Sunday, November 3, 2013

Experimenting with Vegetarianism

Hello blog friends!

My most recent hiatus (I know, I know; they happen a lot) can be attributed partially to laziness and partially to my frustration with my Macbook that I bought this summer. I’m having a hard time getting used to it and I’m actually thinking about selling it (!!) and buying another PC. Sounds insane, but it’s worth it to me to actually know how to use my computer and to make blogging easier and more convenient. I’m currently writing this post from my old laptop because blogging without my beloved Windows Live Writer is just not possible for me.

As predicted, every time I quit blogging for a period of time I am reminded of how much I miss spending my free time taking pictures of my food and writing about my life. Yesterday I attended a baby shower for a friend of mine and I was amazed at all of the homemade gifts that she received. A couple of her guests made beautiful quilts and her sister painted the cutest artwork to hang in the nursery. Knowing that all I had done was run into Target and grab a couple items on her registry, I couldn’t help but think “Man, I need a hobby!” I told this story to my parents last night and my dad just looked at me and said, “Um, you did have a hobby. Blogging was your thing, until you stopped.” And ya know what? He’s right. Blogging is my thing. So here I sit, doing my thing and drafting up a post.


In case you forgot what I look like (HA), here’s a recent photo of me. This was taken a couple weeks ago right after I got my hair cut and colored.


Not a whole lot has happened with me in the past couple months – but today I did want to talk about my latest approach to nutrition.

While weight loss is always a goal of mine, lately I have been concerned about eating healthier to FEEL better. I also really just want my pants to fit me again! Lol. I have a closet full of clothes that I love that used to fit, but now they are all too small/tight/unflattering and I can’t currently wear them. I was talking about this with a new friend a few weeks ago, and he asked if I had ever considered going vegetarian. Now, he’s a vegetarian himself so this didn’t just come out of the blue, but he brought up some points regarding health benefits and weight loss that encouraged me to do a little more research myself. I actually just bought these two books and am looking forward to diving into them:


Since that conversation, I have been making a conscious effort to reduce my meat intake. It really has not been that difficult for me since there are so many foods that I love that are already vegetarian or vegan. I rarely eat meat with breakfast, and for my packed lunches that I take to work I’ve been making some sort of pasta or rice dish to take with a salad and some fruit. One of the dishes I made a couple weeks ago was an adaptation of Anne’s Mediterranean Pasta Salad:


It’s basically whole wheat pasta mixed with whatever vegetables you want and tossed with balsamic and olive oil. I included spinach, black olives, chick peas, cucumber, artichokes and feta in this version. I ate it cold and it was quite tasty!

For lunch this past week I made this wild rice salad; only I cooked the rice in water (instead of chicken broth) and I also added some chick peas to amp up the protein content.


If I don’t have anything prepared, hummus and crackers is always my fallback option. (I love Blue Diamond Nut Thins in the sea salt flavor)


For dinner, I usually eat something simple like tacos with refried beans, eggs with toast and salad, soup, an Amy’s frozen meal, or I eat leftovers or go out.

For those who are curious, yes: I have lost some weight since switching to a mostly vegetarian diet (about eight pounds as of Friday). However, I don’t attribute that to the lack of meat but to the fact that I’ve been eating less junk food and sugar and more fruits and vegetables. I’ve also been running three or four times a week. Obviously it’s totally possible to lose weight while eating meat (not only have I done it before, but meat is a staple in most weight loss diets), but for now cutting back on it has lead me to make healthier choices and I’ve been feeling so much better as a result. I’m also discovering that most restaurants offer some pretty delicious vegetarian options, like this mushroom ravioli I had at Food Dance last weekend in Kalamazoo:


And this salad I had today at Om Café in downtown Traverse City:

(Romaine, quinoa, chickpeas, avocado, and goat cheese. Mind = blown.)

I don’t know if I could ever give up meat completely (I’ve been eating it about once a week on average for the past month) because there are many dishes that contain meat that I really, really love and would not want to give up. However, right now I am enjoying this little experiment and I’m looking forward to learning more about vegetarianism. Who knows, maybe this is just a phase and I’ll resume my old meat-eating ways at some point, or maybe someday I’ll give up meat entirely. I’m not giving myself “rules” and I’m not doing anything because I feel like I have to. I’m simply doing what I can to make myself feel happier and healthier, and hopefully my clothes will start fitting again too Winking smile.

How many of you are vegetarians/vegans? Have you ever tried a vegetarian diet before?

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

All Over the Place

Hello friends! How’s your week going?

Mine’s been pretty darn good over here, other than all the flash flooding we had yesterday! It seriously rained all day long. I was parked a couple spots over from the drain in the parking lot, and when I left work there was probably three inches or so of water surrounding my car on all sides. I had to walk through it to get to my car and my pants, shoes, and socks were soaked! I wish I would have taken a picture. It was nuts!

Anyway, as far as the weekend goes, I ended up hanging out with my new friend Anna a lot. I met her through my friend Elly from pharmacy school and she’s a lot of fun! We went to a place called Shorts Brewing Company up in Bellaire on Friday night, and on Saturday we hung out downtown in Traverse City.


I actually ran into her again last night when I was at Trivia night with some other friends. She was there with a bunch of coworkers and she convinced my friend and I to go downtown for a bit afterwards. We ended up staying up a bit later than planned, but it was a lot of fun!

I snapped this Instagram photo of us girls. Here is my friend Amanda (my next door neighbor), myself, and Anna, plus one of her crazy coworkers photo bombing in the background:


Good times Winking smile.

In other news, workouts have been going okay. I got in three or four last week and two this week so far. I’ve also been trying to go on walks lately at night on some of the local trails and have been bringing my camera to try to take some nice pictures. Here are some from a walk I went on with Anna last week:


Fun and relaxing! I really enjoy going on walks. It’s a good way to be active, take pictures, and it keeps my mind off food! Haha.

Speaking of food, I’ve been trying to eat out less often because frankly, it's costing me just a bit too much money. I usually throw something super, super simple together for dinner – like this grilled turkey and cheese sandwich with frozen veggies:


Boring, but it hit the spot! I’m really loving these grilled sandwiches lately.


Another favorite is this ham I’ve been buying from Oryana.


It’s fully cooked so all I have to do is slice it up and warm it in the microwave. I keep it in a Tupperware in the refrigerator and just eat it all week long for lunches/dinners and sometimes snacks. It’s sooo good too. Seriously the best ham I have ever had! On Monday I had a couple slices with some frozen edamame that I cooked up.


No pictures of the whole meal, but you get the idea!

Sorry this post was kind of all over the place – guess I had a lot of random stuff to talk about! I’m off to work for the day, but I’ll catch you folks later this week Open-mouthed smile.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Ryan and Gina’s Wedding

After spending a couple of days in Grand Rapids, Aimee and I grabbed breakfast on Saturday morning at a local place called The Westsider Café. We needed food in our bellies ASAP after our late night on Friday! It was a small restaurant, but was completely packed full of locals. Our friend Babs recommended it to us and it was a good choice! I got the eggs benedict and it was delicious.


With our tummies satisfied, we packed our things and hit the road for the small town of Bad Axe to see our good friend Gina get married. For those who aren’t familiar with Michigan geography, Bad Axe is waaaaaaay out in the middle of the thumb – aka nowheresville.

Map Of Bad_Axe


Unfortunately, the 3 & 1/2 hour drive there was not exactly smooth sailing. First, we hit multiple construction zones and thanks to a huge rock that came out of nowhere, I ended up with this beautiful crack on my windshield:



Then, both the GPS in my car AND the one on Aimee’s iPhone took us to the wrong place when we were trying to find the hotel. We ended up getting lost before eventually getting directions from a friend who was already at the hotel.

THEN, after we finally made it to the Holiday Inn Express (the designated “wedding hotel” that the bride and groom had a block of rooms reserved), I was informed that my reservation had gotten screwed up and that I was going to be charged for an extra half night. I don’t normally use my blog to make customer service complaints, but I was so outraged at the lack of customer service skills that the manager of this hotel possessed that I just have to say something. If you’re curious to know the details about what happened, you may read my review on Google, Yelp, Trip Advisor, or Yahoo. Needless to say, our Bad Axe trip was not exactly off to the best start.

However, things quickly turned around after we got changed and met up with our friends. Time to get excited for Gina’s wedding! In a matter of thirty minutes we all piled into the car, drove down the road to the ceremony/reception site, and took our seats right in the front. I saw the groom, Ryan, as I was walking in and he looked so, so happy. He took a minute to come over, give me a hug, and thank me for coming. He is always so relaxed and easy going and I know that he and Gina are going to have a long and happy marriage. She definitely picked a winner!

Moments later, it was show time!


The ceremony was actually quite humorous and the pastor had us cracking up more than once. I loved it! It was still short and sweet though and within twenty minutes, Ryan and Gina were married.

Then it was time to celebrate!

Our whole pharmacy school crew sat together and loved the fact that she had included the “Dr.” prefix on our name cards.


I wish I had a picture of our whole group, but we were so busy chatting that it just slipped my mind! The professional photographer took a few though so when those are available I’ll be sure to post one.

I did end up snapping a couple photos of dinner, which was served buffet style.


My plate was filled with chicken, fish, stuffing, and green beans. We also had delicious cupcakes for dessert.

After dinner, we took a few slightly blurry iPhone photos with our friends. Here’s one of Aimee and I:


With our friend Josh:


And Dan:


And of course, the beautiful bride herself!


Our group also spent a lot of time in the photo booth, per usual.


So fun Smile

We spent the rest of the night dancing away until the reception was over, and then our group walked down to the (only?) bar in Bad Axe, ordered a pizza, and hung out for another hour or two. It was such a fun night – I wish it was easier to get all of us together more than once a year but we all live so far apart. I just love these guys so much; I know these people will be in my life forever, no matter how long we go without seeing each other or how far apart we live. Love them <3

Congratulations, Ryan and Gina! You’re wedding was such a blast and I’m so glad I could be there to help you celebrate your special day.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Fun in Grand Rapids

Good morning!

I’m back in Traverse City after a fantastic long weekend. Late Thursday morning, I drove down to Grand Rapids to pick up my college friend Aimee from the airport (she lives in Arizona now). We stayed in Grand Rapids for two nights before heading to Bad Axe on Saturday for a wedding. I will have a wedding related post up later this week, but first I wanted to talk about some of the fun we had while we were in Grand Rapids!

We stayed with our friend, Babs, and her adorable pup, Charlie.


That face. Seriously makes my heart melt.

Aimee and I met Babs through Kappa Psi – we were all in the same pledge class – so it was fun to be reunited after not seeing each other for a while. Babs was in the pharmacy class below us, so she graduated from pharmacy school this year and just recently became licensed. Exciting!

On Thursday night, the three of us met up with a few of our other friends that we also know through pharmacy school. We spent some time at Ashley’s apartment drinking homemade sangria and catching up before heading out for dinner.


(From left to right is Babs, myself, Aimee, Ashley, and Ashley’s friend Devin).

I didn’t get any pictures at dinner, but we had so much fun talking about everything that’s happened over the past year that we’ve been apart. Great start to our weekend!

On Friday Babs had to work so Aimee and I went downtown to stop by some of our favorite places. Our first stop? Lunch at Marie Catrib's!


Marie Catrib’s is a farm-to-table establishment with a focus on organic, high quality food. They have a very unique menu, but are well known for their sandwiches made on their fantastic homemade bread. Everything is so delicious!

I got one of my all time favorites, the Vermaire; also known as the Chicken Cranberry. Check out the description in the above photo!


Now THAT is a sandwich.


I was a happy camper and could not wait to dig in.


Aimee got fish tacos and she raved about them.


Love that they were served with a entire half of an avocado!


Of course, you really can’t stop at Marie Catrib’s without drooling over the dessert display. It didn’t take much convincing for us to pick out a couple of treats to enjoy. We decided to choose two things and split them – I went with the blackberry cheesecake and she picked the Nutella cupcake. The photo that I took of them is blurry, but you can probably imagine how amazing they were!

Our next stop after lunch was Founder's Brewing Company was for a couple of beers. Eric actually drove over from Lansing to meet up with us.


For those who are wondering, Eric and I are on okay terms. We still talk, but not nearly as much as we used to. Eric, Aimee and I actually used to all be best friends in college so it was fun to get together and catch up.

After a couple of hours at Founders, Eric drove back to Lansing and Aimee and I went back to Bab’s place and waited for her to get off work. By this time, a second lab had joined the party and we had a ton of fun playing with the doggies while waiting for Babs.



So cute Smile

Aimee and I were itching for a night on the town, so after Babs got home we all went out!


We stopped at a local dive bar and had a couple drinks with Babs before she had to head back home. Unfortunately she had to work the next day so she dropped Aimee and I off in the heart of downtown Grand Rapids before driving home. Aimee and I had such a blast hitting up all of our favorite spots and loved that we could just walk from one bar to the next.


One of the places, McFaddens, was playing 80’s music and we went crazy when they played Whitney Houston’s hit, “I Wanna Dance with Somebody.” Please tell me someone else loves this song as much as we do!

That became the song of the weekend and I had it stuck in my head for days. We even requested it at the wedding we went to on Saturday. Ha!

After closing out McFadden’s we grabbed a cab and then crashed hard after getting home a little after 2:00 am. What a blast!

Up next, Ryan and Gina’s wedding!


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