Co-operating With My To-Do List

I have officially accomplished more today than I did the entire rest of the summer, no lie.  On my to-done list:

  • go to the DMV
  • renew my BSC parking pass
  • make a copy of my proof of malpractice insurance
  • confirm my class schedule
  • sign up for the co-op
  • work
  • make 2 recipes for dinner
  • make snack for Adam’s poker game
  • complete summer work for my professional portfolio
  • put away clean laundry
  • set up binders for school
  • blog

Woot!  I work tomorrow and still have a few things to do on Sunday, but I feel good about heading back to school on Monday.

The DMV was amazingly quick and painless, probably because I got there soon after they opened.  I recently discovered that my licence expired more than a month ago so this was an important errand to accomplish before school starts and I have to drive to my internship.  My photo probably will look something like this –

Holy hair brushes, Emily, learn how to use one!  Also, I might be old enough that it’s time to figure out concealer before my next id photo.

I ran around all morning and didn’t have time for breakfast so I drank a Starbucks Vanilla Double Shot Energy on the walk to work.

Also on my walk, I stopped in at the co-op and became an owner.

This errand was even quicker and less painless than the DMV.  Locals, did you know that Lexington Co-op will refund your membership fee if you move?

For my lunch break today I grabbed food at Globe Market.

Side note – once school starts my buying food at work habit needs to die a quick death.

Thai Peanut Noodles that were astonishingly tasteless and disappointing,

and a crab cake that more than made up for the lackluster noodles.

I found a GIANT hunk of claw meat in my cake and was so pleased.

Work went well.  I dropped off the rest of the Cookie Butter Fudge a few days ago and apparently everyone really liked it.  My lack of breakfast hit me hard as we closed up shop at work.  A Starbucks’ unsweetened Arnold Palmer was consumed on the walk home,

and these surprisingly delicious Caramel Brule Chocolate Bites were shared with Adam while I cooked.

At least those purchases were bought via a birthday gift card with a 2pm treat receipt.

I went full-on fancy for dinner, though my plate did end up unfortunately monochromatic.

A Shallota Salmon Burger patty,

with a serving of Buttery Bok Choy Gratin.

Rachael Ray’s gratin only got middling reviews but my salmon burgers were a hit.  Several of Adam’s friends who are here playing poker tried them and gave rave reviews.

But maybe they were just sucking up because they knew I was making *brown butter and candied bacon popcorn* for them to snack on –

I don’t think I’ve ever been more jealous of a snack!  I consoled myself with a Rascal’s Wild Red.

But that was disgusting (it tasted like cough syrup to me) so a few sips in I traded up for a Michelob Ultra Light Cider.

Michelob will never be my beer of choice, but their cider was damn good.  120 calories per bottle (and naturally gluten free).

I assume it will be a late night for Adam but I’ve got an early morning at work so I’m going to go curl up in bed with a Patricia Cornwell novel.

Do you belong to a co-op?

I Hate Being A Grown Up

Hello there!  I didn’t bring a computer to the Outer Banks so I tried to set up a few posts before I left.  Today I’m going to complain…

Do you know about Jenna Marbles yet?  This part isn’t the complaint, I adore Jenna Marbles; her “How To Trick People Into Thinking You’re Good Looking” video is still one of the funniest things I’ve seen on YouTube.  Recently she posted a funny video about all of the things she hates about being a grown up.  Warning – grown up language ahead.

I agree!  I think everyone hates those things.  The video got me thinking about what else I hate about “being a grown up.”  <– I’m not quite sure I’m there yet!

The # 1 thing I dislike about being an adult is having to worry about money.  Adam and I are ridiculously fortunate that a combination of savings and several loans allows us to live very comfortably, but I still worry about money all of the time.  I know that I’m incredibly lucky and can more than afford everything I need, but sometimes I do think about the things that I want.  Making adult decisions about money can suck.

Here are some ways I’m grown up about $ –

  • I held a part-time job throughout all of high school and college and I put most of my tips/pay checks into savings.
  • We’ve never skimped on health/car/apartment insurance.
  • I set up dermatologist and gynecologist appointments for this summer instead of a pedicure or manicure.
  • I haven’t bought makeup in years (my mom keeps me in lip gloss and mascara via my Christmas stocking) but I do wear good quality, high spf face lotion.

Here are some ways I’m not at all grown up about $ –

  • We have basically emptied our savings.  That includes the money in the savings account I’ve had since I was 10 that I always imagined myself doing something very exciting with.
  • I haven’t had a job (not including my short stints of tele-fundraising) in 3 years.
  • We don’t have retirement funds.
  • Even though we clearly can’t afford it, all I can think about some days is getting Webster a Miriam (aka a tan, girl Frenchie).

I am very thankful for the lifestyle I currently have, but I do think about the things I’ll buy when I have more money (foundation!  makeup brushes!  clothing from J.Crew!).  A lot of what I say to Adam starts with “when you’re a doctor…”

Please note – this post is very tongue in check; I do know how lucky I am!

What are some of the ways that you are grown up (or not so grown up) about money?

Peanut Butter Cheddar Pupsicles

This post has gone to the dogs!

Calm down, Cheech, I know you’re hungry.

Hey, over here!

There we go.

My dog, like all dogs, loves peanut butter.  My dog also, like all German dogs, gets hot quickly in warm weather.  These factors mean that he is a big fan of Purina’s Frosty Paws frozen dog treats.  He gleeked out over them but my wallet wasn’t as excited; those things aren’t cheap.  And because dachshunds are prone to back troubles with weight gain the large serving size means he can only have them as an occasional treat.  Plus, Webster is not a one-note dog, he likes cheese too!

Since I love the dog almost as much as he loves peanut butter, I set out to make a treat that works for both us.

These Pupsicles are full of protein from his favorites – cheese and peanut butter – and made with low-fat yogurt that is good for his tummy.  They are cheap and easy to make and the smaller size means I can treat him more often, which makes us both happy.

Peanut Butter Cheddar Pupsicles; yields 20 frozen treats

  • 4 oz sharp white cheddar
  • 2 cups plain low-fat yogurt
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
  1. Cut the cheese into fourths and use a food processor to crumble it.  (You can probably make these in the blender, just shred your cheese first.)
  2. Add yogurt and peanut butter to the bowl and process until well-combined.
  3. Spoon the mixture into clean ice-cube trays and freeze until solid.

Note – I based this recipe off of similar ones that I know have been vetted (ha!) by the AKC.  Please ask your vet what foods are appropriate for the breed before giving your dog any new foods.

Red Fish, Blue Fish, Green Dog?

If I start this post by saying I haven’t been very productive today, will that be too predictable?!  I’m in a cold-weather/program-frustration/lack-of-exercise induced rut!  But I’m making a commitment to going to bed early and pushing my way out of it tomorrow.

At least all of my eats today were tasty.  Like my in-class breakfast trio.

Wegman’s Plain 0% Greek Yogurt (which is quite good and can hold its own against the big brands; though it is more similar to Chobani than Fage as it is less thick),

Fiber One Honey Squares Cereal sample (this had a gross fake-sweetener aftertaste – Sucralose was on the ingredient list – but was very filling for 80 calories),

and a honey stick.

Since my trio only had about 200 calories or so, I supplemented breakfast with a Banana Nut Bar that Odwalla generously sent me to try out.

Love!  I actually tried this in college (the first time!) and loved it then too.  220 calories, .5 grams of saturated fat, 5 grams of fiber and 4 grams of protein.  Plus it packs good amounts of many vitamins, including 25% daily value each of calcium and folate and 50% vitamin e.  The bar is chewy and a bit crumbly, just like banana bread!  I shared bites with two classmates who agreed that this was the best fake (<– aka not literally just a banana) banana flavor ever.

My breakfasts held me over nicely too; I had to run several errands after class and I didn’t get to eat lunch until close to 2:30.  Actually, my breakfasts held me over well until around 1, and then I was cranky.  I went frozen meal quick for lunch.

Another Lean Cuisine win, Chicken Enchilada Suiza.

I supplemented this meal with popcorn.

There’s always room for Jell-O popcorn.

I took the doggy on a long walk this afternoon (that’s productive!) and before I knew it the husband was home and it was time for dinner.

No matter what little tweaks you make to the ingredients, turkey Reubens are always good!

This guy was GH sourdough bread, 1000 island dressing, sauerkraut 2 slices of Applegate Farms Honey and Maple Turkey, and 2 slices of 2% Swiss.  I ate at least another slice worth’s of bread in nibbles, Great Harvest is seriously the best.

With roasted green beans on the side.

A winner of a dinner.

Blue Fish, Red Fish, Green Dog?

Calling all pet owners, we could use some advice.  How do you clean up after your dog while staying green? 

Adam and I pride ourselves on being pretty environmentally friendly but Webster seems to have doubled our plastic and paper consumption.  Since he is home by himself for long stretches of time (and since he is a small dog with a small bladder in a third floor apartment) he has to do about 50% of his “business” inside the apartment.  When he’s not out on a walk, he “goes” on pee pads.

I don’t feel bad about using these because they are basically unavoidable and we have him reuse each one two or three times.  However, being the asshole that he is, only about 2/3 of his going takes place on the pee pads.  The rest of his business goes on the floor.  Number 2 requires a baggie and Clorox wipe (don’t worry, we use a different brand without harsh chemicals, I’m just too lazy to look up the name of them) and number 1 requires several paper towels and wipe.  I’ve thought about using paper towels for pick-up at home (wasting more paper but conserving plastic), but on walks we have to use a baggie.

For the past few months we’ve been leaving our reusable bags at home and reusing the plastic bags we take home from the grocery.  This is the cheapest solution but Adam and I both felt badly about how wasteful it was.  When we ran out of baggies and were forced into purchasing some I think we both were a little relieved (and we’ll go back to reusable bags for groceries).  In fact, one of my errands today was purchasing these –

These Green Bone bags are biodegradable and made from cornstarch.

So that’s an improvement but I’m still hoping to find a better solution.

Pet owners, how do you take good care of your furry friends while still taking care of the planet?

No Take-out ‘Tober

Bedtime was closer to midnight than my planned 9pm.  I suck.  But to be fair, it’s hard to motivate on the couch when you’re sitting next to this –

I’ve got a lot to do today (like all the stuff I didn’t do this weekend) so I made myself a heaping bowl of breakfast.

That’s 1/2 cup Wegman’s 0% Plain Greek Yogurt with 2 servings of GH Galaxy granola and some peach and red plum.

Lunch preview – Today I’ve packed a big Sweet Tango apple,

and a leftover serving of tofu quiche.

Both should be delicious.

Speaking of future foods; I have an announcement for this month…

No Take-out ‘Tober

For the sake of our waistlines and wallets, Adam and I are making October a take-out free month.

In the past year or so we’ve become way too reliant on buying food out and bringing it home.  Wegman’s hot bar, anyone?  It’s always expensive, and never healthy.  Of course there are times when eating pizza on the couch is amazing and necessary, but it shouldn’t be a weekly habit.  I really enjoy cooking at home and 90% of what I make is cheaper than what we would purchase out.  Obviously restaurant meals can be expensive and caloric too, but they come with atmosphere and experience.  We’ve decided it’s time to rein our take-out habit in.

For the month of October –

  • Wegman’s hot bar is off-limits.  Period.
  • No take-out of any kind may be purchased.
  • Restaurant meals are ok as long as they are eaten in the setting.
  • We don’t have to starve if there’s no food at home, but what we can go out and purchase is bread, turkey, and cheese; not pre-made Buffalo chicken sandwiches!

Does anyone want to join us for No Take-out ‘Tober?  Let me know in the comments if you (and your family) want to take part!

Just The Tip

I’ve worked in the food service industry since I was 17 years old.  I was an employee at Cold Stone Creamery during high school, I was a server at the on-campus bar at UMiami, and I was a server at a tourist restaurant/popular bar on my summers back home during college.  Just for funsies, here is my staff profile from Duffy’s –

I’m a big believer in karma so I always tip at least 20%.  My father (who is a 2nd grade teacher) worked as a waiter when I was a little kid so I grew up with parents who knew how to tip, and how to treat the wait staff with respect!  I realize that not everyone has worked in the service industry, or even knows someone who has, so I wanted to compile a quick post on an important part of the dining out process: tipping.

  • In most states, serves do not make minimum wage.  According to the US Department of Labor the minimum wage in New York is $7.25/hour.  The minimum wage for food service workers is $4.65/hour.  Restaurant owners are supposed to make up the difference if tips don’t bring workers up to minimum wage, but if that was actually happening restaurants would also have to raise their prices which affects you as a consumer.
  • The standard % for tipping on food and drinks is 18% (I typical get more than 20%).  I don’t believe that you should tip 15% unless your service is pretty bad.  10% is for service that is terrible. 
  • Servers do not control your entire dining experience – don’t stiff them because you are unhappy about things outside of their control.  Servers cannot control: how quickly your order comes, how strong your drink is, whether or not your food tastes good, if the restaurant is too cold, too hot, or too loud… 
  • …However, it is the server’s responsibility to be helpful if you are unhappy about any of those things.  Servers can control their attitudes.
  • If your server actually is awful, talk to the manager.  Managers and owners can only fix problems that they know about!
  • If you can’t afford the tip, you can’t afford the meal.
  • If you are using a gift certificate or Groupon you tip on the original amount before the credit.
  • Servers often tip out bus boys, the bar, etc based on their sales and not their actual tips; if you stiff a server in this situation then your meal may actually cost them money.
  • If you are in a party of 6 or larger, check the bill to make sure gratuity wasn’t added automatically.  If it was you can just pay the bill and leave, although it’s always nice to tip a little extra.
  • If you order drinks at the bar before you are seated it’s good practice to close out your tab with the bar before you move.  You drinks bill can be transferred to your server, but the bartender may end up not receiving a tip for serving you.

Have you ever worked in the food service industry?  Do you have anything to add to my list?

Are My Hoisin The Club?!

Forget about what Rebecca Black says, Saturday is where it’s at!  We didn’t even do anything all that exciting today – studying, grocery shopping, easy dinner – it just was a good day.

Since I’m ridiculous about meals on the weekend I went with lunch – snack – dinner rather than breakfast – lunch – dinner.  Besides, lunch for breakfast means you get in more veggies.

Yes, that is Wegman’s hot bar.  Yes, I’m aware we have a problem.

Fruits (pineapple, berries, strawberries, watermelon),

Veggies (avocado, squash, mushrooms, carrots, brussels sprouts, broccoli),

and a mini crustless Quiche (with tomato and artichoke heart).

Adam and I split a Zone Perfect Sweet & Salty Trail Mix Bar for dessert.

The kind folks at ZP sent me some samples of their new Sweet and Salty line since they knew how much I adored their Cookie Dough stuff.  Adam and I agreed that the bar was good, but not as good as the cookie dough ones.  There was a great peanut butter flavor spread throughout it, and the bar lived up to its sweet and salty name.  I’m looking forward to trying the other variety.

In addition to being repetitive and crazy, constant hot bar isn’t cheap!  Adam has to purchase lots of random snacks and coffees this summer (he’s off for 2 months to study for a major exam and focuses better in public venues) so we need to save our pennies where we can.  I tried to do an extra good job of stocking up on groceries this week; I’d rather spend a little more money at the store and save some money not going out for random things throughout the week.

One of my have-snacks-in-the-house-stop-buying-nachos-damn-it purchases was a 10ct box of mini 100-calorie popcorns, and one of those bags ended up being my afternoon snack.

I also grabbed a (sweetened) cappuccino from Wilson Farms.

Looking back at this post, it seems like I had more than enough to eat today, but you know I couldn’t keep my hand out of the cashews while I cooked dinner!

We whipped up a simple stir fry that ended up being delicious.

The inspiration for the dish was the 2 unopened bags of spinach that were starting to go bad, but these guys were the real stars –

Step-by-step, serves 3-4.

Heat 1 Tbsp evoo in a large pan or wok over medium-high heat.  Add 10 cups of raw baby spinach.

Cover and cook until wilted.

Add 1 15 oz can baby corn, 1 15 oz can stir fry mushrooms,

5 green onions, sliced, and 2/3 cup salted cashews.

Top with 4 Tbsp Hoisin sauce and continue to cook.

In a small bowl on the side, whisk together 3 large eggs.

Make a hole in the veggie mixture and pour eggs into it.

Cook until starting to slightly scramble then toss to combine.  Continue to cook stir-fry until desire doneness is reached.

Delicious.

I topped my bowl with Sriracha,

and Adam added some baked tofu to his.

I stole a few pieces of tofu and they were so tasty I’m planning on making them again soon so I can share the recipe with you guys.

When I’m feeling unsatisfied after dinner a yogurt bowl for dessert is always the answer.

This one centered around a Dannon Light and Fit Caramel yogurt.

I almost never eat fake-sugar yogurts (if I’m not eating Greek I’m buying Stonyfield because it is humanely sourced) but this guy was pretty fantastic.  Topped with unsweetened shredded coconut, the last of the butter toffee almonds, and a few butterscotch chips.

Sweet dreams, readers!