Saturday, February 28, 2009

My good friend, Stress

So, earlier this week I was about to post about my stress level and how it's counteracting my overeating (seriously, I never quit eating's bad). However, yesterday I put on an outfit that should fit, and it definitely did not look good. I could still zip the pants and all, it just looked like it was a size or two too small. Not good.

Since discovering that stress does not serve as a substitute for a good diet and exercise caused me to think about what stress really does do to me. Obviously it encourages my overating. It also makes me shut down in a way. I just pretend that stuff doesn't need to be done and then I don't do it. For instance, there are several emails in my inbox that I need to read and respond to, but I just don't want to. Our house is an absolute disaster. I need to work out. I need to sleep more. I need to do so many things, but the stress paralyzes me to some extent. If I ignore all the things that need to be done, maybe they'll go away.

Unfortunately, it doesn't seem like anything is going away. I'm just going to have to face all the yucky stuff that I don't want to do and just do it.


I hate being a grown-up.

Monday, February 23, 2009

What does it all mean?

I am convinced that having a father who is a dentist is making me crazy. I have a recurring dream in which all of my teeth rot out of my head. I wake up scared that my teeth will crumble if I touch them with my tongue. I'm pretty sure this is not normal.

Maybe on the nights I have this dream I haven't brushed before bed. Maybe I've talked to someone that day about the fact that my dad is a dentist. I don't know. I can't find a connection. I really wish it would stop though. It's quite disturbing to dream about your teeth rotting. Repeatedly. And not all that infrequently.

Perhaps I need a therapist. I have to have repressed something to cause this dream.

Update: Therapist Cole says that I must have a fear of disappointing my dad. Hmmm...I don't know what to think about that.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Publix makes me smile

The tag line for Publix is "where shopping is a pleasure." They could not have a better slogan; it is so true. I LOVE shopping at Publix. Everyone is always nice, the store is clean, and the Publix brand food is cheaper and reliable (unlike some other store brands). They also tend to have most of the weirder ingredients we need for certain recipes.

Earlier this week, I was checking out, and the bagger bagged all my groceries just like I like them: the meat was in its own bag (or it can be wrapped in its own bag and placed in other bag with other groceries); all the "soft" items were bagged together (bread, chips, etc.); the cold items were together; and the rest of the groceries were put together. I am so anal that I actually load my groceries onto the conveyor belt in the order in which I would like them bagged. I know that's really, really weird, but I don't care. This bagger understood my bagging preferences, and then he practically begged to help me to my car. I declined his help (I tell myself that carrying my own groceries to my car counts as my exercise!), but I really like when they offer to help - especially when I have particularly clumsy or heavy items. So nice.

Tonight the Publix down the road from us was having Italian Night. The manager was out by the front door. All the assistant managers were wandering around making sure everyone was taken care of. There were tasting stations set up throughout the store with well-dressed employees manning them. It was a very nice experience, until...

I got to the pharmacy. There were two customers who were flipping out. One lady was livid about something and taking it out on the pharmacists. Then one girl was having a nervous breakdown/panic attack/freak out while waiting for her prescription. It was insane. She was crying, cussing on the phone, and practically gasping for air (you know when you're crying and trying to breathe too). Basically she was a mess. I was glad to grab my prescription and get out of there and away from the crazies.

Even with that episode, the Publix experience is always lovely. I like to shop at Wal-Mart or somewhere similar for toilet paper, paper towels, etc., but for groceries Publix is by far the best place to go. It is, after all, where shopping is a pleasure.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

New recipes

In case you haven’t noticed yet, Cole and I thoroughly enjoy cooking. We like to find new recipes and see how they turn out. Cole is typically more adventurous than I am. However, I’ve been trying to step outside of my comfort zone more.

Early in our marriage, we realized our differences regarding meals, besides the obvious (my pickiness). For instance, I could eat a turkey sandwich with cheese and a side of skinny chips from Jimmy Johns every day for a month and not get tired of it. Cole would hate that; he likes variety. This used to be hard for me because I was the primary meal planner and cook. Lately, though, I’ve been trying to experiment more. One week I went crazy and kind of “made up” two recipes – a white lasagna with ravioli instead of lasagna sheets and chili – that were mostly successful. Last night, I found a recipe online and decided to go for it. Since my palate is limited by my pickiness, it’s sometimes difficult for me to tell if a recipe will taste good or not. But, I found a good one last night. It wasn’t exactly life-changing, but it was still tasty.

I made pork chops with a balsamic-honey glaze. It was so easy and fast! The glaze has balsamic vinegar, honey, garlic, olive oil, rosemary, Dijon mustard, and salt and pepper. I changed the recipe a bit (based on what a reviewer had suggested) and used center-cut pork chops instead of the tenderloin. I browned them in a little oil, salt, and pepper, and then added the glaze to the skillet. I turned the heat down, put a top on, and let it simmer while I made the sides. We served it with orzo (with parmesan, salt, and pepper) and a roll. It was quite delicious. Cole was very impressed (which is sometimes hard to do!). I was pleased with my find. If you want to do it, the recipe is here.

When I find a recipe online, I like to read the reviews to see what other people thought about the recipe and how they may have changed it to make it better. Many times I read a change that sounds good, so I do it too. Cole and I have an agreement that if something we try to make isn't edible, we'll just go out. So far, we've only had to throw out one meal (a breakfast casserole disaster...don't ask). Some of the things we've made haven't been good necessarily, but they've been edible.

I've been wanting to try a recipe for red velvet cake cookies with cream cheese frosting-ish filling. Unfortunately, I haven't had time to try them yet, but I will. I'll try to take pictures so I can share.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

A special dinner

Last night Cole made a special dinner for us. He thought a lot about it and tried to recreate my favorite dishes from Greenville, Tuscaloosa, and Birmingham. Taylor gave Cole a Soby's cookbook for his birthday, and he used the crabcake, cheese biscuit, and garlic mashed potatoes recipes from it. From Tuscaloosa, he got my favorite salad, a caesar salad, from DePalma's. From Birmingham, he made the apple turnovers from Bottega. Everything was a delicious success...except maybe the turnovers. We think our fryer smells/tastes like fish, so it added a funky flavor to the turnovers. We decided we'd try them again, though, because I think they could've been amazing. Here are some pictures from the night:

The finished dinner on our fine china with my present next to it:

My gift - one of our NYC photos framed! (Thanks Marcia!)

Sunday, February 8, 2009

You snooze, you lose

I'm in the library and working on my thesis, but I had to share this story. I was taking a break to check the news (shhh...don't tell Cole!), and I found this article about how Starbucks changed this man's life. You can click here to read the whole story. Basically, he was a big-shot at an advertising agency and was suddenly fired. He now works at Starbucks and says his life is much better.

The part that's bad for me is that he's written a book on it. That was supposed to be my idea - writing about Cole's time at Starbucks while I was finishing school and how it helped him in law school. Oh snooze, you lose.

I might have to read that book, though. It looks like this guy and Cole did things in the opposite order, but it could still be an interesting read.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Sweet treat

For some reason, I got really excited last weekend about making a fruit pizza. I honestly have no idea where this idea came from and why it stuck, but it did. I had a false start the night before I made this successfully (the sugar cookie crust wasn't working for me that night), but here it is in all it's glory.

No, it's not healthy at all. But, if you know anything about our eating habits, you know that's not a problem in our house. It has a sugar cookie crust, cream cheese and sugar as the icing, strawberries with sugar with a few blueberries on top. And, just for good measure, we topped it with a little homemade whipped cream. Yum.

Amazingly we didn't eat it all ourselves. My friend Jennifer had a piece, and there's still some left over now. (Yes, I know we need to throw it away. I'm working on my thesis, and that's my excuse. It's just too much work and too time consuming to let it slide off the tray into the trash.)

Countdown to turning in the thesis: 7 days! Woohooo!!!!!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Multiple personalities

It's tough being a grad student and an employee at UA. It's even more complicated now because I can only park in one parking lot. So when I'm walking to school, I see a lot of people I work with.

That doesn't really sound like a big deal, but I look awful when I'm only going to class. I have usually showered, but I probably don't have too much makeup on and definitely casual clothes.

Today while I was walking to print stuff for class, I ran into my boss. For this story to really be understood, we need to talk about my boss first. I wouldn't be surprised if he never wore casual clothes (jeans, t-shirt, etc.). He is always dressed up. I have seen him outside of work, and he is dressed up. That's just how he rolls.

Today I was wearing workout clothes - t-shirt, tennis shoes, cropped athletic pants. My hair was a mess. I had no makeup on (and these days that is not a good idea).

So, I ran into him. I saw him before he saw me. I thought about keeping my head down and hoping that he wouldn't see me, but then I thought that might be a bad idea. I was mature, and I made eye contact and said hello.

He looked at me and said, "Well, hello Anna. You're looking..." He pauses, looks me up and down, and says, "...very much like a student today."

Hmmm...whatever could he have meant? I look awful? I probably shouldn't be seen in public like that?

I wanted to reply, "Yeah, I know I look hideous, but too bad."

Instead, I was nice and said, "Yes sir. I just wanted to blend in since I'm a student today." I laughed and kept walking. Quickly.

Ahh...awkward moments with the boss. So much fun.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

A new mini-obsession

As I mentioned in an earlier post of random things about myself, I randomly get hooked on various ideas, research them zealously, and lose interest quickly. Granted, there are a few that have stuck around, mainly out of necessity. (Learning about mortgages is one of these. I will have a mortgage soon-ish, so I probably need to know a little about them.) Most of my mini-obsessions, however, take over my life for a few hours/days/week and then are never heard from again.

Last spring I decided I should train for a marathon. Then a half marathon. I even tried to convince a friend to train with me. Now I'm thinking of taking a vow to never try to run.

Last night I became fixated on reading. I wanted to start a reading challenge (read x books in a year). Then I realized that I don't really like time constraints, so I thought I would just make a list of books I've been wanting to read. I made a pretty spreadsheet in Excel and separated them by authors I want to read, classics I need to read, popular books I wanted to read, etc.

The best part of this mini-obsession came when I tried to convince Cole that my job when we move to Birmingham should be finishing all the books on my list.

He didn't really go for it. But don't worry - I'm not giving up just yet.

As with all mini-obsessions, I wanted to start this one last night. I began researching books on Amazon to see how much they would cost me. I looked at the Tuscaloosa Public Library's online catalog to see what they have. I got lost in the world of book blogs. You get the idea.

There's just one small problem with starting my list now. It's a little think I fondly call the bane of my existence - my thesis. While I was creating my fancy spreadsheet of books I'd like to read but may give up on before I ever start, I should have been working on my thesis.

Maybe I'll get to that tomorrow.