Adventures of a Midwest Transplant

Posts tagged “cooking/baking

I’m Gonna Say Christmas Was A Quiet Success

I’m wrapping things up at work now, and my excitement is increasing. As is my tiredness. I’m tired y’all.

I ended up staying up late Sunday night to finish packing and then adding all my clothes into this new closet app thing I’m trying on my phone. It is time consuming to photograph all your clothes, but guess who doesn’t mind lack of sleep, and really doesn’t mind not leaving her clothes overseas accidentally? That would be me!

I was unable to do maintenance on my locs Saturday like I’d planned, so that fell to last night’s intinerary. Staying up to almost 3am two nights in a row when your alarm goes off at 5:10am is just plain silly.

But I did it. And as a result, I’m all packed for my trip, my hair looks neat and well kept, and Starbucks makes coffee to keep one awake. Well, the Starbucks isn’t a result of my poor time management, but my consumption of large amounts of Starbucks is.

I’m excited for the next week or so, but I’m also really pleased with how the Christmas holiday went.

After work on Friday, Chris and I headed to a friend’s birthday party then to Smalls, just like we’d planned. As a result of tiredness and terrible waitressing at the first bar, the only picture I have is the obligatory picture of Sara and me that I almost always take when we’re hanging.

sara-and-me

When we got to Smalls, it seemed that almost the entirety of the birthday party crew had gone over there. We definitely wouldn’t put the club over capacity. Smalls charges a cover to get in, but for musicians (and their wives, cough, cough), they usually let them in. Smalls works hard to foster that homey environment for the musicians and their people.

I say all of that to say that there was no way in hell Smalls was letting in all those people for free. I’m still not sure how they worked it out, but I was cold and there was room inside for me and Sara (and Chris). Everyone else came in a few minutes after that, so I figure they worked it out and the 12+ people on that bar crawl ish paid the cover to get in.

By the time they got in there, I had my customary I’ve-been-up-since-5am-and-will-be-up-until-damn-near-5am drink: Strong, fresh coffee with Bailey’s and Bulleit Rye Whiskey. My girl Marjie, the amazing manager (and aerial yoga buddy) who was working the bar, always hooks me up. She makes it just right so it needs no sugar, and she good-naturedly fights me on the tip. The only time I couldn’t make her take her money was when we were there on my birthday, but little does she know I just gave it to my friend JS to give to her instead, ha!

The band was amazing, as usual. I listen to my own friends and their bands so much that it’s always nice when I get to the club early and can hear whoever is playing the set in front of theirs. I ended up making nice with a sweet girl who lived up the street from the club. She kept requesting a blues with such gusto. It amused me and irritated Chris, but eventually someone called it for the jam session. I stepped outside with her while she smoked (ew, smoking), and took a pretty cool picture of the entrance to Smalls. I don’t think I’d ever noticed how many times the name of the club is written on/above the door.

smalls

The night ended after 4am, as it always does. We got home and fell into a deep sleep. I woke up the next morning, finally checked my mail, and saw that Sara’s Christmas gift for me had indeed arrived like Etsy told her it had.

This tank is hilarious and will be put to good use as soon as we’re back from Europe in the New Year.

namaste

The night of Christmas Eve, we went to a party for my friend Michael from college. He looks amazing, all slim and toned. He was always handsome, but damn if he’s not aging well. We did the math and realized we met over 13 years ago. We drank more egg nog shooters and stopped talking about that, lol.

mike

We stayed at this party All. Night. Long. We were laughing and drinking and talking and playing games. Chris and I had some friends nearby who checked in our activity for the night. Michael was down for the-more-the-merrier, so we invited them over and it went from a small gathering of family and friends to a ruckus house party situation. I hope he has more parties like that in the future.

I almost forgot to take a picture with Chris, but then I remembered. I’ve greatly improved my selfie game from back when I almost always cut half my face out of the picture. But the other party guests didn’t know that. So when I raised the camera back towards us, flash ready, someone offered to help take the picture.

Apparently, without breaking my smile, I brusquely said no, and because I’d already pressed the button before he spoke, the camera flashed immediately after. Everyone found this amusing if caustic. It took them awhile to explain to me why it came across that way. I guess they didn’t know I’d already pressed the camera button, so there was no rapid fire No-Smile-Click that they perceived.

Chris was cracking up the second the word no came out my mouth, as you can see below. I’m clearly drunk, as evidenced by my big ass smile. And my lipstick is also staining his lips, lol.

no-help-chris-laugh

Christmas was a very very lowkey day for us. So lowkey that at no point did we leave the house and no point did we put on pants. I happily watched The Santa Clause 1, 2, and 3 while cooking dinner and lunch. The only thing I photographed all day was the shrimp wraps I made for lunch, go figure.

shrimp-wraps

I squeezed a lot into just a few days because I was on a time crunch. The only real fail was David taking forever to get home from the airport last night after spending Christmas with his family. Even with staying up to finish my hair, I couldn’t stay up as late as necessary to watch the Sense8 holiday special with him. He says he’ll wait for me and we can watch it when I get back. I hope he doesn’t leave me behind like he did when it came to watching Supergirl.

Seeing as how we have over a week in Europe, I’m hoping it can be as eventful, but also more restful. Wish me a safe flight y’all, my plane takes off in 6 hours!

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So Says My Husband: “Christmas Is Saved!”

We decorated our tree! We have a pitifully small number of ornaments on it (first world problems, amiright?), but it’s up and lit. Not lit, like a great party, but alight, lol.

I put a picture up on Instagram where it was pointed out that our tree was on a lean. I would like to clarify that it’s NOT leaning. Chris did a great job at getting the tree set up. It’s very much upright… It just didn’t grow evenly on all sides.

I’ve yet to be responsible, at any point in my life, for picking out a Christmas tree. But I imagine if I did, I would walk around the entirety of the tree, checking it out from multiple angles, making sure it was as even as could be.

But like I said, I haven’t ever had to go buy a tree. So what the hell do I know about what tree options are available? A whole bunch of nothing, that’s what.

All I know is I love our tree. This is our 7th Christmas together, but it’s the first time we’ve decorated a tree together. Both of us have memories of decorating the tree with our fathers (parents, but mostly our dads), and it’s nice to make these new memories together.

Weird how one tree can make me feel like Christmas is saved, huh?

After an hour at Target yesterday, we are back on track. A failed trip to Home Depot will henceforth be known as “That Time Chris Almost Ruined Christmas, But He Didn’t, So It’s Fine, So Get Over It, It’s Fine.” That’s all I’m saying about that.

Last night I cooked half a dinner at our friend Corey’s house, the other half provided by leftovers from Merry Black Christmas. Shout out to Allyson for delicious food she’s always cooking. We drank–wait for it–watermelon double IPA beer. That 10% and lovely bitterness and low low price made the watermelon worth it. It was a like a summer-themed Blue Moon. I wouldn’t recommend it.

But we were soon drunk adjacent and happily enjoying roasted chicken breast with mushroom gravy, green beans, butter-dipped artichoke, cornbread, and macaroni & cheese. We flipped back and forth between Last Holiday and whatever football game was on. Chris and I decorated the tree when we got back home. To me, it felt like the official start of our holiday celebrations.

Tonight, we’ve got a birthday hang that will span a bar I’ve never been to and a jazz club I go to all the time. It’s our friend Deadria’s farewell to her twenties. Corey has his regular jam session he leads at Smalls Jazz Club, and as usual, if we’re out, that’s where we’re ending the night.

Tomorrow, hopefully I’ll get some packing done for our upcoming trip, then we have a Christmas Eve party to go to being thrown by my friend Michael from college who lives nearby in Brooklyn.

Christmas will be a quiet day with just me and Chris (for now, lol). We’re going to see Fences in theaters. It’s not a movie unless Viola Davis is crying out her nose. I’m cooking us a tasty simple meal.

On Boxing Day, I’ll be at work, and when I get home, I’m going to watch the Sense8 Holiday Special on Netflix with my best friend David. It’s one of the shows we try and watch together even though we don’t live in the same state. Go technology. We both love Christmas, and it’s really cool that the first episode of season two is doubling as a Christmas special. I’m also working on the 27th. But I’m leaving work early on Tuesday, heading home to get my packed bag and my husband, then we’re headed to the airport.

It’s hard to believe that just a week ago I was over everything. But now I’m back on track. I’m excited for the next two weeks, like really excited. Not sure-to-be-disappointed-because-reality-can’t-live-up excited. More like who-knows-what-each-day-will-bring-so-bring-it-on excited.

Now for your visual enjoyment, my Tannenbaum and other Christmas accoutrement (when it’s singular, it’s without the s, right?):

I know it looks like it's leaning, but I swear it's not!

I know it looks like it’s leaning, but I swear it’s not! The more I look at this tree, I’m thinking, “is it really that great?” But then I’m like, “of course it is, that tree is adorable, and anyone who disagrees is blind to the truth.” So dramatic, I know, whatever.

Our cat Jazz simply had to inspect the tree. Chris chose that fabric hangy ball thing for them. Fingers crossed they don't use it to pull down the tree.

Our cat Jazz simply had to inspect the tree. Chris chose that fabric hangy ball thing for them. Fingers crossed they don’t use it to pull down the tree.

Our older cat Belle, being creepy as fuck as usual, also inspecting the tree, and judging the rest of us for our mirth.

Our older cat Belle, being creepy as fuck as usual, also inspecting the tree, and judging the rest of us for our mirth. Also, we clearly need to sweep up the needles that got sacrificed on the altar of artificial lights.

So... this was a random Etsy purchase that I love and am choosing not to justify. The inside writing is the only reason I'd pay money for White Santa. I just really love this mug. #sorrynotsorry

So… this was a random Etsy purchase that I love and am choosing not to justify. The inside writing is the only reason I’d pay money for White Santa. I just really love this mug. #sorrynotsorry

You’re welcome. 😉

 


When Easter Gets Cancelled, I Bake & I Bike

One of the best things about living in New York City is that everything can be delivered or outsourced.

Laundry? We drop off our clothes and our laundry lady hooks them up.

Cleaning Supplies? Soap.com or Amazon.com are happy to help.

Need a babysitter? Care.com has you

Groceries? For my neighborhood, it’s either a co-op or FreshDirect.

Chris and I dislike grocery shopping so much that even a co-op is asking too much of us. So we use FreshDirect. And since this is New York, eventually the delivery and customer service was going to let me all the way down.

Back around Thanksgiving, I made the mistake of not submitting my order by the time deadline. Chris and I ended up in a grocery store at 10pm the night before Thanksgiving, buying all the stuff that wasn’t delivered. I wasn’t happy about that, but that was my fault.

This past weekend however, is totally on FreshDirect. When I woke up on Saturday, I saw an e-mail from them saying they were trying to reach me by phone.

I called them and they said the driver came by at 9am, but no one was home. My angry black woman almost came out right then y’all. I informed the lady on the phone that my husband and I had been home all morning, and we have the worlds loudest doorbell, so there’s no way they rang our doorbell and missed us.

She said they tried to call, and they “always call”, and why didn’t I answer the phone? I explained to her, that “always” doesn’t apply in my case because in almost 2 years of deliveries, I’ve never received a phone call from any driver ever because we only request the delivery when we’re home, and it’s “never” been an issue until today.

She said she’d reschedule the delivery and they would swing back by our house before ending their route, around 2p.

Of course, 2p came and went, with no delivery. I called back around 4p to find out what happened. This time I got a man who told me this:

-it does say it was scheduled for re-delivery

-they didn’t re-deliver my groceries

-they have gone back to the warehouse and dismantled my assembled groceries

-their shift is over and they’ve gone home

-he doesn’t know why my groceries weren’t delivered

-is there anything else he can do for me

 

So I tell him:

-you haven’t actually done anything for me

-Just confirming, that my Easter dinner is cancelled, and there’s nothing you can do about that?

-Who do I speak with to file an official complaint?

 

He took $25 of my next order. He rescheduled my delivery for Wednesday.

While waiting for the food to arrive, Easter was over, and that meant carbs!

I couldn’t decide what to make, but I knew it was going to include bread or potatoes or rice. I ended up modifying a recipe for apple muffins and made and apple-blueberry-pear loaf in a bundt pan. It was delicious.

For good measure, I also made red onion-garlic-baby bella mini frittatas. Breakfast-on-the-go was what I was going for, and it worked pretty well.

I also considered making butter cookies, but decided against that. I have quite the list of carb-y goodness that I’ve just been waiting to eat, but I don’t want to overdo it. So I’m pacing myself and only eating one thing at a time.

Sunday: that apple loaf thingee

Monday: pasta

Tuesday-Friday: I ate a bag of potato chips. I split the bag into portions so that I stayed under my daily carb limit. I’m seriously impressed that I managed to stay within the limit

And today, I had french toast. And it was so damn good. Definitely over the carb limit, so maybe no carbs tomorrow.

I fell into the trap y’all. I did a little bit of exercising, so I thought it was okay to go overboard.

In my defense, I really did a lot of exercising. I went to yoga yesterday, and it felt really good.

I love my yoga studio in Brooklyn. I go to Sacred Yoga, and the teachers are so great there. This class was a foundations class, and it was so beneficial because I got to press reset on some on my yoga poses. Reinforcing all the things I’m supposed to be focusing on in each pose was great.

Since I bought my new bike on Easter, I was happy to ride it to yoga. I love this new bike. The only thing wrong with it is it doesn’t have that step through thing that makes it easy to wear a skirt with, but just look at it.

I had to add a basket, a kickstand, head & tail lights, a water bottle holder, and tire locks. But totally worth it if I stay safe and my bike stays un-stolen. Image from Fulton Bikes

Riding it makes me feel so exhilarated. It goes pretty fast without much effort on my part and the gear shifts making riding the mild elevation changes in my neighborhood much easier than on my other bike.

I also decided I would ride the bike to the train station going to and from work to get in a little bit more exercise. The first day, I just went to the nearest station, but today I decided to go much further. I got almost all the way to downtown Brooklyn before I got tired.

I hopped off the bike, locked it up with my super high duty lock, and headed down the subway steps. I reached into my purse to grab my Metrocard.

And nothing.

I didn’t have my Metrocard. I didn’t have my backup Metrocard. I didn’t have my debit or credit cards. I didn’t even have my ID or the singles I keep just in case. I only had about $1.38 in change floating in the bottom of my purse.

Everything I needed was in my yoga bag. So I walked my tired butt back up to the bike, called work to tell them I’d be late, and biked back home.

By the time I got to my house, My legs were feeling very jelly-like. Mind you, this was hardly any distance at all, only a few miles. But for me, who has done next to no biking or serious exercising in months, I was done.

I took the bike back inside, grabbed my money and ID, and went to the bus stop.

The good news is that I got in my full exercise on the bike for the day. I’m thinking I should keep it up and do my Tracy Anderson DVD when I get home. I unfortunately can’t do yoga everyday because of working in Manhattan and the studio not being open early or late enough. We’ll see how I feel when I get home.

I’m trying to ramp up the exercise, and go with what feels good. But I’m also feeling like I should set some sort of schedule that I can make myself stick to. It’s a fine line to walk.

I’ve started and stopped this “attempt to get healthy” thing so many times. I just really want it to stick this time.

I’ve got good motivation though.

I just got plane tickets for Chris and I to go to the Dominican Republic this August for that family vacation. If that’s not motivation to get my body right, I don’t know what is.

I also got my ticket to go visit my parents next month. I’m going during the week, right before Mother’s Day. Should be a fun couple of days. It’s going to feel so weird going to their new house and that being their home. But I’m excited for it.

I’m excited for a lot right now: the sandwich I’m going to get from Potbelly one day this week, riding my bike more (NOT today), shopping for a swimsuit this summer). All these damn endorphins have got me going. Cross your fingers that the feeling lasts!


You Are All Mini Cupcakes to Me

Twenty-six days since my last post. As horrible as that sounds, it is an improvement over the months between the last two posts. Sometimes life is like that, you know?

I checked the weather forecast today, and for the first in months (months!), the forecast says it will not drop below freezing again. Ever again. Well, at least not for the next 10 days. God willing, it will stay above freezing all day every day for the next 7 1/2 months. Fingers crossed New Yorkers.

Checking the weather made me feel hopeful. It’s funny how my outlook on life can be tied to the weather. Not my mood necessarily, but how optimistic and productive I’ll be in a given day.

Even though it was super cold on my walk to work from the subway, I felt happy. I knew it was the last 24 degree morning I’d have to walk through for a long time, so I was feeling full of energy.

Consequently, I had a very productive day at work. I’m talking a cross-everything-off-your-to-do-list, come-up-with-new-tasks-cause-you’re-in-the-mood level of productiveness.

And not feeling completely drained from the combination of “work and not completing said work” has led me to writing this post.

I want to talk about shopping. I gave up shopping for Lent. Shopping and carbs.

Shit, it’s been hard. I may or may not have fallen off the wagon a couple of times. For carbs, falling off the wagon includes eating 4 french fries or sweet potatoe fries or a bowl of cereal here or there. Otherwise, I keep my carb intake to less than 15g per serving.

It’s really impressive that I haven’t made myself a big batch of mashed potatoes. I miss potatoes. And breadsticks. And cake.

For shopping, falling off the wagon looks like this:

While I’m still trying to figure out my own home-made shampoo, Carol’s daughter has some amazing new products I’m trying, even though I should’ve waited until after Easter.

And also like this:

This is my current “everyday” bag for the beginning of Spring. Technically neutral, so cute, holds everything I need. Now I definitely should NOT have bought it, but I love it so.

And… also like this:

This I bought the day I bought all those Carol’s Daughter products… I needed something to carry them home in! When I was at the airport, everyone that looked remotely my age was carrying these super stylish and fun backpacks, so I joined the trend. I have nothing to say for myself.

But other those lovely finds, I only purchased what was pre-ordered (meaning, I never had to click “checkout”), and food, which was allowed, as long as it didn’t have carbs.

Most of my favorite places to eat have very little carb-free options. Everything is fried or in sandwich form or served over pasts. I miss sandwiches. The willpower it took to avoid Potbelly’s during lunch one day is what led to the pink bag pictured above. It was either that or walking to Penn Station to buy a Cinnabon.

I miss Cinnabon. I haven’t had one in literally years. But still…

I’ve been coping with what I gave up for Lent by living vicariously through others. When I went to Indianapolis to visit my friend who just had a baby, we went grocery shopping, bought the baby a dress, and had her take pictures with the Easter bunny. That was good money spending, it scratched the itch a bit, you know?

She looks like a doll. A little doll nestled in an Easter basket. Her daddy picked that dress for, and he did well, if I do say so myself.

She looks like a doll. A little doll nestled in an Easter basket. Her daddy picked that dress for her, and he did well, if I do say so myself.

When it comes to carbs, I’ve gotten quite creative. I’ve been eating meals that are basically exactly what I’d eat if I turned vegetarian, mixed with a whole bunch of meat.

For example, I made a dish with quinoa, black beans, red onion, olive oil, lemon juice, white wine vinegar, basil, and sauteed kale. It was a hearty, delicious, low-carb dish. It was still low carb because I only had a 1/3 cup cooked quinoa in one serving of it.

But because I’m me, I added bacon to it and ate it alongside siracha, worchester & white balsamic glazed chicken wings. I’d be such a good vegetarian, but I don’t wanna, and you can’t make me.

And another way I cope with carbs is to imagine those around me as carbs. Like in a cartoon where the hungry character imagines their friend as a turkey leg.

I’ve been imagining my co-workers as all sorts of things. They get a kick out of me figuring out what each person is. I have a buttermilk biscuit, a single breadstick from Olive Garden, fried zucchini, a blondie, fettuccine alfredo, and squid ink gnocchi just to name a few. Drool.

And those of you who are reading this, in my mind you are all mini cupcakes.

This image comes from

This image comes from The Cupcake Blog. If you  bake, seriously check out this blog.

Perhaps you are 24 assorted flavors, like you get in the grocery store, but a good grocery store. Like Publix. With whipped cream frosting and no artificial colors.

I miss Publix. They’re down in Florida and they made the best sweet tea. And fresh hoagie rolls. And breaded chicken tenders. And store-brand cookies. Simply the best.

Okay. Moving on. Staying strong.

There are benefits to all of this deprivation. Saving money is nice. And not gaining weight is also nice.

I’d like to switch from “not gaining” to “actually losing”. I have a plan for that. I’m back down to only the one job because working 14 out of every 15 days was B-A-N-A-N-A-S. After a few days off with absolutely nothing, I’m planning on taking my ass back to yoga.

Even though my bike was stolen, I’m thinking I’ll just walk there because driving then finding parking is ridiculous.

Which brings me back to the weather. It’s feeling so spring-ish that I feel like walking 20+ minutes to my yoga studio.

Or maybe I’ll take the money I’ve saved the last 5 weeks and buy myself another bike next Sunday.

This is the best part of spring. Feeling like the possibilities are endless is one of my favorite ways to feel.

Potential is my drug.

I’m off to do bit of window shopping. Cupcakes and bicycles.