One of my all-time favorite days of the year is tree decorating day. Matt & I have turned it into a really fun day for ourselves, and we both look forward to it every year.
Tree decorating day is a little different every year since we have changed things up a bit over time. In the past, we used artificial trees, and we would each set up and decorate our own because we couldn't agree on the decorations- I like white lights, and Matt likes colored lights. Here is a shot of my sister & I from a few Christmases ago with my white tree:
Eventually, the idea of setting up two trees lost its novelty, and we decided to alternate years of white lights vs colored lights. That all changed a few years ago- Matt decided he was tired of using artificial Christmas trees and insisted on getting a new one. In fact, he threw away both of our artificial trees so we would make sure to get a real tree. We both ended up absolutely loving the real tree, and are now in our third year of getting one.
This year's tree decorating day started out with meeting my parents for breakfast at the Hershey Road Family Restaurant
. I ordered the broccoli & cheese omelet:
And then, it was time to head out to the farm to get the tree- we went to Blue Ridge Tree Farm
in Annville, PA. Sadie loved walking around the farm and sniffing all the trees.
We didn't walk around for TOO long, as you can tell by the eskimo-like attire I'm sporting, it was pretty cold out. Once we chose the perfect tree, Matt got to work sawing it down:
And then hauling it back to the shop:
It was an action-packed day, and it can really wear a person (and doggy) out. My sleepy family:
And now for the finished product, with BOTH white and colored lights. The real trees are so much bigger, so it takes both sets of lights to make it look pretty. Besides, marriage is all about compromise, right? Don't tell Matt, but I have grown to like the colored lights. :)
Did everyone get their Christmas tree decorated? White or colored lights?
This morning when I was grocery shopping at Trader Joe's, the cashier said that they were gearing up for a really busy day. I immediately asked why today was busier than other Saturdays, and he responded that it's a big shopping weekend for groceries because people are starting to have holiday gatherings. Really!?!?
I am completely thrown off because Thanksgiving was so late this year, and because it was 75 degrees here in Charlotte yesterday. I am NOT complaining, believe me I love the warm weather. But since it's my first winter in the south, it feels so strange!! In a good way of course.
My trend of not really preparing elaborate meals has continued, but I still want to share my dinners from this week. I know that preparing simple meals is a struggle for every busy person out there.
Yes, I had cereal for dinner. Quaker Oatmeal Squares to be exact. It really hit the spot.
This veggie burger was amazing. It is just a store-bought veggie burger on a whole wheat bun, but I jazzed it up with some Greek toppings. Cucumber, tomato, black olive, and creamy Greek dressing. Also ate some chips & salsa on the side. Salsa can count as a veggie, right?
The yoga classes at my gym are scheduled around 6:30 or 7:00 pm during the week, so its right at the time I usually eat dinner. I can't wait until I get home or I'll be starved, but I don't want to eat a huge meal right before class. My solution to this problem is to eat a peanut butter sandwich when I get home from work, and then enjoy a smoothie after class. This was a homemade banana mango smoothie. I made my basic smoothie recipe
, but just used mango instead of raspberry. Yum!
I actually ate this Subway meal for lunch, but I wanted to share it because this was my biggest fail of the week. I was traveling for work and did not plan ahead and pack a morning snack, so I was famished by the time I ate lunch. This is an important diet lesson- if you go into a meal starving, it is extremely difficult to resist eating junk food- like these chips. They tasted good, but for 200 calories I could have had a really filling nutritious snack instead of a tiny bag of chips. Meh.
Oven baked sweet potato fries dipped in ketchup & BBQ sauce, scrambled eggs with cheese. Enough said.
And finally, for breakfast all week, I have been eating a whole wheat bagel with peanut butter & sliced banana. I was really excited to read this tidbit in Fitness Magazine
about the benefits of eating peanut butter for breakfast, since I eat peanut butter literally every morning. Dietary win!
Have a great weekend everyone, any yummy meals planned?
Has everyone recovered from Thanksgiving weekend? It is back to a busy workweek for me, but I wanted to take a few minutes to share my Thanksgiving dinner.
I started my holiday weekend by flying from Charlotte to Pennsylvania on Wednesday night. Here in Charlotte, it was pouring down rain last Tuesday. There were tales from the airport about people waiting in such terrible traffic that they were literally abandoning their vehicles and running to the terminal to catch their flights. The panic from Tuesday got the best of me, so I ended up leaving for the airport super early on Wednesday. What happened next? You guessed it, I had no problems and ended up having 2 1/2 hours to kill before my flight. The only logical solution was to enjoy a big glass of wine. Terrible photo, delicious wine.
Greetings! So, I realized that I haven't been writing much about the everyday foods I've been eating lately. The fact is, things have not been very exciting. It is WAY easier to whip up something easy when cooking for one. Here are a few of my favorites from the past week.
Peanut Butter & Banana Pumpkin Pancakes
At first I thought it would be weird to top a pumpkin pancake with my favorite breakfast toppings of peanut butter & banana. Then, I remembered how delicious Pumpkin Banana Bread
is. I make things super easy on myself and use Trader Joe's Pumpkin Pancake mix
Trader Joe's Medium Roast Coffee
I know, it's just coffee. But this is actually a huge deal for me. You guys know that I am always trying to make healthier choices, and one of the diet hurdles I knew I needed to overcome was eliminating artificial sweetener from my diet.
I remember watching a program on TV where they were talking about coffee (sorry, can't remember what it was!) and they mentioned that adding sugar to your coffee is like adding sugar to wine- a big no-no. They recommended that if you find a coffee you really like, sugar shouldn't be needed. I had an revelation when I first tried this coffee- I didn't need sweetener! My Splenda habit was finally kicked.
I usually LOVE making my own veggie burgers from scratch
, but lately I have had a hard time resisting just grabbing a package of burgers from the grocery store. It's the perfect simple dinner for one person, just heat and eat! I also have eaten these burgers for lunch a couple times, I just nuke the burger in the office microwave.
Grilled Cheese with Olive Oil
Does anyone else do this? I started using olive oil instead of butter for health reasons, then out of necessity since I don't have any butter on hand. The oil with a nice slice of melty cheddar cheese is really yummy, it makes the sandwich crispy and delicious. I have seriously eaten a grilled cheese for dinner three nights this week. Whoops!
Every night, I have been breaking myself off a nice piece of chocolate. I check the nutrition facts, and portion myself out 100-150 calories worth. These chocolate bars aren't cheap (usually $3 each), but since I only eat a little bit at a time it lasts me 4 or 5 days. The mint bar is probably my favorite.
Workweek Granola Bars
I am still making these bars every week, not sick of them yet! I have one every day at work for a snack.
Not the most exciting of weeks in food, but I tried not to buy a ton of food since I'm leaving town in a few days for Thanksgiving. I'll make sure to check in soon with everyone to share my holiday eats. Until then!
After a coworker told me about Queen City Q
, I knew that Matt & I needed to go. BBQ in Uptown Charlotte? Yes, please! The restaurant didn't disappoint, we ended up having a really yummy Sunday brunch there, although the only brunch food that was ordered was a Bloody Mary. They are $5 on Sundays! You guys know I'm always up for a good Bloody Mary.
I have been living here in Charlotte for about 2 months now, crazy, right? It seems like I just got here. In that short amount of time, I have realized a few things about cooking for just one person. The realization I want to write about today is the idea of trying to use ingredients you have on hand, even if there is only one person eating the food.
So what I have been trying to do is adapt my recipes so I can use ingredients I already purchased for another meal. That way, I'm not buying a ton of ingredients that will go bad before I have time to tackle them all by myself. Well, let's face it, some things I could inhale in one sitting (chocolate bar, I'm talking to you!), but I want to watch my portions and spread it out.
The meals I have created over the past few weeks have been pretty good! They are a little bit different than the originals, but not having to spend the extra money has been awesome. So here are my meal adaptations, with links to the original recipes too. Hope you enjoy the change!
Original Recipe:Chocolate Chip Banana Baked Oatmeal I hadn't made a baked oatmeal breakfast in forever, so this tasted AMAZING. The remake happened because I made this version with steel-cut oats instead of rolled oats. I had a bag of steel cut oats from when I was making a bunch of oatmeal for the Bob's Red Mill Spar for the Spurtle, so I just used that bag instead of buying a new bag of rolled oats. The baked steel cut oats turned out great, you just need to bake for an hour instead of the usual 30 minutes it takes for the rolled oats.
I don't go out to breakfast often- my regular readers know that I like eating waffles, peanut butter, & banana
at home. However, when I returned from my trip to Germany
I had no food in the house- not even coffee! So a nice, big breakfast was definitely needed.
At first I got confused about this place, is it an IHOP? The answer is no- it's a chain here in Charlotte
- I visited the Southpark location. Usually, Matt & I are up super early and ready to eat breakfast at 7 am, but on this particular occasion, jet lag got the best of me and we didn't get to the restaurant until about 9:00 am. I know- who am I? We were able to get seated right away, but when we were leaving the place was slammed.
When I am traveling, I have to put forth a HUGE effort to take photos. Everyone has a friend or family member that does a great job of documenting everything and is always taking pictures- I am not that person. What I am trying to say is that I wish I had more pictures to share from my trip, but I only remembered to be actively photographing things a few times. So here are a few of the memories I captured! If you missed my German food recap, you can catch it here
. Enjoying the German Countryside
Two of the hotels we stayed at during the trip were out in the country- this is the view from one of my hotel rooms. Stunning, right? The leaves were changing and the scenery was absolutely beautiful.
On the Saturday that I was in Germany, we had a "team-building day" that consisted of hiking, repelling, and other typical work-related team-building activities. I'm sure everyone who has ever attended a work team-building day knows what I'm talking about. I was petrified to do the repelling (my legs felt like jell-o!), but you guys know I love to hike. Here I am looking surprisingly calm after repelling:
Choosing My Next Car:
My employer, Daimler,
is the maker of Mercedes Benz. I had a great time learning about and testing out our products- how do I look?? And yes, I did drive this baby! Loved. Can't wait to get my own Mercedes.
Spending the Day in Stuttgart
During the trip, we had one free day where we didn't have any planned work activities. A group of us spent the day in the city- Stuttgart- and had an absolute blast. We visited a scenic overlook for some photo ops:
Toured some historic sights:
If you remember from my German food recap
, I had a bit of a difficult time since a lot of traditional German food is so much different than what I usually eat. I forget what this dish I ordered was called, but it ended up being cheese with pretzels and bread. It was good- don't get me wrong- but it didn't quite hit the spot. My carnivorous family would have loved Schonbuch, they served up huge platters of meat- including some sort of giant pork leg.
On our way back to the train station, a few of us popped in for some dessert- gelato is good no matter where you are. YUM. I restrained myself and ordered the small, but I could have eaten three of these. Healthy living is all about balance, right?
And that's a wrap for the Germany trip. Now it's back to healthy living in Charlotte- my suitcases are unpacked and it's time to start cooking again!
Greetings! I am officially wired with Internet service, so I'm ready to share my Germany adventures with everyone. If you are new to the blog and need updated- I recently took a new job in Charlotte,
and just attended a 2-week training session for work near Stuttgart, Germany. You guys: this was such an incredible opportunity. I have dreamed about going to Europe for years, but lack of money & time always got in the way.
The most frequently asked question I got about my trip was: "What did you eat??" So let's start with the food- after all this is a food blog! I'll share some other details about my trip in a future post. The Hotel Buffet
I'm back from Germany. Exhaustion, adventure, work, fun, new friends, all wrapped up in two busy weeks.
The good news? I can't wait to update everyone on my adventures. The bad news? I just moved into my new apartment, and don't have my WiFi set up yet. I'm currently at Whole Foods using their WiFi, but my pictures won't upload properly. And how can I write a trip recap without pictures? I would probably be more annoyed, but I just ate a delicious mixture of spicy collard greens and fried tofu from the Whole Foods hot bar. I can't be in a bad mood after that.
So, hang in there with me. News will come soon I promise. I'll leave you with this picture as a sneak preview: Isn't Germany beautiful?