "wrap some things up" before I get in to even a busier rest of the week .... and a BUSIEST next week!

1. I'm on day four of my cleanse. So far so good. No crazy side effects or emergencies or anything unusual. ( wow. I just really made the whole process seem so scary- it is the drama queen in me) I was just a little tired the second day and did NOT make a good decision of going to Body Attack ( the hardest class that I take) but other than that I definitely am having great energy and focus and lots of super healthy food. I'm attributing my success so far to the fact that I have been eating pretty healthy since last August - so, there are not as many "toxins" to "cleanse".

2. I have somewhat conquered my "addiction" to caffeine - which means I am down to one glass a day. In the morning. And it is green tea. That deserves a pretty big "Holla!" in my book. However, I still am having a terrible time sleeping and have barely slept for the past four days. Kev says it is because I worry too much. So, I've decided my next detox will be to rid myself of worrying. Any ideas?

3. I will be traveling for work tomorrow (Greenville) and ALL NEXT WEEK ( Raleigh). I need to find a great bag that will hold my computer AND my camera. ( Kev just texted me and informed me that would be a backpack?? Nothing like looking like a middle schooler when you are trying to look like a professional. Who am I kidding... me looking like a professional... ha ha) I must take my blogging office on the road. It is the only thing that will keep me sane. And the fact that I requested a hotel with a great gym. I have to admit that I am actually looking forward to not having to drive 35 minutes to work out and I can just hop on an elevator to the first floor and get my sweat on.
And yes, I realize that I do have a home gym. That I rarely use. But that is beside the point.

4. And in case you were wondering what in the world I was going to do for food while I travel. (Because it was the FIRST thing I thought of) No worries. I immediately looked up Trader Joes and Whole Foods and BOTH are close to where I will be staying. So my plan is to use my daily food allowance ( given to me by the company) to grocery shop and ensure I have plenty of fruits and veggies and almond butter with sea salt. And maybe just hang out in both stores every evening to soak up as much goodness and happiness that I can stand.

5. Kev's relocation of his store is almost complete! HOORAY!! He has been working so hard and so much that I have barely seen him. Which is so strange when he has had the same predictable schedule for the entire time we have been married. It is me that usually comes and goes as I please. Not to mention that he has gotten sick in the process and is just a mess. ( I told him that a cleanse would probably clean him up... but I can't get him to jump on my bandwagon) Anyway, I had been saving these little delights as a rainy day treat for him... and this week seemed just a good time as any to make them..
And luckily it was super easy. Like just preheat the oven, bake them and put them on a plate easy.

And then I served them with what Trader Joe suggested that I do.
Kev was thrilled for about 30 minutes. Until his body aches started to come back and he had to go to bed early. But at least he had a bright second in his day.
6. Another AH-MAZING recipe that I made for him was this.
Creamy white chicken chili from Jenna. It is so creamy and delicious and comforting and truly hit the spot. Kev said so himself. I used Rotisserie chicken which made it even easier to throw together. And I took a lot of pictures which didn't do the recipe justice... so, I'm going to let you look at Jenna's pictures to get your fix. I actually made this two days before I started cleansing. Because I sure wouldn't be able to eat it right now... but it ranks right up there with the cornbread that I hold so near and dear to my heart. And may possibly be part of my celebratory dinner in 26 days. However, we have changed the name of it to chicken cholo. Because that is what my I-phone felt it needed to change the word chili to when I was texting Kev about the meal.
7. I'm running a race this weekend. On Saturday. It is the only thing that prevented me from not having to go to Raleigh straight from Greenville. And is the first race that I will be running since I've gotten my health groove back on. I'm SUPER nervous. And SUPER excited. And I need to go buy a new hat. Today. It is one of the thousands of things that I have to get done before I leave for G'ville tomorrow. You should see my list. It also includes watching last week's episode of Top Chef and yes, I will just go ahead and admit it... Toddlers and Tiaras ( I just can't help watching that show - it disgusts me and amazes me all at the same time. And unfortunately I'm addicted), blogging (yay! I'm about to cross something off of my list), and putting together a play list for my run.
8. My oatmeal concoctions that I pre made on Sunday have been perfect to start off my days this week. However, I was CRAVING my favorite breakfast of two runny eggs and a piece of Ezekiel toast... and I finally got my fill of it this morning. It was glorious! I wish there was some way that I could make up lots of batches of it and separate it out in my special bowls. But, alas, oatmeal will just have to do.
9. And now I really have to wrap this up. Because I have to go get my oil changed and get to the gym. Time's a wastin' folks.
Hope you all are having a wonderful day!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Chim Chim Cher-ee

I have been so busy talking about food and cleansing and more food that I haven't had a chance to tell you about my run-in with a chimney sweep last week.

It was epic.

And straight out of the movies...
Kev felt that we needed to have our fireplace cleaned and inspected. Not because he just likes to come up with random things he "thinks" we need fixed on the house, but because he is proactive. And likes to prevent us from having bigger issues in the future.

At least that is what the pool guy told me when we had him come out to inspect our pump and several other whatnot types of things that he inspects on pools.

Unfortunately, I'm usually the one that meets with these "inspectors" because #1 my schedule is more flexible and #2 the schedule being flexible is really the only reason for it.

Because despite how absolutely hard I try... I can NEVER seem to remember every thing that the person has told me. EVER. I've even tried writing it down. It doesn't work. When I am not interested in something.... like pool pumps, chimneys, computers, science fiction television shows... it truly just goes in one ear and out the other.

And then Kev will have all kinds of questions for me and I will just stare at him with my eyes glazed over and ask him what he would like for me to make for dinner.

Luckily, he is usually hungry when he gets home, so it works like a charm.

But this time was different. Because I have never met a chimney sweep. And I had visions of sidewalk chalk drawings and singing and dancing and all the other kinds of merriment that comes with being a "sweep".

So, you can imagine my absolute delight when I opened my front door and a tall, thin gentleman stood there with a little soot on his nose and a hat on his head.

But it wasn't just any old hat. It was a TOP hat!

And I am totally not even joking. It was like an older version of Bert ( from picture above) dressed himself up and traveled to Gaston to make my dreams come true.

And my inner child squealed with delight! And I may have squealed out loud too. I was pretty excited.

He was one of the nicest men I have ever met. And it was probably the only time in the history of having people come out to fix things on our home that I didn't mind handing over the payment. Except for the pool guy... he is pretty cool too.

And yes, he wore his top hat the ENTIRE time that he worked with our fireplace. I spent the hour and a half he was working texting Kev about should I or should I not take his picture.

For blogging purposes, of course.

Kev thought I should. But every time I peeked around the corner with my camera... I would suddenly get shy and would run out of the room.

It was like having a celebrity in my home. Some one famous for looking like a character from one of my favorite movies.

Anyway, he did an amazing job! He not only cleaned every thing up, fixed the doors on the front, inspected it from top to bottom....

But he wrote out every thing in detail... and even left me all of this information to share with Kev....

I didn't have to remember a thing. I can't even tell you what a relief that was. It enabled my brain to think about things like cheese, yoga, and guacamole.
Just the good stuff in life.
And now I am just waiting for it to get cold again so we can enjoy our newly cleaned fire place.
Wait. Did I really just say that? I hate the cold.
But fires do make the cold bearable. And when you have fires, you need to hire a chimney sweep to clean things up.
So, maybe the cold isn't so bad after all.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Cleanse

We are all friends here. Right?

Good. Because I'm probably about to give you too much information.

But I figured since you are all reading about my journey to a healthier me ( and a lot of other ramblings that have nothing to do with being healthy) it was in your best interest to know this.

I've decided to do a thirty day cleanse. To clean out my organs. And to detoxify my body.

It just seemed like the right thing to do.

And I'm hoping it will cure my insomnia. And addiction to caffeine.

And according to all my research... there are a lot of other benefits, too.

I am planning to tell you all about them. If it all works as planned.

Out of fear, though, on how my body would react to such extreme measures.... I decided to start detoxing myself of caffeine a couple of days ago.

And I say detoxing... but I really mean.. cut back. A world without caffeine is a world I don't think I can survive in.

So far, so good. I have stopped drinking (eating?) coffee and am down to only using one family sized tea bag in my morning glass.

Tomorrow I will switch to green tea.

As far as the food goes... I will continue as I have been.... but will be a little more cautious and selective of what I eat. It is only for thirty days. I can do anything for thirty days.

Except ride a unicycle.

That contraption baffles me.

And for Kev... well, I will still be making the usual meals. So, he will be just fine.

I'm already looking forward to March 22nd. I plan to celebrate with jalapeno cheddar cornbread. That stuff is some serious celebratin' food.

So, I spent tonight prepping and preparing snacks. And lunches. And breakfasts. Because planning is the key. The key to making sure that I don't freak out mid day tomorrow and eat a handful or five of garlic croutons from the break area at work.


Breakfast.. ( for the next three mornings)

Whole grain rolled oats with unsweetened almond milk, banana, a drizzle of honey, a scoop of pumpkin, and a sprinkle of sea salt.

Lunch... I forgot to take a pic... but it is just a plain old simple PB&J. Except for it is almond butter with fresh blueberries on Ezekiel bread.
And our dinner will be leftovers from what we had tonight. Greek chicken souvlaki.
It is chicken cooked in red wine vinegar, olive oil, and thyme. Then placed on to a flatbread pita with tomatoes, red onions, feta cheese, and home made tzakiki sauce ( cucumber, dill, and greek yogurt)

And it was easily made in to the "cleanse" version. Mine was minus the flatbread and feta cheese. And plus romaine and spinach leaves.

I don't think tomorrow is going to be such a bad day after all.
Or the next 29 days after that.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Faux Mardi Gras

It ended up being a pretty good thing that I got my dates mixed up regarding Mardi Gras.


#1. The meal didn't turn out quite the way I had hoped.


#2. We weren't really in the celebrating mood.

I know it is hard to believe that we actually have days where we don't feel like celebrating.... but we do. Kev has been so busy relocating his store and I... well, I've hardly slept in a week. Some thing that I blame on eating large spoonfuls of instant coffee grinds for my snack.

Every morning.

It seemed like a good idea at the time.

Anyway, it was a great trial run. And now I know what I should do differently... with the food. Because my costume was pretty spot on.

I decided to make the jambalaya with this...

It's healthy. And spicy. A winning combination. Except for we are not really fans of sausage - in any flavor. And even though the taste was good, we would have much rather had our usual jambalaya meat favorite- shrimp.

Also, we felt like it was missing some yummy vegetables. It was mainly sauce, sausage, and rice. With a lot of spices, of course.

But the next part of the meal completely made up for it.

It blew my socks off. And then some.

Jalapeno Cheddar Cornbread. I got the recipe from Macheesmo. And I suggest you do as well.

I realize that jalapeno cornbread isn't necessarily a staple of Cajun cooking... or maybe it is... but really I had just been DYING to make this recipe for months. Jalapenos plus cheddar. It's a no-brainer for me.

The only thing that I changed was that I used leeks instead of scallions. Because I had used all of my scallions two days before. Ooops.

Oh. And I used white cheddar cheese because I got a lot of it for a great price at Trader Joe's.

And I also may have used more than 6 oz. I measure cheese with my eyeballs. I can't help it that they are so big.

Remember that cast iron skillet I had been searching for a while back. Well, it was for this recipe. So, yes, I bought a skillet to make ONE recipe.

And it was SO worth it!
In fact, we used to think of cornbread as a "take it or leave it" kind of thing. We liked it just fine... but would choose a biscuit over the cornbread any day. But after eating this cheesy, scrumptious delight... we would eat this for any meal.
Kev proclaimed that it would go with anything! And then he pounded his fists on the table until I served him up some more.
Except for that he would never pound his fists.
He would just stomp his feet. And howl.
Regardless, I loved this bread so much that I took a slice to work. As my lunch. And I watched the clock all morning until I was able to eat it.
I need help. Clearly.
The whole meal...

And then came dessert..

I got this mix at World Market. It is actually what gave me the idea to do all of this in the first place. I realized that - in order to make my life complete - I HAD to make beignets and I HAD to share their deliciousness with Kev.
The same deliciousness that I experienced 27 years ago. (yikes!)

Two things you need to know about me.
#1. I am horrible at rolling out dough. It never looks right and my "A.D.D" doesn't give me the chance to fix it.
#2. I still haven't mastered the frying technique. Meaning my oil always gets too hot and very darkly cooks/burns every batch that I make after the first one.
Kev is in the market for a good thermometer right now.
The good thing is that these were pretty simple to make. And minus the over browning - they were scrumptious and made in just minutes.
I also seem to have cut them a little too small.... so, they ended up being more like beignet nuggets.

I imagine them being the perfect addition to coffee. (But not a spoonful of coffee grinds.) Or maybe with a little fresh whipped cream and some chocolate drizzle.
Or just by themselves. The way Kev liked them. He was pretty impressed with their yumminess.
And the good news is that I only used half of the mix... so, I'm already half way prepared for the real Mardi Gras.
March 8th.
I'll get it right this time.
And will hopefully get some beads.
And just to entertain you further... I decided to take a picture of what my kitchen looks like after I make a large meal....

Those are just SOME of the dishes I used. Because the rest are already inside the dishwasher being washed. Tonight was a 2 1/2 dishwashing night. Meaning I ran the dishwasher twice and filled it up once more- halfway. I can't figure out if I just use WAY TOO MANY utensils and pots and pans. OR if I don't know how to load a dishwasher properly. OR if my dishwasher is just extra small.
Let's just say that I am SO thankful that I have a dishwasher. Otherwise I would probably throw out the dishes nightly and then have to buy some more.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

In A New Orleans State Of Mind

I THOUGHT today was the start of Mardi Gras. I THOUGHT that I had a plan to kick off the celebration in a delicious way. I THOUGHT that you would all be impressed.

But that is what I get for thinking.

Some times I think I would be better off just muddling my way through life letting other people tell me what to do.

But then I would be miserable. And I wouldn't be able to give you any reasons to laugh.

You see, when I was looking up Mardi Gras in google.... I wrote in my planner the first date that I saw. Not noticing that it was for 2010. Which, um... , is last year. Duh!

And I didn't even realize it until I was excitedly telling my party plans to a girl at work and she quickly corrected me saying that .... the date changes every year.... and it is based on when Easter falls.... and it was most definitely March 8th this year.... and lots of other things that I never knew about Mardi Gras. It seems that I have always only associated it with spicy food, king cake, beignets, and beads.

And what you have to do to get the beads.

Shame on me.

But that is one of the reasons I love to have these kinds of celebrations. For the knowledge. It is important to keep learning even when you are out of school. Right?

So, after much stressful deliberation and the fact that I had already planned this meal a month in advance... I decided to go ahead with it. It can either be a PRE-Mardi Gras celebration OR a "remembering 2010's Mardi Gras with fondness".

Or just a fun night filled with good food.

Regardless, I've got some memories to share with you. And I need for them to tide you over until I #1 actually cook the dinner and #2 actually get it posted.

So, in the meantime please sit back, relax, and enjoy. All four pictures that I have.

Of our family trip to New Orleans. Circa 1984. Good times.

My Dad (long legs Lenore) had to go for business.

My Mom LOVED (and she still does) to travel and show us as many beautiful places as she possibly could. Something about refinement and culture.

Minus the refinement. We were from Alabama.. don'tchaknow.

So, we packed up the completely carpeted (walls/floor/ceiling/seats) van and headed to Louisiana.

I was obviously TOO sexy and cool for this trip. But I did it anyway. Because I was just twelve and I had no choice.

However, it was one of those trips that just "stayed" with me. I loved every single second of it. Even if I was an angry/annoying/complaining tween.

I was very good at hiding my happiness under my white rimmed shades. I was pretty good at it, actually, because it would have been AWFUL for my parents to see that I was enjoying myself.

The highlights of our trip ... in my opinion.... were...

1. Getting our whole family in to a hot tub on the ROOF of the hotel. I'm absolutely positive that we were completely annoying to the other adult patrons of that place.... in fact, I remember a couple walking up only to get frustrated that we were taking the entire thing up. And may or may not have been doing cannonballs off of the side.

2. Getting to sample my Dad's bowl of spicy gumbo! Out of this world! I've always loved spicy foods and I thought that eating that gumbo was the coolest thing ever! And probably the first time I had seen a shrimp without it's fried sleeping bag on.

3. Eating beignets at a cafe down by the river front. Holy donuts! They were 25cents a plate. And we probably ate $5 worth and then filled our pockets with the remaining powdered sugar to eat later. It is kind of like eating a Fun Dip - except your finger has to act as the candy stick.

4. Going to the huge mall and purchasing a Wham! button (that I promptly placed on my shirt) as my New Orleans souvenir.

And then we had a "low" light. Waking up on our last day and finding out that our crumb coated carpeted van had been broken in to. In a parking garage where there was 24 hour security. And they took our dust buster ( that we clearly didn't use) and our box of Country music cassette tapes.

So frustrating!!! For us and for "them". I'm sure they thought they were breaking in to the pimp mobile of the century. And all they got were some John Denver greatest hits cassettes and a medi ocre car vacuum. Oh well... I guess in some way that is karma getting involved.

And now I feel that I must comment on the pictures. Because it is necessary.

1. I would like to title the first picture "LEGS". Because, obviously, my family loves to show them off. Specifically, my Dad who is doing his darnedest to get the most attention for his short shorts. And knee socks.... you can't forget about those gems.

2. Bethany was NOT born yet. So, don't be worried that we have left her alone in a roof top hot tub or something like that. And even if we did... there wouldn't be anything you could do about it now.

3. Dave looks completely and utterly miserable in every picture. He was probably just realizing that he had FOUR older sisters - one that was too cool for school - and bickering with each other was their favorite past time.

4. Shannon's arms were clearly made for carrying around babies every where she went. If you recall.. she is expecting her fifth child in April.

5. Yes, in two of the pictures the girls are wearing shirts that say "I'm the big sister" and Dave is wearing one that says "I am the little brother". I feel I should point out though that MY shirt was an original and was "air brushed" by a t-shirt artist. ( I'm sure he loved his job that day!) And I only made it even cooler by attaching my newly purchased Wham! pin.

6. My Dad sure loved to wear short shorts. I feel like he should have starred on The Dukes of Hazard.... but not as a car driver... just the eye candy that washed the cars and leaned across the hood.

7. Why am I SOOO much taller than my siblings in every picture. I am only three years apart from Shannon. Being a giant sucks. Until you realize that you had your growth spurt when you were three and you are not going to get any taller than you are.

8. And now for my favorite one....

Nice blue shorts, Kim. Why don't you pull them up a little higher and show some more of your leg. And how about the guy standing next to my Mom. He is certainly "putting off the vibe" to us.

It amazes me how we used to have NO idea how our pictures would turn out. We just had to hope and pray and claim that they weren't ours if they didn't.

So, to summarize.... I've been to New Orleans once. I LOVED it. I LOVE LOVE LOVE cajun food. We are celebrating Mardi Gras early. Because I feel like it. And not only am I making jambalaya... but I am also attempting beignets. I have to know the extent of my talents. But I will tell you all about them regardless of the outcome. Old family pictures are the BEST!

I'm also hoping to win the bead contest tonight. I'm determined to get the most.

My motto is "whatever it takes". ( And that usually goes for every thing)