Monday, January 18, 2010

Domestication at it's Finest

One of the best things about moving into a new home is all the friends and family you get to have over for dinner. Now that I have a full kitchen and most of the necessary utensils, making meals is a pleasure instead of a frustration. I have been finding lots of great recipes and the ones I have made so far have been big winners. Last week I made this Caribbean Honey Garlic Chicken recipe from the Safeway website. I put it over brown rice (one of the great finds in JB's boxes was a nice rice cooker) and made some Asparagus Parmesan to go with it. Everything turned out great! JB doesn't hesitate to help in the kitchen, but for the most part, I like to do everything myself.

Saturday after my comprehensive exam, JB and I cleaned the house because we were having his family over for dinner that evening to celebrate his and his mom's birthdays that occurred earlier in the week. I made my sister-in-law's lasagne recipe, but altered it to be a lower fat version using ground turkey, lowfat cottage cheese, and whole wheat pasta. I have made this recipe in the past. Since it was the weekend I had time to do all the prep work and get it in the oven before they got here. I'm one of those people that likes to clean as I go so the mess isn't so overwhelming when you are done with the meal. I threw together my staple salad and his mom brought some 5 cheese garlic bread. Delicious!!

Sunday night we had my brother and SIL over for dinner. It was nice to be able to return the favor since they have had us over quite a few times. She is an awesome cook and I was hoping my meal could compare to any of hers :) I have been wanting to try this meatloaf recipe from my Abs Diet recipe book for a while and I finally had my chance. Here it is if you would like to give it a try:


Meat Lover's Meat Loaf

1/2 lb ground sirloin
1/2 lb ground turkey
2 eggs
1 cup whole wheat crackers, crushed
3/4 cup diced onion
1/2 cup BBQ sauce, plus extra
2 cloves of garlic, crushed (or 1 tsp. of the minced garlic in the jar)
1/2 tsp of dried oregano

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Mix beef and turkey until well blended
Add eggs and remaining ingredients until well blended
Form meat into a loaf shape on a broiler pan (I used a cookie sheet but put foil over it and folded up the edges to keep the juices from flowing over)
Coat the outside with the extra BBQ sauce
Cook for 1 hour (double check internal temp with meat thermometer, should read 160 degrees)
Eat with mashed potatoes
Serves 4

Nutritional info, per serving: 366 calories, 32 g protein, 31 g carbs, 13 g total fat, 4 g sat fat, 581 mg sodium, 3 g fiber


We made the mashed potatoes with it and some broccoli as well. It was soooooooo yummy! My brother couldn't stop raving about it. He told me it was the best meatloaf he had ever tasted. It was really moist and flavorful. JB chopped the onions for me, since we don't have our slap chop yet. He also peeled and cut up the potatoes. Such a good helper!

Today I stayed home from work because I woke up with a migraine which was probably due to the stress of the last week. I slept it off for a while, did a little work from home, and decided to try a new recipe in the crock pot from Spark People's Healthy Recipes app on my iPhone, Slow Cooker Salsa Chicken. My crock pot is newer and runs hot, so instead of cooking it on low for 6-8 hours, it only took 4. JB and I agree this was by far the best recipe I have tried yet. In fact, we ranked them:

1. Slow cooker Salsa Chicken
2. Meat Loaf
3. Caribbean Honey Garlic Chicken
4. Lasagne

I am loving this new found domestication. Cleaning and cooking don't even seem like a chore at this point, although I am sure that will change. If anyone has any recipes they would like to share, send them my way!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Back On Track and Sparky

I swore I wouldn't let it happen this year, but it happened. Not as bad as it has in the past, but still, I managed to let myself go during the holidays. It's like, the consumption of thousands of calories is one thing on it's own. Not working out is not a big deal if you are eating well. And drinking is fine in moderation. But add it all together:

Multiple high calorie intake opportunities
+ Christmas cocktails and Thanksgiving wine
+ No time to hit the gym because of said opportunities
= packing on the lbs

Not to mention the stress of the move. I was barely in the gym once a week, compared to the 3 days I am used to. I was eating with emotion so anything bad sounded like a great idea. Add to that my "trainer" bf who is really a fat kid in disguise, and you can send my motivation and ability for clean eating right out the window.

I am glad to say that I am back on track. Even JB is with me this time! I found another helpful aspect of fitness and weight loss - no money. I am forced to eat at home and bring my lunch. it's super easy not to spend money when you don't have any, which makes saying no to eating out and happy hours a lot easier. And thanks to my pal, K-Put, I have found the most amazing fitness and nutrition tracker/weight loss and health forum/social network, Spark People!

Back when I first started this whole thing in full force a little over a year ago, I was using the body bugg system, thanks to JB. They have since modified the device, but the one I was using was big and bulky and grey and people looked at me like I was a weirdo with an iPod on my arm all the time. It is a great way to track calories burned and steps taken (it gives you goals to hit each day based on your total weight loss goals) but you also have to use their website to enter your calories consumed each day. This is the most tedious task for me and their database and interface made this take way longer than it really needs to. The process is helpful for people who are not used to portion sizes or tracking calorie consumption. You never realize just how much you are taking in until you log your food. But after I got the hang of it, I kind of fell away from entering my food everyday.

With Spark People, tracking your food is so easy. They have a giant database of foods and you can also import foods or meals that other people have already entered, so the chances of you not being able to find something is slim. It tracks the calories, fat, carbs, and protein in each item and for each meal and at the end of the day, gives you a report and tips if you are too high or too low in certain areas. One of the things I like the most is that it doesn't give you a solid take it or leave it number. It gives you a RANGE. This range is based on your current body-mass index (BMI) and your weight loss goals. Mine is currently 1500-1829 calories per day. As long as I am in that range, I am good to go. It also gives you a range for the other categories too and tells you why too much of these things or not enough of them is bad and what you can do to increase or decrease your intake.

The site offers sample daily menus, which are realistic and easy foods that you find in real stores, and there is even an option at the bottom to print a shopping list for this menu plan. If you use the menu plan, you just put a check mark next to whatever you ate off the menu and it calculates your intake. The water tracker has you input the glasses of water you drink per day and informs you that 8 is the standard amount. Another awesome feature is the iPhone app, so you can still track everything when you are away from your computer.

The fitness tracker is a place to obviously track your fitness activities. They offer sample workouts with demonstrations and most of these things are doable at home with a stability ball and small hand weights. There are many different exercises to choose from to build your own 30 minute routines, and since they have already entered the general calorie burn for these items, it can give you a somewhat accurate account of what you are burning by doing them.

There is also a social networking aspect to the site, where you can build your "spark page" and have "spark friends" and join "spark teams". You can post pics and have a ticker for weight loss progress and leave comments for your friends. There is a "status" line for you to let everyone know what you are up to, and even a blog to post about your progress if you'd like.

There is a point tracker that allots points for doing certain things on the site. If you log in, you get a point, log your food, more points. Read a blog or article, post on a message board, make a recipe from their catalog, points points points!!! Speaking of recipes, they also have a Spark recipes app for your iPhone as well and there is some really yummy stuff on there. I plan to use it quite a bit and may post some here.

So yeah, basically Spark People should hire me to do PR or marketing for them. Anyone who knows me knows when I get into something, I am behind it 100%. And if something works for me, it could work for all my friends, so I want the whole world to know about it. It's free to join, so if you end up with a profile, let them know that breannez sent you and add me as your "spark friend". I love having people to motivate me!

Happy Sparking!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

2009 Was Oh So Fine!

It would take a whole lot to top 2009 for me personally. This was by far the best year of my life. I didn't want to say anything before it was officially over for fear of having something go terribly wrong before it ended. But we are safely out of the woods and I can scream from the mountain tops. What was so great about 2009? Glad you asked.

January - As midnight struck, JB and I exchanged our first "I love you" in the middle of K Street, in downtown Sacramento....with the rest of the metropolitan area pushing by us. San Diego for JB's birthday and John Legend.

February - I moved back out of my parents' house and in with my two dear college buddies. I no longer lived in BFE and could have JB over more often. We had our first Valentine's Day together, which was spent with me in bed with the stomach flu, forced to watch NBA All-Star Weekend while drifting in and out of consciousness. We celebrated the following weekend with lunch at Melting Pot :)

March - I don't remember anything significant from this month really.

April - Had my first girls only trip to Vegas for Val's bachelorette party, which is always awesome. John and I started talking about moving in together in August. :)))

May - Ry and Val's Wedding

June - Callie's bachelorette party and wedding, Disneyland with April and Baylee, Maren moved back from NYC

July - The boot camp that got me in the best shape I have ever been in, Reno trip with fun friends, signed the purchase agreement for our new home!

August - Moved in together and celebrated our one year milestone (which was a big one for both of us) with a trip back to Vegas where it all started. It still blows my mind that I was 27 before I ever lived with a significant other.

September - One of my best friends foudn love and graduated from respiratory therapy school. I surprised JB with a group outing to the niners game. Oh yeah, and I FINALLY PAID OFF MY CREDIT CARD!

October - Participated in my first trail run, finally finished the coursework for my Masters, and survived, I mean, spent a weekend at a cabin bonding with my family.

November - SYTYCD and Kelly Clarkson shows are about it. Fun girls weekend.

December - My former roomies and dear college friends got engaged! We got the keys to our new home!!! I appreciated the holidays much differently this year and tried to soak in all of the time with my extended family.

Line by line it may not seem that significant to most, but I reached some serious goals and milestones this year. If every year from here on out is half as good as this one, I'll be just fine. And if it's not, I'll survive. I have a feeling 2010 is JB's year, which will make me just as happy.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Moving and Memories

I'm sure everyone is glad we have finally moved into our new home so they can stop hearing about it and seeing the pictures I post every 5 seconds on my facebook. Well, let me tell you, I am more ecstatic than anyone else that we have finally moved, because now I can get back to my life. The past six months have been spent stressing and planning and spending and waiting. It's finally over. We are, for the most part, settled in.

We got our keys on Wednesday morning, December 23rd. While we waited for some of our friends to show up to help us with the move, we had ourselves a little champagne toast, admired the stockings my mom left us and decorated the little tree she got us as well. What she did for us is totally something I would do and it just makes me realize how much like her I really am. Once the helpers arrived, we went over to my brother's house to pick up my couches I had been letting them borrow for the past year and a half. Not having anything to tie them down with, I stressed the whole 15 minutes back to our place that they might fly out of the back of the truck. They made it. And the guys maneuvered them upstairs to the loft without damaging the couches or the walls. I almost couldn't watch.

After that was all taken care of we headed up to my parents' house in Rescue to retrieve my belongings that have been stored there for the last 18 months. Two more of our friends followed us up there with their SUV, which made it possible to get everything but my BBQ without having to use the utility trailer. Thank goodness for my step-dad who is the ultimate puzzle person. He made everything fit in the back of Jeff's truck and secured it all so it wouldn't fly away. We all looked at each other in amazement knowing that we would never have been able to do that without him. Once we got back to the house, we unloaded everything as fast as we could since Jeff had to get home. We were able to get another truck to get to Grandma's house and get the matresses and the TVs. We needed somewhere to sleep and the Surewest guy was coming in the morning. After one more load and a trip to Wal-Mart, we called it a night.

Christmas Eve began with the Surewest guy ringing the doorbell. Shortly after, the guy showed up to install the blinds. Not long after that, our new couch arrived. That was about all we had time for before family Christmas festivities began, so we had to pick up where we left on Saturday.

More great friends and a moving truck made that day possible. We loaded up everything for JB's storage unit and either dropped it off at grandma's house, took it to goodwill, or brought it home. Everything gathered so much dust from being in there for two years, so we had to be sure to clean everything off and out before we took it in the house. When we got there, my dad and step-mom, along with my brother were waiting for us. Everyone got right to work moving and cleaning and hooking things up. It was amazing to know that so many people cared enough to help us out. Nobody likes moving, especially when it's someone else's stuff. I can't say thank you enough!

Having a dishwasher and a nice stove/oven and lots of pots and pans and dishes makes me want to stay home and cook all day! Laundry doesn't seem like such an ordeal now that we have a washer and dryer right in our home. And having a fridge that doesn't freeze the things in the fridge and thaw the things in the freezer is wonderful. Not to mention the ability to thaw frozen things in the microwave. What an upgrade!!!

We are still not able to park in the garage. There are a couple of furniture items and my BBQ in there and I am still trying to sort through my "memories". I had quite a few boxes up at my parents' that read "Breanne's Collectibles" and "Breanne's Memories". I have one box left to finish sorting through and then I need to organize them and pack what's left of them away. Some of the boxes are filled with my favorite books growing up, which I hope to one day pass down to my child or neice/nephew. One of them was filled with all of my Peter Rabbit and Benjamin Bunny ceramic collectible items that might actually be worth some money. I found lots of old notes from 7th and 8th grade, which were hilrious to go through, but definitely not necessary to keep.

The final box I am going through holds all of my memories from my high school days. Pictures, keepsakes, letters, yearbooks, albums, trinkets, journals. So much stuff. I put the yearbooks, 6th grade to senior year) on the book shelf in the office. It's always fun to go through those things every once in a while. I have read through the journals and threw one of them away. It was from 7th/8th grade and it was full of nonsense about boys and cussing at my parents. Pretty funny, but not worth keeping around. The one from high school is pretty significant, so I am thinking about keeping that one around, but definitely locked away.

It has been an emotionally exhausting process going through this box. I have practically re-lived, from start to finish, my 6.5 year relationship. It's interesting how it stirs nostalgia, but I am also numb to the whole thing at the same time. Even though I know it is me writing these journal entries or copies of letters to him and the things he wrote to me in cards or letters or whatever, it doesn't feel like it. It feels like I am reading about other people in another time. It's also weird to have a kind of sadness for those two people that it didn't work out for, knowing that I wouldn't change anything because of where it got me today. So, yeah, rollercoaster.

I have also re-lived the deaths of close friends of mine throughout the years. Gets me every time. Even though I can go day to day knowing they are gone and missing them often, looking at the pictures and reading the articles and funeral programs really takes me right back to that time and that pain. Not even beginning to fathom what it must be like for the parents and siblings of those people who have to face it on a daily basis. Terrible.

Hopefully this trip down memory lane will be over soon and packed neatly away. Except for all the exes who got tossed in the dumpster :). I can't wait to make new memories to go through if I ever have to move again...

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