Plane ramblings

About a month ago I learned that I’d drawn the short straw and that I would have to travel out to DC for work in August. What a horrible time to be on the East Coast! Heat, humidity, and thunderstorms. I moved to California to get away from these things! (Actually, I like thunderstorms, but they’re extremely rare in Los Angeles.) Well, fast forward to today and I’m writing this post on my flight to Dulles. Woohoo! I’ve got a little girl’s elbow in my side (seriously, how can she be so small and still take up so much room?) and the in-flight movie was “Mirror, Mirror” which was terrible. I missed being able to watch “The Avengers” by eleven days. Didn’t flying used to be fun? But anyway, yesterday was my last full day at home, but unfortunately it wasn’t spent doing anything very exciting. Dan has been sick since Tuesday so he’s mostly stayed in bed for the last four days. Poor guy. I got up early yesterday and went on my weekly half marathon walk while it was still overcast and cool outside. The Los Angeles summer heat wave finally broke in the middle of last week or else I wouldn’t have been able to walk outside during the day for three and a half hours without risking heat stroke. Before about Wednesday it had been in the 90s even in the beach cities where I live and work for about two weeks and we’d been really miserable. When you don’t have air conditioning in your house because you almost never need it, you realize how uncomfortable it is to try fall asleep when it’s 83 degrees in your bedroom. Yuck. Hopefully this will be the extent of the hot weather we have this year. Luckily for me yesterday morning was cloudy and cool (in the mid 60s) so I was able to walk my usual 13.1 miles in relative comfort. It was fantastic. I got home, showered, and then immediately went to CVS to get Dan some medicine. He’d been coughing so much that he was worn out and he needed some relief. I picked up something for him at the pharmacy and then got myself a delicious turkey sandwich at Togo’s because I was starving after burning 950 calories (according to my Nike+ app, at least) walking! When I got home Dan came downstairs to watch the previous night’s New Zealand vs. Australia rugby match with me while I ate. The All Blacks shut out the Wallabies so it was a great match to watch and another great victory for New Zealand. After the game was over Dan went back to bed and I got started on a few things. 1) Another batch of chocolate chip cookies. This time I tried a recipe that substituted cream cheese for eggs. Unconventional ingredients intrigue me and I was very interested to see how these cream cheese chocolate chip cookies turned out. Unfortunately I didn’t take a picture of them before they all got packed up to take to DC with me, but I’ll write another post about them next week. 2) Packed for my trip. I was planning to start this much earlier in the week, but life got in the way. Luckily I didn’t have many other obligations yesterday so I was able to pack leisurely. I spent a lot of time figuring out how to fit everything I need for a week and a half into a carry on sized suitcase. You see, I’m taking advantage of my business trip to fly to Tallahassee to see my family over the Labor Day weekend after my work obligations are done. This means that I needed to pack shorts, t-shirts, and sandals in addition to my work clothes. And I tried to fit everything in a carry on suitcase because I have to switch airlines on my way home next Tuesday. My flight to and from Dulles is on United, my airline of choice for business travel (although not for much longer due to their degrading frequent flyer program), but my flight to and from Tallahassee is on Delta because it was by far the cheapest ticket available. So on my way back home when I’m flying from Tallahassee to Atlanta to Dulles and then from Dulles to Los Angeles I’ll either have to find a way to get Delta to route my bag directly to LAX or else carry it on all of my flights and deal with all the complications of dragging it around multiple airports. Either way I figured it couldn’t hurt to just pack a carry on sized bag one way or another. I always over pack for trips anyway and the smaller suitcase forced me to economize. I think I did pretty well, especially considering I got everything in there even with some of the limited available space is being taken up by a small Tupperware of chocolate chip cookies for my co-workers! There was even enough space to cram by umbrella in there at the last minute this morning. 3) Watched “Doctor Who.” For years I’ve been feeling like I’m missing out because I haven’t been watching this show so I finally broke down and started watching many years of backlogged episodes on Netflix Instant. So far I’ve finished season 1 (of the modern series which started in 2005) and started on season 2. I’m definitely hooked. Science fiction is right up my alley. I’m looking forward to watching a whole lot more episodes in my free time on this trip. I didn’t bring my iPad with my so I’ll have to use my laptop or my iPhone for Netflix while I’m away from home, but it’s a much nicer prospect that relying on the limited cable channels in my hotel room for entertainment. According to the captain it’s time to turn off our electronic devices so I’ll end this post here. Washington, DC here I come!

Foodie Friday – Chocolate chip cookies #11

Chocolate chip cookies #11: Based on Vittles and Bits’s Chocolate Chip Coconut Cookies. Baked on 8/24/12.

It’s been a while since I made a batch of chocolate chip cookies, huh? Well, ever since the Hawaiian-themed party Dan and I threw in July I’ve had a lot of leftover shredded coconut in my kitchen cabinet. The coconut cake I made for the party needed much less of it that I anticipated. (And just in case you’re wondering, I haven’t decided whether to post the coconut cake recipe or not. I thought it was very underwhelming. But I’m getting a little off subject.) For the last couple of months I’ve been pinning lots of recipes on Pinterest to make use of all this coconut, but I didn’t get around to trying any of them until today. And what better place to start than with a chocolate chip cookie recipe? It didn’t hurt that I’d promised to bring treats to my DC co-workers when I’m out there next week on another thrilling business trip. So say hello to my coconut chocolate chip cookie bars! The original recipe made drop cookies, but I was in a bit of a hurry to bake these so I spread the dough into an 8×8” pan and baked at 350 deg F for about 30 minutes instead. These cookies turned out really well. I thought I’d overcooked them based on how brown the top of the bars got, but they were wonderfully soft and moist when I tried a bite. While I wouldn’t call this recipe a contender for the best homemade chocolate chip cookie, they are definitely delicious and a good way to make use of leftover shredded coconut.

Shame on you, Old Navy

Shame on you, Old Navy. While I am very appreciative of this weekend’s awesome sale on jeans ($19 a pair!), I have a complaint. I went to the mall this morning not because I like shopping, but because I need some jeans that fit. Since June I’ve lost ten pounds (and counting) and most of the pairs that I own are too big and baggy now. A good problem to have, right? Well it certainly makes it hard to put an outfit together these days! So today I walked into Old Navy, grabbed about eight pairs in what I figured was the right size, and tried them on. The first six pairs were great. Not all of them were perfect – I fact I only selected three to purchase – but they were indeed the right size. Then I reached for a pair of Rock Star super skinny jeans. I was excited about these. Since I’ve lost weight I think I’m starting to look pretty good and I am a big fan of skinny jeans in general. That was before I was introduced to Rock Star jeans. The two pairs I took into the fitting room with me were the same size as all of the other pairs I’d been trying on, but after a few seconds I realized that I had absolutely no hope of wearing them. They were much, MUCH too small. I couldn’t get them past mid-thigh! It was ridiculous. Out of curiosity I tried the next size up with moderately more success. I was able to button them and everything, but they sat way, WAY too low on my hips. No one wants to see that! At that point I decided that the Rock Star jeans were not for me. I am a woman in my mid-thirties with curves and everything and these jeans are obviously made for teenagers. Whatever. I still bought the three pairs of jeans that I tried and liked earlier in my shopping trip, though, and they were a steal at $19 a pair. Just remind me not to try on Rock Star jeans at Old Navy again! It’s too depressing!

Foodie Friday – Slow cooker pork ragu

I was inspired to try this recipe for slow cooker pork ragu because of a pasta dish at Medeteraneo restaurant on the Hermosa Beach Pier that I absolutely love. Of course the results of my homemade version weren’t nearly as good, but I still think this is a great dish. It was easy to assemble and using my Crockpot made for a fuss-free dinner. The flavor of the end result was wonderful, but there wasn’t quite enough “sauce” for my taste. The texture was more like pulled pork for that reason. Next time I think I’ll use twice as much crushed tomatoes (while doubling the seasonings as well) and then shred the pork a little more to make it easier to serve with pasta. I was happy to eat the results of this batch alone with a fork, though! It was so delicious!

INGREDIENTS:
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 1/2 lb boneless pork loin
1 can (28 oz) crushed tomatoes
1 c chicken stock (I used broth)
1 c diced onion
1/2 c shredded carrots
1 Tbsp tomato paste
1 Tbsp minced garlic
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary leaves (or freshly chopped rosemary)
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme leaves (or freshly chopped thyme)
1 bay leaf
12 oz dried pasta cooked according to package directions

DIRECTIONS:
Heat the olive oil on medium heat in a large skillet. Sprinkle the pork loin with 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, rosemary and thyme (I cut my pork in half first so it wasn’t so unwieldy). Brown all sides of the pork in the skillet, about 3-4 minutes per side. Place the pork inside a Crockpot coated with nonstick cooking spray. Top the pork with the crushed tomatoes, chicken stock (or broth), onions, carrots, tomato paste, garlic, bay leaf, and a dash of salt and pepper. Cook on low for about 8 hours or on high for 4-5 hours. When the pork is cooked, shred it into bite-sized pieces using two forks, discarding any large fat deposits (yuck). Remove the bay leaf, return the pork to the Crockpot, and stir to coat with the yummy sauce. Turn heat to simmer/warm for an additional 30 minutes. Serve with your choice of pasta. Enjoy!

Based on Mother Thyme’s Slow Cooker Pork Ragu.

Wednesday random thoughts

Just a couple of random thoughts from today.

***I don’t think it was a coincidence that the spin instructor chose a CD with my current favorite song on it for our class this morning. Lord knows I needed a pick me up and these days I’m starting to believe there’s no such thing as a coincidence.

***I had a conversation at work today that went something like this. Me: “I am so looking forward to football season.” Co-worker: “That’s so beautiful coming from a woman.” A little sexist maybe, but I work with mostly men so I’m used to it. Plus, I thought it was funny.

***I have way too much technology going on at the moment. While I’m sitting here writing this post on my laptop I’m also downloading a song on my iPhone and watching an episode of “Glee” on my iPad. I draw the line at having the television on at the same time, though. That would cause brain overload.

Ten years ago

“Feminine is not always the way to go. While I liked some of the fancy quilts with embroidered flowers, that wasn’t what I was looking for. Maybe it is unrealistic, but I am hoping that the things I buy for my apartment will be transferred into a house someday. And since I am hoping to get married someday, I don’t want home furnishings that will offend a male occupant. Perhaps my objections to the quilts I saw on Saturday are a bit silly, but I do have control over how I spend my money, even if I don’t have control over the bedding produced for the American public.”
8/12/02 webpage post

Weekend – 8/11 & 8/12

I intended to start writing this post as soon as I sat down on the couch with my laptop this morning, but I made the mistake of going to the Old Navy online store first. There I discovered that they have new Gator t-shirts so I absolutely had to order them before my size ran out. This is very important. But anyway, it’s been a fairly quiet weekend which I really appreciate. I haven’t had two consecutive full days off in about a month so this is like a vacation! I hardly know what to do with myself. So what have I been up to? Well, yesterday the first thing I did was go to the mall and do a little shopping. I’m not much of a shopper, but there were a few things I needed to look for. I was only semi-successful, but it was better than most of my shopping trips where I leave with absolutely nothing! After I got home from the mall Dan and I had lunch at Salt Creek Grille, then he went to work and I went to Whole Foods on my way home. I haven’t made a batch of my famous spaghetti in a while so I picked up the necessary ingredients so that we can have some for dinner this week. The rest of Saturday was fairly uneventful except for my half marathon walk that I embarked upon at 7 PM. If you are unaware, the weather in Los Angeles has been really hot recently. Not hot compared with most of the rest of the country, but hot for us, especially when most residences don’t have air conditioning. You just don’t need it that often here! The heat meant there was no way I could go on my weekly long walk during the day without risking heat stroke. Leaving in the evening during the summer worked really well, though.

Today has been even less eventful than yesterday. The first thing I did was watch the end of the Olympic gold medal game between the United States and Spain when I woke up. With the Lakers’ recent acquisition of Dwight Howard, I am really looking forward to this year’s NBA season. I was pretty lazy for most of the rest of day, mostly just doing chores around the house. Around 5 PM I figured I’d better go to the gym before I got too comfortable on the couch with my laptop. I spent two hours there doing cardio and hoping that the Olympics closing ceremony would start while I was working out. It didn’t. That capped off two weeks of being annoyed at NBC for saving all of the most exciting events until after my bedtime! Seriously, who can stay up until midnight during the week to watch gymnastics, swimming, or track and field? Some of us have to work for a living. So I went home from the gym and watched what I could of the closing ceremony (I missed One Direction – boo!) while eating pizza. Now it’s time for bed so I can get ready for another week of work. Good night!