Posts made in February, 2012

a day in my life: 2/23/12

8

Posted on Feb 24, 2012 in Lifestyle

The last time I did A Day in My Life was almost exactly a year ago. I had intended on doing them at regular intervals, but the truth is, taking a picture of everything you do in a day is a lot more difficult and time consuming than it sounds. But in the past few months, quite a few folks have requested that I post another one, so here we are! This was my Thursday, February 23, 2012.


My alarm went off at 5:15am and after I shut my alarm off, I do some preliminary email, comment and social media checking from my phone in bed.

Pull myself out of bed a few minutes later, because it’s time for some light therapy. But first, I have to say “hi” to Puppyface. She always sleeps on the couch. And she’s so NOT a morning puppy. She’d prefer if we didn’t disturb her until at least 9am.

Move over to the desk, flip on the light box and my computer.

While getting my daily dose of medicine, I spend some time checking email, editing photos, and writing blog posts. I spend an hour in front of it every morning, so it gives me time to do things (like write this very post).

Light box automagically clicks off an hour later while I’m reading blogs and I take that as my cue to get up and get ready for work.

Time check.

First, I head to the closet.

And land on an outfit I’m decently happy with.

Then it’s time for glasses shopping. We just received our most recent order from Zenni Optical, so I pick out one of my new pairs. Fancy.


Then I move onto hair and makeup. Dry shampoo works it’s magic (and gives me an idea what I’ll look like in 20 years) while I do my makeup.


Onto taming the mane. I’ve been wearing it curly/wavy for weeks, but decide I’m ready for a change of pace and whip out the flat iron. Ahh, much more presentable.

Time check. I’m running a little bit behind, but not too bad. I like to get to work by 7:30 at the latest.

To the kitchen to pack up breakfast, lunch and snacks.

Realize it’s a bit chilly outside and go out to warm up the car. I hate scraping.

Come back in to brush teeth and finish packing everything up.

Jacket on. Ready to go.

On the road by 7:22am.

At work 10 minutes later. Within the next 30 minutes, this and every parking lot on campus, will fill up so much that it’s impossible to find a space. Being a morning person has its perks.

Up the elevator.

I’m greeted by our roving set of nine NKOTB dolls on the receptionist’s desk. What, your office doesn’t have 1-4/5 sets of NKOTB dolls? That’s just us? In case you were wondering, seven out of the nine have rat tails.

Hello, office!

Put my stuff down, get logged in and while everything is doing its thing, I pull out two quarters because I managed to complain twice (out loud!) on the 10 minute drive in. Hard habit to break.

Then, I head out into our common area to check my snack box fundraiser (for the Avon Walk). I like to take the money out every morning.

Score!

While I’m up, I fill up my water bottle…

…and go here for the first of many times.

I come back to my desk and check some email while eating breakfast.

We are moving into a temporary office space while our floor is being remodeled, and one of those e-mails I was checking said SURPRISE we were moving that afternoon instead of the next day. So after breakfast, I finalized the rest of my packing.

During this time, my boss/friend/office mate, Heather, came in and we decided to head across the street to our temporary space to see what it looked like. Looks great. Except it’s empty.

Well, not exactly empty. There is a plant and this guy. We like this guy. He stays.

The plant however, does not. We move him to his new home, on the desk of one of our client relations people we like to mess with.

We head back over to our current office to try and figure out the desk situation. We land on using half of our current desks, which means, I do some computer shifting while Heather heads to a meeting.

And then some desk pushing. I is strong.

While waiting for the one dolly we have, I sit down to do some work and eat a snack.

Time check!

Heather texts me and asks me to bring the whole interactive team over to our new space to pick out desks, so I gather the troops and we head back over (back and forth and back forth). We still have no desks, but now we at least have a plan! I admire our new view.

We decide to move the things we can without the dolly. Nothing like pushing all of your stuff on a chair down the busiest street in town.

Got over what we could, but I needed to get back to my computer to do some work. Buttons needed to be made!

After that, i did a little bit of reading on responsive web design. As one does.

Lunch time!

Down a floor to the kitchen and the microwave.

Back up to my desk to eat.

Call Dad during lunch to wish him Happy Birthday. No one home. He’s busier now that he’s retired than he ever was while working.

After lunch, I walk over to the campus tech store to get a piece of software for Babyface. They don’t have what he needs, but it’s a nice walk on a nice day.

Once I get back, good news, we have secured the dolly!

We move our desks and computers over and start to get everything set up.

Unfortunately, my internet decides it doesn’t want to work.

So while waiting for one of our IT guys to stop by, I eat a snack and check my email on my iPad (wi-fi, for the win!).

Our tech hero comes and helps fix the internet, while he’s working on my machine, I help Heather set up her’s while she’s trapped in meetings. In the mean time, mine get’s fixed just in time for me to leave for the day.

Head out to my car and realize the back seat is a mess because of the office move, but I have to fit Puppyface in there. So I do some rearranging.

Pulling out of the parking lot. Windows down.

Off to daycare to pick up Puppyface. She says, “Hi!”

She’s stoked about the weather being warm enough for open windows.

Home!

Check mail. Empty mailbox. Which must mean Babyface already got it (I promise, he shows up in this post eventually).

Once inside, feed the PF.

And drop my quarters into my complaint jar. Even with the stress of the move, I managed to only complain three times. Awesome!

Must. Get. Comfy. Much better!

We had packages at our door! One is computer parts for Babyface but the other is for me. Sandals. Yay! C’mon spring!

Contemplate dinner. Think about making something, but decide to have leftovers again. Good thing I like chili, because I had it twice.

Eat in front of an episode of Felicity and Twitter. Hi, Turk/Tracy!

After dinner, I turn on another Felicity episode and edit some photos.

Time check!

Decide it is dessert time. One Nutella chocolate cake, coming right up.

While noshing on my cake, I try to call my Dad again. Still not home.

After my cake is through, I try to do some homework, but the software I need only runs on Windows machines and I’m a Mac through and through. So instead, I try to write a blog post, but my brain is total mush. So back to Felicity and photo editing, it is!

Eventually I get too sleepy to even edit photos. Time to lay down and relax. Would really love to go to bed, but can’t because (a) it’s not even 8pm yet and (b) I want to wait up to see Babyface at least for a few minutes.

Hey, Dad calls back! I chat with him for a bit.

Say good-bye, and then contemplate going back to zoning out on the couch, but feel guilty for being lazy and instead decide to do some blog work.

Hey, look who’s home!

I left for work before he was awake and he worked the late shift until 9:15. First time we’ve seen each other all day. Hi, Babyface! I immediately head for bed.

The three of us snuggle while we talk a little bit about our days. Puppyface hogs the conversation.

Soon, I can’t keep my eyes open anymore and it’s lights out. Good night!

 

mint triple chocolate frozen yogurt shake

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Posted on Feb 23, 2012 in Food

Remember when I got an ice cream maker for my birthday last year and it was pretty much the most amazing thing ever? I made sorbet and  ice cream and even more sorbet. Well, the much-used summer appliance has been dormant for a few months thanks to the chilly temperatures. But I pulled it out this past weekend after I remembered last year’s Shamrock Shake recipe. I wanted to try my hand at a not-so-sweet, not-so-caloric version and this shake is where I landed.

I knew that frozen yogurt recipes were usually just as complex and sugar-filled as regular ice cream recipes (just basically subbing the cream for yogurt) but I really wanted to try literal frozen yogurt. So I scooped out some chocolate Greek yogurt, put it in my ice cream machine and the end result was a perfectly textured, tangy soft serve. I was really happy with the results! In fact, the basin for my ice cream machine is staying in my freezer so I can make frozen yogurt any time I want.

I resisted the urge to just eat the stuff right out of the machine and instead blended it into this milk yogurt shake. This isn’t as sickly sweet as your usual milkshake (you could add a bit of honey if you miss that) but I think the tang of the yogurt makes it interestingly addictive! It won’t completely replace the beauty of a creamy Shamrock Shake, but it does make for a nice everyday treat.

Mint Triple Chocolate Yogurt Shake

by Cassie Johnston

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 0 minutes

Makes: 2 shakes

Ingredients

  • 2 cups chocolate Greek yogurt OR 2 cups vanilla, plain or honey Greek yogurt mixed with 3 tablespoons cooled hot fudge sauce
  • 1/2 cups sweetened chocolate almond or soy milk
  • 1/8 teaspoon mint extract
  • 1 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips

Instructions

  1. In the basin of an ice cream machine, add yogurt and process according to machine’s directions until it has an ice cream texture. Remove from basin and freeze for 10-15 minutes to harden.
  2. In the carafe of a blender, combine frozen yogurt, chocolate milk, mint extract and mini chocolate chips. Blend until just smooth.
  3. Pour into glasses and serve with straws large enough for the chocolate chips to fit through.
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Which is your favorite combo: mint and chocolate or peanut butter and chocolate?

46 days without complaint

17

Posted on Feb 23, 2012 in Lifestyle

I am technically kinda sorta Catholic. But not really.

That being said, I am intimately familiar with the concept of Lent. While I’ve never latched onto the religious meaning behind it, I’ve always appreciated the concept of abstaining from something in order to strengthen your spirit. I think it’s a good reminder of the power of the human will and the fragility of our luxuries. We get so wrapped up in having the latest iPhone (guilty) or those new pair of jeans (also guilty) that we tend to forget that the world is about so much more (guilty, again). I think Lent is a really great time to reflect on what makes our lives worth living. I don’t care what or who you believe in, investing time in appreciating your life is just good practice.

Many times, you’ll see Lent participants giving up (or taking up) something tangible. Giving up soda. Giving up TV. Taking up charity work. Taking up fundraising for a worthy cause. But the thing I’ve landed on is a little more abstract—I’m going complaint-free.

Honestly, I’d all but decided to avoid a Lent promise this year. I’d yet to find anything that really “spoke” to me. But then, on Fat Tuesday, Krissie retweeted an idea of giving up negativity for Lent and lightbulb clicked on. That was it. That was my crutch I needed to do away with. In the past, I’d enacted the occasional complaint-free Friday (#complaintfreefriday) and those were always some of my best days. So why not take that concept to the next level? I’d become an expert athlete in the sport of complaining, and it wasn’t doing me (or anyone around me) any favors. So I’m done with complaining.

Sometimes, I think venting is a healthy way of dealing with life’s thorns. That being said, I’ve noticed over the past year, instead of being a temporary solution, the state of complaining has become my norm. And even worse that than, it’s turning me into a toxic person. I spew negativity without much thought to whose ears it’ll land on or what repercussions it’ll have. The negativity then infects everyone around me and they become more negative and before you know it, we are trapped in this disgusting, unhealthy cycle of negative interactions.

Even if negativity wasn’t so communicable, even if it just stuck to me, it rarely makes the situation better. Often I feel the act of complaining works only as a bandage. It relieves just enough of the annoyance to make me not want to change anything but not enough to really make the situation improve. Without complaining, I am forced to be proactive and change the things that are making me complain or let go of the things I have no control over. I want to stop using complaining as a crutch to coast through mediocrity.

Obviously, this isn’t as cut-and-dry as giving up something like soda. There are some gray areas. For example, does saying “I have a headache” constitute a complaint or is it just stating a fact? And beyond that, I think it’s human nature to complain when things go wrong. Bottling that up might cause more harm that good. With all of this in mind, I’m setting some Lenttastic ground rules:

  • If it feels like complaining, it probably is. I know the difference between stating a fact and being negative. Take the example above. “I have a headache” can be a complaint sometimes and not others. If I say it to Babyface to give him a reason why I don’t want to go out to dinner, I don’t think that’s a complaint. If I say it in whiny voice just to garner sympathy? I think that’s complaining. I’ll use my own judgment.
  • Slip-ups cost 25¢ a pop. I’m not delusional. I know I’m going to stub my toe and scream obscenities and pitch a fit about moved furniture. But the difference is, those slip-ups will cost me a quarter. I’ll have a “complaint jar” (at both home and work) and I’ll have to pay the jar if I complain. When Easter comes ’round, the money collected will go directly to the Avon Crusade for Women.
  • Switch focus to possibilities. As an alternative to complaining, I want to focus on the things that I can change or develop from the situation. I’m going to talk about the things I want to achieve, embrace the potential and talk about what I desire instead of what I dislike. There are ways to express dissatisfaction without complaining. Complaining is not productive, finding solutions is.

I’ve passed my first day in complaint-free mode and honestly, the most difficult part right now is learning to break the habit of complaining. It’s not even that I desperately desire to complain about how bad traffic is or how much I hate my hair today. It’s that my default response to anything that isn’t 100% perfect is a complaint. It’s like I’m rewiring my brain to approach situations differently, and that takes a bit of time. A few quarters have definitely dropped in the jar just because of the habit.

I’m also noticing that I have almost nothing to say! Until my brain is rewired, I’m operating under the age old philosophy of not saying anything if I don’t have something nice to say. I’ve got a feeling for the next few days, I’m going to be quiet as a mouse while I try to figure out what positive things I can fill the dead air with.

Want an eye-opening exercise? Keep track of how many negative statements come out of your mouth in an day. Just being aware of the negativity is half the battle.

What are you giving up (or taking up) for Lent?

Graphic sources: (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7)

open-face hummus tuna melt

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Posted on Feb 22, 2012 in Food

I only had one true spring break experience in college. It was my Freshman year, and my roommate and I bummed a ride to Ft. Lauderdale with a guy she knew from one of her classes. He was going with 10 or so of his closest friends from high school and they had seats in a car and an open fold-out couch. Even though they barely knew us, adding two more people meant two more people to split gas money and the cost of the lodging. It was something that was definitely out of my comfort zone. I knew no one (other than my roommate) and had certainly never been to spring break before. At that point, I was still incredibly self-conscious and hadn’t quite come out of my shell. I was terrified. On top of that, I only had about $200 to my name and had to spread it out over the whole week. But after some convincing, I found myself in the backseat of someone’s grandmother’s pale blue Ford Taurus with three complete strangers.

Our plan was to leave Indiana in the afternoon and drive all night. We made our first stop at a Steak ‘n’ Shake somewhere in Tennessee for dinner. All of us piled in and inundated some poor high school server with our orders. I remember being so terrified of blowing through my limited cash supply that I ordered the cheapest thing I could find on the menu. I don’t remember what it was, but I remember that I was elated because I only spent $6. But then our orders came and someone near me had ordered the ever-pricey tuna melt. It looked so delicious and my cheap-o dinner paled in comparison. It turned into a spiral of self-hate (18-year-old me was easily triggered into a hate spiral). Why don’t I have more money? Why am I not rich like these other kinds? Why am I not better at managing my money? Why am I getting so upset over a stupid tuna melt? Why am I with these strangers? What if they hate me? Why am I so annoying?

Blah-te-blah. So on and so on. Tuna melts have a strange effect on me, apparently.

I ended up sulking through the rest of dinner and all the way into Georgia (note: I was then, and still am, a bit of drama queen). I eventually came out of my pit of self-hate, and the rest of the trip went fine. I strapped on a bathing suit and had some fun. I didn’t meet any life-long friends, but we all got along well enough and I got to be on the beach in March, which is the whole point. And my money lasted the whole time. I was so stuck in this place of self-doubt and anxiety that it could have ruined this rite-of-passage-kind-of trip. Even now, it’s sad that the dinner in that Steak ‘n’ Shake in Tennessee is the memory that is the absolute clearest to me from that trip.  Out of a week on the beach with other young people, nothing else stands out above my self-doubt (and no, it wasn’t because everything is fuzzy and we were drinking, all of us were sober the entire trip actually).

Anytime I make a tuna melt, it reminds me of how far I’ve come. I’m not the girl who lets little things spiral me into a self-hate. And I’m certainly not the girl that let’s self-doubt ruin great experiences (or at least I try not to). I now see the humor in the fact that I let a greasy, 900 calorie sandwich (!) trigger me. I’m so different from the me of 10 years ago.

Wow, deep story for a post about a freakin’ tuna melt, eh?

Enough of that. Sandwich time! Babyface had a moment of genius last week when he decided to use hummus in place of mayo in a tuna salad. I took this idea and ran with it! I created a flavorful, crunchy, tuna salad that works perfectly on top of rye bread with a few slices of tomato and melted Swiss. No worries about packing in 900 calories with this one. It clocks in at a very reasonable 300 calories. I can’t wait to make this using fresh tomatoes and red peppers from my garden!

Open-Face Hummus Tuna Melt

by Cassie Johnston

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 5 minutes

Makes: 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 2-5 ounce cans chunk light tuna in water, drained
  • 1/2 large red bell pepper, finely diced
  • 1/2 medium red onion, finely diced
  • 1/2 cup hummus
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 1 heaping tablespoon sweet relish
  • Dash of curry powder
  • 4 slices rye bread
  • 8 slices tomato
  • 4 slices Swiss cheese

Instructions

  1. Preheat broiler.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine tuna, red bell pepper, red onion, hummus, dijon, relish and curry and mix.
  3. Spoon 1/4 of the tuna salad on to each of the rye bread slices. Top each with two slices of tomato and one slice of cheese. Heat under broiler for 3-5 minutes or until cheese is melted, brown and bubbly.
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Did you ever do the spring break thing? Where you go?

what i ate wednesday: tracking

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Posted on Feb 22, 2012 in Food

As I said in yesterday’s post, I’m back to tracking my food again (at least temporarily for my nutrition class). This day of food represents by first day “back” and man, could I ever feel the difference in portion size. I was hungry all day. I’m not sure if it was physical hunger or mental hunger, but it sucked. I even got so hungry while I was on the treadmill after work that I felt like I was going to pass out. Which is ridiculous because I got plenty of calories and fuel in yesterday. I guess my body just needs to get used to eating correct portions again. It did occur to me that I’ve probably been taking in 2700-3000 calories a day between sneaks of treats and large portion sizes. Which is a lot. Even for someone of my height, weight and activity level. I have no idea if I’m gaining weight (no scale) but I do know my pants don’t feel any tighter. Although that could just be me living in happy delusion land. Anyway, I think this exercise is definitely a good refresher on how to stay the course of a healthy lifestyle. I’d hate to have to track my food for the rest of my life, but a few weeks every year might be good practice. Anyway, on to the food.

Breakfast

Breakfast was eaten at my soon-to-be-gone desk. As you can probably infer from the boxes, we’re moving offices temporarily while our office space is being remodeled. It’s going to suck for the next two months (I think we’re going to end up crammed in offices and conference rooms in another building) but the end result will be worth it. I’ve seen the plans for our newly-renovated space and it’s going to be beautiful. Anyway, breakfast among the boxes—a slice of super bread, a pear and a protein shake make with banana protein powder and chocolate almond milk.

589 calories, 114g carbs, 8g fat, 23g protein

Morning Snack

Ate a just-slightly unripe banana plus a packet of applesauce for snack. I went to grab regular applesauce at the store this past weekend and saw these fun gimmicky applesauce bags and couldn’t pass them up. I’m a sucker for food gimmicks. Plus, I like that I can just toss one on my bag and they’ll probably have a better fate that if I’d say, tossed an apple in my bag. The only issue? I feel like I’m sucking out of a blood bag (a la The Vampire Diaries) when I eat one.

165 calories, 42g carbs, 0g fat, 1g protein


Lunch

Last week, Babyface had the genius idea to use hummus in place of mayo in tuna salad and I have been all over it! So yummy and creamy. I even doctored up some hummus tuna salad to make a recipe you’ll see later in the week. But for now, I served it on a bed of greens with a drizzle of avocado vinaigrette and some toasted almonds. On the side, I had a clementine and a vanilla Voskos. First time having Voskos. The flavor was good (I loved that you could see real vanilla been specks) but the consistency was thin like regular yogurt. One of the reasons I shell out the extra cash for Greek yogurt is the thickness. Boo. Also had a LaCroix on the side. LaCroix was on sale this week and I jumped all over a 12-pack of grapefruit and coconut. So good.

549 calories, 35g carbs, 21g fat, 21g protein

Afternoon Snack

Hummus and spelt pretzels. Not a whole lot to say about that. Other than the fact that I love Newman’s Own Spelt Pretzels.

273 calories, 37g carbs, 10g fat, 7g protein

Dinner

Dinner was weird. I threw together an omelet/millet recipe. In the little cups is cooked millet, eggs, egg whites, milk, goat cheese and rosemary and I baked them all like a quiche. The end result was delicious, but weird. Alongside, I had a small pile of roasted Brussels sprouts. After dinner, I dug into a chocolate cupcake provided by my Mama this past weekend. Tracking or not, a day without chocolate is a day I don’t want to live.

520 calories, 54g carbs, 34g fat, 23g protein

The Totals

2106 calories, 282g carbs, 73g fat, 75g protein

What was the best thing you ate yesterday?

The chocolate banana protein shake was really, really good. But a cupcake will always win.