Author Archives: Rachel Palmieri

I’m a doctoral student (hopefully for not too much longer) studying epidemiology (who gets disease and why and how to prevent it). I know that I need to be healthy for many reasons…now I just have to do it! I live in Raleigh my boyfriend Dave and our two dogs, Kharma and Darwin. I am a voracious consumer of music (favorite: The Boss) and movies (favorite: Rocky) and a bit of a homebody!

Ice Ice Baby ~Rachel

I had to go to Bethesda, MD for a work conference so I missed my Weight Watchers meeting on Saturday. I’m pretty sure that the scale moved the proper direction but I’ll post my official numbers next Saturday (Disclaimer: We are going to the Beer, Bourbon, and BBQ Festival Friday night and I intend to partake in all of the “B’s” so weigh-in might not be too stellar…oh well, YOLO).

My reason for this post is to talk about running. More specifically, the injury I seemed to have acquired before I even began my Couch to 5K training.

I got it in my head that I was going to train for a 5K…there is a Color Run in Charlotte in mid-October that I was aiming for. I got pumped up about it. I posted about it on Facebook and told the world (ok, just my FB friends) that I was going to do it. I downloaded several apps on my phone and was about to start figuring out a training schedule.

And then my foot started to hurt. This wasn’t the normal plantar fasciitis pain I’ve become so accustomed to and can work with. This was pain on the top of my foot that I’ve not felt before. I decided to test it out at the gym and attempted a 2 walking laps and 1 jogging lap rotation. Well, by the end of 15 minutes, it hurt like hell. I did, however, discover that jogging wasn’t so bad. My big butt was jiggling/bouncing A LOT when I jogged and while that was kind of uncomfortable, it was bearable and I was able to ignore it after awhile. Too bad I didn’t have a sports bra that could hold my ass in. Anyways, the damn foot was screaming at me. Dave insists that my shoes were the problem since they were old and badly in need of replacement. We went out and bought new shoes (incidentally, I got the same Brooks Dyad 7’s in a different color scheme). I then tried doing one of our early morning walks with the dogs…by the end of it, I felt crippled. I then went to Bethesda and only wore my big clunky Danskos. I did some walking but it was relatively low impact as it wasn’t exactly power walking. My foot started to feel a little better so I thought my injury was maybe getting better.

I went to the gym this morning and did: 10 minutes Arc Trainer, 5 laps around the track (0.25mi), 15 minutes Elliptical, 5 laps, 10 minutes Arc Trainer. My foot actually felt ok during all of this. I talked to Dave’s trainer. She told me to ice it, even if it was a stress fracture (which I am worried about). Dave talked to Brandy later in the day and was instructed that I should do an ice bath. Sonofabitch, I was not happy to hear that. Dave had to do it a couple of weeks ago and was not shy in talking about how awful it is. So I did the ice bath…15 min in, 5 min walk, 5 min in, 5 min walk, 5 min in, 5 min walk, 5 min in, 5 min walk. This is me with my foot in Dave’s beer brewing bucket full of ice:

ice

 

 

 

 

 

For the record, it was NOT fun.

Only time will tell what the problem is with my foot and how long I won’t be able to train for a 5K. I’m taking this one day at a time and hoping that it starts to resolve itself. If not, I’ll go to a doctor, I guess. I already have a walking boot if I need it (thank you, plantar fasciitis). When I can start training for a 5K, I will. I’m hoping I can do one in October. But if not, I’m sure I will have plenty of opportunities in the spring. Until then, I’ll just keep at my cardio at the gym (the machines don’t bother my foot) and do no-impact stuff. At least with every delay of training, there will be less of me to jiggle/bounce as I do run 🙂

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What I Eat ~ Rachel

Since my last post was about chocolate and bacon, I thought it would be good to have a reality check. I don’t eat like that too often. My day-to-day menu is quite boring, actually, but it’s healthy and filling and easy. Lately, this is what I eat:

Breakfast: 2 egg whites, 1 egg, 1oz of lean breakfast meat (bacon or sausage) or 1.5c of mushrooms, 1 slice of whole wheat toast, and 1/2Tbsp of either butter or peanut butter.

There is also always coffee or tea with some half & half. I can’t get through a day without my hot beverages. I don’t need the caffeine…I just really like my hot beverages 🙂

Mid-morning snack: light string cheese, 1.5c fruit (today was watermelon)

Lunch: Chicken salad in a high-fiber tortilla wrap…the chicken salad is 1.5oz of white meat, 1.5oz dark meat, a handful of chopped green peppers or cucumber, a hefty sprinkle of cinnamon, and 1Tbsp mayonnaise (full-fat Hellman’s) plus 1.5c of fruit (today was cantaloupe).  I always buy a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store on Sunday and pull it all apart so I just have to weigh 3oz out when it’s time to make my lunch! It’s super easy, and it’s only $5 for the chicken, which will feed me the entire week.

Afternoon snack: More fruit (today was 2 peaches) and a yogurt. I’ll write a whole separate post about my favorite yogurts some other time.

Dinner: I work (3) 10-hour days and commute 1.5 hours total each day…so, since cooking dinner and eating at a reasonable hour is impossible, I have to precook and plan easy foods. There is always a taco night…I cook the taco meat on Monday or Tuesday night and we usually eat it Wednesday or Thursday night. There are always two “cupcake” nights…If you don’t know about Emily Bites’ Cupcakes, you should click on that link immediately for an example. I make 12 cupcakes on Monday night. Since we each eat 3 cupcakes per meal, that’s two nights of dinner! Friday night is always a very simple protein and veggie since we weigh-in the next morning and don’t want to be laden with sodium. That leaves me 3 nights where I get to actually cook meals and try recipes. I haven’t been too adventurous lately, mostly because of time, but I’m hoping to post more recipes here as I find good ones! I also want to point out that we always have a vegetable with our dinners but we rarely have a starch/grain…we find that we do better in the evenings if we stick to protein and vegetables. Every now and then, we’ll have a little bit of potatoes or rice, and we rarely have pasta, but it’s always a real serving…not a Paul Bunyan serving!

Dessert: I usually have a few points leftover in the evening for “dessert.” Sometimes it’s a beer or glass of mead. Sometimes it’s some sort of ice cream treat or frozen yogurt. We like to have 1/2c of Edy’s Slow Churned Vanilla Bean ice cream topped off with mixed berries that I’ve frozen and then nuke. Sometimes I nuke the fruit too long and the ice cream becomes soft serve. Dave hates it when I do that!

Honestly…I’m happy with all that food. And I have NO IDEA how the hell I ate the portions I used to eat. That 1/2c of ice cream would have been laughed at before…as I shoveled it into my mouth. Now? It still looks kind of pathetic (hey, I love ice cream!) but in a tiny bowl it doesn’t look ridiculous…and when you drown it in berries, it’s downright awesome! And satisfying!

So, that’s kind of a birds’ eye view of my eating habits. I’ll come back another time and tell you all about yogurt. And I promise, I’ll post about real food versus frankenfood. When you start reading food labels, you start going blind! DO you know what propylene glycol is? No? Well, I’ll tell you all about it soon.

 

The Birthday Plague ~Rachel

All of sudden, my husband goes to the gym every day and is posting on our blog way more than I am. He also does laundry, cleans, and empties the dishwasher. Step back, ladies, he’s taken 🙂

And me? Well, I’m still trying to finish my dissertation. I also clean, meal plan, prep lots of food, and cook most of our meals. So there’s that.

Anyways…

My 34th birthday was on Monday. Our good friend (and my former roommate), Mary Beth, came down to Raleigh from Philly for the weekend to celebrate. There was a lot planned. I was even watching my aunt’s dogs while she was at a wedding (in Philly, of all places…small world). I had mapped out the entire weekend so I could have fun, be a good host to Mary Beth, and take good care of Lucky and Twinkle.

What wasn’t planned was me getting the flu. Last week, around this time, I got a sore throat but didn’t think much of it. It was a bit worse on Thursday but I managed to have a nice time at the monthly birthday lunch at work. By 2pm that afternoon, I was a mess. My throat was worse, my head hurt, and I had muscle aches that were actually interrupting my concentration. I left work early that day. By Friday morning, I had a fever of 101.3…my normal temp is somewhere around 97.6 (lower than the average person) so I knew I was really sick. We picked MB up at the airport that night and by the time we got home, I pretty much went to bed, not knowing what the weekend would bring. Well, I was feeling a little better the next morning and seemed to have broke my fever so off we went to Weight Watchers. I was down more than 2lbs…which was shocking to me because the scale at home said something else. The topic of the meeting was “Is it worth the points?” I’ll get back to that in a minute.

I felt human enough to go to dinner that night with our friends Keith and Monica. I did not want to miss my birthday dinner. It was at J Betskis, the German/Polish restaurant in town that is AWESOME! It’s my second favorite restaurant in town. And not only that, the month of July is PIEROGIE-PALOOZA. People, let me explain something here. My maiden name is Italian but I am more Polish than anything…and I have the pierogie gene. Trust me on this.

Well, I think dinner may have had some medicinal properties because I getting better and better by the minute. Dave and I shared the pierogie appetizer, I had the pierogie entree, and the table shared the pierogie dessert. We also shared something else. I’ll get back to that in a minute, too. The appetizer was 3 different pierogies: bbq pork, ox tail, and potato/leek. The ox tail was my favorite…there was a strong cinnamon flavor to it and I’ve been on a cinnamon kick these days. The entree was so complicated that I’m not sure I can even explain it. Let me try…they were stuffed with eggplant, some other vegetable, and quark cheese. On top was an arugula pesto, fresh corn, and some sort of almond puree/sauce. It was really tasty…maybe a little too much going on, but very tasty. It tasted a lot better than it looks:

I "borrowed" this from J Betski's FB page

I “borrowed” this from J Betski’s FB page

The pierogie dessert was pierogie stuffed with swiss chocolate, raspberry something or another, and hazelnut…and it was topped with a raspberry mousse and whipped cream. The entire table shared those, so I had 1/2 of a pierogie. The table also shared this:

I "borrowed" this from the J Betski's FB page, too

I “borrowed” this from the J Betski’s FB page, too

This is the chocolate torte. It is chocolate, sea salt, caramel, and bacon. This is the best dessert I’ve ever had in my life. Grandma, if you are reading this, I’m sorry. Don’t take it personally. Your desserts are right behind it. But LORDY this was a RELIGIOUS experience! And yes, I’ll repeat that for you in case the picture doesn’t speak enough words: CHOCOLATE, SEA SALT, CARAMEL, and BACON!

So…when I said I would “get back to that later,” here it is: My pierogie-palooza, birthday dinner was WORTH EVERY SINGLE POINT.

Of course…I’m now in the red for points this week. I need to earn 5 activity points by Friday to get back in the black. I probably will since we see Dave’s trainer on Friday. But even if I wasn’t, that dinner was worth it. Totally worth it.

Who said you couldn’t enjoy decadent food and lose weight/be healthy? I’ve lost over 46lbs since February…and I did it while enjoying chocolate and bacon 🙂

Guess Who’s Back ~Rachel

Hi everyone!

I know it’s been a long while since I posted…and Dave keeps nudging me to post something. So let this be my return to the blogosphere. I can’t promise regular postings, but I will try. I have lots of ideas of things to blog about, but you know what they say about best laid plans. After all, I am STILL dissertating 🙂

So, to catch you up on a few things:

  • I rejoined Weight Watchers at the beginning of February. I weighed in at the heaviest I’ve ever been: 283 point something. Like that point something means anything. I knew my weight had gotten out of control again. I wasn’t exercising. I was eating ridiculously large portions of things. I wasn’t even trying to lighten up recipes. And we ate out a lot. I was tired of feeling like crap. And looking like crap. And buying clothes in alarmingly high sizes.
  • This time feels different…I’m determined, sure. But I’m much more matter of fact and laid back about it all. It is what it is. Somehow, not making a big deal out of it makes it more real? Does that even make sense?
  • I will make a little bit of a big deal about something, though: Since i joined Weight Watchers, I’ve lost 44lbs.
  • I’ve been a little amazed at my body while losing the weight. My last big Weight Watchers adventure resulted in something like 56lbs lost and it seemed like the fat was coming off sort of evenly. This time, however? The weight is coming off of my butt (which is a slope now…it was a shelf) and it seems to be coming off of my thighs. The tire around my middle? It feels like it’s never going to get smaller. Dave insists it is getting smaller…and a friend at work has actually pointed out to me that my tummy looks smaller….but it sure doesn’t look it to me. It’s the part of my body I absolutely despise and get self-conscious about. Oh well. I know it takes time. And like we always say to ourselves in the mirror (seriously, the sign is hanging on our mirror), “I accept myself unconditionally right now.”
  • The eating part of my new healthy lifestyle is mostly a piece of cake. LOL. Sorry, I just said cake. I eat what I eat and I don’t get all whacked out of shape about higher point foods, especially when we are eating them in such moderation. My two favorite letters in the alphabet are D and Q. Believe me, we still go to DQ….at least a couple of times a month. I just get a small or medium sundae and I’m happy and satisfied. I can’t even imagine eating a large Blizzard. That kind of makes me want to throw up a little bit.
  • I still kind of hate exercise. I’m just trying to move more than I was. I now work (3) 10-hour days at the office (with a 45 minute commute each way). On those days, I get my ass up at 5:30am to walk the dogs with Dave. It’s only about 1.3 miles, and it only takes about 20 minutes or so, but it’s still something. And even though I DESPISE getting up at 5:30am (to do anything), it does set the day for me. I’m pushing myself to get to the gym on the other two weekdays. I do mostly cardio on the Arc Trainer/Elliptical/Rowing Machine but am starting to add some circuit training stuff to it. Every other Friday I train with Dave and his trainer Brandy. This past Friday, I did 600 reps in 30 minutes (side crunches one each side, deadlifts, pushups, squats, and straight rows). In the fall, I might add some personal training sessions with Brandy…maybe two a month or so.
  • I HATE HATE HATE pushups. Seriously. I *think* I would rather do burpees.
  • On the weekends, we walk the dogs before our Weight Watchers meeting and on Sunday mornings, we got for a couple mile hike at the nature park down the road. The hike is a lot of fun. Our furkids LOVE it. Darwin, especially likes to run around like a moron through the creek. We’ll have to get a video one Sunday so you can witness then two of them acting crazy.
  • In mental health news: I’ve FINALLY submitted paper #1 of my dissertation. It’s under review at a big epidemiology journal right now. I have to get my ass in gear for paper #2, which I want to knock out in a matter of 6 weeks, but the weight of paper #1 is off my shoulders for now.

There is a lot I want to blog about and I’m hoping to get back to it on a more regular basis:

  • What it means to eat REAL food. Propylene glycol is not real food. And it seems to be in EVERYTHING that is marketed as the “healthier” choice. I have some WW ice cream bars. I refer to them as my propylene glycol bars. I’m working on ridding my food of that kind of crap.
  • What the “foodie” world is currently talking about in terms of health and obesity. I’ve read a bunch of really awesome (and totally infuriating) articles recently. McDonald’s is not going to be the cure for obesity. You are probably saying, “No shit, Sherlock.” But let me tell, somebody out there thinks McDonald’s is the answer and the Atlantic made it their cover story recently. <facepalm>
  • Recipes
  • What my goals are in terms of body shape/size. I know I will  probably never look like this, but Gina Carano is hanging on my mirror in the bathroom:

263956-gina-carano-gina-9

  • What my fitness goals are. Hint: I used to do this:

3313417203_0ca2c0fcbe

Well, I better get working on paper #2. I have to meet with Dave’s trainer at 11 for an “assessment.” She’s going to show me some things I can do that will help with my weird orthopedic issues like my terrible feet and the plica in my knee. I guess I will blog about those things, too 🙂

Simplify ~ Rachel

Greetings everyone!

I’m here to tell you that I am officially putting this blog on hiatus until my dissertation is done.

In order to just get that darn dissertation done (goal is to defend in September), I need to simplify my life. That means clearing the calendar. That means removing as many obligations as possible. I know the blog isn’t an obligation…but it does take time and I think it deserves more than a half-assed attempt at posting regularly.

Until I defend my dissertation, I am going to stop blogging.

I am also stopping personal training with Isaiah. The money was definitely a contributor but it also seemed silly to have personal training sessions at a time when I am not regularly and consistently going to the gym.

I am also stopping my Weight Watchers membership. Again, it seemed silly to pay a monthly fee when I rarely use the website and haven’t been very faithful to meetings. I have the knowledge and materials to still follow the program if I choose to do so.

I will miss all those things but here is what I am going to do until my dissertation is done:

(1) Eat right

(2) Move more

I think if I can just get back to eating right again (and tracking what I eat) and get to the gym at least a couple of times per week for a class (water zumba just started!), I will be fine. It’s all about being aware of what is going in to my body and getting in some exercise.

Other than that, I just need to chain myself to my computer so I can dissertate…every now and then coming up for air in the form of a social life.

I’ll still be around the blogosphere….I just won’t be contributing posts to it anytime soon.

Once I defend, though, look out!

I can get back to a real life where I have hobbies and interests and time that isn’t completely taken over by feelings of guilt that I’m not working on my dissertation.

Until then, be healthy 🙂

Climbing Everest ~Rachel

Lori over at Finding Radiance was just at Disney with her husband and is sharing her experiences and photos with all of us. She recently blogged about Expedition Everest at Animal Kingdom. While that coaster was not their favorite, Dave and I LOVED it! We actually went back to Animal Kingdom on our last morning, just to ride Everest before heading over to Epcot. Unfortunately, the ride wasn’t operational so we headed over to Epcot. We were disappointed but we did get to ride it 3 times in a row on a previous day. Anyways, I figured I would share a couple of pictures of us on Expedition Everest…we knew where the camera was and tried to ham it up when they snapped the photo:

High Five!

Rock on!

Right now, I feel like I’m climbing Everest…and base camp is still in my view. I think I maybe need to change my point of view so the summit is in view and base camp is far behind me. Between weight loss and the dissertation, I have a helluva climb ahead of me. I have the plans in place…executing them is a little tough. I’m still getting the hang of putting work aside after 10 hours per week so that I can focus solely on my dissertation. The OCD researcher in me is uncomfortable doing that. I’ve already had people respond to my auto-response to ask, with lots of sarcasm because it doesn’t work for them, how it’s working out…my auto response says I am checking email once per day and will respond within 3 business days. I definitely need to stick to that a little bit better! Right now, my email is always up…I tend to see all the emails I get, get overwhelmed and then ignore them for too long. Anyways, I’m going to work on my system this week!

Weight loss has been mostly easy lately. I was down 0.6lbs at weigh-in this week.

After that though? Good grief, I’ve been eating everything in sight since Thursday. I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I think you know what is coming but still…

So, this week, I’m going to do 2 things:

(1) Actually keep my email closed except for one two-hour period of time per day

(2) Stop the eating frenzy and get back to tracking everything.

I hope you all have a wonderful Super Bowl Sunday! I hate the Patriots so I’ll be rooting for the Giants!

Crock Pot Asian Pork with Mushrooms ~ Rachel

Have you all discovered the blog Skinnytaste yet? Gina hasn’t let me down yet with her recipes. The latest recipe that I tried is a definite keeper. Dave loved it so much that he was enthusiastic about eating leftovers. We had this for dinner one night…and he made tacos out of it the next day for lunch…and we finished it up at dinner that next day. I would say that’s a pretty good endorsement!

Rather than retype the entire recipe, I’ll just repost Gina’s picture with this link to her recipe. You will not be disappointed, I promise!

Homemade Applesauce ~ Rachel

Apples are in season right now in NC…not for much longer, but they are in season for several months in the late fall/early winter. I wanted to try my hand at making applesauce in the crock pot. I asked Lindsay at Savory Spice Shop how to do it. It’s a lot simpler than you could imagine. The pictures below are just grabbed from random places on the interwebs…every time I make applesauce, I forget to take pictures while I’m doing it.

Step 1: Buy some apples. I usually buy a 1/2 peck in order to fill my crock pot!

Step 2: Peel your apples. I use a paring knife to do this but I suppose you could use a potato peeler.

Step 3: Cut your apple into big chunks and throw them in the crock pot, dumping a bunch of cinnamon on top. You'll want to fill your crock pot to the top!

Step 4: Pour a little water over top of the apples...enough to cover the bottom of the crock pot (maybe about 1/2 cup). Cover crock pot and cook on low for 2.5-3 hours.

Step 5. Mash cooked apples in the crock pot after cooking...I like to use a potato masher.

Step 6. Enjoy your homemade applesauce.

Notice that your applesauce contains only apples, cinnamon and teeny tiny bit of water. No added sugar. You won’t need it, I promise.

So far I’ve made applesauce out of old timey wine sap apples, rustic red apples, and pink ladies. There are probably other varieties that I am forgetting. Try whatever you want!

You will never buy applesauce at the store again.

Now I have to figure out what to do when apples are no longer in season in NC. It’s going to be a lot more expensive to buy organic apples at the store. After all, a 1/2 peck of in-season apples in NC is only about $5!

If you come up with anything special to do to your applesauce, let me know!

Stress ~Rachel

I had a really horrific week last week due to unnecessary chaos surrounding my job and dissertation. I met with the chair of my dissertation committee to talk about everything…he, of course, was awesome and supportive and helpful. We decided on a timeline with lots of intermediate deliverables. That kind of structure and accountability, in general, will help me be successful. It will also help him enforce the fact that I’m a student first. When I emailed the plan to everyone, it wasn’t really received as well as I would have hoped. Only one person actually agreed to it…I haven’t heard from anyone else. I also had someone tell me he/she worked 70 hours per week in the last year of grad school to get everything done and that I should be putting a lot of time into my dissertation. Well, yes, I agree…but when you are donating a lot of time to a job, it’s tough to do that.

Let me tell you all something. I’m not willing to work 15 hours/week for my job plus 70 hours/week on my dissertation. I have a husband…and 2 dogs…and my health to worry about. I need to sleep…around 7-8 hours per night. I need to eat healthy…that means meal planning grocery shopping, prepping meals and cooking. I need to exercise…that means spending some time at the gym. I need to have down time…that means reading for fun, seeing friends and family, and watching tv. I need to be a wife to Dave…that means actually communicating with him, instead of only having conversations with my computer screen.

My plan is to defend in early/mid September at the latest. If I can under promise and over deliver, I’ll be happy. So will everyone else for that matter. After all, the best dissertation is a done dissertation.

Anyways, the stress didn’t end there. My work laptop went kaplooey right before a seminar on Tuesday. I spent the rest of the morning and afternoon waiting for the IT guys to fix it but they were understaffed and couldn’t get to it. So I handed it over to them and left for the day around 3:30pm. I’ll pick it on Tuesday. However, in order for me to do my job and my dissertation, I needed to have my statistical software up and running on a laptop. So instead of selling the refurbished replacement laptop Dell just sent me for my other laptop that died (that happened in mid-December), Dave got it up and running with everything I need. Looks like I’ll be holding on to that laptop until my dissertation is done. Just in case.

The stress didn’t end there either! Let’s just say that the unnecessary chaos continued with my job. There was a lot of me yelling this week. Dave didn’t quite know what to do with me.

I’ve decided to set my boundaries and stick to them. I’ve decided to stop emailing with the people who make my life a living hell. I’ll email what I have to and let them dig their own holes because they don’t pay attention to things. My dissertation chair told me to stop the codependent relationship with my job and the people I work for. I am going to do just that!

So this weekend I enjoyed a night with friends playing A Game of Thrones card game, an evening with Dave and his Mom at the restaurant where we held our rehearsal dinner, and I took care of my emails so that I didn’t feel completely overwhelmed when I turned on my computer.

It’s time I get things under control and take back my life.

And since this is mostly a weight loss blog, let me end this whiny post with this: Even with the obscene amount of stress I dealt with this week, I still ate healthy, counted all my points (and stayed within what I was allowed to eat), and tracked everything. That includes dinner out from my now favorite restaurant…cracklin’ pork shank, blue cheese grits, sauteed spinach, pear brown betty and a piece of fudge. It was the best pork I’ve ever had in my life. That pear brown betty was pretty awesome too. And it didn’t even break the points bank because I had saved so many of my weeklies.

Weigh in was Thursday morning…I was down 1.2lbs.

We’ll see what this Thursday brings 🙂

Cupcakes for Dinner ~Rachel

I don’t know who started the trend of cooking everything in muffin tins but I want to thank them profusely.  I’ve made Weight Watcher’s Mini Meatloaf Muffins before…lots of times…and have enjoyed both the food and the built-in portion control. Let’s face it: I didn’t get fat by eating reasonably-sized portions.

I love to cook but I’m not really creative in the kitchen. I can follow a recipe but I haven’t branched out much further than that. There is, however, someone who took the muffin tin idea and ran with it.  For those of you who don’t like to cook…or who don’t have much time to cook…or who have picky eaters at home who would rather eat wings and burgers than salad and veggies…I bring you Emily Bites.

Just like Tuesdays have become Taco Tuesday, I think Thursdays are becoming “Cupcake” Thursdays.

Last Thursday I made her Buffalo Chicken Cupcakes. They. Were. Awesome.

Buffalo Chicken Cupcakes @ Emily Bites Original

Last night I made her Cheeseburger Cupcakes. They were pretty awesome as well but I think I’ll make some modifications next week when I make them again. Oddly enough, Dave and I thought the mushrooms were too much. I say this is odd because we’ve never met a recipe that had too many mushrooms in it. If I had a cooking motto it would be “You can never have too much garlic or too many mushrooms.” Anyways, when I make these again next week (yes, on Thursday), I’m going to cut the mushrooms in half, replace the ketchup and mustard with BBQ sauce and add a little bit of bacon (to replace some of those mushrooms). I might also use Laughing Cow Swiss Cheese wedges instead of the Queso wedges. The possibilities are endless!

Emily also does breakfast cupcakes…I can vouch for the Banana Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Singles!

Now, to make all these muffins you need a good muffin tin! I don’t normally do this but I’d like to recommend a particular muffin tin. Would you believe Rachael Ray’s Oven Lovin’ Muffin Pan has served me better than any other muffin tin I’ve owned (especially the Calphalon one)? I’m not very good about not using metal utensils on non-stick surfaces and this muffin pan has been quite forgiving. It really does not scratch easily. The Calphalon? I looked at it the wrong way and it scratched (I think this is odd because I love my Calphalon pots and pans).  Ok, PSA on muffin pans over and out.

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Marsial over at Eyes of the Sun: Musing and Losing was tagged by someone, had to answer a bunch of questions and tag some of her fellow bloggers to do the same thing. Well, Marsial tagged me. The questions are not easy to answer without a lot of time and effort (and I am a bit short on time due to a meeting with my dissertation chair on Monday) so I will leave you with answers to a couple of the questions:

Q: Which author do you admire so much that you have read more than one of his/her books

A: John Irving: A Prayer for Owen Meany is my favorite book of all time and I actually keep an eye out in the news for when a new Irving book will be published (next new one is due out in May)! I don’t think there is any other author I “track.” I don’t know if I so much admire John Irving or just admire his talent.  His stories are pretty epic!

Q: Describe how you met your spouse/significant other/love of your life (even if you are no longer with that person). 

A: I don’t think I’ve ever told the story of how Dave and I met. We met on Myspace of all places. Yes, MYSPACE. After we met, we both posted a note on Myspace about how we met (from our own perspective), kind of a he said/she said thing. Here’s what I wrote (Sorry it’s long, but I promise it’s a good story):

A lot of you know that I’ve tried the online dating thing off and on for the past 3 years or so. You name it, I tried it…eHarmony (twice), Match, and Yahoo. This past spring break, I even tried my luck with Craigslist. Yep, you too can find a date and a used couch by barely lifting your clicker finger. For the most part, I met nice enough guys, and even dated one for a little while. I also met my fair share of total lunatics (Craigslist is their home apparently), but that’s a whole other post that’s not even worthy of my time.

Anyways…

I still had a profile on Yahoo, but it was inactive and invisible to anyone on Yahoo who was searching for women in my age group. But Yahoo would still send me weekly-ish “These are your latest matches” emails and every now and then I would get curious and just browse. On April 16th, a Monday, I happened to browse my latest matches and stumbled upon one that actually sparked my interest. He had this huge smile that drew me in to the rest of the profile where I learned that despite a certain level of corniness (he did, after all, quote a Rupert Holmes song…groan), he was pretty funny. And for those who know me, I really like funny. He also seemed like he had a big heart, was open-minded and easy-going, and was kind. Unfortunately, I wasn’t in the position to subscribe to Yahoo (these things get expensive). I wasn’t going to get to break the ice with this cute guy who had grabbed my attention.

Except…

The very next morning, I had a message in my MySpace inbox from HIM! It was about 8 something in the morning, I wasn’t fully awake yet, and I about fell right out of my chair. I swear the Twilight Zone theme song was playing softly in the background. I think I did my best to resist thinking about “fate” and “destiny” but those words were creeping into the forefront of my mind. I mean, what were the odds of this happening? They were totally independent events…which is always fun to explain to people b/c they somehow think Dave could see that I checked out his profile on Yahoo (he couldn’t). When people realize that we just happened upon one another at the same time in unrelated cyber territory, their eyes get real wide and then they smile.

Anyways…

Not only had he sent me a message, the subject line was “Not the same without Cowher.” He was a Steelers fan! I didn’t want to reply immediately and had to get to school, so I think I replied sometime in the early afternoon. We spent a couple of emails back and forth that day and then began talking on AIM that evening. I had mentioned in one of my emails that I wanted to see Grindhouse…he echoed that sentiment. When we were IM’ing, I decided to just ask him if he wanted to meet up that weekend to see it together. I usually do not suggest meeting up so quickly, or even at all…I usually let the guy make that move. But I didn’t really know where it would all lead and knew I was sick of the whole back-and-forth emailing that came with meeting guys online. We exchanged numbers and ended up talking for 3 hours that night. Our little meeting up for a movie quickly turned into a real date when we realized that there was a lot of chemistry between us. He was all shy about asking me to dinner beforehand…it was really adorable. We ended up talking every night that week for about 3 hours a night. We never wanted to get off the phone, we never ran out of things to talk about, and we talked about the heavy stuff and felt totally comfortable doing so. There was no way that the first date was going to end poorly.

And of course, it didn’t…

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We met on our first date on April 21, 2007. We went to see Grindhouse (a B-movie double feature full of zombies and blood and machine guns for legs) at North Hills cinema and then out to dinner at 518 West (contemporary Italian food) in downtown Raleigh. After dinner we went to the Raleigh’s Little Theatre Rose Garden and had a wonderful time. That was just the beginning of a new life together…

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Interesting fact: We lived closer to each other in Pittsburgh growing up (Mt. Oliver and Penn Hills) than we did here in Raleigh/Chapel Hill when we met!

And if you’ve lasted this long, here’s a picture of us very early on in our relationship. I think it might have been taken at his mother’s on the day I met her for the first time!