Thrill.

Today’s Happy Note: Getting not one but two packages in the mail!  One from my mother dearest and one from Naturally Nutty!

I won’t lie to you.  Seeing that Naturally Nutty package was absolutely thrilling (won two jars from Averie’s giveaway). Is it wrong to let nut butters be a thrill?

Don’t they look like two cute little friends?

I had to bust into the Vanilla Almond Butter right away.

And in the evening, I broke into the Chocolate Butter Toffee PB.  You know, just to even things out a bit.

The verdict?  Vanilla Almond Butter=Out of this world thrilling, food of the Gods.  Chocolate Butter Toffee Peanut Butter=Thrilling, but distinctly human.

At least they aren’t the only thrill in my life…

There are many other thrilling things, such as…

  • Spending my evening entering student data into endless spreadsheets.  After playing with spreadsheets at my other job all day.  Okay, confession: I actually like spreadsheets.  And data entry.  This probably makes me one of the Top Ten Most Thrilling Human Beings Ever.
  • Going on a hunt for cheap stevia.
  • Buying new tupperware.
  • Watering my basil plant.
  • Folding sports bras.
  • Deciding which of my two nice purses I should bring to work every morning.

It’s so thrilling I can hardly stand it.

Other thrilling elements of the day included running the Central Park loop.  For the 279th time.  That’s an estimate. Don’t hold me to it.  And actually it was kind of thrilling because I saw a black squirrel.  I have never seen a black squirrel in the city before.

And what isn’t thrilling about eating OIAJ while walking along Broadway on my way to work?  I think it’s pretty trend-setting.  More people should start their day that way.

Seriously, this kind of thing is hard core.  I live life on the edge.

In all seriousness though, I often worry about whether or not others perceive me as a  boring person.  I think this is the thing I least want to be seen as.  In general, I worry about other people’s perceptions too much, but I also think that they’re important.  Our sense of self should in no way be based off of others, but our friends and confidantes can give us valuable insight into our selves.  For example, my mother is always telling me that I yell too often and therefore unintentionally come across as aggressive.  This is a handy piece of information to have; it reminds me to be gentler around others, especially new people who might not know my softer side.  But other times, people’s perceptions can be totally skewed and hurtful.  Once, my grandfather was careful to loudly point out, in my presence, how “long and lean and slim” one of my cousins was.  I know that he is from a more antiquated era in which men had significant control over women’s bodies (not to mention minds) and that he didn’t mean to be hurtful.  But he was.  What other people think of us affects us deeply — sometimes I even find myself internalizing notions of myself that I don’t even believe in! I think the easiest way to navigate a world of confusing external perceptions is for us to develop strong senses of self in which we recognize the many ways in which we are beautiful.  If I don’t want to be seen as boring, I can seek out small thrills.  Just because I don’t spend my weekends at bars or on the couches of unknown men doesn’t mean my life can’t be thrilling.  I do all kinds of thrilling things: running in the mountains, kayaking lakes and rivers, climbing trees, buying exciting new accessories, wearing red.  I think that little thrills really are important.  That’s why I have adventures.    And there is absolutely a thrill in arriving at a sense of self: discovering new parts of me is ever so exciting.  Just this weekend I realized that, physically, I feel comfortable.  My problems with my body are not carved into my hips or stomach, they’re figments of my tricky little mind.  Getting to know oneself is fascinating.  Daily, I feel like I’m sifting through new piles of soil, finding new things.

Future Thrills:

  • Mountain climbing.
  • Writing a book (or several).
  • Learning a new language (I don’t know which one yet!)
  • Surfing.
  • Law school.
  • Tonight’s dessert.

Alright bloggies.  What’s thrilling in your life right now?  Future thrills?  Past thrills?

I think one of my best past thrills would be exploring Paris by myself.  I went with my mother when I was 13 and again when I was 18.  Both times I just walked endlessly around the city, climbing over bridges and smiling at cute boys in parks and drinking the best hot chocolate in the world.  I don’t speak a word of French.  When I was 13, I even went and found a hair salon and got my haircut completely on my own, using gestures to describe to the stylist what I wanted. Independence=thrilling.

See you all tomorrow!

Advertisements

Summer Projects and TWO Dinners

Today’s Happy Note: Chatting with my dad on the phone and getting excited to go home so that I can visit the bakery!  Is this what normal people get excited about when they get to go home?  Probably not.  But I’m a food blogger, which is mutually exclusive to normal.  And my little town has the best bakery in the entire world.  I want to have an eclair.  And an apple fritter.  I am, of course, also getting very excited to see my crazy but beautiful family!

The no good icky bad mood has lifted! Thank the Lord.  Or hormones.  Or my therapist.  I don’t know who to thank but I do know that it’s gone!  (Insert happy dance here).  I let myself sleep in today, went for a nice (ish…) run, had my favorite mid-week treat breakfast, worked, then came home and relaxed.  No obligations.  I’m really not exactly sure what my work schedule will be like in the evenings (I am working two jobs) this summer.  My guess is that it is going to be crazy busy/late on some days and really chill on others.  But after a week of coming home from work at five fifteen and having not not much to do, I know that I am in some serious need of summer “projects.”  I am not going to start any of these until I have “officially” started my summer schedule and am back in NY, which will be in two weeks.  But I’m making a list now so I can plan and keep myself entertained!

Caronae’s Super Spectacular Fun Summer Project List:

1.  Stay in touch with old friends/family members who don’t live in the city.

2. Make regular plans with school friends who are in the city.

3. Meet new blog friends!

4. Start a planter in windowsill.  I want to grow lavender and maybe some rosemary and thyme.  I would like a flowering plant, but I’m afraid a planter won’t allow its roots the room that they need.

5. Find muffin recipes.  Make said recipes.

6. Cook a few fancy dinners.

7.  Places to visit: museums, aquariums, botanical gardens.

8. Weekly yoga sesh with my cousin.

9. Learn to knit?????

10. Buy a set of pastels and use them (sidenote: I adore pastels; they are my favorite artistic tool by far).

11. Learn more about trees and (geek alert!) take walks around the city identifying different types of trees.

12. See some dance shows.

13: Library.  Books.  Read them.  Last summer I had a “reading project” in which I read as many major Russian authors as I could (Dostoevsky, Chekhov, Tolstoy, Pushkin, etc.).  I need a similar project for this summer!  It’s actually really fun if you are a word geek like I am.

14. Expand blog.

So that’s the plan for now!  This doesn’t include everything I’ll be doing, of course (read: running), just some fun and/or new projects.  I don’t really consider running a hobby so much as a part of my life, like eating or working or writing.

What are your favorite hobbies or activities?  Anything I should add to my list?  I’m totally open to suggestions!

Exercise: I did get in my 7.5 mile run today, and it was going really well — my legs were churning pretty fast, I thought — until I had to go to the bathroom about halfway through.  Stat.  Why are public bathrooms in this city so hard to find????  I had to walk for a mile before I found one.  Ick.  I hate when a pit stop derails my run, it’s one of the more annoying things about running.  Other “interesting” things that have happened to me while running: being chased (and almost mauled) by dogs, being stopped by annoying tourists asking for directions to Columbus Circle, getting very very lost in East Harlem, becoming convinced that my mother and sister were eaten by mountain lions, and sneaking into some very sketchy woods (on many different occasions) to go to the bathroom.  Runners have interesting lives and good stories.  You should befriend one 🙂

Eats: I had my special weekday breakfast treat today: a bagel with peanut butter and sweet iced tea from the deli/bakery.  This is one of my favorite things in the world.  I used to think it was so wrong that I would let food make me happy, but life is too short not to feel happy about having your favorite foods once in a while.  I freely admit that toasted cinnamon bagels with peanut butter make me very happy indeed!

I did the whole two dinners thing again today and it worked wonderfully.  No more Hangry Caronae!!!  Yay. 🙂

Dinner #1:

Vanilla-pear protein oatmeal eaten at 5:15.

Dinner #2:

Hodgepodge salad: mesclun base with carrots, steamed broccoli, refried pinto beans, brown rice, and a 2-egg puff.  So nom nom nom nom.

Dessert:

Pineapple chobs with crumbled raspberry chocolate luna bar — I maintain that this is not only the best luna bar flavor but the best bar out there.  Period.  It tastes like a raspberry-infused brownie that you might get for dessert at a fancy restaurant.  For twelve dollars.  I’m  not exaggerating.

Do you have a favorite dessert? I like almost anything with chocolate, especially brownies and homemade bake goods.  I have also been known to eat Ben and Jerry’s (ahem, Phish food) straight from the pint.

Goodnight friends!  Happy almost-weekend!

A Day To Myself, Delicious Desserts, Cultural Foods

Today’s Happy Note: Fun evening with a friend who I haven’t spent enough time with lately!

I woke up this morning and laid in bed for a moment thinking.  I planned on a long run but was hungry for a big breakfast right away.  Then I realized that I wanted to take this one day and make it mine; I was going to relax and do precisely what I wanted when I wanted. I thought about a long run.  I thought about a trip to a museum.  I thought about a picnic in the park.  But after a few moments I smiled and realized I wanted to stay in, read my Oprah magazine, catch up on blogs, nap, and just think/clear my head!  And so I did.  It was really hard to let myself do nothing and I’m proud that I did.

I finally left my room at 6:00 for a workout that I did purely because I wanted to. I did a nice 6 mile run along the river followed by 40 intense minutes of full-body strength training.  I did some new moves today I’ve seen other people doing before; it’s nice to switch things up once in a while, it makes strength training even more fun!

Most of my eats today were boring but I dug into some fresh pineapple and it was pretty much the most amazing thing I’ve had in a long while so I have to share:

Sometimes I don’t like the acidic-tangy taste of pineapple but when a pineapple is perfect, it is so perfect.  Pineapple, mango, berries, and melon are my favorite summer fruits.  What are yours?

I need some new adjectives to describe delicious things.  Any suggestions? And if you’re wondering why the pineapple is a bit pink, it’s because there were also strawberries in the container!

I had the most amazing dessert outing tonight.  Sometimes it’s nice to have just a fancy dessert out; it feels classy but doesn’t rack up a terrible expense.

Pretty teapot.

I gave myself full permission to have whatever I wanted.  I ordered a coconut cream pie with a varlhona chocolate crust and berries.  Normally I am a 100% chocolate person but I was in a coconut mood tonight.  Do you gravitate towards one type of dessert most of the time? I usually avoid fruity desserts because they don’t especially satisfy me.

Look!  It is oozing creamy coconutty deliciousness!

My friend Joy got a delicious chocolate cake (I had a forkful) with a melty center and pistachio ice cream.

It’s funny that I don’t really like pistachios that much.  They’re probably my least favorite nut.  They’re a traditional Persian (Iranian) nut used in a lot of dishes and desserts.  So, being part Persian, I feel as though I should like them.  But I don’t.  I do, however, like this Persian candy made from pistachios called gaz. It also involves rose water and egg whites and general tastiness.  Here’s a picture:

Nom nom nom!  In addition to being Iranian, I’m also part Czech and part Irish.  It’s an interesting hybrid, I guess!  Sometimes I think of myself as a really weird but also interesting fruit hybrid.  Like a pummelo or something.  I don’t know that much about Czech foods or Irish foods, but I am decently familiar with Persian food.  Lots of tasty stews (khoresh), marinated meats, rice dishes (pollo), yogurt, and interesting vegetables and spices.  Growing up, my mom made mast-e-khiar a lot.  It involves plain yogurt, cucumber, mint, dill, raisins, walnuts, onions and other spices, if desired.  Looks like this:

Mast-o-Khiar (Iranian cucumber and mint yougurt)

I would like to learn more about Irish and Czech cooking.  American food, I think, tends towards the boring and bland.  As a kid I was actually obsessed with Indian food.  My other favorite types of food are Thai and real Mexican/Latin American.

Do you identify with a culture or ethnicity?  If so, do you ever cook from that culture?  If not, what are your favorite types of food?  Do you like exploring foods of other cultures or do you stick to a more continental approach?

Friends, Food, Run

Today’s Mini Goal: Meet someone new in one of my classes!  Friends have always helped me flourish, and I like meeting new people, but I’m a little shy about it.  I’m going to try to approach meeting people with less anxiety, at least for today (tomorrow, actually).

Alright, I’m speed-posting/reading/commenting tonight my friends.  Lots to do!  I went to a women’s mentoring/networking event tonight that took up my whole evening.  It was worth it though.  I met lots of cool lawyers, public officials and artists.

The event had lots of tasty catered food, including these desserts!  I definitely indulged, but I feel fine since I didn’t overdo it.  I like dessert.  When I was little, my mom used to tell me that I couldn’t have dessert everyday, and I would get so mad that sometimes I would refuse to eat my dinner without the promise of dessert afterwards!  I was naughty.

Food!

Mini chocolate covered tiramisu!

Mini cannolis (I had one).

Perfect milk chocolate truffle.  I also had a small chocolate covered piece of raspberry cake (my best guess).

Pile of delicious.

Okay, so I only took one other picture today, and that was of my afternoon snack.  I’m usually ready for a snack between 4 and 5, and then I eat a later dinner.  This snack was phenomenal, and the flavors were amaze together!

Dried pineapple and dark chocolate covered pineapple.  Protein, fiber, carbs, pretty colors, chocolate?  What more could I ask for in a snack?  Nothing.  I truly believe that this is the epitome of aftenroon snackage.

I wish my posts could be organized like Janetha’s, and they would just have a meals section and a moves section.  But my posts would just get boring if I did that.  Janetha, on the other hand, seems to hvae mastered the creativity-within-a-framework format!

I had one of my best lunches ever today.  It was a HEAB inspired egg scramble.  No pictures, because it looked a bit funny.  But it included sauteed onions, mushrooms, and zuchinni, two organic eggs, salt, and cheddar cheese.  Why haven’t I been adding salt to my meals?  I actually tend not to want salty things, but every once in a while when I do a really hard, sweaty, or long run, I crave salt.  I think it’s a hydration/electrolyte thing.  Anyways, this was a delectable combination (I feel like I’m running out of adjectives to describe my tasty morsels!  Any suggestions?)

Run!

I woke up early to get it done today.  I kind of go back and forth on getting up between 6 and 7 to run before classes or going in the middle of my day if I have a long break or going on the treadmill in the evening.  For some reason, I just knew that I was not going to wanna do this run later in the day, so I sucked it up and headed out at 7 this morning.  I’m not sure what it was about today, but this run was super fabulous.  Maybe because I had a small handful of nuts before I left?  Usually I don’t eat anything, so I think this gave me a solid energy boost.

I had 8×800 with 400 recovery between each on the schedule today.  I still have no functional garmin, so I converted the workout to a time-based one: 8×4 minutes hard followed by 3 minutes easy.  I think my fast parts were roughly a half mile each, so it worked out nicely.

I did this workout all the way around Central Park (plus a mile warm up and cool down), so there were some tough hills thrown in there!  I really pushed myself, but I never felt like I was dying.  I actually really loved this workout.  Shocking.  Speedwork normally makes me so anxious that I feel like I’m going to throw up, but today was different, and I am grateful for that.  If you are looking for a workout that combines speed and endurance, this is it, but I don’t recommend doing it if you haven’t been building both of those up for a little while.

No mental health news or stories today.  I do have to say though that I am feeling infinitely better this winter than I was at this time last year.  I have a history of rough Februarys (bad things always happen to me in February; it’s actually a little bit eerie), but I am confident that my newfound self-esteem and my strategies for dealing with my emotions will help me have a good month, and a good semester.  I can do it!

What’s your favorite workout?  Do you have a “fallback” workout that never fails in a pinch?

Do you have a least favorite month?

Saturday Shenanigans

Today’s Positive Note: I have a strong stomach (I mean my abs, not my digestive abilities).  It may not be perfect, but it really helps when I’m running, especially up hills, and I do work hard to keep them strong.  I’ll share an ab routine that I do at some point…

Today was a lovely little Saturday.  In fact, I would deem it pretty close to perfect.  Woke up at 8:30, layed in bed until 9:00 musing about life, got up and made some oatmeal (I won’t lie, I honestly love the kashi packets and find them much easier than stovetop oats), read blogs and checked email until 10:30, got dressed and walked down to The Lite Choice for my tour.  I was contacted a few weeks ago by the director of operations asking if I might like to take a tour.  I like ice cream products of all varieties.  I like dessert.  I like free things.  Why not?

When I got there, I saw a little poster thingy from Missy with a healthy living tip.  I think it’s a nice idea that they are trying to promote healthy habits among their customers.

They told me about their business, their history (warning, really nerdy fact ahead: this was one of my favorite parts), and their “frozen dessert.”  It doesn’t have enough fat to be considered ice cream, but it doesn’t have the healthy bacteria requisite to be deemed frozen yogurt.  This might be one of my critiques actually — if I am going to indulge in a nice tasty dessert, why not throw some healthy probiotics in there as well?  It is made from real milk though, which they get from Upstate New York.  I love all things local (ish), so I appreciated this.

The owners were really sweet and let me try lots of flavors!

New York Cheesecake, I think.

Double chocolate truffle, one of my favorites.

Peanut butter.  Holy yum!

Peanuts and almonds that they grind right into the “frozen dessert.”  I would have been happy just eating the nut butters plain. 🙂

Lots of topping choices.

More flavors (I had a spoonful or two of each one).  The only one I tried that I explicitly didn’t like was the banana.  It tasted fake, which was a bit surprising since all their flavorings are made from real fruits ( they come out of a syrup-like bottle, but they are not artificial).  This was perhaps my favorite aspect of their whole product-model: pretty much everything is real.  I don’t mind eating real milk, sugar, butter, eggs, etc.  I just don’t want to ingest a bunch of chemicals.  Their “frozen dessert” was nice and thick and creamy, which is definitely something I look for, as a frozen yogurt conneiseur of sorts.  They’re also mostly about 100 calories for a small serving (without toppings, of course), which is nice.

Overall, I think that TLC seems like a really nice place for a pretty tasty dessert.  I didn’t so much appreciate the businessy-ness (I can make up words if I want) of the place, but I don’t think that the average customer would experience that.  Also, I am the least business-minded person ever.  I like words and art and history and countries, not companies and money-making.  But with that said, everyone in this world has to make a living some way, and I’m glad that these people are doing so with a yummy, natural, organic product.  

FYI — I know that “natural” and “organic” are vague terms that mean different things to different people.  Why can’t these just be nationally standardized?  I think a lot of times people end up confused, thinking that if a product is “natural” it is automatically healthy.  And that word is not really regulated anyway, and seems like it could be slapped onto anything.  Sorry, mini rant over. 

So I had a fun little morning tour!  They gave me some coupons (thanks TLC if you’re reading this), and just seemed like a genuinely kind, real company.  If you are looking for a treat and you’re in the New York area, check them out!

Let’s see.  After this I ran errands.  I stopped by this amazing little bakery on my way home, and then the bank to make deposits.  At the bakery I got a loaf of whole wheat raisin walnut bread.  Absolutely perfect.  I’m surprised that I restrained myself from eating the entire thing warm before I even made it out the door.  I did a little bit of reading and made some lunch.  My camera battery died by this point which seriously annoyed me because I had the most adorable lunch ever!   It consisted of a small egg and cheddar sandwich made on my new bread (if you’ve never made a savory sammy on a sweet bread, try it!) and a giant heap of carrots with TJ’s pb (like everyone has been saying lately, this stuff really is quite tasty).  And dried pineapple.

After lunch I spent some quality time with my Middle Eastern history books.

I have a highlighting problem, okay.

I love pretty book covers!  Yay.

Then I chatted with my mommy, who was in the middle of seeing a patient.  My bad.  My parents are both doctors, which means they’re busy busy busy.  Being a doctor really is not the glamorous lifestyle that has become so entrenched in the American imagination, at least from my point of view.  I had a lovely little nap after that (I seem to be having a really good day today???), woke up, was pensive again, read more.  Went to the gym and did five miles on the treadmill.  Okay, so what follows is the only mildly disconcerting moment of my day.

My school gym has this extraordinarily OBNOXIOUS policy of cardio machine sign-ups whereby you get one 30-minute slot once a day.  Yeah right.  Sometimes, 30 minutes just isn’t gonna cut it, especially when I’m training for a race and I need an hour or more on the treadmill because it’s about two degrees outside.  And to top things off, there aren’t really enough machines, so a lot of times  you have to sign up 30-90 minutes before you want to get on and then you sit around and wait.  Ugh.  So today I got there and, typically, no treddy was open for 45 minutes.  I stalled by slowly changing in the locker room and wasted 15 minutes.  Once I got out there, I noticed that the person for the 5:30 slot wasn’t on one of the treadmills, so I snagged it.  Thankfully they never came, but this was pure luck.  Of course, now I was on the wrong machine and when the person came for the next slot I had to stop, move my stuff, and go to the original machine that I had.  I finished my run (which by the way, was perfectly pleasant) and was cooling down when the guy came for the next session.  Okay, no problem, I was done BUT technically I still had the machine for another 30 minutes (I had illicitly signed up for a one hour block, as many gym goers do).  I told him this and he said “well, that’s against the rules so I crossed your name off and you absolutely do not get to stay on any longer and it’s automatically my turn.”  I was done and hate being in arguments,  so I just got off and was annoyed for about two minutes.  I’ve had similar experiences before too.  So, notice to Columbia’s gym: please change your machine sign-up policy and your stupid time limit.  And while you’re at it, get more machines.  And resolutionaries, please only continue to make the gym crowded if you solemnly swear that you will work out faithfully for the entire year.

This picture is from a few days ago, but you get the idea.  Too crowded.  Ewww.  Perhaps I’m being a wee bit harsh.  Sorry.

Earlier today, Mari left a comment saying there was an NYC bloggie meetup tonight.  I emailed her to ask where it was, but it probably had already started or something.  Alas, I am sure there will be future meetups!  So I made some dinner instead.  Leftover peanut veggie soup, to which I added tofu and a yummy spinach/mesculin salad. 

I love my giant heaps of green.  I need them in my life.  I used Annie’s Goddess dressing, which I hated the first time I tried it, but it has been steadily growing on me!

More reading (I made it through ONE book toady.  Kill me now) and dessert:

Half of this bottle of blueberry pommegranate yogurt from Ronnybrook.  I should probably just become a Ronnybrook spokeswoman or something.  Milk, I love you.  Ronnybrook Farms, I love you even more.

And now I am blogging.  I plan on venturing out into the cold for some chocolate chips so that I can bake (I just really feel the baking urge for some reason), and possibly doing a wee bit more reading.   Tomorrow will include a 10 miler if it is above 15 degrees and, hopefully, some free yoga.  I hope everyone had as happy a Saturday as I did!

~Caronae

PS: I did receive coupons from TLC, but going on the tour and writing about it was most definitely not a paid gig.  I did it because I am a foodie living in NYC who is always on the lookout for tasty treats.