Friday, November 27, 2009


Hello! Happy Thanksgiving!
What are you thankful for in your life? Material things, family, friends, love, or talent?
How often do you sit back and think about how good you have it?
I have this tendency of getting caught up in my frustrations, forgetting to appreciate the good stuff that happens right along with the bad, but I am trying to work on noticing more of the good.

RIGHT NOW I am thankful for: A warm home, happy fish, and my health. My (entertaining, strong, sweet and talented) boyfriend who makes breakfast in bed each morning and the best chai tea, who teases me, pushes me, cheers me on, and is there for me like no other. I am thankful for my family, my relationship with my parents, my friends, and even facebook! lol... In this last year I have reconnected with so many people from my past, and they thankfully have all been really positive reunions. I am thankful that I am learning the strength of my body, losing weight, becoming healthier by the day. I am thankful that I have a job that allows me to have a life outside of work, that I have time to go to the gym, that there are people that 'ooooo' over my painting skills, and that I even have painting skills! lol... I am thankful for time I get to spend in the kitchen, for my new camera, for hand holding, good books, for intangible things like excitement, for friends that travel with me, and for the stamps in my passport!

I am thankful for so much. :)

Our Thanksgiving was spent cleaning (being thankful for our home), and cooking - ham, salad, mashed potatoes and pumpkin souffle!

Easy and Light Pumpkin Souffle
(found on

3 egg whites
1 (21 ounce) can pumpkin
1/4 cup brown sugar
3 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1 egg yolk
1/2 cup milk

Preheat oven to 380 degrees

Beat egg whites in a medium bowl until stiff, set aside.
Blend pumpkin, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, egg yolk and milk in a large bowl.
Gently fold egg whites into pumpkin mixture, 1/3 at a time.
Pour into 5 small ramekins (I used 4 large) leaving 1/2 inch or more at the top as they will rise. Place cups on a baking tray and put into the oven. Bake for 30 -45 minutes until set - Do not open the oven during this time!

I chose this recipe because of it's low fat/calorie attributes (2.1 g/114 cal per serving), but am happy to report that it was SO TASTY (maybe even better than pumpkin pie?)! The only downfall was that they totally collapsed! lol.... Oh well, we really enjoyed them, in their deflated state they were kind of like a light pumpkin custard - Yummy either way! :)

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Kate Jacobs - Knit Two

I had read the Friday Night Knitting Club, and hated it. My friend Heather loved it, but I was devastated!
I loved the characters of the Friday Night Knitting Club, the knitting, mother/daughter relationships, and the developing friendship of an unlikely group of women, but I was fairly sure I wouldn't read anything else by Kate Jacobs. You see, I was quite heart broken when the lead character died tragically just when I was sure there would be a happy ending.
I cried (you can ask David, it wasn't pretty).
I was afraid that any subsequent novels, would sport a similar twist, and was a little gun shy! :)
I am happy to report though that the lure of those characters (and a Borders coupon making the book quite inexpensive) broke my resolve. The verdict? I don't want to spoil it for you, but there was no such heat breaking twist, and I will certainly be reading the next novel in the series! :)

Turkey Burgers

I am a kitchen mulit-tasker, I love to have several things going at the same time, and Wednesday was no different! Cranberry sauce was bubbling while I threw together the ingredients to make maybe the tastiest turkey burger I have ever had! I found the recipe over at Embracing Balance, and have passed it on to some work friends and my Mom - it is really that good! (Everything is good with cheese right?) :)
Here is the recipe right from the source:

Rachel Ray Turkey Burgers

  • 1 lb extra lean ground turkey (or chicken if that's your thing)
  • 2-3 green onions, chopped
  • 4 oz extra old white cheddar, crumbled (light cheddar does NOT work the same)
  • eyeballed handful of grill seasoning (like Montreal Steak Spice)
  • 2 tbsp horseradish
  • 4 buns
  • grainy mustard
  • optional: mayo, tomato, lettuce, etc.

Note: these have to be grilled on a Foreman or some such appliance (or in a frying pan) because if you cook them on a regular BBQ type grill, the cheese just drips through the grates and is lost.

  • Preheat grill.
  • Mix together (with your hands people!) the meat, onions, cheese, seasoning & horseradish. Divide into four even balls and form into patties.
  • Grill (3-4 minutes per side).
  • The original recipe recommends cranberry sauce and the grainy mustard. We use light mayo and the grainy mustard, and top ours with tomato slices (and lettuce if we have it).
I will be making this again! :) I hope you enjoy it as much as I have!

Cranberry Sauce

Homemade Cranberry Sauce
Simple as can be!

1 bag cranberries
1/2 to 1 cup sugar
peel and juice from one orange
one pinch ground cloves (optional)
1 cup water

Wash cranberries and pick out any brown or shriveled fruits, sticks or leaves.
Bring all ingredients to a gentle boil, reduce heat and let simmer for 10 minutes.
Strain cranberry mixture through a metal colander, use a spoon to squish the fruit against the sides of the colander, extracting as much pulp as possible.
Refrigerate for approximately a week (if it lasts that long!), tasty with Thanksgiving ham, turkey, and on sandwiches! :)

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Mini Pumpkins

My friend Beth came this afternoon to whisk me off for some sushi, chat and a delightful pedicure, but I came home in time to bake some mini pumpkins!
Did you know these are edible? I will be honest, I didn't. I buy them for decoration, love their cuteness, and now their tastiness!
I did make some pretty big adjustments to make these pumpkins a bit healthier:

Mini Pumpkin Souffles

2 mini pumpkins
a pinch cinnamon
a pinch nutmeg
2 Tbsp brown sugar (I used 1)
1 cup heavy cream (I used organic 1/2 and 1/2 and could have reduced this to 1/2 cup - my pumpkins were pretty small)
1 egg
2 Tbsp powdered sugar (I didn't use)
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 Tbsp butter (I didn't use)
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs (I used about 1/4 cup of Anne's organic honey bunnies)

I usually just tell you how I made the recipe, but this time I included the original ingredients because if you wanted more of a crumble on top I think adding the butter would be tasty. :)

Chop the tops off of your pumpkins, leaving as much pumpkin as possible. Clean pumpkins with a spoon and place in a baking dish (I used ramekins).
Rub the pumpkin insides with a pinch of cinnamon, a pinch of nutmeg and the brown sugar. Mix together the cream, egg, powdered sugar (if using), and cinnamon. Spoon cream mixture into pumpkins.
Bake at 325 for 50 minutes. Remove from oven.
Mix together the butter (if using) pecans and graham crackers and sprinkle on top of the souffle. Return the pumpkins to the oven and bake 10 more minutes.
After removing the pumpkins from the oven a second time, I decided that they were not brown enough (I had used quite a bit less sugar and had skipped the butter) so I spooned some of my leftover cream mixture on the top and tossed them back in the oven at 350 degrees for another 15 minutes. When I removed them the third time they were perfect! :)

Oh.... and an update on our brining tests - our study results indicated that brining, and length of brining made no difference in meat moisture or taste. Today's turkey was tasty, and more juicy because we removed it from the oven at the correct temp, but I am sad to say none of the flavors from the brine left their traces in the meat!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Turkey Anyone?

We stopped off at Whole Foods on our way home from our Belltown adventures and picked up some groceries (I was out of Almond Butter, which is like $5/$6 at Whole Foods, and $12.95 at QFC). We wandered around, picked up some raspberries, questioned this odd creature (called Buddha's Hand which smelled FANTASTIC, but who knows what to do with it?), some cheddar cheese, a pumpkin spice candle, and some TURKEY LEGS! Yum!
We are making ham for Thanksgiving, but I love turkey too, and after watching a few Thanksgiving specials on the Food Network and PBS we wanted to try brining to see if it made a difference in meat moisture! We are conducting scientific testing here people!

David adapted an Alton Brown brine recipe to the contents of our cupboards and our two turkey legs:

Turkey Brine
1/3 cup salt
1/4 cup brown Sugar
1 veggie bouillon cube
1 cinnamon stick
1 sprig rosemary
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 pinches Italian seasoning
2 cups water
2 trays of ice and cold water to fill your bowl
Bacon (optional!)

Add ingredients to a small sauce pan with 2 cups water and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and let liquid cool to luke warm.
Add ice, water, turkey legs, brine and more water if needed to fill a large bowl. Cover with saran wrap and refrigerate/brine for 3 hours.
We cut one leg in half and wrapped it with BACON! lol.... I figured it needed a little oil, and really, you can't go wrong with bacon! lol...

We roasted our turkey under the broiler for 30 minutes which was a tad bit too long - when I took the turkey out it registered an internal temp of 165 degrees, which is too high according to Alton Brown (yes, I love his nerdiness!).

We added some chipotle to our remaining turkey leg and will let it continue to brine over night. Tomorrow we are going to try roasting the turkey leg in the cast iron pan for 20 minutes, we are aiming for an internal temprature of 151 degrees - letting the turkey rest to reach 165 degrees.

Do you have any special turkey/Thanksgiving recipes?

My Mom gave me some ramekins for my birthday, so I am going to try a pumpkin souffle to go with our Thanksgiving dinner this year - I will keep you posted on our results! :)

Update: I also made some cinnamon bread this evening! Our house smells so tasty! :)

Exploring Belltown

Today we were aiming for a walk, a hike, some time outside, but trying not to freeze our fingers off, we opted for Belltown over Discovery Park. Belltown isn't my favorite Seattle neighborhood, it's a weird mix of rundown businesses, loft living, dive bars, cute cafes, and homeless assistance programs. The only thing I love about the neighborhood is a pizza joint which played a part in our second date (spumoni ice cream, not pizza, but the date was 10 hours, many meals and many destinations).
Today after counting maybe 15 different pizza places (why are there so many in this neighborhood?) the highlight was coffee at Uptown Espresso - a dark roast and I was supper impressed with their foam!
I am also happy to report we came home to some FANTASTIC news:
How is your weekend going?

Handle with Care

I am a few books behind, but truthfully most of them were not especially note worthy, so I will just update you on the most recent book I finished - Jodi Picoult's Handle with Care.
The premise of the book is interesting in an uncomfortable sort of way (but I have felt that way about all of Jodi Picoult's books), depicting a family wanting for another child.
The O'Keef's were looking to begin fertility treatments and then with surprise and joy found out that they got pregnant the old fashioned way. Only when they discover their child will be born with Osteogenesis Imperfecta (OI) do they question their love for this child, and when they have to struggle for caring for a child with such high needs they question the care the doctor (and mother's best friend) provided.
As with all of Jodi Picoult's books, the charter development in this book is outstanding, you waffle between loving the mother figure and hating her, fearing for the children and wanting to yell at the Father figure, to shake him awake!
I can tell you this was a perfect elliptical book, it is very engaging! :)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The 30 day SHRED!

In my search for an AM workout video, I chose the 30 day shred because is is only 18 minutes long. I have 18 minutes that I can commit to exercising each morning, it is just a matter of doing the dishes and packing lunch/snacks before I go to bed (and cutting out my am blog reading/zoning out in front of the computer). Everyone has 18 minutes, you just have to prioritize, and right now this is it for me! :)
Anyway, I read quite a few reviews before ordering The Shred from Amazon and after day 1/level 1 this morning, I can tell you they were all correct! I may be overweight, but I am in pretty good shape, running a 10:46 minute mile, working out 5 times a week, and I take an ab class on Mondays that I swear each week may just kill me - but this lady is tough stuff! The Shred is fast paced (but not so fast you can't catch what you are supposed to be doing), and that 18 minutes is HARD!
Just when you want to quit and rest Jillian is telling you how a 400 lb person can do this so you can too! That this is when change happens, right when it burns the most, and reminding you that you get out of it what you put in! That stuff kept me motivated, and I am proud to say there was no quitting this morning! I'm not sure about the claim to loose up to 20 lbs in 30 days, but I can tell you that in 18 minutes I was sweating and I will be giving this DVD a try for the next 30 days!
Have you guys tried the shred? How did you like it?
Or if not, what are some of your favorite (QUICK) workout DVDs?

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Fancy new CAMERA!

Look what I got today! My last birthday present from my Grandmother and David's parents - a Samsung TL220, with dualview (a screen in the front for those pics taken are arms length) and a touch screen in the back! It is charging now, so I haven't gotten to play with it yet, but I am so excited for new toys! :)
Scratch goal #8 off the list!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Updating goals

As they always do, today's doctor appointments prompted a little review and reorganization of the goals I have listed to the right. I am refocusing the list to goals that I would primarily like to achieve within the next year:

1. Focus on weight loss and being healthy! My goal is to lose 15 lbs by 12/31/09, and to get down to 165 within the next year.
2. Continue running. I would like to be able to run 3 miles in 30 minutes, and be able to do so on a regular basis.
3. Build savings. I am feeling the need to have a cushion, and would like to have three months of living expenses saved by the end of next year.
4. Travel to one of these destinations within the next year: Italy, the Florida Keys, New York, Boston, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, Catalina, Caribbean, Olympic National Forest, Costa Rica, Bolivia.
5. Cook, bake and try more recipes (and post them on the blog).
6. Visit a hot spring.
7. Treat myself to a spa day.
8. Buy a new camera.
9. Take up swimming during my lunch hour.
10. Go sailing in the summer.
11. Find someone to take a crazy class with me. (A living 'out of the box' kind of experience)
12. Soak in a hot tub in the snow.
13. Spend at least 5 weekends next summer hiking.
14. Camp.
15. Visit a new winery.
16. Work in at least 5 long bike rides.
17. Make my own Christmas cards.
18. Make a new friend.
19. Shop at the Ballard Farmers Market.
20. Try at least 5 new restaurants within the next year.

I have to tell you, I like this new list!
What are some of your goals for the coming year?

Poking and Proding

All cancers/disease scare the crap out of me, but breast cancer hits a bit too close to home. My Mom is a breast cancer survivor, and so each year we compare appointment dates and keep our fingers crossed for the outcome.
I am surprised by how many of my friends and their families have dealt with breast cancer, they say 1 in 1,000 will get some kind of breast cancer during their lifetime, and really the only way to fight back is to go to those annual exams.

Early detection increases your rate of survival to 95%!

So, I know is isn't National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I know that the 'girly doctor' is NOT a fun place to visit, but go. Make an appointment, get your annual exam, and if breast cancer runs in your family, don't be afraid to get a mammogram. Survival is always worth a day of poking and proding.
lol... After you do it, send me an email, we can bitch about it together. :)

Monday, November 9, 2009

Weekend Hill/Stair Climb

Two weekends into age 31, two weekends of canceled plans, but this weekend we took off for some urban hiking - exploring the hills and stairs of Queen Anne!

I'm not sure we found any of the stairs featured in the September 2009 Sunset magazine article, but I had no idea there were so many to be found on Queen Anne! We had a great time exploring, shared a coffee and pumpkin spice gelatto, lusted after brick mansions and at every turn exclaimed over the views!

Could you imagine having a view of the space needle from half of the rooms in you house?
... I just kept thinking that maybe at 31 I will learn to take things as they come. It was a great day!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Goals - Weight loss!

Since December 2007, I have lost 65 lbs. I have lost 30 since May (some of which were repeat pounds), but wanted to loose 50. Trying to do it on my own and even with the help of my boyfriend is tough, and often times I feel that my weight issues are more emotional issues than they are weight issues.
Here is where I give all of that up: I would like to loose 15 lbs by the end of the year.
This is not the end of the road for me, I will be setting a new goal after reaching this one, but small achievable goals = victory, and motivation!

I have made a list of things to help me along the way:
  • Cut out excess calories. I eat several tasty snacks a day, and lately have been allowing myself a coffee a day and maybe even a piece of candy (like March madness, there is candy madness in our office with daily voting and everything!). That coffee a day business started while having to work 6am shifts and just hasn't stopped. From here on out I am going to limit myself to one coffee per week, no candy, and pack LOTS of fruits and veggies for snacks - no excuses, no falling back into the rut!
  • Gym. Go, and often! I have been pretty good in this area, but need to keep it up, especially with the aforementioned nasty weather brewing! I would like to continue pushing myself to go 5 days a week.
  • Run. I have a goal: Run 3 miles in 30 minutes by the end of the month. I have run for 30 mins, I just need to speed it up and keep it up!
  • Drink more water. I have a water bottle at work and am going to try to drink two full bottles per day = 64 oz (during work hours). I may also add green tea, or chai tea, but those are extra!
  • AM workout video. I would like to work this in 2 - 3 times per week, I need a little direction and endorphin boost in the am.
  • Keep eliminating clothing as it gets too big. I do better when I can't slide back, and though I bought myself some new jeans this month, I should have bought new work pants too!
  • Post a full body pic and goal updates at least once a month. Like I said, I have been reading quite a few weight loss/healthy eating/running blogs, and they all have said this makes you more accountable, and I can see it - I WANT to see changes - that is motivating!
I also really need to work on my menu planning. Come up with some new ideas for lunch, and really make sure that I have lots of veggie snacks available for workplace stress cravings.
So we'll see how this works posting everything online, I can hardly wait to reach that goal!
(Oh, and if I do? I am going to buy myself a present!)

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Goal update - 30 mins = 2.46 miles

I am just back from the gym, and have to brag a bit! I ran 30:06 minutes this evening, equaling 2.46 miles! I am going to have to speed it up a bit to make my goal of 3 miles in 30 minutes, but I am well on my way, and today convinced me that I can do this!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

I forgot!

I forgot to mention - October 29th was national oatmeal day! Did you eat your oatmeal?
I am happy to report pumpkin and almonds are TASTY additions! Give it a shot! :)