Another November weekend

It was not a very exciting weekend, but I did get a lot done.

***I did a lot of shopping/returning. Online shopping has been my preferred method of updating my wardrobe lately, but it’s not always the most reliable method. More often than not the items I order don’t fit quite right. Not a big deal, but then I have to handle returning what I don’t want to keep. One of the good things about Los Angeles is that there’s a brick and mortar establishment of just about every store within a reasonable driving distance. This means that I can usually return items in person rather than through the mail This weekend I took clothes back to J.Crew (an itchy sweater), Old Navy (an ill-fitting pair of workout pants), and Lucy (another pair of workout pants I didn’t like). Unfortunately those three stores are located at three different malls spread out all over Orange County. Maybe I should have just mailed everything back instead! On the flip side of the shopping experience, I bought a jacket (love the new North Face store at South Coast Plaza), some chocolates (for Thanksgiving), jeans (cheap ones at Old Navy), and a Christmas ornament (Hallmark, of course).

***I replenished my food reserves. In the middle of last week I ran out of homemade meals in my fridge and freezer and started eating less healthy options. It was bad news. So this weekend I put together a bunch of meals consisting of meat and vegetables so that I wouldn’t be tempted by fast food, junk food, or leftover Halloween candy. I already had some ground beef, broccoli, and carrots left over, so I just needed a few things to augment those items. Yesterday I made some Crockpot teriyaki chicken, and then today I made two batches of green beans (one roasted, one sautéed). Now I have enough prepared meals to get me through the week, at least. After that I’ll be spending the weekend at Disneyland because the Avengers Half Marathon is early on Sunday morning. After the experience of the Disneyland Half Marathon in August, I decided to stay at one of the nearby hotels so that I won’t have to get up and drive to Anaheim at 3 AM on race day. It will be nice to be able to sleep a little longer and then just walk to the start line that morning. The only difficulty will be making sure I get the necessary nutrition. I’ll need to find restaurants where I can get some protein, vegetables, and probably some potatoes the night before the half marathon. I’ll work on that.

***I watched a lot of TV. This is probably true of just about every weekend for me, but I figured it was worth mentioning this time. The best thing I got to see was Florida beating Vanderbilt yesterday. It hasn’t exactly been a banner year for the Gators so far. But last weekend unranked Florida upset #11 Georgia, which shocked just about everyone, especially after three losses already this season (including homecoming). Personally I didn’t expect the streak to continue, but I was a very happy Gator fan when it did! We’ll see what happens next weekend against South Carolina, but yesterday’s win was a lot of fun to watch. After the game was over I re-watched last weekend’s episode of Doctor Who while doing laundry and washing dishes. It was the first half of the season finale. These seasons are never long enough for me! Rather than staying up to watch the second half of the season finale last night, I saved it on my DVR until this afternoon when I was done with my errands. The show had quite a sad ending, actually. I’m not sure I liked it. But Doctor Who is still my favorite show these days and I’m sorry the season is over. At least I have the Christmas episode to look forward to next month.

So that was my weekend. Thrilling, huh?

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?

Sweet sixteen

Yeah, I know this graphic is from last year, but I couldn’t find the corresponding 2014 version. And anyway, it’s true again this year. You know what’s also the same as last year? Just like the Florida made it to the Elite 8! I just finished watching them beat UCLA so it seems I’ll be watching some more tournament basketball on Saturday. Go Gators!

Gator football is back!

I may have had to watch the Florida vs. Toledo game on my iPad because it was on ESPN3 and not a regular network, but I didn’t mind. Gator football is back! Can you tell I’m excited? The game started around 9 AM here on the West Coast so I got up a little early to make sure I was ready for the first Florida football game of the season. The first order of business (after donning a Gator t-shirt, of course) was breakfast – especially since I’m trying to revamp my eating habits (as described in Thursday’s post). Unfortunately I’ve had some stomach problems the last few days so I wasn’t sure what food options were going to be compatible with my digestive system today. I played it a little safe with a blueberry pomegranate smoothie from McDonald’s rather than my usual Egg McMuffin. I’ve been pretty lazy for the last couple of days due to whatever weirdness is going on in my belly, but I really need to be productive this weekend since I’m supposed to leave for Florida next Sunday. Yikes! Luckily it’s a long weekend and my stomach seems to be a bit better today. So how did I make the most of my time during the Gator game? I baked cookies, of course! Double dark chocolate chip cookies and funfetti sugar cookie bars. Both batches turned out pretty well so I’ll be posting those recipes soon. Baking might not have been the best use of my time, but it was certainly enjoyable while watching the Florida win. After the game I ran a few errands and then came home and started packing for Florida. It’s extremely daunting to pack for a trip that will more than likely last about six weeks. I can only take so much stuff with me so I have to be a bit selective. There are some items that I will be better off buying when I get there rather than hauling them across the country, like mouthwash and body lotion. And although I’m going to be wearing jeans, t-shirts, and sneakers to work most days, I really need to pack some other items for use under different circumstances. All of this is making my head spin. Hopefully I can fill my suitcase with the things I need without it going over the airline weight limit! I may have to bring a larger carry on bag than usual. I’ll think about that some more tomorrow. I ended my day with a jog (5 miles jogging out of a 7.5 mile route) which was really pleasant after the sun went down. It’s been hot in Los Angeles this past week, but luckily the temperature drops about 20 degrees in the evening. That’s the only thing that makes the heat wave bearable! Sometimes I miss air conditioning. Now it’s time for bed so I can get up tomorrow and make the most of the second day of my long weekend. Good night!

Last weekend

At long last here is the weekend write up I’ve been working on all week…

On Saturday I was determined to get up and go to the gym first thing in the morning. And I did…after I stayed in bed reading a book and surfing the web for a few hours first. But I did go to the gym! I was there too early to watch the SEC championship game between Alabama and Georgia, but I saw enough of the pregame broadcast to really wish Florida was playing. I kept thinking how nice it would be if I was in Atlanta to watch the Gators play for the title, but it was not meant to be this year. The peril of being in the SEC is that losing a single game to the wrong team (i.e., Georgia) can completely take you out of the running for the season. But as every disappointed football fan says, there’s always next year. The good news is that Florida’s quarterback is only a sophomore so he has two more years to learn, improve, and potentially lead his team to a national championship. That’s a nice dream for us Gator fans. Anyway, after I left the gym I had just one thing on my mind – cookies! The guys I work with on the East Coast are always complaining that they don’t get to partake of the desserts I bake for my West Coast colleagues so I promised to send them a box of cookies right after Thanksgiving. I guess I procrastinated a little, huh? So I left the gym on Saturday, went shopping for some essential baking supplies, and barricaded myself at home. I spent the rest of the day whipping up four different kinds of cookies while catching up on all of the backlogged shows on my DVR (Glee, Big Bang Theory, How I Met Your Mother, Once Upon A Time, Project Runway, Top Chef, and countless made-for-TV holiday movies). Here are the festive, but a little bit off the wall recipes I used to make this latest batch of cookies.

1) Chocolate gingersnap bars – These were very interesting. Some of my West Coast co-workers loved them, but I wasn’t such a huge fan.
2) Lemon snickerdoodles – These were even more interesting (in my opinion). They needed a little more cinnamon and nutmeg, but I thought the flavor was great.
3) Applesauce bars – These turned out more like cake than cookies (some frosting on top wouldn’t have been out of place), but they were really tasty and everyone seemed to enjoy them.
4) Cornstarch chocolate chip cookies – I didn’t really use a particular recipe for this, but based on a tip from Pinterest I added some cornstarch to my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe to see what happened. The results were good, but I couldn’t tell that the cornstarch made any difference at all.

On Sunday I was a bit busier. I went to the gym again in the morning, showered quickly, and then immediately drove to Orange to see a movie with a co-worker. We’ve both been trying to see “Wreck-It Ralph” for weeks without success so we decided to go together over the weekend. It was a great movie. Very original and really funny. It helps that my current favorite song is “When Can I See You Again?” (the first song played during the credits) which I hear on Radio Disney at least once a day. After the movie I drove back home to change clothes before meeting some other co-workers for dinner. We went to Sevilla, a tapas restaurant in Long Beach, and the food was delicious. The company was very enjoyable too. When I got home from dinner I packed up all of the cookies I made the day before into Tupperware to mail to the East Coast. To save me from myself I packed up all of the leftovers into Ziploc bags to take to work with me. I am fully aware of my lack of self-control when it comes to sweets so I couldn’t possibly keep the extra cookies just sitting in the kitchen waiting for a snack attack to hit me. Why do you think I give away all of the desserts I make? To fit into my jeans, of course!

So that’s how I spent last weekend. And it only took my six days to get this post written and published. Just in time to start another weekend!

My weekend

Since I don’t have any other topics lined up to write about, here’s a brief recap of my weekend. I was hoping to get up early enough to run some errands before the Florida football game yesterday morning, but I was too lazy so that didn’t happen. Weekends are for relaxing, right? Well, at 10 AM I fired up the Watch ESPN app on my iPad and started watching the Gators trounce Jacksonville State. Thank goodness for ESPN 3 or I wouldn’t have been able to watch this weekend’s game or last weekend’s game against Louisiana-Lafayette. That’s what you get when your team’s opponents are such small schools. The pro of watching games online is you don’t have to park yourself on the couch in front of the television for four hours. I carted my iPad from room to room and got a lot of of cleaning done during the football game on Saturday so that was a plus. And seeing the Gators win was pretty good too! After the game was over I went to Beachwood BBQ on Main Street in Seal Beach for lunch. It had been so long since I’d eaten there that I’d forgotten how good it is. I had friend pickles as an appetizer (they are amazing dipped in the house mustard) and a delicious bbq chicken sandwich with sweet potato fries on the side as a main course. It was a good meal, but I was stuffed afterwards.

I spent a couple of hours lying on the couch with my laptop to recover from lunch and then I decided to go see a movie. I used one of my movie passes to get a ticket to “Skyfall” at the AMC theater closest to where I live and then walked next door to Best Buy to pick up a copy of “The Amazing Spider-Man” DVD using a gift card. Two great movies that cost me nothing! I love it! Regarding “Skyfall,” it was different than any other James Bond movie. And I’ve seen them all. It was less laden with special effects and explosives than the most recent offerings which was interesting. Not that I object to either of those things – I’m a huge action movie fan, and “Golden Eye” and “Casino Royale” are two of my favorite Bond films. But Skyfall was more dramatic and more narrative than I was expecting. Maybe it was an homage to the 50th anniversary of the first James Bond movie or the fact that due to licensing arguments there was the possibility that this movie would never be made. Either way, I really liked “Skyfall.” It was a compelling story with some incredible performances by Daniel Craig, Judi Dench, and Javier Bardem. And I loved the ending. You’ll just have to see it to find out what I mean. When the movie was over I should have changed quickly and gone to the gym, but again I was too lazy. So I went home, lazed about, and went to bed early instead.

As far as Sunday goes, there really not much to tell. I went to the gym this morning to earn a few credits for Thanksgiving, which is the same reason that I can’t miss any of my spin classes during this short week. Holidays are fattening! The rest of my day can pretty much be summed up by these three words – made-for-TV Christmas movies. The Lifetime and Hallmark channels have been showing them almost exclusively for a while and now ABC Family has started too. I might not watch anything else between now and December 25th! I’m watching one right now called “Love at the Thanksgiving Day Parade,” but it’s late and I need to get ready for bed. Even though it’s a short week I still have to work, go to the gym, and do a lot of baking before Thanksgiving. I’ll keep you posted!

Celebrating more cool weather…and a Gator win!

Earlier this week I wrote about the unseasonably warm weather here in Los Angeles (yes, again – I know you’re getting tired of reading about it, but bear with me), but I’m happy to report that it did indeed cool down a few days later. Since Thursday we’ve been enjoying some glorious fall/winter weather. It even rained on Thursday, both in the morning and in the evening, which is usually a sure sign that winter has arrived. It was 65 degrees in my bedroom this morning and that was with the windows closed all night! So I’ll bet you’re wondering what kind of seasonally appropriate apparel I wore now that temperatures are as much as 30 degrees cooler, right? OK, I know you’re not really wondering, but it’s my blog so I’m going to tell you anyway. On Thursday I wore another one of the new blazers that I got when I was in Florida in September. This one was khaki and from The Limited. It fits like a glove and I love it. The sleeves are a little too long for me (I’m petite, what can I say?), but I’m not complaining too much when a size 2 jacket fits me that well! Then yesterday I proudly wore a new Gator sweatshirt that I also bought when I was in Florida. I got it at Marshall’s for $15, but I didn’t realize until I was cutting the tag off yesterday morning that was originally from American Eagle. I’ve been coveting the American Eagle collegiate apparel online for over a year so it’s funny that I got my hands on a piece unknowingly. And so cheaply!

Today I donned a different Gator sweatshirt as I lounged on my couch watching the Florida vs. Louisiana-Lafayette football game. I wasn’t expecting to be able to see it live until I discovered that it was being broadcast online on ESPN3. Hooray! So I set up the game on my iPad, crashed on the couch with my laptop to surf the web and my iPhone to text my dad (geez, technology runs my life), and cheered for the Gators. Florida struggled so it wasn’t easy to watch, especially since I hadn’t planned on baking any cookies during the game to keep myself occupied. (Note to self: I should always have cookie baking ingredients on hand for just such an occasion.) Anyway, the Gators were unexpectedly trailing in the second half to a team that has no business even dreaming about being a contender so I was relieved when they tied the game with less than 2 minutes left. I figured overtime was inevitable, but here’s what happened with about 20 seconds left on the clock. Paraphrased, of course. Go Gators!

Announcer #1: “I wonder why Florida isn’t calling a timeout?”
Announcer #2: “Maybe they think they’re going to get a block.”
Me: “You can never count on a blocked punt.”
Announcer #1: “Blocked punt! Gators recover! Touchdown!”
Lauren’s jaw hits the floor