I'm back in the USA! It took a while, but I made it. I left Adelaide for Sydney at 9:30 am on Monday morning. I expected to be a sobbing hysterical mess when Al dropped me off at the airport, but I luckily only cried a little bit. I had to pause a few times in the lobby to wipe some tears from my face, but I was fine by the time I boarded the plane.
Since Qantas always serves food no matter what time of day it is, they gave us morning tea. We had a choice between a brownie, a muesli bar or an apple. I chose the brownie, and I knew as soon as I bit into it that I chose well. It was a black forest brownie made by Temptation Bakeries. It was perfectly moist and cakey, and there were even little pieces of cherry in it. I also had a cup of black tea.
There was nothing that I felt like watching on TV, so I kept myself occupied by read my book "The Dark Tower". It's the last of a seven-part series, so I will be really sad when I finish it. I'll tell you more about it when I'm done.
The flight went by quickly, and there was nobody sitting next to me. I always love having extra space. After an hour and a half, we landed in rainy Sydney.
The first flight was the only relaxing part of my day. As soon as we landed in Sydney, I realized that my big flight to Dallas was going to start boarding in 25 minutes. I should have known this before, but I really trusted the Qantas customer service that booked my flight for me. I never thought about how much time I would have in between flights. That's an amateur traveler mistake!
Luckily, big international flights start boarding very early since the planes are so big and there are a lot of people to get on them. The problem was that the international terminal in Sydney is separate from the domestic terminal, and you have to take a bus to get from one place to the other. I just missed the bus, so I had to wait a good 15 minutes while the bus drove to the terminal, unloaded the people and drove back. There was a TV screen in the waiting room with the international departure information, and it said "GO TO GATE" in huge letter for my flight. I was very tense (and sending my typical freak-out text messages to Al...as if he could do something magical to make me make my flight while he was in Adelaide), but I started to relax once I finally got on the bus. I started talking to some other Americans on the bus, and I learned that a few on them were on my flight. That made me more sure that Qantas would hold our flight if they knew that there were enough of us.
We finally made it there, and I sprinted out ahead of everybody, filled out my departure card since I stupidly forgot to grab one before, got through customs, wove in and out of people in the duty free area, went through another security check for the American flights and finally got to my gate. I was sweating profusely by the time I got there. When I finally made it to the front of the line and gave my boarding pass to the staff, my ticket wouldn't work. The staff member with my boarding pass asked me where I was going, and I said I was going to Dallas. He kindly pointed to the gate next to me and told me to go there. I then realized that I was trying to board the plane to Los Angeles. Silly me.
I was sure that my plane was about to leave without me, so I started running like I was being chased by a Hungarian Horntail (the most dangerous dragon in the wizarding world of Harry Potter) down the thing that connects the plane to the airport gate (what the heck is that called?). I finally stopped when I saw two male flight attendants standing at the door and holding out their hands as if they were pleading me to slow down.
The good news was that I made my flight. The bad news was that I rushed for no reason. Since it was so rainy in Sydney, a lot of the connecting flights were delayed. They were still waiting for flights to come in from all over the country. We ended up waiting about an hour before they closed the doors for good. At least I got a really good sweaty workout in for the day.
Again, I got super lucky with my seat. I was in the back of the plane in the middle section on the aisle (the seat I always request), and nobody sat next to me. There was also a really nice Texan-Australian couple in my row. They got on the plane after me, so they were pretty sweaty like me when they sat down.
The Returning Curse
I don't know if I have mentioned this before, but I never have a very good time coming back to the US. Going to Australia, I always sleep for several hours on the plane. I am comfortable, enjoy my food and the ride is over before I know it. Coming back is another story. Since we leave in the late morning or early afternoon, my body does not want to sleep. Then, something else usually goes wrong. Two times, I was stuck in the window seat next to a family with kids who never want to get up. Another time, I had a crippling stomach ache, barely slept and my flight from LA to Chicago was delayed for five hours.
Well, this time, I had the emotional distress of almost missing my flight. Then, I ate my dinner. I thought I requested my Oriental vegetarian
meal, but I must have done something wrong. I got the normal dinner. It was the same crap
that I ate on my last flight to Los Angeles. I was hungry, so I ate everything on the plate except for the nasty chicken.
I also had two of the little bottles of wine, because I figured that it might help me get to sleep. I stayed up for a while, and I watched a few movies. I started out with "Blue Valentine", then I watched "The Apartment" and "Tangled". I enjoyed all of them. Anyway, I finally started to feel sleepy in the middle of "Tangled", so I took a break to get some rest. I'm pretty sure that I slept about 30-40 minutes, and then I woke back up and watched TV again.
Soon after that, I realized that I felt really sick. I had terrible nausea. I wanted to go back to sleep, but my head spun every time that I closed my eyes. I knew that it couldn't have been the alcohol, because I drank the equivalent of two glasses of wine. It would be a very sad day for me if I got that intoxicated and sick from just that.
The nausea hit me about four to five hours into the flight, so I had a miserable eight hours or so of being awake. I watched some TV shows on demand, and I spent the rest of the time starting into space and wishing somebody could knock me out. I had sleeping pills, but it was too late to take them. Around the four-hour-to-go mark, I started dry heaving and gagging in my seat. I had the comfort of knowing that I had a barf bag under my TV, but I was also able to get up as many times as I wanted and throw up in privacy of the bathroom. My gosh, it was terrible. I don't know what made me so ill, but I would not be surprised if it was the plane food. I have a history of feeling very sick from it, but this is the first time I actually threw up.
Breakfast came a few hours later. I requested the continental breakfast, since I knew I would not be able to hold down fake eggs and sausage. It came with cereal, fruit and a bread roll. I was focusing on trying not to vomit in front of an audience, so I didn't take any photos.
The only thing I was able to eat was the outside of my bread roll. There was fruit in the middle, and that was just too much for me. When I feel that sick, I can only eat plain bread or crackers.
The last two hours of the flight, I was finally able to get some shut-eye. My head still spun, but my body really wanted to sleep. I woke up to the plane landing, and I was relieved.
Dallas is for happy people
The Dallas Fort-Worth airport, unlike LAX in Los Angeles, is full of happy people. With the exception of the man who stamped my passport, who was just normal, every staff person was exceptional friendly. Customs was clean and easy to get through (albeit HOT), and some of the people working there even wore cowboy hats. I adored everybody from the people who checked me in to my domestic flight to the people who worked at the bookstores. Some of the men even called me "ma'am". It doesn't get better than that.
I had some time to kill before my flight to Chicago, and I needed to get something to eat. Before I got sick, I was really looking forward to eating Tex-Mex food. I wanted a burrito or an enchillada or something like that. Unfortunately, I knew that eating something like that would send me right back to bowing to the porcelain throne (the toilet). I was smart, and I got a turkey sub from Subway. It didn't upset my stomach at all.
By the way, the route from Sydney to Dallas is brand new (it replaced the San Francisco route), so it's nice if you live in the Midwest or eastern parts of the US. Just keep in mind that the flight to Australia is about two hours longer than it would be from the West Coast. I despise LAX (rude staff, long lines, dirty airport, no tram system to get you from terminal to terminal, bums hustling you for money, etc), so DFW was a big treat for me.
A few hours later, I arrived in Chicago and greeted my very happy parents.
My dad heated up some leftover chicken and rice with broccoli. I knew I was feeling better, because it didn't make me feel sick.
I am one large chicken breast! Finish me if you dare.
I managed to stay up until about 10:30. This morning, I woke up thinking that I had slept all day. I looked at my clock, and it was 5:30 am. Oh well. I'll have to get used to some jet lag for a while. Luckily, my mom took me to Starbucks for some coffee and breakfast.
More on that later! For now, I'm just happy that I'm not on an airplane anymore.
Hellooooo! I have been a lazy waste of space the past couple of days. Since I finished work on Friday, I have spent my days lying on the couch and my nights eating (not healthy) and drinking. But you know what? I'm going to America tomorrow, and I don't even know the next time I will see Alastair. So, I don't feel guilty about spending 100% of my time lazying around with him. It will be a while before I get to do it again.
Friday was my last day of work. We had a morning tea at 10:30 to participate in the Biggest Morning Tea
to raise money for cancer. Each of us had the option to make a donation. A lot of companies take part in this during the month of May. At the same time, we had the morning tea to say goodbye to me!
There were scones and cakes galore.
We also had big quiches.
I got a bottle of wine and a hat with our company logo on it so that I will never forget where I worked!
I had a lot of last-minute things I need to wrap up, so the day went very quickly for me. Before I knew it, it was 5 pm. I was hugging everybody good-bye, and then it was time to go home. I do admit that I got a little teary-eyed. I worked with some fantastic people.
As soon as I got home, Al and I drove to his brother Nick and his fiance Anna's house. They had us over for dinner, along with some other family members. We had lots of entertaining characters there, like little Nate in his robe.
There was also Grumpy,
who wanted me to take this photo so that my mom could see her wearing the scarf we bought for her.
Then there was Cody
, who is just over a year old.
We kept him outside while we ate dinner. It was pretty obvious that he wanted to come inside and play!
He came inside after dinner and got lots of attention.
Later on, we ate dessert. It was a pie (I can't remember what it was, but it was delicious!) on top of a peanut butter macaroon. I cleared my bowl.
Then, Cody wanted to play some more.
I let Cody hang out on my lap, so I was the only one to blame when I left the house later covered in dog hair and slobber. It was worth it! It just made me more excited to see my doggies.
Yesterday, not much went down until night time. We met our friends Duncan and Claire for a bite to eat at the Lion Hotel
in North Adelaide, and some other buddies joined us later. We went on to Mesa Lunga
in the city and then some other karaoke bar around there.
Claire, Cat, Lara, Megan, Me
We ended up getting home around 2 in the morning, so I didn't feel bad about sleeping very late today. I haven't done anything productive today besides washing my hair and blogging, so I have a lot to do! I can't believe that I'm flying out of Adelaide at 9:30 tomorrow morning. That's almost in 12 hours. Holy shoot.
See you guys in America!
We're not really planning a honeymoon in Thailand. I'll get to that title later.
I cannot believe that my last day of work is tomorrow! I can't even fathom the next time I will be working in an office. Today was my last day of wearing "work" clothes, since the last Friday of every month is a casual day. I have a few fun things planned for the weekend, and then I jet back over the International Dateline on Monday morning.
You want to know what the craziest thing is? I STILL haven't figured out if I'm going back to Australia. I don't think I'll figure it out for a few more weeks. You know what's even crazier, though? I'm at peace with that. I'm okay with the fact that I don't know where I'll be in two months. I'm excited about being surprised. It can go one way or the other. The important part is that no matter what I choose, I am on my way to an exciting career that will make me proud (and a lifetime with a wonderful man)!
It's just a matter of figuring out if I want the financial strain or a long time without my fiance. It's a tough choice, my friends. I explain it in more detail at the end of this post.
Now, let's talk about food! These are things you have seen before. I ate lunch at my desk today since I left at 4 (hooray!). I had the same pumpkin minestrone soup that I ate yesterday. I would have had a baguette sandwich as well, but nobody put them in the fridge yesterday. They sat on the table all night long. Darn.
I later got a crazy chocolate craving, so I got into the charity chocolate box again.
Following the trend for this week, I had to drag my little feet to the gym after work. I just didn't feel like doing any physical activity. I finally decided on a workout that would get me out of the gym in 30 minutes. I found this elliptical interval workout on Tina's
blog a few months ago. It makes me work so hard, and it's all over very fast. Here it is:
Great workout! You can also cut out the cool down and repeat to make it longer.
I came home, showered and make a wee little bowl of gnocchi for dinner.
I had to hurry, because we had a 7:15 movie to catch. We saw "The Hangover II". I'll say this: if you liked the first one, you will like this one (maybe even more than the first). But keep in mind that it's rated R for a reason!
One of my favorite parts about the movie was the scenery on the island in Thailand. I don't think we'll go there for our honeymoon, but it's gorgeous! We have a while to decide about that. Plus, I'm not sure if Thailand would be the same without a monkey. You would understand if you saw the movie.
It's almost Friday!!!
Now that the weather is down in the 'teens (Celsius, my friends), it is acceptable to have soup for lunch. If I was in my good cooking and meal planning mode, I would be taking our new slow cooker out of the box and making delicious homemade soups. Since I am NOT meal planning,
I brought a can of Heinz pumpkin minestrone soup
I also lucked out by getting a free baguette with butter, lettuce and smoked salmon. My coworkers have been ordering platters of sandwiches all week for training, and there were so many leftovers today. Of course, I snagged one for myself. I fill up on just the soup alone, so I was violently full with the soup and sandwich. Oh well. The baguette tasted good, and that was the important part.
The pumpkin minestrone is fantastic, by the way. Cambell's makes a good one, as well. Last winter, I ate it very frequently.
Since I took my lunch hour today, I actually stayed until 5. I feel like I haven't done that in a long time. There are so many more cars on the road when I leave at the right time...
Dinner eventually came around, and I again caved into an easy and not-so-healthy meal. Al and I split McCain crunchy seasoned fries and fish from the freezer. These fries are hands down some of the best ones I've ever had in my life. The seasoning is so good! They also take less cooking time that other fries such as wedges, since they are thinner.
Wednesday night dinner! Do the fries count as a few servings of veggies?
It was mmm mmmm good.
Then, there was dessert.
Neopolitan ice cream in a mug with chocolate sauce and sprinkles.
At least I got ate some veggies for lunch....
For the second time this week, I just wasn't in the mood to go to the gym after work (I'm really starting to see the benefits of exercising in the morning). I still wanted to do something, so I loaded up toneitup.com
. These girls are so entertaining (and sexxxxayyy). Plus, they give great workout advice.
I did a few of their short workouts with weights, and then I came across this one
. It's three sets of three moves, and you will work your whole body. I was sweaty by the time I finished! For the best results, you'll need a stretchy band to tie around your legs for move #2. I have a long elastic Pilates band, so I used that. If you can do lunges and squats, give it a go! You'll work your body in under 20 minutes.
I also thought this video
was entertaining on Tone It Up.
Also, have you noticed that my photos look a little bit better? Less blur and more clarity? That's because my mom bought me a camera when I was still in the US. I'm not sure why I haven't mentioned that before, but it's made such a difference in the quality of my photos. I can actually see details in my own pictures! It's a Canon PowerShot 100HS
. It's not super-duper pricey, and it takes really good pictures. I'm so happy with it!
Catch ya later, folks!
Hello, friends! I hope you are all doing well today. I've been cleaning up the apartment for a lot of the night, because we have one of our routine inspections tomorrow. Every three months, the agent stops by to make sure that we're not trashing the place that we're borrowing in exchange for rent. I feel like I'm at overnight camp and waiting for my daily cabin inspection. I understand that we're supposed to keep it clean, but isn't that the point of a security deposit? These checks make me feel like a child. Guys, sometimes I just need to vent!
Work was different from most days, because the entire sales department was in training. Besides me at reception and a few guys in service at the back, everybody was locked away in the conference room all day. I knew this last week, so I had a few pleas when I e-mailed the office the training schedule. I told everybody that I was going to be bored, and I wanted people to bring me toys (silly putty, a gingerbread house-making kit, Game Boy, etc) or magazines to keep me entertained. Since Nikki is apparently the only person in the office who cares about my well-being, she brought me an entire (pink!) shopping bag full of bridal magazines (she got married
The boys gave me a project that involves calling every single client in South Australia to confirm their e-mail addresses, so I didn't have time to read the magazines today. Nikki is letting me keep them, though. I'll have plenty of time before my wedding to look through them all.
After lunch (which I ate at my desk, since I had to be around at all times to answer phones), I dug into the charity box of chocolates. I got a Time Out. I wanted it instead of my apple. This is why you can't keep chocolate around me.
It's a chocolate-covered wafer with flakey chocolate in between. I had my first one in Israel, and I never saw another one until I came to Australia.
Dinner (and dessert)
Since I was babysitting the phone all day and even had to turn on the night button (activates the answering machine instead of the phone ringing) for bathroom breaks, I was out the door as soon as the training stopped at 4. I love leaving at 4.
It rained the whole drive home. Once I got back, I really wanted to change into comfortable clothes and lounge around in the warm apartment while occasionally cleaning. I would have been able to do that if I woke up when my alarm went off at 5:30 to go to the gym, but I went back to sleep instead. After work, I had no excuses! I dragged myself to the gym, but I of course felt fine by the time I got there. I did 40 minutes on the elliptical, and then I called it a day.
I cleaned a little when I got back, and then we made dinner. We had chicken schnitzels in the fridge that just needed to be thrown on the pan to cook. We also added pasta sauce and cheese to make it a parmy. We also heated up veggies for a healthy factor. As it turned out, it was disgusting. The chicken tasted like dog food might taste, and the texture was rubbery. Yuck. I ate the cheese off of it, and that was pretty much it. The only good parts of the veggies were the peas and corn (the carrots and potatoes were way too soft for my liking and had no taste), so I ate those off the plate.
This dinner would not have happened if I made a meal plan this week. Ugh.
Luckily, we had ice cream to make me all better.
What could be better than good ol' Neopolitan ice cream?
Especially in a mug?
With chocolate sauce and sprinkles?
Now, before I go, I just want to say a few words about today's title. As a blogger, it is evident that I love to write. As somebody who writes, there is a good chance that I try to pay attention to grammar. As a matter of fact, I love correct grammar. There are the common grammatical writing mistakes that drive me insane when I see them, and I try to never make them. They include:
I see these mistakes every day. I see them in other blogs, on Facebook, in work e-mails and occasionally even on news articles. I bring this up, because I noticed a mistake of my own that made me green. I just happened to be reading over some of my blog posts last night before going to sleep, and I saw that I made the effect-affect error last week. I had to jump out of bed and kick Al off the computer while he was updating something on his own website. I immediately edited it, but that doesn't change the fact that a lot of you probably saw it. Yikes!
So, I just want you all to know that I really do appreciate grammar, and I proofread my posts! Sometimes, I just don't proofread well enough. If you ever see that I made a stupid error like the one above, you can tell me in my comments section or on my contact form. I mean it. I will not be offended. Just don't make me cry.
I also realize that my grammar is not perfect, even if I wanted it to be. I do start sentence with "but" and "and", and I don't even always write in complete sentences. If I wrote like I was trying to write an essay, my writing style on my blog would not sound conversational. It would sound too formal and not like me.
That is all. Make sure that you don't make those silly mistakes above, either! Good grammar is more important than you think. You don't want a bunch of people on Facebook thinking that you don't know the difference between your "your" and "you're", do you? How about your boss or somebody you want to hire you?
**Update on Tim Tams**
Pepperidge Farm makes Tim Tams in the US, but I'm not sure if they are for a limited time. If you can get your hands on them, you should! We finished all of our today :(
AHHHHHH I'm so full right now! Let's talk about food from the past couple of days. Two of my dishes have a common theme.
On Saturday, for dinner, I wanted my gnocchi. I almost always have San Remo gnocchi
in the fridge, unless I already ate it and have to buy more. As I have told you all many times, I am obsessed. I made things a little different this time, and I made my sauce from scratch. I used leftover canned tomatoes from making the chili
, minced garlic, a brown onion and dried oregano.
Along with parmesan cheese and broccoli, it made a great meal! As usual, I left half of the gnocchi for the next day.
We then went out to the Cremorne
on Saturday night (I wasn't socially awkward, and I had a great time), and we stayed indoors all day yesterday since it was pouring down with rain. Wet Sundays are meant for staying inside!
Then, Monday came along. Since I'm going home in exactly one week, I didn't bother making a proper grocery shopping list. In fact, I didn't make one at all. I figured that I could bring canned soup for lunches on certain days, and I could always have eggs or cereal for dinner if I ran out of any food. Yum.
I just didn't see the point of buying a lot of food, especially since I know Al won't eat it after I leave.
Since I didn't have a list, the hungry voice inside of me told me to buy fresh spinach and ricotta ravioli. It was open like this when I got it.
No, I'm totally kidding. It wasn't open when I got it. That would be madness! I think I have a San Remo addiction. I loved my pasta so much, that I needed restraint from eating the whole thing.
These are my leftovers for my lunch tomorrow (or what would have been the second half of my dinner), and it was less than half of the whole portion! These servings are massive! The package says there are two in there.
Like Saturday night's dinner, I also added broccoli and parmesan. See the similarity?
After dinner, my night got even better. My shopping partner threw some of these in our cart earlier:
If you non-Aussies haven't had Tim Tams, you haven't lived! I had my first one when I first met Alastair. He was staying at my apartment at University of Illinois with my three other roommates. Since he was with us during Australia Day (at the beginning of January), he ordered a huge box of Aussie goodies to share with us. He was visiting Chicago when the box arrived, and he told me to open it. It contained a stuffed animal kangaroo (of course), Vegemite (I really need to do a post on that), an Australia jumper/sweatshirt and TIM TAMS!!! Al told us to go ahead and try them. We were hooked! In an apartment with four girls, I'm surprised that any of them remained until he got back from Chicago!
We hardly ever buy them these days, because we eat them too quickly.
On a side note, I work next to the Arnott's factory in Adelaide. On most days, the air smells like a huge liquid Tim Tam. It smells like the Chocolate Room in Willy Wonka's chocolate factory (if you ever went there...which you didn't...since it's all made up). It smells like the ocean changed from salt water into a sea of bubbling, rich milk chocolate. Do I need to keep going? Or if you live in Chicago, do you know that smell when you get off the Kennedy Expressway onto Ohio Street? That chocolate smell? It's like that!
So Tim Tams, if you haven't already figured it out, are chocolate biscuits! You can get other flavors, though. When Al let us open his Australia Day package, there were also caramel Tim Tams. You can see more of them here.
TELL ME that you don't want to try a Tim Tam right now!
Here are more facts about Tim Tams:
- the chocolate starts to melt on your fingers the instant you touch it. So when you get sad that you finished your biscuit, you still have the satisfaction of licking the remaining milk chocolate off of your fingers.
- If you bite off both ends, you can use it as a straw for your coffee. The hot liquid will melt your chocolate, and it will result in a hot chocolately coffee mess.
- Al's brother used to work at the unbelievable-smelling factory. He took "reject" Tim Tams home. If they weren't the right shape or something like that, he could leave with a bag of them. The best part is that they tasted exactly the same!
- Al's brother's fiance's brother now works for Arnott's.
- The tray of Tim Tams on our table is more than halfway gone....
- I only had one (so far)....
- Willy Wonka must be kicking himself that he didn't invent them. SUCK IT Everlasting Gobstoppers!!!!
- Target in the US may or may not carry them. I know that they did at one point. What are you waiting for? If you're in America, go to your nearest Target and find out!
Before I go, Tone It Up
is a good site to go on if you want free, at-home workouts. I was too lazy to go to the gym after work, so I tried one of their workouts. They kicked my butt. They also give nutrition advice.
Four more days of work! I can't believe it.
Try, try again applies to two things I have done in the past 24 hours: yum cha and Mt Lofty. I mentioned last week that yum cha
wasn't overwhelmingly good to me, but I went along with the group yesterday and gave it another go.
Some of the food was similar to last week, but we got a lot more steamed plates this time. I decided that my favorite dish was the fried calamari. I KNOW I said that I didn't want the fried food, but I really do love it.
Besides that, there were a lot of steamed dumplings with prawns (the prawn and chive dumplings dipped in soy sauce were my favorite) and some delicious scallop-noodle roll thing that I could not possibly begin to describe. I should have taken a photo.
Instead of fried ice cream this time, I ordered lotus seed buns with most of the group. They are little doughy balls that look like they haven't been cooked, although they have. They are super soft and filled with lotus seed paste. The best I can describe the taste of the paste is like a sweet peanut butter. Honestly, I love these things. They are light and fluffy, and I really can't see them being loaded with calories. All in all, I really can't see the lunch as a whole being loaded with calories. Of course, the fried food is an exception.
That's the lotus seed paste in the middle. Don't diss it until you try it. My coworker who brought us all to yum cha said that she hated them until she tried it for her third time. Now, she's hooked. I liked it the first time I tried it! A few of us felt the same way.
, the restaurant we went to, has some great decor. You will never doubt that you are in a Chinese restaurant. One thing I have to say, though, is that you can't go there expecting good service. Both times, they messed up our orders and took a long time to bring us things that we asked for. Go for the food and ambiance; don't go for the service.
So what's the verdict on yum cha? I liked it a lot. It's fun to go with a group of people, and you can leave feeling like you had a pleasantly healthy meal (just stick to the steamed stuff!). I was also in a better mood this time. I'm glad that I gave it another chance.
My coworker Manish was playing around with my camera when I got back, and he got a photo of me at my desk. That's me at work! My desk gets messy during the day, but I always organize it before I leave. Also, do you see that little white ball next to me?
It's a lotus seed bun. It was left over at the end of the meal, and I couldn't let this cute little dough ball sit there and watch all of his friends get eaten just so that he can get thrown out. So, I took him with me. He still sitting in my fridge! I wonder how it will taste if I microwave and then eat it....
After work, Al and I went straight to his parents' house for dinner. His brother Nick joined us. We ordered pizza, and then Penny put out a wonderful dessert spread. We left the house with a few mini Toblerones, half a wedge of brie and three pieces of home made fudge.
Remember what I said about try, try again? We gave Mt Lofty another try today. It didn't (completely)kill us last week, but I did tell you guys that I was super sore for a few days after! Regardless, we went this morning.
We parked right outside of the Waterfall Gully car park. You can see the waterfall as soon as you walk in. It's so pretty! Actually, everything is pretty over there. The changing leaves are quite the eye candy.
We did it! Honestly, it wasn't even that bad going up this time. It was still hard, but we powered straight through (minus one little stretching break). It went by so much faster than last week. I was surprised when we suddenly turned the corner and saw the side of the cafe on the top of the hill. I was sure that we had longer to go! Including our break, we made it up there in 48 minutes.
Today was my third time walking from Waterfall Gully to the top of Mt Lofty. Here was last week:
This was my first time climbing to the top. It was May 2009. I had just moved to Australia. I really struggled up that time!
When we got home, I iced my legs since I got a painful shin splint on my left leg walking/running down. I then heated up my veggie chili
from Thursday night. It tasted even better this time, because all of the flavors soaked in.
I also had a piece of Penny's fudge. I had to restrain myself from eating more.
Now, I have to clean up. This is our clean laundry hanging up to dry.
And these are all of the clean clothes that need to be put away. My GOSH!!! I think my grandma Arlene would have a heart attack if she saw this.
I still have to shower (I know, I'm gross) and then eventually get ready for a birthday celebration tonight. There will be a lot of people I don't know, so I need to put on my friendly face (and try not to be socially awkward).
I got admitted to Flinders University in Adelaide! That means that I can take a chemistry course there. Although this is very exciting that everything is working out so far, I have a lot of thinking to do. As an international student (I have a partner visa
but still am not a permanent resident), the fees are ridic! One class costs me as much as it would cost me at a private university in the US (and the US dollar is now WEAKER than Australia's!!). Plus, I'd have to find a part-time job so that I can help Al pay the bills. I'd be struggling a lot more with money. Unfortunately, my only other option is to go home and live with my parents. It would be fine, and it would save me a lot of moola. I just have to decide between struggling financially or being away from my fiance for a year. NO BIG DEAL!!!!
Well, we'll figure it out. Feel free to give me a shout-out if you have any advice or inspirational quotes or funny websites. All are appreciated.
morning! Or good evening! Or good afternoon! No matter where you are, one of those greetings will apply to you.
For me, I definitely had a goooood
morning. If you've been keeping up with me lately, you know that my preparations for school have been like a roller coaster
. I have my great moments, and I have the times that make me sob. Today was a smiling day. For instance, I woke up with an e-mail telling me that the class I want to take in Adelaide at the end of July will meet the requirements for the masters program. Then, my mom called me before work to tell me that she registered for my class (the biology class) at a Chicago community college for summer school. She had to register for me since I wasn't able to do it online or on the phone, and she had to wait two and a half hours. World's best mom!
With those things out of the way, I am two steps closer to my plan succeeding. For one thing, I can take two classes in Chicago for summer school. For another thing, I will be able to come back to Australia in July to be with my lovely Al! All I need to do is get confirmation that I am enrolled at Flinders University in Adelaide. Then, I will have enough science prerequisites out of the way to apply for my masters program in January.
If you have absolutely no idea what I am talking about, I explain my grand plan in more detail here.
In a nutshell, I want to do a masters program in nutrition, but I have a ton of prerequisites to take.
After all of the good news this morning, I drove to work and went by our deli on our street to pick up our milk and newspaper for the office. I saw this for sale on the counter:
Carrot and walnut cake! I knew that I was going to buy it the second that I saw it. It's uncharacteristic of me to buy pieces of cake or cookies for myself, but today was a special exception. I bought it. But first, I had to eat my breakfast.
I haven't talked about my breakfast in a while, because I eat the same thing
every day! If I showed you pictures of it every day, I would bore the heck out of you. The only differences between the oatmeal on the post and the oatmeal I had today was that 1) I added cinnamon, as I now do on most days, 2) I don't add stevia anymore and 3) I thew in some cooked quinoa. I've never done that before, and I really enjoyed it. It added some extra texture to my breakfast. In the future, I'd love to decrease the amount of oats and add other fun stuff, like quinoa or wheatberries. Also, I want to decrease the sugar!
Around 10:30, I ate the carrot cake. It was staring up at me from my desk, and it really wanted me to eat it. I kind of wish I had shared it, but I didn't. It tasted really good. I actually don't regret not sharing it anymore.
At 1:30, I ate my lunch at my desk. It was leftovers from yesterday
. I mixed everything together, and it tasted wonderful. I enjoyed it a lot more than last night. I had to get a spoon out so that I could scoop up every remaining piece of quinoa.
The reason that I ate at my desk was because I left work at 4. I did that yesterday, too. I really don't have a lot of work to do at all, so I'm able to leave early as long as I take lunch at my desk. It was glorious today, because I was able to go for a run outside while the sun was still out. If I leave at 5, I won't have enough time to come home and change and go for a run while it's still light outside at this time of the year. Believe me, you do NOT want to run along the river in the dark. You never know what kinds of creepers are out there!
I ran an easy three miles, still without leg pain. I think it might be time to increase the mileage soon!
Later on, I made a delectable vegetarian chili. It was soooo good!
I found this recipe
on taste.com.au. It's for four people, so I cut the recipe in half. I also didn't have lentils, chili flakes, parsley or thyme, but it still turned out pretty awesome.
To meet today's theme, I threw in the rest of the plain quinoa that I cooked last night. I thought it needed a little something extra since I wasn't using lentils. I also didn't add curry paste, so you can mentally erase that from the photo below. Just pretend you don't see it...k?
The recipe was super easy. I just chopped up the vegetables, cooked them a little in the pan until they were soft and then I added everything else. 15 minutes later, it was ready to eat.
I grated some low fat cheese and threw that on top along with non fat Greek yogurt.
It was absolutely perfect. It was a healthy vegetarian meal that took only 30 minutes total to make, prepping included. Yum!
So I really have had quinoa for every meal since last night. Pretty impressive.
Have a great morning, afternoon or evening! Whatever it is, enjoy it.
Well, that was an interesting dinner. I had "brussel sprouts" and "quinoa" on Wednesday night for my weekly meal plan, but I had no idea what the heck to do with them. I also had a ton of leftover bok choy in the fridge (I still do), so I cooked up some of that as well.
I decided to try the boiling method with the greens. I've only ever made brussel sprouts by halving them and roasting them in the oven, so I wanted to try something new. These were also baby brussel sprouts, so I wasn't sure if they would be too small to chop up in even halves.
I prepped the sprouts by washing them under water, chopping off the "stems" and peeling off some of the outer leaves. I also separated the bok choy leaves. While I was doing this, the quinoa was cooking.
(Random thought...but the spell check doesn't recognize any of the foods I am talking about. I just thought I'd let you know that.)
Thanks to obeying the 2:1 water to grain ratio with the quinoa (I used to put in much less water), my quinoa turned out beautifully! I love the way it looks after it's cooked. It's like every grain has a little ponytail.
I boiled water for the greens, and I put them in the water just as the quinoa was finishing up. The bok choy took about 60 seconds to cook, but the brussel sprouts took about 8 minutes.
I made the quinoa tastier by mixing in non fat Greek yogurt, a plain Laughing Cow cheese wedge (I put it in the microwave once everything was mixed in to soften the cheese), cumin, garlic powder, dried basil and plain Garlic Gold
flakes. It was so yummy.
I can't say the same about the greens. I didn't do anything special with the bok choy, but I mixed the sprouts in the same ingredients as I did with the quinoa for added flavor (no cheese, though). They were still pretty blah, and they had that bitter taste that you often get with them. I think I'll stick to roasting them from now on.
I hope you like how I plated up my food, though! That was an interesting dinner, right?
What else? How about a few words on exercise balls?
I just searched "exercise balls" in the photo gallery for Weebly, and I found the above photo. I think I should train at least one of my dogs to do that!
Actually, I won't. I don't want to injure my puppies.
Here is one without a dog:
I'm talking about these balls, because I love how extremely versatile they are. You can use them for so many different exercises. One thing that I've been doing on them lately is chest presses and flies. I work my upper body by using the weights, but I also work my lower and my abs by stabilizing myself. I love it.
You can get into the position by sitting on the ball with your weights and then walking your feet forward until your back is parallel to the ground and just your head, neck and part of your upper back are resting on the ball. You do your exercises as you normally would on a weight bench, but you have to be extremely careful to squeeze your abs and your glutes. Not only you will work your lower body and core, but you will avoid injury!
I'm not even close to being a fitness expert, so make sure you look at pictures and/or consult somebody who is experienced before you do it. Here is a nice simple link for ya.
I think the highlight of today's post was definitely the dog on the ball. I'm sure you all agree! Unless you like looking at pictures of quinoa. I know that I do.
I now have to go scan more things for school
. I swear, this preparation thing will never end. And Al is throwing an orange fish-shaped stress ball at me.
Goodbye for now!
My alarm went off this morning just like any other weekday at 6:50 am. I reached for my phone, as I always do, and checked my email. This time, however, two e-mails started off my day with a surge of panic. I e-mailed the nutrition department at the University of Illinois in Chicago (the school where I want to get my masters)last week to see if the classes I registered for
were suitable for my prerequisites, and I learned that I registered for the wrong biology class. I'm sure you're thinking that I'm crazy for not checking with them several weeks before, but all of this happened so fast from the time that I decided to go through with the masters program until now. I haven't had much time at all to plan responsibly.
As I said before, I can't go back to Australia at the end of July unless I can take two science classes this summer (and get into the class that I want to take in Adelaide). So unless I can find another bio class to take in Chicago, I may as well start packing up all of my stuff in Adelaide forever. The e-mail put me in a high state of distress. It was so bad, in fact, that I didn't go to work today.
I spent the whole morning on the laptop trying to figure out a plan B. I signed up two weeks ago for U of I summer school classes in Chicago just in case plan A fell through (the link to click on above explains it in more detail), but I couldn't get my login to work so that I could register. Then, the class filled up. I poured over the websites of several community colleges in Chicago, and I finally found one that has plenty of open spaces. It's on the north side of the city (so closer to my house) and works with my schedule. I applied to the school and sent my UIUC (University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, where I got my undergraduate degree) transcript over there. I am really depending on this to work.
My day, needless to say, was tearful and frustrating. My mom, as she always is, was trying so hard to help me out over Skype, but we kept hitting road blocks while trying out options. Eventually, I realized there was nothing more I could do on a laptop in Australia while everything in the US was closed for the night, so I took advantage of my free time.
I caught up on "Glee", some "Gossip Girl" and watched several (too many to be reasonable) episodes of "Community". I really needed a good comedy to cheer me up. I was also naughty and got into the stash of Smith's Salt and Vinegar Classic Crinkle Cut chips. I also finished off the chocolate stash and soft lollies (candy) as well.
At 2:30, I decided I should go outside for a run. But "Gossip Girl" left me with a cliffhanger, so I watched another episode.
At 3:30, I laced up my sneaks and headed outside for the first and only time today.
I brought my iPhone as my music player today, so I took a photo of my favorite tree. I always pass it on the way to the river path.
I ran an easy-ish three miles, and then I called it a day. It was slightly painful since I'm still sore in the glutes from Mt Lofty
, but I am still running without my typical leg pain. After almost of year of this, this is amazing!
I thought I wasn't going to want dinner at all thanks to the Smith's chips, but I eventually cooked something.
Ginger, mushroom and tofu stir fry (serves 2)
Ingredients (measurements may not be exact)
- 1/2 block firm tofu
- 1 packet shitake mushrooms (mine had about 8-10)
- 1 cup cauliflower
- 1 brown onion
- 1 piece bok choy
- 1 packet udon noodles
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce (or add as much as you want)
- 1-2 tablespoons peanut oil
- 1 tablespoon minced ginger
- 2 teaspoons red curry paste (leave out if you don't want spicy)
I chopped up all of my veggies. I've never cooked bok choy before, but I figured it couldn't be too hard. I was right.
Next, I cut up my tofu into thin and long pieces.
When the pan was hot, I started by lightly browning the tofu on both sides. Then, I added the onions.
When they were slightly brown, I threw in all the rest of the veggies. They cooked for about five minutes, and then I added all of the sauces and pastes.
Do you see one long green piece of pasta that doesn't belong? Somebody (who wasn't me) throught it would be funny to put it in my food.
When the veggies and tofu were pretty much cooked, I added the noodles. They only needed a minute to cook on the frying pan.
All ready! See the green noodle?
It tasted great, except I forgot to add oil. It made my noodles very dry and almost impossible to slurp. I added the peanut oil for the leftovers.
Below: Al's pasta. I wonder where the green noodle came from...
I really hope I don't wake up tomorrow morning with more stressful news. Fingers crossed I can register for my bio class at the Chicago community college!