Tuesday, June 28, 2011

What I Ate Wednesday - Random Eats

Time for another addition of What I Ate Wednesday.  I missed last week because I was busy trying to get my new job stuff sorted out, training and such, but I am happy to be back this week.  I have been trying to remember to take pictures of my food, but I forgot a few times so this is a compilation of some of my recent eats and not a complete day of my meals.  

Homemade Nachos with Whole Wheat Toasted Tortilla, Taco Seasoned Chicken, Black Beans, TJ Salsa, Spinach, Cheese, and Diced Avocado.  My mom gave me this idea a couple weeks ago and I decided to try Monday.  It is wonderful and super filling.  I just baked the tortilla a bit to get it crispy and then added on my toppings and warmed it all up a bit longer.  Look at all the bright colors too!

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream Cone.  I got off work late Tuesday and was craving some real ice cream so I headed across the street to Ghirardelli and grabbed this giant scoop.  It was delicious. 

Cheese Stick & Fresh Pineapple.  This was my snack on Monday.  It was a bit rainy outside and I had just finished a short strength workout.  The cold foods were perfect after a sweat session.

Peanut Butter and Jelly on Potato Roll.  This is an easy go to meal or snack for me.  I will eat it anytime of the day.  I used to not be a big fan, but over the past few months I have discovered I really love it.  I like the softness of the potato roll with the TJ peanut butter and some raspberry polaner all fruit.  

What good foods did you enjoy this week?  

Monday, June 27, 2011

My Job Search

I have been in my new city of Chicago for just over a month.  After getting settled my next task was to find a job.  I am living in my own apartment with bills to pay and money, therefore, is needed to live my life.  My work over the past year as a substitute teacher and babysitter added money into my savings, but it won't last forever.  

It has been a busy few weeks.  I had my first two job interviews in the city.  I didn't get called back by either in the time they told me so I figured I was back to square one.  Bummer.  The rejection is really the hardest part.  I haven't held tons of jobs because I was focused on school, so the jobs I have had are babysitting, retail, and food service.  Granted, I don't know exactly what it is I want to do, but I love learning new things and I think I am good worker and friendly person.  I just need the opportunity to show someone what I can really do.

I sent out some more applications and resumes the next week and got an interview for a hotel babysitting company in the city.  The interview went really well and I was offered the part time position right away!  It is a really flexible job and something I am comfortable doing, so I think it will fit perfectly into my schedule.

Then last week I got a call back from the one of the places I first interviewed with, American Girl.  I thought since they hadn't called me back it was a no go, but I was pleasantly surprised when I got the call offering me a position in the short service cafe.  I was a big fan of the company growing up.  I looked forward to getting the magazine, going to the bookstore to check out the new books, and even had my own doll.  I got tons of craft ideas, ways to deal with growing up, and games to play from their content as well.  It wasn't until I was older, on my first trip to Chicago, that I got to visit the store.  It was really neat to see everything they had set up.  I was a little to old for it all by then, but I appreciated all of the time and consideration that was taken to make the place so much fun.  So now I get to work with the company!  We just finished orientation and I am truly excited about working there.  Everyone is so friendly, welcoming, and helpful; the place just has a great energy about it.  

I feel like all of this happened at once, it was one thing right after the next.  But I guess that is how it goes sometimes.  These are both part time positions, but they will help keep me a float while I navigate life in the city.  I was really feeling down and worried after the initial rejection, but I guess it just takes time and persistence to get something.  My options are still open, but I feel so much better knowing I have some work.  

What were some of your first jobs in the real world? 

Friday, June 17, 2011

You are Stronger Than You Know

This past Wednesday was another Chick's Night Run at the local Fleet Feet store.  It was a rainy afternoon and I was feeling tired and considered skipping it.  I missed last week since I was babysitting and wanted to go this week, but was having a hard time actually getting up.  I knew that if I went and ran I would have a good time and be happy that I got a run in.  So I got out of bed (it is currently the only place to sit in my apartment) and got dressed.  
When I arrived it was still cloudy and a bit wet out, but nothing too serious.  The runs over the next few weeks are being sponsored by New Balance.  They are also sponsoring the Fleet Feet Women's Run in July (which I hope to do if the money works out).  That night they had shoes for us to try out, several giveaway prizes, and mini cupcakes to enjoy post run.  

At the beginning of each meeting we all go around, introduce ourselves, and say how long we will run that night.  After a little cheer, "Fleet Feet, to the street!" we head outside and start running.  Most people have their own groups and since I am new I am still trying to figure mine out.  I usually just end up running and kind of tagging along with someone.  That night however, someone joined me.  Michelle ran up from behind and mentioned that we seemed to be about the same pace.  This group run is my first experience running with other people and I have found that it makes me push myself a bit more.  Having someone there makes you want to keep up with them, so I have been using these nights as my speed/tempo runs.  

Michelle and I chatted about lots of things and kept a pretty fast pace.  I was up for pushing myself though and kept with it.  You guys know I am a slower runner with my pace around 12:15-13:45, but we were averaging 10:30-11:25 which is quite a bit faster.  I usually take a few walk breaks when I run, but we didn't take any!  We did have to stop at two lights briefly, but other than that I ran the whole way!  This is totally huge for me!  I ran four miles at a fast for me pace with no walk breaks. What!?!  I found that about half way through it got tough, and I probably could have walked a bit, but once I got through that rough patch the rest was all OK.  As we reached the store and I noticed our final pace and time I was shocked and excited.  We finished four miles in about 45 minutes!  I thanked Michelle for pushing me to a personal best.  I didn't realize I could do that and it felt great!  

We headed back upstairs to cool down, stretch, and wait for the rest of the group to come in.  Post-run I enjoyed half a lemon-lime Nuun tab in my water.  Nuun is a low calorie, electrolyte drink tab so it is prefect after a run, and quite tasty.  I grabbed a mini chocolate cupcake as well, which was delicious.  Once everyone had returned prizes were given away and then it was time to head home.  

So you know how people say, "You are stronger than you know"?  Well this running experience revealed to me the truth of that statement.  My running in Chicago thus far has gone really well, but I didn't realize that I had that run in me.  It is amazing what you can do if you push yourself just a little harder than usual.  I guess my training and dedication has paid off.   
Running is not all about fast times for me though; it helps keep me healthy and strong, decompress after a stressful day, enjoy the weather outside, try new things, meet new people, and feel good about myself.  I enjoy running (it can be fun!) and this run was just another reason why.  It feels good to work hard at something and look back to see what you have accomplished.  Here's hoping more good runs for all of us!

What do you like about running in a group or with friends?  Have you had a running experience that made you realize you were stronger or faster than you thought?  

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

What I Ate Wednesday

I saw this series on a few blogs I read and decided to join in.  Peas & Crayons started the series as a way to share what food you eat.  I don't usually blog all of my eats, but I thought this would be fun to participate in.  It is interesting to see what other people eat and you can possibly get some new meal ideas - I know I usually find something!  
In addition to sharing with you guys I can also see an overview of some of the foods I eat.  
So here is what I enjoyed yesterday:

Breakfast: Spinach, Mushroom, & Cheese Omelette.  

Midday Snack: Fresh Cherries.  I only discovered how much I like cherries about three years ago.  They are perfect right now so pick some up!

Lunch: Train Wreck & Sauteed Asparagus.  Train Wreck is a family recipe that I grew up eating and always seems to be one of the meals we eat when the whole family gets together during holidays.  For years I didn't question why it was called Train Wreck.  It wasn't until a few years ago that I realized that it is a little morbid, but this casserole-like dish is tasty, so the name stays with it.

Here's how I made it:
1/2 box of whole wheat pasta
1/4 cup diced onion
1/2 pound ground beef
3/4 can kidney beans
1 1/2 cans diced tomatoes
5 oz 2% colby jack cheese, shredded
salt & pepper to taste

1. Cook the noodles following box directions.  
2. In a hot skillet sauté onions until just translucent.  Add in ground beef, season with salt and pepper, and brown.  
3. Turn heat down and add in kidney beans until warm.
4. After noodles are cooked & drained transfer back into saucepan.  Add beef & bean mixture, diced tomatoes, and cheese to the noodles and stir until mixed.  Season to taste. Serve warm.

See, super easy and quite filling.  And you can totally make it vegetarian by skipping the beef and adding more beans.  It is good with other veggies mixed in too, like broccoli.  

Snack: Handful of Reduced Guilt Pita Chips and Tablespoon of Hummus plus a Pomegranate Fruit Strip (forgot to take a picture)

Dinner: Double Chocolate Cookie, Peanut Butter, & Vanilla Milkshake.  No, I don't eat big desserts like this every night, usually something smaller, but sometimes you just want dessert for dinner, right?  I made these cookies (although about half the size) the other day and decided to make a big treat out of it.  I schmeared the cookie with some PB and made a mini vanilla milkshake by stirring together some light ice cream and 1% milk.  Then I broke apart the cookie and added it into the shake and ate it all up with a spoon.  It was crazy delicious!

As for drinks, I pretty much have water with me at all times.  I don't drink much else besides that.  

Well there you have it.  Go check out the WIAW link up to see some other eats as well!  
Hope everyone is having a good week!  It looks like some good things are happening job wise for me and I plan on sharing soon.  

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

What's Going On

It is quite warm here today and my apartment has no air conditioning or ceiling fans.  The weather has been nice enough that we can usually get a good breeze into the place with the windows open, but not so much today.  So I am sweating in my apartment sitting in front of my small oscillating fan.  I have applied to some more jobs and in fact have an interview this weekend and some babysitting dates set, which is good.  

I have been in Chicago for almost a month now and have a few random things on my mind that I thought I would share here.

  • Walking.  I am walking a lot.  Living in a walkable city is a great thing.  I usually don't have to travel too far to get to any one place.  Since I don't have a real need for a car I have been using public transportation to get around, but of course there is not a train station or bus stop in front of every location you need to get to, so walking is of course involved. But it's a good thing - I am moving more everyday!  
    "Just put one foot in front of the other..."
  • Animals.  I miss my cats dearly.  It is so strange not seeing them everyday.  However, every time I walk outside I see a cute dog, cat, bird, or bunny and that puts a smile on my face.  
Check out these two cats enjoying the view!
Some random deer just hanging out in a front yard.
  • Trader Joe's Delights.  Having access to Trader Joe's is wonderful.  I get to enjoy some of the tasty, affordable food they sell there.  Soft Pretzel Bread Stick - Check.  Peanut Butter Cream Cheese- Check.  Pita Chips- Check.  Marinara Sauce- Check.  The list goes on and on really, but I wanted to share a little Trader Joe's creation I have been making and enjoying recently.  Are you ready?  A warm whole wheat bagel (or english muffin) with a little bit of peanut butter, peanut butter cream cheese, and raspberry jelly.  Superdelicious (and quite filling).  I have enjoyed this all times of the day.  It might not be the prettiest thing and it can get a little messy, but it is oh so tasty.
  • Running in the Heat makes you Sweaty.  Did you know this one already?  Probably so, but it was the first pretty hot day here and I was reminded of how sweaty I can get after a run in that kind of heat.
  • Books.  Who doesn't like a good book, right?  Well as I mentioned before I like to listen to audiobooks while I run and today I finished one I have been listening to for a while - The Pillars of the Earth.  Yeah, it is a looong book, but it is such a great story.  For those not familiar, it takes place in 12th century England and tells the story of the many people involved with and surrounding the building of a new cathedral.  It is full of action, love, politics, royalty, mystery, monks, betrayal, architecture, death, peasants, religion, and history.  It took around 40 hours to listen to, but was worth every minute!  So I am now trying to decide what my next book is going to be...  
Do you have a favorite Trader Joe's item?  What are you currently reading?