Sweet Tea & Liberty

Hi. My name is Ali & it’s been one week since I took a sip.. of sweet tea.

I also take goofy selfies at stop signs.

I also take goofy selfies at stop signs.

Don’t mean to make fun of AA, but lately I have a new appreciation of the willpower & restraint it takes to give up something you adore just because you know it isn’t good for you.

Of all the things I miss, sweet tea is certainly the one I would love to bring back.

But it just isn’t worth it.

So water it is & occasionally coffee.

Still figuring all this out but so far it has been fun.  Like a daily puzzle. Track the numbers in the food & make it all work.  It’s a good distraction to give me a break from stressing over the love life or lack there of.

Cooking at home & having lots of healthy options ready to go has made it almost easy. Thankfully I have always been a lover of vegetables & who doesn’t love fruit?  There are a ton of great recipes for nearly anything you can think of all over the internet. Discovering a few new ones has been just what I needed.  (like this one.. hummus crusted chicken has rocked my world!)

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The biggest issue so far has been being afraid of eating anywhere outside of the kitchen. Used to just hit a drive thru when time was short. Quick cheap meal on the way to class is what got me into this mess.

Yesterday I found myself dashing from class to the beach & hungry. First instinct was just grab something quick. But I don’t really know what to get. Iceberg salads have never been appealing. Prefer lettuce with some actually taste & nutritional value and that isn’t wilted from being made a couple of days ago. I could blow all my calories on one meal, but that would leave me either going over or starving the rest of the day. I’m sure there are options, but I didn’t have the time to figure out where to go & what was safe.

So I headed home. I took time out to make a hummus wrap & bag some berries that would travel just as good as anything that would come in some greasy bag and was a heck of a lot tastier. I was pretty proud of myself. Just a bit of thought and this all works out.

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Almost.

Didn’t think about the cherries. The pits in particular. A smarter version of me would have brought a spare container to put the pits in. A smarter version of me would have used a reusable container not a plastic bag. But live & learn.

I will get the hang of this.

 

So nice, had to do it twice

Yesterday was one of those rare days lately where I ate at home. Something I have gotten way too out of the habit of since I was restricted with the hand in recovery last year. Lifting heavy pans while cooking was just too dangerous & even washing dishes was difficult one handed. Just too easy to go out or bring home take out.

But then I missed delicious meals like this…


ahh… berries, black eyed peas, dry salad (I know I’m weird) with coconut chicken!  On purple sparkly glitter plates!!

Sure it wasn’t exactly a lot of cooking going on, but it was enough to feel home cooked & healthy.  I loved it!  Something I have really missed, although Wilmington has some incredible spots to dine that certainly have a home feel with the delicious fresh food and friendly familiar faces.  Still getting time to actually sit down and eat a real lunch is bliss.

Its one of the biggest things that got on my nerves with my previous job.  Duty calls and I did the job, but it was a benefit I missed for sure.

So today I put in sometime with applications and submitting resumes and then it hit me…. LUNCH TIME!

Same meal, but I switched it up to meatless monday!  Substituted the Quorn patty from the back of the freezer for the chicken & added in some BBQ sauce to spicy it up a tad.  One thing about living alone is there seems to always be leftovers!

Nothing like having Baxter begging for blueberries & being able to share some with the birds.  A gal could really get used to this.

But then again…. there are the bills.  So more applying, more thinking & budgeting.  I could dwell in the situation & how the uncertainty looms, or I can thrive in the moment & enjoy it for what it is.  A chance to regroup.

I have a sense that things are going to be just fine.  (& yes I realize fine is not always easy, but in the end its going to be ok)

PLUS I get to dream of great places to work…

which may or may not let me have lunch breaks, but for the moment I am loving each & every one of them.

Pugs & Kisses

Remember how I started the Grilled Chicken Sandwich Challenge?

yeah, I barely do either, but last night I remembered while I was getting take out & thought, why not?

Its a HEART! awww

Course this morning I almost forgot it in the fridge!  Doctoring it up didn’t really happen but I did remember a pack of honey & one of barbeque sauce in my desk.  Less than thrilled? So was I.

However the Lemonade Girl Scout cookies were a nice surprise!

Last night a friend & her daughter were selling them & I knew I HAD to replenish the Thin Mint supply.  Along the with Thin Mints I just asked her to pick me out another box of something yummy.  Lemonades it was.  Typically I never think lemon with cookies and at 1st I almost said “pick a different one!” but it WAS her choice, so I went with it.  I brough the box into work to share in hopes to sweeten the day.  So far its only worked on me, but that’s ok.

In case you want to try them, there is a Girl Scout Cookie finder ap for your iPod available at iTunes! Yes I have to admit I  downloaded it after a friend mentioned.  Or you can check this website for them.

Also a few pieces of things I love today.  Since I pulled a card from a fun “tarot” deck I had at the house.   Not sure why, but it was sitting there on the shelf as I walked by & I thought why not?

the Lovers from the Housewives Tarot

The Lovers card.  I’m partially ignoring the obvious since I’m still on the fence about this whole let Shadow back in my heart or keep moving on searching thing.  Who knows.  Time to think isn’t going to kill anyone…  So focus on this other great love.  Baxter.  The pug adores me.  I adore him.  What more can a gal ask for?

my Baxter

its a mini-Baxter! full of knowledge!

I would love one of these for the bedroom redo!  Hoping that Mod Cloth has them in stock then.  It would look cute on a dresser or shelf up against the sage/mint walls.

because, well he does..

I will gladly take the morning Keurig in one of these… especially if its German Chocolate Cake coffee like this morning! Delish!

muwah! pugs & kisses

Also I love this stuff!  I got one for each member of my family as part of their holiday gifts.  Bonus: It benefits the Pug Rescue Network who use the money to help pugs with medical care, finding homes & all that other stuff that seems to come along the way for pugs.

Pug Party & My Saturday Adventure

Today was the first time Baxter & I were able to attend the local pug meet up group!  It was fantastic!

yes that's Baxter right up front coming towards me!

Pugs everywhere!

new friends everywhere!

We took over the dog park – although a few other small dogs stayed around to be honorary pugsters!

Baxter is already ready for next month's meet up... & a nap...& a bath...

So home it was to get in a nap… & off to explore a few sites of my own since this nap was sure to be a long one.

missing the convertible but the sunroof is still nice!

First a pit stop for something delish… a BBQ chicken sandwich at one of my favorite places – Chris’ Cosmic Kitchen! If you are in the Wilmington, NC area, this place is a MUST try.  WARNING you will crave it after you taste it & there are not enough days in the week to try everything you want to there. But if you are brave, attempt the Large Stack of pancakes! Only 5 people have been able to finish them.  If you do you get to join the hall of fame & even get a T-shirt!  Impressive.

Seriously good stuff! He even makes the BBQ sauce from scratch.

After lunch I decided to drive just out of town to check out an antique store to see if it might be a good place to get some furniture to fix up – after I end up getting in a better financial place…. like with a job!

No real luck, but it was an eye opener to see a few things I had as a kid being sold IN AN ANTIQUE store!

I had one of these! ....but I'm guessing no one paid $95 for it!

Tempted by this (THE MUPPETS!!!) but in the spirit of decluttering, I left it on the 50% off shelf. I'm STRONG!

So no luck there.  On to another shop that I always tend to find something I wish I could bring home with me.  But I wasn’t sure if they had beds…. found out they had a few, but not many queens & not really any that worked with the look I was going for, even repainted.  Still the stock changed every week so it could be fun hunting just in case.

I was able to spot a few pieces that with some paint & maybe new hardware might be great finds!

Both of these caught my eye, but do I want more storage or comfort while sitting in front of the mirror? Both need some white paint!

Maybe its the colors on this, but its cute!

This sign did inspire... but I had to leave it there to inspire someone with more cash flow.

these lovely ladies wanted to come stay at my house, but we all decided they needed a grander (bigger) yard to view

The bonus here is that the longer it sits on the sales floor the more the price drops.  So when I do get the money coming in, these may even be a better deal.

So maybe I am open to a few other ideas than just the IKEA stuff.  But I still love my Hemnes pieces!  Who knows?! But what fun it is to dream.

Oh & as far as purchases… I did AWESOME!

Didn’t get a thing other than some creamer for tomorrow’s coffee & a few supplies to make it easier to eat in rather than picking up take out again.

yeah me.

Now…. where is that pug?  Its BATH TIME!

the Grilled Chicken Sandwich Project

Started on December 23, 2010…..

BLAH right?

So last night I thought ahead & picked up a grilled chicken sandwich.

Felt good going a healthy route, but dang that sandwich is less than inspiring.

Some how I managed to find a small thing of honey, which added some mild flavor, but all in all I wanted something else.

Which got me thinking.

Wonder how many possibilities there can be to jazzying up a simple grilled chicken sandwich.

Once a month,  I will be getting a grilled chicken sandwich & jazzing it up.  Join me & share your experiences & suggestions!

New Beaujolais Nouveau Is Here!

Oh yes, the 3rd Thursday in November has brought its annual gift – Beaujolais Nouveau!!!

While I have waited a couple of nights to try it (slightly scared to try a new sleep medication at the same time as I drink – so I’m skipping the sleeping pill tonight!), it has been worth the wait.  I remember being introduced to the Beaujolais tradition by an aunt who I still think is one of the coolest things since sliced bread.  Back in the days I wasn’t a wine person, but she was so excited about the November arrival, I had to try it & I wasn’t disappointed.  Since then I have made it my own tradition to make sure I try at least a glass each year.  I wish I could say I’m some wine expert but I am still in the phase of there are 3 types of wine – 1. LOVE IT, 2. Drinkable, & 3. Gross.   Ok I might be a bit more educated than that, but you get the idea.

This year the bottle doesn’t disappoint.  Its delicious.  Easy to drink & no harsh notes in the glass to distract.

Tonight I decided to try cooking with it as well as drinking it!

Red Wine Chicken!  More specifically BEAUJOLAIS Chicken!

Started by heating up some olive oil with a tablespoonish of minced garlic.

wait… I have a secret to share… mincing the garlic was unbelievably easy!

I have a Rev’n Chef!

So all I have to do is add the garlic cloved (with out the “skins”) into the Rev’n Chef & pull the string.

Wahla! Minced garlic, ready to go…

Back to the recipe…

Add in chicken, I went for boneless chicken breast tenderloins.  Cook on both sides until its no longer pink.

Next sprinkle the cooked chicken with paprika & around a cup of brown sugar.

Add the red wine around the chicken….around a cup or so.

Cover & cook 10 to 15 minutes; braising the chicken with the wine sauce once in a while.

Serve over rice.  I also enjoyed an artichoke & some green beans with mine & it was completely delish!

Comfort Me

Sometimes you just crave comfort food.  Especially as the days feel so much shorter & the stress piles up.  So I searched for a casserole.  Something new yet full of familiar favorites.

I found my way to a recipe for Chicken Broccoli Casserole on Family Oven.  Still I ended up switching it up slightly.  Instead of the Cream of Mushroom soup, I used Cream of Celery.  In place of the french fried onions, I went for crushed crackers as a topping.

Seven ingredients that some people even already have without the trip to the store.  Not me! But here they are now ready to go.  Start by cooking the chicken.  I went for just simply boiling it up.  But I can see you fixing it most any way.  As long as it get cooked thoroughly & then chopped or shredded into bite sized chunks.

While the chicken was cooking, I start on the cheese sauce.  Over a low-medium heat I mixed together the butter (instead of margarine), the cream of celery, the cheese & the milk.  At first I had my doubts.  Its wasn’t looking so great.

Chopped up the 2 bunches of broccoli into bite sized pieces.  That is about the time it hit me, this is making a lot of food.  Looks like its going to be a share some or eat it til I’m sick of it type meals!

Layer the chicken in the bottom of the pan.

Next layer on the broccoli pieces.

The cheese sauce goes onto the broccoli layer.

Crushed up the crackers & added that layer to the pan.

Popped it all in a 350 degree oven for around 30 minutes.  The original recipe had it baking longer, but it was smelling REALLY good & the crackers were browning.  I figured everything had cooked that needed to cook by then.

I was right!  It was done.

Its delish!

I love the flavors of this.  The broccoli roast, which is not a way I typically have cooked or eaten broccoli but it is great.  Funny enough I just recently read another blog discussing roasted broccoli & didn’t even remember it til I tasked this.  I now get why she loves to roast hers!

The only thing I may change about this recipe is that I expected it to be creamier.  Turned out drier than I thought it would.  At first I thought – mental note double the sauce recipe or decrease everything else by half next time.  After I had dinner, I don’t know if I will change it after all.  Sure it wasn’t quite the consistency I was expecting, but in the end it wasn’t bad at all.  Actually maybe some home made applesauce would be a perfect side for this.

Guess even when things don’t end up the way we want them to, we shouldn’t just toss them away, but rather enjoy them for what they are.  We may indeed find a new favorite after all.