My Monday

For the record, I worked all weekend (Saturday 10 AM to 7 PM, and Sunday 11 AM to 8 PM). Also, I participated in the Knott’s Berry Farm Coaster Run 5K yesterday morning so I had to get to Buena Park at 5:30 AM. As you can imagine, I was completely exhausted last night! I didn’t go to bed as early as I should have, but when I did, I passed out almost immediately. But then at 5:30 AM my cell phone rang and woke me up. It was work calling me about a problem. When this happened in the past I always managed to hang up on the caller because I thought it was my alarm. Oops. (Don’t worry, they always called back.) These days I have a different ring tone for my alarm, and whatever part of my brain that was functioning when I was rudely awakened this morning managed to register that this was a phone call. I was really groggy so I’m not sure how satisfactorily I answered the question from the person on the other end of the line, but the call was over after a few minutes. Of course as soon as I hung up the phone I thought of two questions I should have asked. But at the moment I was too tired/lazy to go downstairs, find my notebook with the phone number, and call them back. That was far too much effort at 5:30 AM. My adrenaline was pumping from being jolted awake so I had a hard time falling asleep again. Unfortunately that means I overslept. I didn’t need to work a full day today, but I planned to go in a few hours before a meeting and make sure my charts were ready. In reality, I only got there a half hour before the meeting and decided to just present my charts the way they were. But when I walked in the door someone asked, “What are you doing here?” Turns out the meeting was cancelled and no one told me, not even during the early morning phone call. Aargh! I only stayed at work for a couple of hours, but then escaped to enjoy as much of my time off as possible. I certainly haven’t had much of it lately! And how did I make the most of this lovely free time? Why, by doing some spring cleaning! Usually the term doesn’t mean that much to me, but so far this year I’ve been sorting and organizing just about everything in my apartment. It’s really nice to have all of my belongings in good shape, and also to purge items that I don’t want or need any more. It doesn’t make for exciting blog posts, but I’m happy! Now I need to get to bed so I can be well rested for work tomorrow. Another busy day!

November 1st

***On Saturday I made it to Disneyland for the first time in over a month. The crowds around Halloween are crazy so I stayed away for the entirety of October. But I was determined to make it there on Saturday, rain or shine, so that I could enjoy the Halloween decorations before they were taken down. Not only did I get a great picture of the huge Mickey jack-o-lantern on Main Street (see the above photo), but I also got to ride Space Mountain: Ghost Galaxy one more time this year. It was super creepy and I loved it. In addition, I finally made it on to the updated Finding Nemo Submarine Adventure ride that re-opened in September. It’s not that much different than before, but the colors are much more vibrant.

***After a few more rides and a lot of walking, I almost gave into my cravings and got a chocolate milkshake. But then I realized it was lunchtime so I got a much healthier lunch instead. The rotisserie chicken, mashed potatoes, and roasted vegetables from Flo’s V8 Café in California Adventure is actually really delicious! There are definitely more diet-friendly meals available at the parks than I ever imagined.

***When I got home from Disneyland I immediately turned on the Florida vs. Georgia football game. I had missed the first hour, but since the Gators were losing at the beginning of the 2nd quarter I decided not to go back and watch the first fifteen minutes of play. The good news is that Florida started putting points on the board as soon as I tuned in! It was awesome. They ended up upsetting Georgia 38-20, which was pretty amazing considering the awful season they’ve had so far. This was exactly what the Gator fans needed to bolster their spirits for the remainder of this year’s football schedule.

***I spent the rest of the day doing chores and watching TV. I initially tried to go to the Laundromat to wash a few loads of laundry at the same time, but the place was packed so I just went right back home. Fortunately I was able to wash three loads of towels and sheets in the single washer/dryer combo at my apartment. In between juggling loads of laundry I washed a whole bunch of dishes and watched last week’s Big Bang Theory, Elementary, Gracepoint, and Doctor Who. Geez, that’s way too much TV! I really need to cut back on the number of shows I record every week. I’ll work on that. Besides, how am I going to enjoy the holidays while sitting on my couch?

Sunscreen experiment #4

I took yesterday off from work because things have been really hectic lately and I needed a little break. At first I thought about getting up and going to Disneyland when the park opened, but I chickened out and slept in instead. I hadn’t gotten a full night’s sleep in about a week so I definitely needed those few extra hours of shut-eye. When I did get up I tried to make the most of my time. The first thing I did was slather on some sunscreen, throw on some workout clothes, and go for a walk/jog. As the subject of this post suggests I used this opportunity to conduct sunscreen experiment #4. This time I tried Neutrogena Pure & Free Liquid Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 50 and it was awesome. The active ingredients are titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, physical sunblocks rather than chemical, which makes it perfect for sensitive skin like mine. I thought it might leave my skin looking a little pasty, but this liquid sunscreen is surprisingly clear after you spread it on. And it absorbs completely leaving your skin feeling powdery rather than oily, which I love. I can’t say I gave this sunscreen the most demanding test because I was only outside for about an hour and a half while walking/jogging, but it seemed to do a great job of protecting my fair skin during that time. (Of course I forgot to put any SPF powder on the part in my hair so my scalp got a little burned. Oops.) In summary, I really like this sunscreen and I definitely recommend it. It’s very similar to much more expensive varieties, but at an affordable price. I need to stock up before stores cut back on their suscreen offerings at the end of the summer. After I got home from my walk/jog (7 miles total, 2 miles jogging) and took a shower it was time to tackle my mountain of laundry. I really shouldn’t have waited so long between trips to the laundromat because I didn’t have any decent pairs of jeans that were still clean. But after a few hours my four large loads of laundry were washed, dried, folded, and put away. I’ll try and not let my hampers fill up quite so much before I hit the laundromat again! The rest of my afternoon was pretty quiet, consisting of TV watching and web surfing, but then I met someone at the Block at Orange for dinner. But I’ll write more about that later. I didn’t get home until after 1 AM so I was exhausted last night. It was a great day off and I really enjoyed it.  I need more days like that in my life!

Missing post!

It wasn’t until about noon today that I realized that I didn’t update my webpage yesterday. Oops! In my defense, I had a very busy, but not very exciting day so there wasn’t much to tell anyway. If I had posted it probably would have been more about how tired I am and I know how much of a snoozefest that is. I had to be at work at 5:30 AM which was even more annoying because I missed my usual Friday morning spin class, but luckily I got to leave around 2 PM. Then I ran some errands and went home to get some things done around the house. I still had a sink full of dirty dishes left over from the potluck on Thursday so I absolutely had to wash them last night. Also, I had several loads of clean clothes that I washed on Tuesday that hadn’t been folded yet so I took care that too. And since I missed my morning spin classes not just on Friday, but on Wednesday and Thursday too, I had big plans to hit the gym last night. However, I was so wiped out when I was done with my chores that I didn’t think I was actually going to have the energy to get up off my butt and go. Luckily I got a second wind around 7 PM when I was finishing up my chores so I threw on some workout clothes and drove to the gym. I only spent an hour on the elliptical since it was so late by the time I got started, but I got to watch the Laker game while working out. That was a plus. It was even better because the Lakers beat the Suns. Woohoo! I was feeling very accomplished when I got home last night even though it was incredibly late. I would have felt like a slug if I’d parked myself on the couch for hours instead. However, that’s sounding like a very appealing option for tonight!

Another weekend

Nothing much to report this weekend. Dan and I spent our time preparing for a party we’re hosting next Saturday night so there was no lack of tasks to accomplish this weekend. None of them were very interesting, though. Shopping, cleaning, etc. We’re also having house guests for a couple of nights this week so I’ve been trying to get the guest bedroom ready. When no one is staying there it becomes a combination laundry room and den where I hang up clothes to dry and watch TV occasionally. But now that it’s going to be occupied I need to make sure that the sheets are freshly washed and the quilt is Febrezed. Luckily I completely cleaned out the closet in there over the holidays so it isn’t completely packed with junk like it was before. Anyway, there’s still a lot to be done tonight and tomorrow so I’d better get started. It’s going to be bedtime soon and I’d rather not have a to do list a mile long when I get home from work and spinning tomorrow night!

Last weekend

OK, so I haven’t been faithfully keeping my webpage updated this week. Of course I take full responsibility for my relative laziness, but I still blame it partially on work. Now that I have a little time to relax I figure I’d better write about what I’ve been up to recently. Let’s rewind a little. Last weekend (aka, four days ago) was a welcome reprieve from work. Well, mostly. On Saturday morning Dan went on a bike ride and I took advantage of that free time to get some things done around the house. You know, the usual weekend chores – 4 loads of laundry to run, dishes to wash, trash and recycling to take out, dishwasher loads to run, clothes to fold, and groceries to shop for. Phew! That’s how I accumulated more than 10,000 steps on my pedometer pretty quickly. After all of the chores were done I got started on something I really wanted to do – cooking! Well, not exactly cooking, but preparation for cooking. Since Dan and I were going out to dinner with a friend that night I just prepped a few things to make meals come together faster later in the week. First of all I cut an enormous 5 lb pork loin in half and immediately threw half of it in the freezer. I rubbed the remaining half with some spices, wrapped it up tightly, and put in in the fridge to marinate for a couple of days (I didn’t actually cook it until Monday. I’ll post the amazing recipe I used in the next week or so.). With pretty much all of the prep for one meal already done, I got started on another one. I threw a pound of ground lamb in a bowl, added all of the necessary gyro seasonings (from my recipe for Crockpot gyros), and mixed it all up like a meatloaf. Then I wrapped the whole thing up and tossed it in the fridge next to the pork loin. I saw a recipe for Greek nachos on Pinterest that I’d been dying to try and I figured gyro-seasoned ground lamb would make a perfect ingredient perfect. Especially with some of my delicious homemade tzatziki sauce, which I whipped right after I was done with the lamb. It felt so great to have meals already started for the upcoming week. After Dan got home from his bike ride we both got ready to go to dinner and a movie. We met Dan’s friend Dave at Cozymel’s Mexican restaurant in El Segundo which is right down the street from the Arclight movie theater. After a yummy dinner of tacos, enchiladas, and fajitas the three of us walked over to the theater to see “Brave.” I couldn’t believe I was going to a Disney animated movie about a princess with two grown men! However, even being the Disney movie lover than I am, I’ll admit that “Brave” was just OK. I’m glad I saw it, but the two boys weren’t so pleased. But the definite highlight was getting to see the new trailer for “The Hobbit” at the beginning. It was amazing!

On Sunday I had to go to work. It wasn’t my idea, but I didn’t really have a choice. I was there from 7 AM to 3 PM, but at least I got a lot done. The first thing I did when I got home was throw on some workout clothes and slather on some sunscreen in preparation for a walk to the beach with Dan. We walked to the Manhattan Beach Pier and back (11 miles round-trip) with a stop in Hermosa Beach at Hot’s Kitchen for some dinner. We’ve only been there twice, but I haven’t eaten anything that I wouldn’t order again. Their specialty is slider burgers and street tacos. I love small plates because you can try several different dishes without getting way too much food. On Sunday I ordered a Bistro burger (beef slider with bistro sauce, mixed greens, red onion) and a Cubano taco (shredded taco with swiss cheese, ham, mustard aioli, pickles) and they were both really delicious. So if you live anywhere near the Los Angeles South Bay you shouldn’t pass up an opportunity to eat at Hot’s Kitchen. Dan and I didn’t get home from our walk until about 9 PM so we only had time to watch the previous week’s episode of “Whale Wars” before bedtime. All in all it was a good weekend!

If only I had time to write

Every night this week I’ve planned to sit down and write a lengthy post (ok, maybe just a list of random thoughts, but it was going to be a long list), but inevitably I end up doing chores while watching old episodes of “How I Met Your Mother” on my iPad until bedtime. I swear iPads were made solely for Netflix Instant, but that’s beside the point. After I got home from work today I had to take a walk to reach my 10,000 steps goal so I took the long way to the grocery store. Then I made a couple of spinach and strawberry salads for dinner. Then I unloaded the dishwasher. Then I washed a load of laundry. And that brings me to now – sitting on the couch, writing this pathetic post, and watching episodes of “How I Met Your Mother” on my iPad. I have to get up early to go to spinning in the morning so it’s almost time for me to get ready for bed. Here’s hoping I have a little more free time this weekend!

In my free time

With Dan out of town I had the house to myself for a couple of days. So what did I do with all of this free time? Well, first of all, I watched movies. If there were any movies in the theaters that I didn’t want to subject Dan to I would have gone, but that wasn’t the case this weekend. So I rented from Redbox instead. On Thursday night I watched “W.E.” (the movie about Wallis Simpson and Prince Edward directed by Madonna) and on Saturday I watched “Albert Nobbs” (Glenn Close’s amazing Oscar-nominated performance) and “A Dangerous Method” (a movie about Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud). The grand total for all three of those rentals was less than the price of one ticket for the cheapest matinee at a theater. I definitely appreciate that! I considered going to see “The Avengers” again this weekend, but decided to save the money and stay home watching Redbox movies instead. Also, on Saturday while I was working around the house I watched “Toy Story 2” on Disney Channel. Now that’s a great movie. As far as the Redbox rentals go, “W.E.” was okay, “Albert Nobbs” was wonderful, and “A Dangerous Method” was pretty good – well, what I could watch of it. The disc was scratched and unwatchable in several places. I still need to call and complain about it. But anyway, what else did I do with my weekend, you ask? I cooked. I’ve already written a little bit about the batches of cookies I baked, but I also made some tomato soup. It’s not the most ambitious culinary creation, but it was the best way to use up a bunch of leftover vegetables. I’m not sure what Dan is going to be in the mood for when he gets home from camping, but I’m planning a dinner of tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches. It’s simple and won’t take long to throw together. The perfect meal! Also this weekend I’ve also been reading books. I finally finished A Game of Thrones which I started quite a long time ago. It’s just so long! But at least now I can start watching season 1 of the HBO series. After I finished A Game of Thrones late last night I should have just gone to sleep, but I had to start City of Lost Souls because I’ve been looking forward to it for almost a year. It wasn’t the next book on my “to read” list, but I allowed it to leapfrog to the front of the line for good reason. And after all of that fun stuff, I had to do some chores this weekend as well. I couldn’t let the house get too unruly while Dan was out of town! So I washed dishes, ran the dishwasher twice, washed four loads of laundry, changed the sheets, and took out the trash. Just the usual list of weekend work, but it’s nice to have it all done before the week starts. So it was a productive, if not overly exciting weekend. I’ll take it!

(Very Belated) Not Foodie Friday

I’ve been compiling this list of random thoughts since Friday, but I’ve been too busy to get it ready for publishing until now. This means that I’ve missed a couple of days of posts. Oops! At this point I’ve decided that I don’t want to continue updating my webpage every day unless I have something meaningful to say. Posting just for the heck of it isn’t worth anyone’s time. This list started off as a substitute for a recipe on Foodie Friday because I haven’t cooked anything worth sharing in a while, but now it’s just a bunch of things I’ve been thinking about over the last three days. Enjoy!

***The Lakers stink right now. I was sure they were going to win the first round of the playoffs against the Nuggets after they went up 3 to 1. I was so wrong. They lost Game 5 despite an inspiring fourth quarter rally (mostly by Kobe), and then they lost Game 6 in spectacular fashion. It was embarrassing. I’ve got all of my fingers and toes crossed that they can triumph tonight in game 7. I don’t want their season to be over yet! (Update on 5/13: The Lakers made it into second round with a win in Game 7 on Saturday! Yay! Too bad playing the Thunder is a death sentence for them.)

***Our DVD is completely full of shows that we haven’t been watching since the NBA playoffs started. There’s always at least one game to watch when we get home from work so that’s how we’ve been spending our evenings. Dan and I watched one episode of “Top Gear” on Thursday night, but that’s it. Our DVR is running out of space! (Update on 5/13: We made a dent in the DVR today by watching another episode of “Top Gear,” two episodes of “Whale Wars: Viking Shores,” the season finale of “Once Upon a Time,” and tonight’s episode of “Sherlock.” Awesome!)

***My mental list of jeans is very outdated. This morning I was sure all of my jeans that fit me right now (and can be worn with flats) were dirty, but I found a suitable pair at the bottom of the pile that I had completely forgotten about. I seriously don’t know how long I’ve owned them or how long they’ve been sitting there unworn, but I’m not complaining!

***My lasagna is without a doubt the best in the whole world (no dissenting opinions, please!), but it is seriously labor intensive. Now I remember why I only make it a couple of times a year – besides the fact that it’s incredibly unhealthy. It took me two hours to assemble after I got home from work on Friday, and that’s minus the 45 minutes of baking and 15 minutes of cooling before it’s ready to eat! You can’t beat the results, though. Yum.

***When you’re washing all of your bedding, make sure that you get every load of laundry done with at least an hour of margin before bedtime. Either that or have a suitable backup set of sheets available. When Dan and I got home from dinner with friends on Saturday night at almost midnight I realized that I had put stain remover on our sheets, but hadn’t thrown them in the washer yet. Oops. So I pulled out our extra set only to discover that the elastic in the fitted sheet had died. Sheesh. They worked well enough for us to sleep on for one night, but I need to keep on top of the laundry next time I’m washing sheets or we’ll end up sleeping in the guest room!

***If I want to get my chores done in the evenings I need to make sure that I don’t sit down when I get home. My butt shouldn’t hit the couch cushions until everything is done – like today. When I walked in the door I made myself go straight to the kitchen to take care of the garbage, the dishwasher, and the dirty dishes. Then I started a load of laundry and folded a bunch of clean towels. Only then could I crash in front of the TV and start working on this list. Luckily I didn’t have to cook dinner tonight (thank goodness of leftover lasagna) or else I my feet would have been screaming by the time Dan got home!

***I’ve been watching a couple of Charlie Brown specials that I recorded back in November – “A Boy Names Charlie Brown” and “Snoopy Come Home.” The commercials, songs, and show previews during ABC Family’s “Countdown to 25 Days of Christmas” are making me wish I could fast forward the calendar about six months. All in good time, I know. There are way too many great moments between now and the holidays that I definitely don’t want to skip!

Half day off

On Monday I unexpectedly had to stay home from work until lunchtime so I’d be here for the delivery and installation of the two plants Dan and I bought for our hedge the day before. While I could have used that time to sleep in and be lazy (i.e., extended my weekend), I decided I was going to be as productive as possible instead. Here’s what I accomplished.

1) Made cream cheese frosting. It was originally supposed to be green cream cheese frosting to go with the green velvet brownies I made for St. Patrick’s Day, but I used up all of the green food coloring making the brownies. I figured regular white/off-white cream cheese frosting would taste just as good. When I got to work and put a dollop of frosting on each of the brownie bites my co-workers were very happy. So if you’re looking for a change of pace in your desserts, I would suggest replacing red food coloring with another color in your red velvet cake/brownies/whatever. It’s festive, unexpected, and doesn’t change the flavor at all!

2) Cut up vegetables for carrot soup. I didn’t have enough time to cook a full meal that morning, but I got all of the prep work done so I could easily make carrot soup later in the week. Unfortunately when I finally made the soup on Thursday night I made a big mistake. Instead of using the mild curry I’m familiar with, I used some new Whole Foods curry that I’d never worked with before. It was much stronger and a bit spicy and I definitely used too much. The end result was almost inedible – at least for my palate. I’ll eat it for lunch anyway, though, because I don’t want it to go to waste.

3) Did chores. Took out the trash. Cleaned up downstairs. Washed dishes. You know, the usual. It was nice to have the time to do all of these things when I’m not stressed out about making dinner and getting to bed at a decent hour at the same time. There’s something intensely satisfying about coming home from work and not having any chores waiting for me. Clean counters, tidy tabletops, and empty garbage cans – that’s a thing of beauty. Ten years ago this would all have seemed very mundane to me, but married ladies understand what I’m talking about.

4) Wrote a webpage post (“Weekend accomplishments”). How else do you think I published such a long post on a Monday? Usually my brain is the consistency of mush by Monday evening and I can’t put together a sentence that’s more complicated than, “Dinner is ready.” But last Monday I had a couple of hours to think about my weekend and put the important parts of it into words to share with my readers (all three of you). I love it when that happens.

5) Got dinner started. Before I left the house to go to work I threw a beef roast into the Crockpot and poured some Dr. Pepper over the top. I got this idea from a recipe I saw on Pinterest. (I’m obsessed with Pinterest, I’ll admit it.) Then just before I walked out the door I turned the Crockpot on low so that the meat would be ready to be shredded for tacos when I got home. That was one of the easiest homemade weeknight dinners I’ve ever made and it tasted pretty good too!

6) Put gas in the car. This is one of the things I dread every week. I’m always too worried about getting to work that I don’t stop on the way, and gas stations are always busy in the evenings as everyone is scrambling to fill up their cars before driving home. There’s nothing more frustrating than arriving at the gas station and finding that every one of the pumps is in use with other cars already waiting in line. So a leisurely trip to the gas station in the early afternoon when the rest of the working public is otherwise occupied is a breeze.