Bloggy question: Should I switch to Wordpress? I like the simplicity and familiarity of Blogger (plus, it's owned by Google, who will someday own the world), but I feel WP just looks...cleaner.
On Sunday, while exploring an unfamiliar part of town, Chris and I were spontaneously invited to visit Randyland. It's tucked away on a quiet street and Randy was standing on the sidewalk, talking enthusiastically to a few visitors, while waving new ones in.
Unfortunately, there isn't much information online, and my photos really don't do justice to the magical intensity of this place. He explained that he bought the vacant lot and surrounding buildings on a credit card for $10,000, but he doesn't want to "own" it - he wants it to become a park that's sustained and fueled by the smiles of others.
He said that his style can be too much for some people, who tell him to "slow down." To this, he shrugs and laughs. His energy and enthusiasm is infectious. He kept reiterating that he's not an artist, but he instead learns as he goes. It was really inspiring to see someone so excited about a project and so eager to share it with others.
Throughout college, I studied writing and always surrounded myself with creative people - poets, painters, musicians, craftsmen. These days, however, I create very little and it's making me self-conscious. I cook a little, I blog a little, but I don't really have a concentrated creative outlet.
So...I signed myself up for a dance class. Natalie recently wrote a wonderful post about challenging yourself and doing things even though you're not sure that you can. I'm a firm believer in taking responsibility for elements of your life that you don't like - either learn to live with them or change them. I don't like my lack of creative endeavors => I take a dance class.
Here's the punchline: It's a hip hop class. It focuses on breakdancing, popping, locking, and housing. It's taught by these folks:
I am so nervous. I'm nervous that I'll be the only girl. I'm nervous that I'll be the oldest student. I'm nervous that I'll look ridiculous. But...I'm trying to remind myself that what makes something intimidating also makes it worthwhile. If I'm the only girl and 10 years older than the other students, then hell yeah. All the more reason to do it. My first class is on Thursday; stay tuned for a humbled post on Friday :)
Have you conquered something that once intimidated you?
On Sunday, we visited our local humane society and walked a few dogs. This is something that I used to do often, but have shamefully neglected over past months. My husband also came along to help - two dogs can be quite a handful.
It's so rewarding to see a dog flop onto his bed after a long walk. The shelter says that many dogs are passed over simply because they appear too hyper. People don't always understand that the shelter's environment is incredibly stimulating and that the dogs may not have gotten any exercise that day...or even the day before.
If you're thinking about a new friend, I really do encourage you to at least visit your local shelter. Even if you're interested in a specific breed, a little patience will often see one turn up. Also, I was adopted and look how well I turned out ;)
Speaking of turning out well, today is Monday and time to review my goals. I realize that discussing (literally) the same topic every week can be tedious, but this reconciliation really makes me feel accountable during the week. And thank you for your support!
GMAT Not as well as the week before. I've been making a list of which specific math topics need to be reviewed the most. Darn you, probabilities!
ReadBirds are so fascinating. Did you know that some lady birds can eject sperm if an undesirable male mates with her? Cray.
Strength I love this, every single time. It gives me infinitely more confidence than cardio ever did and my only wish is that I had started earlier.
Calories I've been counting a little more strictly in efforts to curb my sweet tooth. So far, so good.
Crochet SUCCESS! After four weeks of being a slacker, I started and finished a kitten-sized blanket for the animal shelter...the caveat being that I used scrap yarn and it is hideous. My husband reassured me that the cats don't mind.
This Rice & Lentil Salad from EatingWell.com. Does it count as trying a new recipe if you don't really follow the recipe? I pretty much subbed everything based on what I had.
This Smothered Tempeh Sandwich from EatingWell.com. Made mine open face and omitted the red wine. Can't really go wrong with cheesey tempeh.
Skinnytaste's Pumpkin Muffins. These were amazing. I've made a few of her other recipes and they've all been incredible.
ps - Did you know that Saturday was the first day of fall? Hooray!
Happy Wednesday! I hope your week has been going well so far.
On Monday, I went for a lovely trail run during my lunch break. The weather has been absolutely perfect for running through the woods.
I stumbled into this wonderful gang while running. The woman was a dogwalker and kind enough to let me snap a quick photo. Look at that motley crew of faces! That must be a really fun job.
Later, at home, we did some redecorating.
This is a photo of my closet. We removed the hideous doors and instead hung some homemade curtains for a much cleaner, more subtle look.
It also just so happens that this curtain rod is super sturdy...
...because it's actually a pullup bar! One of my friends is moving to Seattle and generously left his pullup bar behind. It's been on our wishlist for a long time, especially now that our apartment is cool enough to accommodate more active exercises than just whining and napping.
I still can't do a chinup or pullup (I had to jump for this photo) - but, that's why my strength training goal is a goal. Hopefully soon!
My friend also gave us his set of adjustable dumbbells. We've got more plates than I'll ever need, and they stack nicely. I'm excited to take my home workouts up a notch.
My husband likes to say that everything will come to you in time, no matter what it is, if you're willing to wait long enough. He was definitely right in this case :)
If you want something, do you believe in immediate gratification or in waiting?
I am a very cautious person, so I'm all about waiting - what you want now, you may not want later.
Thank you for all of your support on my Goal Recap post. I know that no one will knock on my door if I don't meet my goals, but the little bit of accountability really helps.
We recently went to a church rummage sale that was giving away free hot dogs. A couple of things at play here:
We're vegetarians and hot dogs are not vegetarian.
Hot dogs are poisonous, even to non-vegetarians.
I love free food and they smelled so good.
Veggie dog bonanza! We seriously ate this for dinner 4 nights in a row. I bought Tofurky Italian Sausages and whole wheat hot dog buns from Trader Joe's. Because the veggie dogs had about 300 calories and an obscene amount of sodium. we split each down the middle and grilled in our sandwich press. Served on toasted buns with mustard, ketchup, and zucchini relish.
On the side are carrot sticks, iced tea and spinachy baked beans. I requested healthy coleslaw, which my husband whipped up with shredded cabbage and carrots, homemade yogurt, red wine vinegar, maple syrup, and lotsa black pepper. I ate the rest of it for breakfast ;)
SEE YA LATER, SUMMER.
Actually, one more thing! I wanted to share this recipe for baingan bharta before the eggplants go away. Baingan bharta is an eggplant-based Indian curry and this version is nowhere near traditional, but it's very easy to make and I love it.
Slacker Baingan Bharta (Eggplant Curry)
2 medium eggplants
2 28-oz cans of diced tomatoes (or any other tomato products, like crushed/sauced/whatev)
1/4 cup brown sugar
Pretty much any spice you have
Peel and chunk your eggplant. Dump into crockpot. If you don't have a crockpot, find one. Winter is coming!
Add tomatoes. Cook on low until it's nice and soft, about 4 hours.
Spice it! This is the fun part when you throw just about every non-spaghetti-sauce spice into the crockpot. We like to use some combination of cumin, coriander, "curry" powder (which can mean any combination of anything) and garam masala (another spice blend). Add some red pepper if you like it spicy. Add the brown sugar to tame the tomato tang.
We never have cilantro in the house, but a sprig of it would be a great garnish. Also, because this dish has so little protein, I like to serve it with chickpea pancakes on the side.
2/3 cup chickpea flour (also called gram flour or besan)
1 egg substitute or egg
Any spices you may have used in the curry
Stir everything together, adding up to 1 cup of water as necessary to make it thin. Cook in a hot skillet.
I love this dish because it doesn't heat your kitchen, requires very little hands-on time, packs well for lunch the next day and is embarrassingly simple.
Have you ever tried Indian food? What is your favorite dish?
I love saag paneer, which is a creamy spinach dish with cubes of mild white cheese. With a big piece of garlic naan (bread) on the side :)
I hope your weekend was wonderful! Pittsburgh was blessed with unusually perfect weather and I did my best to enjoy as much of it as possible. On Sunday, we went hiking in a nearby park.
Despite the gorgeous temps, we had the trails mostly to ourselves.
I feel so fortunate to live in a city with such a developed parks system. I love being able to walk to the grocery store...but also being able to get lost on miles of well-maintained trails. It's a wonderful dichotomy of proximity and solitude.
While walking, we also saw a tree trunk that was covered with little jewels of sap. I wondered why that happens.
Sap transports vital nutrients, minerals and water to various parts of the tree.
It repels insects and contains chemicals that eliminate harmful fungi and bark beetles.
However, many pests attack healthy pine trees by tunneling through the outer layer of bark. Sap tends to ooze out of cracks, wounds and other injuries on the tree (source).
Poor tree. It makes me feel better to think about those bugs being eaten by another critter :P
We also went to see a Shakespeare in the Park group perform The Tempest. I've seen this group perform for a few years and they're always hilarious and delightful.
Oh, and I forgot to mention, but I recently received a case of Larabars from Michelle's giveaway!
Larabars are neat because they use only natural, recognizable ingredients, like dates and almonds. I personally prefer bars that have more protein and less sugar, but these would be a great for travelling, when you may not find fruit. I'm wondering if I could cook/bake with them as a sub for dates...
Finally, my progress from last week:
GMAT I have specific blocks of time allocated to studying...but somehow I missed them. Not entirely sure what happened. I'll have to be more conscious of how I spend my time this week.
Read Did you know that some birds will swallow rocks to help them grind their food? The rocks are held in a part of their stomach called the gizzard. Because birds have no teeth, they have to swallow each bite whole and the rocks grind against each other to break the food down, essentially chewing with their stomach. Bird book!
Strength Does it count as a goal if I love doing it? Instead of traditional deadlifts, I tried single leg deadlifts, thanks to the suggestions of Allie and Ellie. No lower back pain, but lotsa hamstring soreness. Success!
Counting calories I pretty much ignored this all week and I know that I ate way more sweets because of it. I will work on developing some sort of balance between tracking obsessively and tracking responsibly.
Crochet FAIL. 3 weeks in a row! My only excuse is that the craft store is in a trafficked part of town that I'm never in.
I recently received a small raise (hooray!) so my husband and I went for a celebratory dinner at one of our favorite restaurants, Thai Gourmet. The folks who work there are so lovely and the food is so delicious.
An order of lightly crisped veggie springrolls was followed by...
General Tso tofu, one of my favorites. Their sauce is tangy and sweet and spicy and garlicky and amazing. You may also notice some complimentary Thai iced teas in the background :)
3/4 cup cornmeal
1 1/4 cup oat flour or whole wheat flour
2-4 tbsp brown sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup + 2 tbsp* unsweetened almond milk
2 tbsp oil
1 egg replacer or egg
1/4 cup apple butter**
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
Combine the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in one bowl.
In a liquid measuring cup or medium bowl, combine the milk, oil, and egg replacer.
Pour the wet into the dry and stir until just combined. Pour the mixture into a greased mini muffin tin***, filling each tin about 3/4 full.
Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until lightly golden on top. Using a teaspoon, press little cavities into the top of each muffin and fill with apple butter.
*These 2 tablespoons of milk can also be subbed with oil instead for extra fluffiness. I imagine you could also eliminate the oil altogether, only using milk, but this would probably make it a little chewier.
**Or, if you'd rather have savory, not sweet, then fresh corn, shredded cheddar, sundried tomatoes, or pickled peppers all make great additions.
***Alternately, you can pour the mixture into a greased 9" round pan or cast iron skillet and bake for about 18-20 minutes. Then you can split the wedges and make a grilled cheese :)
I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!
Have you ever tried Thai food? What is your favorite dish?
I used to work in a Thai restaurant and have easily eaten my weight in Thai food :)