Christmas Countdown

IT’S HAPPENING. IT’S ALMOST HERE!! THE CHRISTMAS COUNTDOWN HAS BEGUN!

6 Days 'Til Christmas!
6 days to go!

Okay, okay, I can’t lie to you guys. I’ve obviously been counting down to Christmas since October for much longer than this. But since we are officially down to less than one week to go, I can now proclaim it to the world. Huzzah! And I have plans for this week. Oh, the plans that I have! I’ve already resolved to kick my weight loss back into action with the coming of the New Year, but until then… mwahahaha!

Though most of my weekend was dedicated to kicking some serious Sith butt in Star Wars: The Old Republic, the new MMORPG that Ben gave me as part of my early Christmas present (#nerdalert), I did manage to sneak out to the grocery store to pick up supplies for all the Christmasing that’s going to go down in my kitchen this week.

BAKE ME
Dark chocolate chips, white chocolate chips, pecans, funfetti cake mix, unsalted butter, and frosting.

As you can see, I have baking plans up the wazoo for this week. So much deliciousness… so terrible for me. It’s going to be legen–wait for it–dary! Don’t fret though, I did pick up a few healthy items too.

Production
Button mushrooms, red grapes, a red onion, lemons, and fuji apples.

Green & Red
Brussels sprouts, baby spinach, craisins, and salad greens.

As well as some semi-healthy-ish items. Heh.

Animal
Bleu cheese crumbles, steak pieces, and ground turkey breast.

Saucy
Diced and peeled tomatoes, reduced fat Wheat Thins, tomato sauce, and kidney beans.

Cooking has been woefully absent from my life lately, so I’m excited for the edible possibilities of my grocery store spoils. Also, Steve brought me golden beets!!

Golden Beets

Apparently Wegman’s is the place to get these bad boys, since that’s where he picked them up. I still haven’t spotted them myself yet, but I guess that now if I get desperate I know I can drive for half an hour to the closest Wegman’s, haha. Regardless, I am SO excited to roast them up!

This countdown has even managed to make me happy it’s Monday, because it just means that I’m that much closer to presents Christmas. Whee!

Do you have any specific baking or cooking plans this week? I can’t wait to make yet another valiant, if ultimately unsuccessful, attempt at replicating my Aunt Joanie’s incredible sugar cookies, as well as to build the Christmas gingerbread house — a family tradition!

It’s a Bad, Bad, Bad, Bad World

I’ve been bad lately. I know, I know, I shouldn’t use terms like “good” and “bad” when it comes to food, since it hearkens back to the days when my relationship with food was, uh, less than stellar. But I’ve got to be honest with you folks (that’s kind of my M.O. here, after all) and while “bad” may not be the best word for it, it sure hasn’t been good. With all the emotional drama of the past couple of weeks, I’ve barely been cooking. And we all know that cooking for ourselves is an integral part of weight loss (and health, in general!) So, y’know. Bad Gretchen.

In order to remedy this, I made a triumphant, if belated, return to the grocery store! And yes, I do realize that for normal, non-crazy, non-lazy people, the act of going to the grocery store isn’t exactly something worth celebrating. Buuuuuut, my blog, my rules. So we’re going to make a big deal of it anyway, goshdarnit! BEHOLD!

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Brussels sprouts, apples, limes, a lemon, a red onion, and asparagus. Can you believe that b. sprouts stalk?! Let’s get a closer look at that sucker:

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Whoosh!

Totally worth the extra dollar and a half I probably paid just for the stalk, haha. It’s kind of hilarious (in a sad way, not an actually funny way) that I always gripe about how much I’m spending at the grocery store for two weeks’ worth of food, when I easily will drop $10 at Chipotle for a single meal. Just another thing I’m continually trying to remedy, friends.

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Almond milk, eggs, bacon, and a salmon fillet.

Now, please note that this shopping trip was also done in the wake of yet another dental visit (6 months on the dot!), so I can’t be held fully responsible for some of the things that may have crept their way into my cart.

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Pretzel crisps, pita chips, hummus, garlic hummus, and a box of just-in-case Velveeta (kekeke.)

Case in point.

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Evaporated milk, pie crust dough, heavy whipping cream.

Though to be fair, something epic is going to be happening with these ingredients (plus two important additional ones that aren’t pictured) this weekend. Any guesses? Prepare thyselves for greatness!

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Tofu of the silken, firm, and extra firm variety, and balsamic vinaigrette.

One of the perks of being a blogger, besides the inflation of my ego and getting to meet awesome people I would never have met otherwise, is the awesome amount of coupons that I get my hands on before failing to ever actually use them. So thanks to remembering to actually try to save monies for once, I picked up the above bottle of salad dressing and not one, not two, but THREE cubes/packages/blocks (?) of tofu for FREE! Stay tuned for the amazingness that will be coming out of my recipe box (why does that sound dirty?) utilizing those puppies.

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In fact, the dressing has already been used in a red cabbage dish that I made alongside the salmon (prepared in the same way as my dill-icious lemon tilapia recipe!) and some particularly beautiful swiss chard that my sister gave me from her CSA. Yay for finally getting my act together and cooking for myself! I had almost forgotten how much I like doing so!

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Recipe for the braised cabbage to come tomorrow!

How do you dig yourself out of a cooking (or lack thereof) rut?

Take 2

Ahhh, the bittersweet taste of Wednesday. We’re halfway there, but still halfway, er, away. Plus, it’s weigh-in day. Urk. After last week’s less-than-desirable weigh-in, I wasn’t really sure what to expect this morning. I tried to keep it fairly light all week, despite all the eating out that’s been occurring. Last night I met up with Reema for… SUSHI!

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And it was happy to see me!

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As we were to see it, hehehe.

Post-deliciousness, I was busy preparing for the worst. In order to make myself feel better after a potentially heartbreaking weigh-in, I spent a little time throwing together my second-ever vlog! That way, I’d at least have an excuse to watch myself talk afterwards, which we all know I vainly love to do.

I’ve definitely learned from my first experience with, sigh, vlogging (still hate the word.) I’m getting faster at splicing together clips, too. It only took me like, an hour and a half this time!

Note: my hair is wet because I had just showered (shock!), and I had just showered because I did 30 Day Shred (BIGGER SHOCK!)

All right, all right, time to get on with this other show:

Starting Weight: 246 lbs
Last Week’s Weight: 189.4 lbs
This Week’s Weight: 186.2 lbs
This Week’s Change: -3.2 lbs

I DON’T UNDERSTAND MY BODY. I gain two and a half pounds last week, only to lose three now? Oy. I guess I should just take the loss (between the yo-yoing up and down, it’s a 0.7 pound loss overall for the past two weeks) and be happy, but I’m just so confused. I guess even when you limit yourself to a weekly weigh-in (although in full disclosure, I did take a couple of sneak peeks over the weekend…) things aren’t always going to be reflective of your “true” weight. As long as it’s all headed in the right direction I can’t be too upset though, I suppose!

Thoughts on the vlog this time around? Tips or ideas for next time?

Another question: is it true that sparkling water still isn’t good for you because the carbonation weakens bone density? Because if so, I will be sad. It makes water so much more interesting!

Edit: I just Googled the answer to this, and it looks like the answer is no! Evidently it isn’t the carbonation in soda that affects calcium levels and bone density, it’s other (worse) stuff. Huzzah!

Whole Paycheck

In the event that perhaps you have been trapped in a cave with 30 other Chilean miners or suffered some other catastrophic loss of all communication with the outside world, you may be unaware that DC’s own LivingSocial offered up quite the tantalizing deal on Tuesday.

For $10 you could get a voucher worth $20 at our beloved Whole Foods, where it’s easy (or whatever’s easier than easy) to spend over $100 in a single trip. Bloggers o’er the entire blogosphere were rejoicing! People I barely talk to outside of Facebook were emailing me their deal referrals (sorry, friends, but I jumped on this ish like 5 seconds after it was released, hahaha) and my Twitter and Facebook feeds were blowing up. This deal set the record for the fastest sold-out LivingSocial deal EVER, hitting 1,000,000 (that’s a MILLION, folks) in less than 20 hours.

Whole Foods is the bomb diggity. But, of course, it might blow my mind with its awesomeness, but it also blows my wallet wide open, which is why I usually stick to the equally great but oh-so-much-cheaper Trader Joe’s on regular occasions. So, naturally, the minute I got my voucher, I was ready to spend it.

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I really did intend to only buy $20 worth… but as you can see, that didn’t really happen. It’s like you’re put under a magical, organic-buying haze when you step into that store! Oh well, I got over $50 worth of stuff for $30 (Well, $40, if you count the original $10 spend on the deal.) and that’s still 20% off so I’m a happy bear!

Behold:

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Kombucha, almond milk, soy milk, PB&Co.’s White Chocolate Wonderful peanut butter (!!)

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Cilantro, green beans, bananas, red grapes, grape tomatoes, and a lime.

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Daiya vegan cheddar cheese, sunflower seeds from the bulk bins, and some hot bar action.

Soooo, the first photo alone pretty much showcases where I would have had to stop if I had really only been spending $20. Worth it, hehe. And I know it seems SUPER random because I have things like cilantro and a single lime in there, but I really do have plans for those things, I promise.

Tomorrow Steve and I head over to his home state of Delaware for his friend’s wedding. We’re actually driving over tonight, and thus wedding #2 of 2011 begins. Just 3 more to go after this… oy. Not sure what posting is going to look like for tomorrow due to the festivities, but you can be sure to get a full recap when I’m back.

Did you take advantage of the Living Social deal? Spend it yet? What WOULD you spend it on if you had one?

PS: The 36th annual Taste of Falls Church Festival is happening this Saturday (9/17) from 10 – 4 in Falls Church! I desperately want to make it back in time to go to this, because it’s always so much fun. If you’re local, you should check it out! (I’m announcing this not because I was asked to, but just because I LOVE it!)

PPS: OMGOMGOMGOMGOMG VAMPIRE DIARIES COMES BACK TONIIIIIIIGHT!!! Except… we got rid of TV so I’ll have to wait until tomorrow to watch it. SOB. (NO. SPOILERS.)

Thank Goodness for Trader Joe’s

I think I may have found a wrench in my “dump everything and move to Boulder as quickly as humanly possible” dream.

I think I'll keep it.

Bailey informed me that there are, in fact, no Trader Joe’s in Colorado! And I’m just not sure how I would cope with that.

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Case in point: yesterday’s grocery shopping extravaganza!

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Left to right: TJ’s white bean & basil hummus, dolmas, fresh mozzerella balls (hehehe… balls.), 2 cans of light coconut milk, jar of peanut sate sauce, can o’ pineapple.

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Jalapeno chicken sausage (yum!), frozen mushroom ravioli (to add to my stash of I-don’t-wanna-cook back-ups in the freezer), bacon ends & pieces (for cooking — much cheaper than whole bacon!), ground turkey breast, chicken breast tenders.

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Kale, sliced mango, brussels sprouts, two limes ($0.39 each!), two kiwis, baby bell peppers (literally the cutest thing ever), mini heirloom tomatoes, and seedless red grapes (tucked behind the tomatoes, you can’t see ’em.)

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Misc: Garlic-infused olive oil, maple syrup, wasabi almonds (!!), whole wheat hot dog buns.

And ALL of that (which really is quite a lot!) for less than $80! I. Love. Trader. Joe’s. After doing my happy-pantry-dance, I got to enjoy this view for the next hour or so:

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BAHAHA. Love you, Reema!

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We went to Sweetwater Tavern, where I indulged just a little much. But if you saw my daily eats from last night, you can kind of tell I had adjusted my day to account for eating out. I just didn’t factor in that I would desperately be needing one of these by the end of the day:

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Hehe. I drank half of their prickly pear frozen marg (which was more than enough for me — is it possible my alcohol tolerance is still in Boulder?) before Reema graciously helped me out.

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I got crab cakes! They were about one-tenth the size of the gargantuan crab cakes I had in Baltimore, but unlike those, Sweetwater’s have like, zero breading on the inside, so you know you’re getting your money’s worth.

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I swapped out the regular fries that came with it for sweet ‘tater ones. Plus cole slaw. Ate it all. Totally delicious, totally worth it.

What’s your favorite going-out-to-eat indulgence?

Sushi’s kind of a no-brainer for me, so I don’t really count it as an answer to this question, haha. So I guess I would say that I love me some crab cakes, and seafood in general will always be my choice. That section of the menu is always the first to jump out at me, hehe. I imagine that most men would probably be a pretty easy guess: STEAK!