Workout clothes

I moved back in October (more on that later) and I no longer have exclusive access to a washer and dryer in my new place. This has proved most inconvenient, especially when I’m exercising regularly. Now that I can’t wash clothes whenever I want to I’ve discovered that I run out of towels, socks, sports bras, and workout pants much sooner than anything else. All of these things are essential items when I go to the gym. I really hate going to the laundromat, but it’s my best option for clothes washing these days. Besides the convenience of being able to wash multiple loads at the same time (usually I have four or five going at once), it’s very annoying to have to leave the house, lug a ton of laundry around, throw dozens of quarters into the machines, and then find a way to amuse myself until everything is clean and dry. So in an effort to reduce the frequency of my trips to the laundromat I bought several new pairs of sock, three new sports bras, and two new pairs of workout pants in the last couple of weeks. Consumerism at its best! But there is also a secondary reason for buying new workout clothes. Some of my sports bras are old. OK, very old – like more than a decade. I think one of them is even from my first year of college (a good quality Danskin sports bra) that I bought when I was in Air Force ROTC. I can’t believe it’s lasted that long. More than fifteen years! Yikes! And I have two others from the timeframe of my first Boeing internship in 2000 when I started going to aerobics classes for the first time. Even though the elastic is still holding up in these three 10+ year old sports bras, they still really need to be replaced. I don’t know if any of my new sports bras are good enough to take the place of the old ones yet, but I’ll find out after I wear them a few times and see how they do in different situations. I am the pickiest shopper in the universe so I had to try on a lot of duds to find the three I actually bought. And they are all from Target (as was one of the new pairs of workout pants) so I didn’t spend a lot of money. I probably should try Nike or Lululemon or Athleta for some higher quality options (that might fit better too), but I’ll need to keep up my current workout pace before I decide it’s worth spending that much money. Expensive workout clothes won’t do me any good sitting in a drawer. But for now the new socks, sports bras, and workout pants I bought will work just fine. Now if I could only find some new sneakers that I like! That’s my next goal.

Foodie Friday – Snickerdoodle bundt cake

I made this cake to take to a Christmas party in December and it was amazing! I only had a small piece (gotta keep my girlish figure!), but it was absolutely delicious. And I heard similar opinions from the other party goers. Several people even asked me for this recipe. I have to admit that this cake was a bit of a pain to assemble (you’ll understand when you read the directions), but it was definitely worth it for a special occasion. It’s the perfect Christmas cake with a yummy snickerdoodle flavor and a crunchy cinnamon sugar crust on the outside that really sets it apart. It’s not your everyday cake! I’ll be making it again when the holidays roll around!

INGREDIENTS:
2 tsp cinnamon
1 c granulated sugar
2 1/2 c all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 c (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 c granulated sugar
1 c light brown sugar
3 eggs, at room temperature
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 c sour cream, at room temperature

DIRECTIONS:
In a small bowl, combine 1 c granulated sugar and 2 tsp of cinnamon and mix well. Set aside. Generously coat all of the interior surfaces of a 12 cup bundt pan with nonstick cooking spray (preferably one of the baking varieties that has flour) and make sure to get all of the nooks and crannies (my pan has a lot of them). Dust the inside of the bundt pan with some of the cinnamon sugar mixture (you’ll need between 1/4 and 1/2 c) until all of the surfaces are evenly coated. This is going to make a delicious crust on the outside of the cake. Set aside the extra cinnamon sugar.

In a large bowl combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In another bowl, beat together the butter, 1 c sugar, and 1 c brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat for 1 minute. Add the flour mixture alternately with the sour cream, beating will after each addition. Carefully spread half of the batter into the prepared bundt ban. Sprinkle 1/4 to 1/3 c of the reserved cinnamon sugar on top. Then carefully spread the rest of the batter into the pan and sprinkle with the rest of the cinnamon sugar. Bake at 325 deg F for 55 to 65 min or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan for about 10 minutes before carefully inverting onto a wire rack (with some wax paper underneath to catch the cinnamon sugar that escapes) to cool completely. Enjoy!

Based on Dozen Flours Snickerdoodle Bundt Cake.

Vampire stories

“Dan asked me once why girls like vampire books/movies/TV shows so much, and I had to think about it for a minute before I answered him. The way I see it, women are attracted to the idea of finding someone who is going to love them forever, and who better than an immortal vampire to fill that position?”
7/19/10 webpage post

I was watching “Twilight” at the gym on Sunday night (there was nothing else on, trust me) and I remembered Dan asking me about girls and vampire stories last year. It might be silly, but speaking as a woman, the idea of being really truly loved is just so appealing. And I, for one, have learned that it’s something that’s not easy to find. We women have learned that the people we love let us down, hurt us (unintentionally and intentionally), and even betray us. And we’re never the same. So it’s almost an impossible dream to imagine finding someone who will love, respect, and cherish us without fail. And if by some coincidence you fell in love with a vampire you’d get love not just for a lifetime, but truly forever. Doesn’t that sound nice? If you can overlook the blood sucking, of course.

Foodie Friday – Lemon sheet cake

Let’s get back to some recipes, shall we? I shared this picture once already, but since it’s been more than a month since I posted the recipe for the awesome chocolate Texas sheet cake on the left, I decided to post it again to show the yummy lemon sheet cake on the right. I made this cake for a work event back in December. It wasn’t quite as popular as the accompanying chocolate sheet cake, but I got some positive feedback on it as well. Especially from people who are big fans of lemony desserts. I think I undercooked the cake a bit (so beware of that if you try this recipe), but it had a great lemon flavor. Both the cake and the glaze were very tangy and tasty. And it will easily feed a crowd!

INGREDIENTS:
2 c flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 c sugar
2 eggs
1/2 c sour cream
22 Tbsp (1 1/4 c + 2 Tbsp) butter, divided
14 Tbsp (3/4 c + 2 Tbsp) water
Zest of 1 lemon (about 1 Tbsp)
1 Tbsp lemon extract
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1/4 c milk
2 tsp milk
1 tsp lemon extract
3 c powdered sugar

DIRECTIONS:
In a large bowl, beat together flour, baking soda, salt, sugar, eggs, and sour cream. Set aside. In a medium saucepan, bring 1 c butter, 3/4 c water, lemon zest, lemon extract, and lemon juice to a boil. Pour over the flour mixture and stir to combine. Pour the batter into a greased jellyroll pan (mine is 15x11x1″) and bake at 350 deg F for about 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack for 20 minutes.

In a medium saucepan bring the remaining 1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp butter, milk, and 1 tsp lemon extract to a boil. Remove from heat. Gradually add powdered sugar, stirring until the sugar is incorporated. If the mixture is lumpy (mine was), put the pan back on the burner over low heat for a few minutes, stirring frequently. Pour the frosting over the cake and let cool completely before slicing and serving. Enjoy!

Based on Food.com’s Lemon Texas Sheet Cake.

What I’m thankful for now

I haven’t written a gratitude list in a long time for lots of reasons, but while I was sitting at work this weekend I made a list of some of the things I’m thankful for right now.

1) My job. I’ve never been so grateful to be gainfully employed as I have been these last six months. It’s the only thing that seems to be going right in my life these days! I can’t afford to lose sight of that so I have to remind myself every day how lucky I am.
2) Overtime pay. Since I had to work over the weekend supporting some testing and I can’t take days off later this week to make up for it, I’m lucky that my boss approved my request for overtime. A little extra money will be nice.
3) A decent raise. Fortunately I already make a good salary, but with the economy still suffering I was convinced my raise was going to be dismal this year. It’d been that way the last two years so I didn’t expect anything different in 2013. But when my boss gave me my new salary notification I was pleasantly surprised to see that I got a 4.8% raise. I’ll take it!
4) Free food. One of the good things about supporting this testing at work is getting free meals. Even if it might not be exactly what I’d order if I was on my own, I appreciate every dollar I can save these days!
5) Trying new things. Speaking of free food, we ordered lunch from a Thai restaurant on Friday which made me a little nervous because I’ve never tried Thai food before. I was afraid I wouldn’t like it so I ordered something basic – chicken pad thai. And it was delicious! I’m so glad I tried it.
6) Aleve. I won’t go into too much detail about this one, but I wouldn’t have made it through work on Saturday without it. Sometimes being a women really stinks, if you know what I mean. But fortunately I always have a bottle of Aleve in my work bag for just such an occasion. It’s God’s gift to women, I swear, and this woman is exceedingly thankful for it.

To be continued…

This too shall pass

When you’re going through something difficult and someone says, “This too shall pass,” does it make you want to scream? Well, that’s how I feel right now. Of course I understand that nothing lasts forever, but that doesn’t make tough times any easier to endure. If it wasn’t already obvious, I’ve been going through some pretty dark days lately. I won’t go any further into that now, but all indications are that I hit rock bottom last weekend (don’t ask) so hopefully things can only get better from here. And believe it or not, I think things actually are looking up. Finally! With any luck there are happier times not too far ahead and I’ll have cheerier subjects to write about soon. Fingers crossed!

Weekend bullet update

Since the topics I’ve gathered to write about have nothing to do with each other, I’ll just make this post a bullet list…

***Last Sunday I met a friend at Disneyland for lunch. It was about ten degrees colder than it had been on Saturday (which was unseasonably warm), and it was obvious that most of the patrons hadn’t prepared for that. There was a long line of people buying sweatshirts at Downtown Disney before going into the park. It was pretty funny. It would have been even funnier if I didn’t need to stand in that same long line to return a t-shirt. That took quite a while. But as I was waiting I saw a couple of women buying a Mickey Mouse sweatshirt that caught my eye. I’ve been wanting one for a long time so I bought one for myself before going home that afternoon. I learned that sometimes waiting in line is beneficial!

***I’ve been having some really vivid dreams recently for some reason. Like last week when I dreamed about trying to escape a forest fire. I was in a group of people in a house out in the woods, but a lightning storm sparked a fire. We had to get out of the house and outrun the rapidly approaching fire on foot. Our prospects didn’t look too good so I was a little anxious when I woke up that morning! I thought the other people were just fictional characters when I woke up, but as soon as one of my co-workers sent me in instant message later than morning I remembered that he was in my dream. I told him about it and he asked whether I thought it was symbolism or foreshadowing. I thought about it for a minute before settling on symbolism. We both agreed “running from a forest fire” was a good way to describe our jobs!

***I won an award at work recently – Boeing Space and Intelligence Systems (S&IS) 2013 World Class Engineering Award. My boss told me I was nominated back in November, but I promptly forgot about it. So imagine my surprise when I found out about a month ago that I won! There were a couple dozen winners so it’s not like it was just me, but I’m still really honored to have been selected. My job doesn’t exactly allow for a lot of professional exposure so it was a pleasant surprise to be recognized for some of my accomplishments. (The award was mostly for something that I worked on last summer.) So the Friday before last I went to an awards luncheon in El Segundo to be presented with my award and shake the hands of some very important people (which also happened last summer when those same people and quite a few others were very happy about a crisis that I diverted). Not a bad way to spend a few hours.

***When I’m at work I listen to the news most of the time, which can be boring, but it keeps me up to date on current events. Unfortunately I don’t have any control over what news channel is being broadcast. It’s usually CNN, which I can handle, but sometimes it’s Fox News which has the potential to make me physically ill. There’s only so which whining about our non-Republican president and the “liberal media” I can take. But anyway, I always pick up some amusing tidbits no matter what I’m listening to. Like yesterday when a few of the newscasters were talking about dictators and the death of Hugo Chavez. I’m not exactly sure how it came up, or even what it means, but I heard the phrase “Dictator Tots.” That made me laugh. Then it made me hungry for sweet potato tots from Sonic. I would have gone to Sonic for lunch today, but it’s a decent drive to the closest one from where I live. Next time I’m there’s I’ll have to make sure I don’t accidentally order “Dictator Tots”!