This Week, I…

Made oatmeal for the first time in months.

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I wake up at 3:30 for work, and the last thing I want to do is eat so breakfast, and oatmeal, have pretty much become a thing of the past. I had Wednesday off and used my opportunity to make a delicious bowl of banana oats with dried cranberries, pecans, and Kashi Go Lean Crunch sprinkled on top.

Made quiche for the first time ever.

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I had one piece, and Dave ate the rest. I think he liked it.

Got all four of my food magazines on the same day (most likely because I let the mail pile up to long).

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Food Network, Simple & Delicious, Vegetarian Times, and Cooking Light. Magazine subscriptions = best present(s) ever.

Started reading Game of Thrones.

Finally. I also started rewatching all the episodes from the beginning. I think we can all agree that the TV show is splendid and that Joffrey has to die. I will kill him myself if I have to.

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Went to see a movie for free. My workplace sent me two movie tickets and $3 in snack cash the day before my sister asked me to go see The Croods with her. How convenient! The movie was great; I haven’t seen a Disney Pixare movie yet that I haven’t liked (although, admittedly, I haven’t seen that many). Also, is anyone as excited as me that Jurassic Park is being relreased in 3D? I don’t like 3D movies, but it’s Jurassic Park!

Made Portabella Sandwiches with Red Pepper Sauce for dinner out of my Cooking Light magazine.

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These would have been better on ciabatta bread like the recipe called for, but I couldn’t find any at the grocery store so I used whole wheat buns with sesame seeds.

013 There was definitely too much bun for the fillings, but it was still tasty. Red pepper sauce is amazing.

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Almost as amazing as these ridiculously addictive veggie sticks. I think there’s crack in them.

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Babel-icious

It doesn’t take much to fall off track. You take a day off exercise, then two. You start hitting the snooze button on your alarm clock repeatedly. Then you’re saddled with some sort of sickness that leaves you bedridden (er, couchridden). All whilst eating pretzels and canned soup whose astronomic sodium levels leave you as bloated as Violet in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

When you finally do get back to exercising, your body is sore, you become out of breath easily, and the legs that once survived Bob Harper are now balking at the lunges in a Level 1 workout. Level 1, fer crying out loud!

Oh wait, that’s not you. It’s me.

I hate starting over. It’s hard. But I’m doing it anyway. I need to lose some weight so I can make caramel filled apple cider cookies and homemade peppermint patties. The season approaches…

 

Oh, Jillian, what I would give for your willpower.

The good news is that despite being overheated after exercising, I am back to drinking hot coffee and eating hot oatmeal. I think most of us would agree that come fall and winter, hot coffee or tea is the best part of the morning, even more so than breakfast.

 

Today’s oatmeal was particularly delicious. 1/3 cup oats, 2/3 cup Almond Coconut milk, 1/3 cup water, dash of salt, pinch of cinnamon, and 3/4 of a banana stirred in right at the very end.

 

Then topped with the rest of the banana, sliced, and some chocolate covered sunflower kernels in fall colors. I may or may not have paid 25 cents more for the fall-colored ones.

 

Eaten while listening to Mumford and Sons new album Babel! I think it made my oatmeal taste better.

Wedding Weekend Begins!

I have been feeling like rubbish the last few days. Nausea, dizziness, stomach pains, sore throat, cough, hot and cold sweats; you name it. I was so ill yesterday I could scarcely stand more than a few minutes without having to sit down and was forced to call in sick, which I absolutely hate to do. 😦 Fortunately, I got some much-needed sleep during the day yesterday, then went to bed early at my parent’s house last night in preparation for a day of creating wedding flowers.

I was up with the sun soon after 6:00am and made a lovely pot of oatmeal for my mom, sister, and I to enjoy.

 

Apple Oatmeal for Three

  • 1 cup sweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • dash of salt
  • 1 ginormous Braeburn apple, diced
  • splash of agave nectar
  • splash of vanilla

Topped with some chopped dates (yum!) and walnuts.

After breakfast, Emily headed off to work, and Mom and I got work on the flowers. While working, we tested out some of her new tea flavors: Mocha Nut Mate and Apple. So good! Tea is especially delicious when you’re sick, and I loved the new flavors.

After the last huge wedding we did (11 bridesmaids and 11 groomsmen!), with these flowers we got to ‘savor life in the slow lane’ a bit more.

 

I loved the colors for these-do they scream fall or what? So pretty. Gerbera daisies are not easy to work with (they have a tendency to pop their heads off), but they definitely make a statement.

 

These yellow ones are definitely my favorite, if I had to chose.

 

Lovely red and orange Gerbera daisies for the girls’ bouquets.

One thing we love to do is tie ribbon around the bouquets–there is always room for a little more fancy.

 

Another fridge full of flowers!

We drove into town to pick up a few more flowers and then Mom and I split up–she’s gone to drop off the cake flowers, mail a corsage to a loved one who can’t make the wedding, and check out the reception hall for the centerpieces. I’m getting ready for the rehearsal; I’m determined to power through this weekend with grace; I’m already sick of being sick!

 

Chilly = Chili

Fall was definitely in the air when I woke up this morning. I’m not knocking summer nights, but it is so wonderful to have had cool nights to sleep through these last few days. Exercise would have been wasted indoors on such a gorgeous morning, so I headed out to the trail for a four and a half mile walk.

 

There was a smattering of leaves starting to cover the trail, and the temperature could not have been more perfect. Unfortunately, everyone else thought so, too. The trail was heavily populated to the point of being obnoxious. It’s hard to enjoy a leisurely (power) walk while dodging bikers, runners, dog walkers, and jogging strollers. But at least people are out exercising. (Most likely just gearing up for an afternoon of football indoors).

I cooked myself up some oatmeal again for breakfast. It’s strange to think that it is almost time for slow cooker oats to make their presence again. Where did the summer go?! This morning’s oats were made on the stove top, though.

 

1/3 cup old fashioned oats, 1/2 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk, 1/2 cup water, dash of salt, pinch of cinnamon, a spoonful of Stevia, and a banana, stirred in at the end.

Then topped with some delicious peanut butter.

After I ate breakfast, Dave and I headed to the grocery store, dodging green and gold decked football fans with party trays. Normally I wouldn’t brave the grocery store on a Packer game day, but I was determined that today was a fall day, and that it required chili.

Chili is one of those foods that everyone has a different idea about. Noodles or no noodles. Elbow macaroni or spaghetti. Meat or no meat. Ground chuck or stew meat. Tomato sauce or white sauce.

As for me, chili is all about the beans and the combination of herbs and spices. I am partial to vegetarian chili, because I have been scarred by too many chilis that taste like I’m eating a hamburger with a spoon. Blech. I tend to follow the same basic recipe, though I usually measure with my eyes instead of cups or spoons.

Chel’s Favorite Chili

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 lb ground beef, stew meat chunks, or meatless crumbles (like those by Boca or Morning Star) [optional]
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 large onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 large green bell pepper, coarsely chopped
  • 7 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 2-3 tbsp oregano
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 2 tbsp shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 5 15 oz cans of beans, various varieties (black, light kidney, dark kidney, chili, northern, etc.)
  • 2 26 oz cans diced tomatoes with juices

Heat a large stock pot over medium-high heat. Add the oil, then the meat. (I used Morning Star meatless crumbles).

Brown the meat, and season with salt and pepper. Add onions, peppers, cumin, oregano, and chili powder.

Cook until vegetables are tender, about five minutes. Add the garlic and cook one more minute.

 

 

Inhale the scent of chili-liciousness.Add the Parmesan, beans, tomatoes, and juices. Stir well, cover, and cook about one hour.

My bean choices for the day were: chili beans in sauce, red beans, great northern beans, dark red kidney beans, and black beans.

Normally I use the two large cans of diced tomatoes in juice, but today I was fortunate enough to have a scad of fresh tomatoes from my parent’s garden. I chopped up five fresh tomatoes and mixed them with a large can of crushed tomatoes for extra juice.

After the chili has been cooking one hour, taste and adjust seasoning. Cover and cook for an additional hour or until liquid has thickened. If it needs further thickening, remove the lid.

 

My favorite way to eat chili is topped with sharp shredded cheddar cheese and a lovely hunk of bread for dipping. Serving over spaghetti is optional.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Whew

I haven’t seen much of my regular life the last few days. My sister Emily picked me up on her way home from work Wednesday night, and my apartment has been a stranger to me since.

My car was in the shop, so it made sense for me to stay over at my parent’s house Wednesday night to get an early start on flowers the next day. Fortunately, we had a live-in chef: my brother Tyler.

Friday night, he whipped us up an amazing spicy pepper pizza with homemade pizza sauce on a whole wheat crust. We ate our pizza while watching Bill Clinton speak on TV. I went to bed uncharacteristically early so I could get an early start on Thursday.

The cool mornings have made oatmeal a regular in my life again. I made a double batch on the stove that Mom and I split, made with 3/4 cup oats, 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk and 1/2 cup water, a splash of vanilla, and a whole diced apple. Topped with craisins and walnuts. Delish.

On to the main event!

Mom always works on the bride’s bouquet firsts so they get the best and prettiest of the flowers.

I like to work on boutonnieres first.

With my sister Emily’s help, we were done with the boutonnieres in record time and moved on to wrist corsages.

So fast, in fact, that I got to put together a few bouquets myself.

As you can tell from the picture, I did not sleep well the night before. I don’t sleep well in different places. 😦 But working on flowers kept me energized.

The bride’s bouquet.

For added pizzazz, we like to wrap the bouquet stems with pretty ribbon and adorn with pins. These looked like little tuxedos–so fancy!

The fridge was filled to the brim with flowers when we were done. We started at about 8:30pm and finished at about 7:00pm, which left us plenty of time for a beer while my brother worked on dinner again. 🙂

Tostadas with homemade tortillas, breaded eggplant (the best I have ever tasted), salsa verde, and fresh salsa topped with cheddar cheese. So good I had two! My brother is a fantastic cook. It was so nice to have a home-cooked meal that I didn’t have to make. Usually when I don’t feel like cooking, I end up with something pre-made or store bought; this was sooo much better.

I headed home to sleep, and I got to take a jar of feta with me!

Even though it has to sit for another 1 to four weeks, I broke off a piece and it was already amazing. Feta is one of my absolute favorite cheeses.

After eight hours of shut eye, I woke up for more oats.

This one had a mashed banana and a dash of coconut extract, and I topped it with unsweetened shredded coconut and a dollop of peanut butter.

Then it was off to the races again! My mom picked me up and we went to deliver the bouquets to the girls, the boutonnieres to the guys, and waited while the location for the ceremony changed due to rain.

The ceremony was short but beautiful, and my cousin Justin had all of us near-crying (or, in my aunt’s case, sobbing) as he read a poem my grandpa had written for my grandma. After a short reprieve at my grandma’s house, we headed back to the beautiful reception location.

 

The cake was three flavors: red velvet, mint chocolate chip, and strawberry swirl.

 

This was the first time I’ve seen a real ice sculpture at a wedding. It looked like glass until I noticed it dripping later on in the night.

 

They even had a fountain for punch!

 

Everything was very elegant, but not without a few funky touches.

There was a candy buffet for guests to take home sweet favors.

And a special Packers groom’s cake. You can’t escape the Pack when you live in Green Bay!

Dinner was quite good, very ‘Thanksgiving-ish’ in nature: mashed potatoes, stuffing, sauteed veggies, coleslaw, cranberry relish, and whole wheat rolls.

My cousin Justin and his new wife Sunshine looked absolutely stunning together.

When the music started, another fun event occurred: a photo booth! Everyone had so much fun with this newest wedding trend; it rivaled the dance floor in participation.

 

 

Has the weekend really just started?

 

 

 

 

Gooood Morning, Wisconsin!

Today, I woke up cold. Cold! In August. Even though I am my family’s resident heat-loving freak, I must admit, I kind of liked it. And even though I was perfect cozy in my bed, I didn’t have to fight the urge to sleep in, because I was having nightmares about the Korean film Oldboy that has haunted me since I watched it. Once. Three years ago. Sheesh.

Anyhow, I loved the 57 degrees I woke up to this morning.

It made my hour long workout pleasantly cool.

Half an hour (four circuits) of Banish Fat Boost Metabolism.

 

It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s Superma—no, no, it’s a plane. (One of the reasons I fell in love with Dave is because he was the first, and only, one to laugh at this lame joke).

Followed by half an hour of Shred It with Weights.

 

I’m not sure about your lunge form there, missy…

The cold weather also made hot oatmeal a reasonable breakfast option again.

 

  • 1/4 cup oats
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened vanilla almond coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp Truvia
  • 1 tsp chia seeds
  • 1 small banana
  • walnuts and unsweetened shredded coconut for topping

 

Instant oatmeal may be quicker, but it just can’t beat the flavor of stove top oats.

Iced coffee?  No way. Give me a ginormous cup of piping hot Cappuccino flavored coffee, please.

 

I don’t want summer to be over yet. But I would not mind a long and deliciously crisp fall this year. Did you hear that, Wisconsin?

 

 

Warrior’s Breakfast

I tried a new yoga program today and it rocked my socks off.

Literally.

During one point, I had to pause the program, reach down, and pull my socks back on my toes.

The video was called Bob Harper’s Yoga for the Warrior.

Bob Harper, I’m so glad you came into my life.

This program skyrocketed up to my two favorite yoga videos: Rodney Yee’s Power Yoga and Jillian Michael’s Yoga Meltdown. The video was a fantastic combination of basic power yoga poses: tree, triangle, half moon, wheel, etc., plenty of vinyasa flows, and shoulder stand push-ups that I actually did.

I love yoga programs that combine stretching with power poses to give me a fantastic workout. Plus, the video was pretty artsy with slow motion screen shots in black and white, and the demonstrators were fabulous. I have a new pose to aspire to: Bird of Paradise.

I successfully managed my own version, ‘Mangled Bird of Paradise,’ but somehow I don’t think Bob would approve.

The video ended with a fabulous cool-down so I actually wanted a bowl of hot oats today.

  • 1/3 cup oats
  • 1/3 cup coconut milk beverage
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/2 banana, sliced
  • 1 tbsp milled flax seed
  • 1 tbsp powdered peanut butter
  • handful of dried fruit
  • handful of chocolate covered sunflower seeds

Sadly, the chocolate covered sunflower seeds are now gone. They were a fantastic addition to my oatmeal but they only made it through two bowls–the rest were devoured by the handful straight out of the container (Dave helped!).

This is what 330 calories of delicious looks like.

I believe if I introduced Worf to this bowl of oatmeal, he too, would consider it a warrior’s breakfast.