Posts from — March 2010
In my quest to lead a more adventurous lifestyle, I’ve tried to cut down on “things”.
I suppose it first started at a tag sale my parents held last summer, in which I was ordered to remove all of my old things from storage in their basement.
After I left for college, my parents did what most only dream about doing….they mourned me for a few weeks, then packed up my room, knocked down some walls, and successfully turned my bedroom into an extension of their “master suite.”
So after six years, there were items from my old bedroom that I forgot I even had. About 10 boxes of forgotten things to be exact, and being forced to go through them was really tough. I was overwhelmed by the amount of things I had accumulated, and even more overwhelmed by the idea of having to let them go.
Eventually though, I learned to let go, and rather than feel regretful, I felt really free.
And so I began cutting down on other things like clothes, jewelry, shoes, etc… I basically had a five second rule, where if it took me longer than five seconds to decide if I wanted to keep something, I tossed it!
Objects involving skincare and haircare were a lot more challenging to cut down on though, especially since I’m somewhat of a Sephora junkie.
Without being too specific, I used to use the following products over the course of a day:
Make-up remover, face wash, face scrub, toner, face moisturizer, a second face moisturizer with salicylic acid in it, body moisturizer, eye cream, shampoo, conditioner, shaving cream, body scrub, body soap, leave in conditioner, mousse, and some sort of styling cream.
It’s taken me a while, but over the course of a year I’ve managed to cut down about 16+ products into just three, and by the end of this three part series I hope to inspire a few others (including the guys) to do the same, and not because your skin and hair will look better (because they will), but because no one should have to feel bound to so many things over the course of a 24 hour period, especially when most of them are serving the same purpose. And just in case you need further motivation: the combined cost of all three of these products is as much as my old eye cream.
First product up: Thayers Witch Hazel
Why I like this product:
- It’s a face wash, toner, and moisturizer all in one
- It removes make-up
- It smells fantastic
- It makes my skin feel good
- It makes my skin look good
- It’s mess free (No water. No suds. No headbands needed to keep my hair from getting wet).
- Justin TImberlake uses it, so it must be legit.
Cost: $9.95 a bottle, but it lasts.
I had often heard about the medicinal properties of witch hazel, in fact I even remember by grandma having a generic bottle of it in her bathroom, but I had never known it to be something that works well for skincare.
I was re-introduced to the benefits of this product by my moms friend, Joanne, who after listening to me complain about the fact that I still breakout at the age of 24, recommended this product.
I was a huge skeptic (as people with bad skin often are), but I decided to try it.
At first I was a little baffled by the idea of using an astringent to wash and moisturize my face, but after a while it began to feel natural, like this is how cleaning my face should have always been. Rather than uncomfortably splashing myself with water (and destroying the sink area in the process), I was simply soaking a cute little cotton ball with toner. It smelled amazing, it felt amazing, and I didn’t even need to put that much effort into cleaning my face at the end of a long night. Best of all was that, as Joanne had claimed, it improved my skin.
As you can see, I am now the proud owner of four bottles (Buying multiples of the same product doesn’t count towards my “three,” right?).
Some quick tips I’ve learned since using this product:
- Thayers is hard to track down in stores, so you might want to order off their website.
- For troubled or oily skin, definitely use the lemon witch hazel, but keep in mind that this is the one product in their witch hazel line that is alcohol based, so if you naturally have patches of dry skin, you might still need a dot of moisturizer during the winter months.
- For sensitive, uneven, or red skin tones, choose any of the other witch hazel products (my mom is an avid user of the Cucumber Witch Hazel, and she loves it)
- For rashes, bug bites, small cuts, or burns, use Thayer’s Medicated Superhazel (I own this also, and use it like crazy during the summer months. It’s great to bring on hikes or outdoor treks)
I really have nothing further to add on this product, other than it works, and it will definitely streamline your skincare routine.
Stay tuned for Part 2 of the Poor Girls Beauty Trifecta, where I’ll show you a product which will help eliminate your body wash, shampoo, conditioner, shaving cream, and a bunch of other things depending on how creative you get.
March 31, 2010 3 Comments
When I first started this blog, I had one rule:
“I promise to never write about nothing, like my 16 year old self would.”
But after rejoining the blogosphere, it’s the same old mind games. You become acutely aware of ordinary things, and suddenly your leftovers seem sort of interesting…
I think I’ll call this dish…
“Happiness–even on a Monday”
March 29, 2010 3 Comments
Pigs head, pork belly, lambs throat, and bone marrow are just a few of the things you can experience at the culinary adventure that is Roberta’s in Brooklyn, NY.
Although I had my fears about the menu, it turned out to be a REALLY fun night.
Michal and I were the first ones to arrive at the restaurant (we were meeting 5 others to celebrate my friend Jesse’s birthday), so it was the perfect opportunity for me to take some interior shots of the awesomely eccentric decor, which I would describe as “warehouse chic.”
Being that there is an awesome bar and outdoor lounge in the back, waiting to be seated actually turned out to be a great socializing opportunity, and with all the laughs before dinner, I didn’t even notice the wait.
After being seated, we decided to just order a hodgepodge of items off the menu to share. Our picks were the following:
- Braised Tripe (cow stomach)
- Sweet Bread (lamb and calf neck/pancreas)
- Seared Scallops w/ Pigs Head
- Two orders of the combo meat and cheese plate (from what I can remember there was prosciutto, blue cheese, soft brie, candied walnuts and cherries)
- Good Girl Pizza (Kale, Pork Sausage, and Garlic)
- Rosso Pizza w/ Anchovies (tomato, oregeno, garlic)
- Calzone Tony (stuffed with mozzarella, mushrooms, artichoke hearts, pesto sauce)
- Bone Marrow, but they ran out.
As for what I ate, I sampled the candied walnuts, sweet cherries, seared scallops, calzone, and I had quite a few slices of anchovy pizza. Presentation was nice too. I tried to get shots of the food, but the lighting was so dim, that I sort of gave up half-way through. I did manage to salvage a few close-up shots of the anchovy pizza, but please keep in mind they do not do the food justice…
As for cost, we dropped about 25 dollars per person (not including drinks), but I’m pretty sure we spent on the higher end of the Roberta’s price range. In the end though, who cares about the price when you get to have a fun night out with great people.
All and all, Roberta’s is definitely worth trying, and a great place to hold a birthday party for your favorite hipster friend
March 28, 2010 2 Comments
I’ve had a can of Trader Joe’s Sweet Potato Puree for a while now, and to be honest, I sort of had this vision while I was buying it of me finding it in my kitchen cabinet 10 years later with dust on it, but lo in behold, this morning it saw daylight…
Now I know I just did an entry about the many crazy habits adventures of my breakfast routine, but this mornings cooking experiment was way too good not to share, so I’ll try and make this brief….
Sweet Potato Pie Oatmeal
Ingredients (serves 2):
1 cup water
1 cup almond milk (or any type of milk)
1/2 cup steel cut oats (I used Quaker)
1/2 cup sweet potato puree
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. salt
A sweetener of your choice sprinkled on top (optional)
Directions: In a medium sized pot, bring water and milk to a boil. Add steel cut oats, sweet potato, and spices, and reduce heat to low. Simmer on low for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. (do not cover with lid). Take pot off of heat, stir, and let sit for 10 more minutes. Garnish with raspberries and enjoy.
Some advice about cooking with steel cut oats: No matter what brand of steel cut oats you buy, they all take a really long time to cook. Depending on your stove-top, you may have to cook them for up to 40 minutes on low before the mixture begins to thicken, so this isn’t the type of breakfast to make before work. The good news is that steel cut oats taste just as good the next day, so feel free to make a big batch the night before, and then just re-heat them the next morning on the stove top or in the microwave.
If you don’t have the patience, feel free to make this recipe with regular oatmeal, but I assure you that the texture and taste of steel cut oats is worth the wait…
While the steel cut oats were cooking, Michal and I decided to fit in a trail run. Although it looked as sunny as last Saturday’s 75 degree weather, it was in fact 27 degrees.
Cold weather aside, the trail run was really nice.
All in all, we covered about 2 miles of trails and 2 miles of road, but the best part was getting to come back to a huge batch of steel cut oats waiting for us on the stove.
Alright, I’m off to relax for a bit and then do some laundry, but tonight I have an adventure lined up in Brooklyn, so stay tuned.
March 27, 2010 No Comments
There are breakfast people, and then there are….other people.
I am a breakfast person.
This wasn’t always the case though. As a child I was an extremely picky eater, and if there wasn’t a box of Lucky Charms around, I would rather starve.
Then there were the awkward formative years of middle school and high school, where breakfast was just…wrong. Microwavable french toast sticks, pop tarts, hostess donuts, Pillsbury cinnamon buns, and yes, even fluffernutter on toast, amen!
And then there was college–a place where breakfast only existed on a Sunday, and even then it happened well after 12pm.
So in retrospect, I’m not quite sure how I ended up here:
Yup, that’s right. That’s everything I used to make my breakfast this morning, and I even left out a banana and bag of frozen raspberries. Here are a few more shots…
And just so we’re clear, every morning (no matter what’s on the menu), my breakfast is this elaborate. In fact, I usually dedicate 45 minutes to my breakfast every morning, which I know sounds crazy, but once it becomes your routine, you realize how nice it is to have time to cook a warm breakfast, enjoy every bite, and relax with a cup of tea.
For today’s breakfast I had a can of pumpkin to finish off, so I made one of my favorites…
PUMPKIN PIE OATMEAL
Ingredients (makes one serving):
1 Cup Water
1 Cup Almond Milk (or any type of milk is fine)
1/2 Cup Oats (I used old fashioned oats, but instant works just fine)
1/2 Cup Spelt Flakes (I realize most people don’t buy Spelt flakes so just add another 1/2 cup of oatmeal)
1/3 Cup Pumpkin (you can buy it in a can in the baking aisle)
1 tbs. Chia Seeds (or you can add 1 tbs. of flax seeds, granola, or raisins)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. Pumpkin Pie Spice
1 tsp. Cinnamon
And of course a sweetener of your choice sprinkled on top (sugar, honey, agave syrup, etc…)
Directions: Bring the milk and water to a boil. Add oats, spelt flakes, pumpkin, and chia seeds, and reduce heat to low. Stir well, and add vanilla, pumpkin spice, and cinnamon. Oatmeal will be ready in about 10 minutes.
For added protein (and flavor) I added a dollop of peanut butter on the top of my oatmeal, followed by some fresh blueberries. I also paired my oatmeal with a spinach egg beater omelet on the side.
Non-breakfast people have no idea what they are missing!
After first breakfast, I quickly prepared my “second breakfast” which is usually just something I eat at around 9am when I’m starving at work again.
I threw some raw almond butter on a piece of whole wheat bread and then paired that with a Green Monster Shake (I added frozen raspberries to the basic recipe).
T.T.A. Budget Friendly Tip: Buy organic fruit in the freezer aisle. The fruit doesn’t lose any of it’s nutrients, and you will save quite a bit of money, especially when it comes to strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries. Plus, frozen fruit works much better than regular fruit in shakes, and if you cook it in with your oatmeal, it really seeps into the oats for a lot of flavor. The only fruit I can’t stand frozen are blueberries (they never taste the same).
My second breakfast (seen here at my desk at work).
And now it’s 7:30 pm, and I’m off to eat dinner (yawn–so lame).
March 25, 2010 2 Comments
Welcome to my second office.
I definitely have no free time now that I’ve taken on this website, but with all the support and outreach I’ve gotten since it’s launch on Sunday, I’m extremely motivated to turn this into something special.
Tonight was busy. I got home from work at around 6pm, and decided to tackle an hour long strength training session with my girl Jillian (her exercise video was on sale at Target). I’ve pretty much destroyed my body with running these past five years, so in an attempt to transform the way my joints work (and to get my knees ready for all the upcoming adventures), I’ve taken up strength training. The good news is that it’s working. I’ve cut down my runs to once a week, and this past Saturday’s 5k was the first race I’ve done in quite some time where my knees didn’t feel like they were going to explode at the finish line.
And here’s an interesting side note: I have not paid for a gym membership since April of 2008, and I’m stronger than ever. Sometimes investing $50 in some weights, mats, and a few fun videos is all it takes. You’re also forced to utilize the outdoors more, which I think tends to be a bit more challenging than zoning out on an elliptical machine. This isn’t to say I won’t join a gym again. It’s just not something I need right now.
After working out, I ate dinner, took a shower, packed my lunch for work tomorrow, and then sat down and began brainstorming some adventure ideas for the upcoming weekend. Since Saturday night I have a friends birthday at a restaurant in Brooklyn, I want to balance out those costs with an adventure that is free. This makes for a tricky brainstorming session, because free things are very difficult to come by in this world. I have a few ideas though…but you’ll have to wait and see…
How is it already 11pm?
I have to go charge the battery in my camera, because tomorrow morning I’m going to attempt to document something very exciting….my breakfast routine. Trust me folks, you don’t want to miss how freakishly obsessed I am with this meal.
March 24, 2010 No Comments
I’ve heard a lot of hype about lululemon athletica apparel, and to be honest, I was a skeptic. Why do I need to pay over 60 dollars for one pair of running pants, when my budget-friendly Old Navy yoga pants have suited me just fine for over three years? (And yes, I’ve had the same three pairs of Old Navy yoga pants since my Sophomore year of college. Budget friendly? Yes. Gross? Possibly.)
After looking at my torn and faded Old Navy pants, I decided it was a good time to invest in a better pair of running pants, and so I decided to pick up a pair of lulu’s, and use my Manchester 5k as the ultimate test run. I looked up the closest store, and then researched the different pant styles so I would have an idea of what I was looking for (and also so I would avoid randomly choosing lots of pretty things to bring into the dressing room). For me, a prior game plan is the key to not over-spending.
I decided on the Wunder Under Crop…
And here is a close up of the tag….
I also took close up shots of the front and back of the shopping bag, which is reusable (genius).
Verdict: These pants are no joke. They are like a second skin that makes your butt look like Jillian Michaels, and I knew from the minute I tried them on that all those positive web reviews were real women speaking, and not paid interns.
As for how they felt during the 5k? The best pants I have ever run in.
I look forward to investing in a pair of lulu’s reverse groove short next.
My only budget-friendly advice for high-end fitness apparel such as lululemon is to always stick to the basics: bras, pants, shorts. When it comes to things like tank-tops and t-shirts, the general architecture of that piece of clothing doesn’t change when you go to a store like Target. The fabric changes, but the design is the same. If you want to invest in expensive fitness apparel, make sure you’re paying for good fabric AND good design.
Ladies, just look at the stitching in the crotch area of lululemon pants and you will understand the meaning of good design.
And for all the non-ladies reading, there’s a lululemon men’s line also.
March 23, 2010 4 Comments
There are simply not enough hours in the day to keep up with this blog, so this is me playing catch up on what I did yesterday…
Sunday I woke up exhausted and sore, but the sun was shining so brightly outside that I just couldn’t sit still, so I ate a big stack of french toast, popped some Advil, and it was back out the door.
I thought about going on a run, but the Manchester 5k seriously kicked my butt, so all my hamstrings could handle was a leisurely hike to the top of East Rock Park.
During the hike, it was nice to see signs of spring…
The only thing that wasn’t nice was having to walk through the section of the trail where I had a horrible running fall last year. It happened last April when I was doing a brisk trail run, and at the top of this hill my foot nicked a rock and I flew down it head first….
As you can see, there are no soft landings, and in just a single fall I ripped open the side of my hand, left shoulder, and left knee. Luckily I was with Michal, and he carried me to the main road, and a really amazing woman whose name I don’t know saw me and pulled over because she had a first aid kit in her car. She not only gave me her first aid kit, but she waited with me (and consoled me) while Michal ran back to his apartment to get his car. If you’re wondering why she didn’t give me a ride, it was because I was covered in blood and she had two very young kids in the car. I kept begging her to give me her name and address so I could send her something, but she refused, and insisted that I would of done the same thing for her. I still wish I knew her name though. What a nice lady.
Once we passed through the bad place, it was about a 20 minute hike to the top.
The view from the top is so pretty, and below you’ll see the same statue from the first picture, only this time it’s a bit closer.
We decided to take the Big Step Trail back down the mountain, which is a lot of fun. The trail is exactly how it sounds–massive steps carved into the side of the mountain.
Oh yeah, and did I mention you can experience all of this for free?
Nature is cool like that.
March 22, 2010 No Comments
My friend Mike is really passionate about cooking, and for the past three years now, he’s hosted an annual dinner party for his friends. Throughout the night you’re served a total of 6 courses, and with the help of his friend Liz (a classically trained baker), they serve an extravagant line-up of food to around 30 people! It’s quite an undertaking, and certainly not for anyone who can’t handle high stress situations, but for anyone who is truly passionate about cooking, this is such a fantastic idea for something to do with a group of your closest friends.
Mike asked that each person pitch in just $15 to cover the cost of food and place settings (and trust me when I say that didn’t even begin to cover his costs). He puts a lot of time into turning his apartment into a mock New York Italian restaurant, complete with candles, printed menus, and waiters (a.k.a his most loyal friends and family members).
The courses were as follows:
Fontina Risotto Cakes with Fresh Chives
Sauteed Shrimp with Pancetta on Creamy Polenta
Wrapped Pork Tenderloins with Pistachio Pesto and Sweet Potato Puree
Tomato, Basil and Mozzarella Salad (Liz used organic basil from a local farmers market)
Almond Praline Cake with Mascarpone Frosting, Espresso Creme Brulee, and Limoncello.
I wish I had taken better pictures of each course, but the lighting was really dim, and plus I was super hungry, so when a plate came out I usually just started eating. My favorite moment of the night though was when Liz whipped out a blow torch to make her Espresso Creme Brulee. So bad ass!
I got home from the dinner party at around midnight, and boy was I exhausted. Between the race in Manchester, walking around Middletown, and eating some serious good eats, my body was ready to shut down. As tired as I was though, I was incredibly happy with how my Saturday had panned out.
What a perfect first day of spring.
March 21, 2010 2 Comments
I just got back from the Manchester “Finally Spring” 5K race, and what a fun time! This is probably the coolest 5k I’ve ever run because:
- Instead of a t-shirt you were given these amazing green socks (see below)
- The entire race is on an intense trail course through the woods, with the first mile being uphill!
- Michal and I crossed the finish line together
With over 200 people squeezing through rocky and steep trail turns, it is quite the adventure, and I’ve never seen so many people have to stop and walk during a 5K. Without a doubt I’ve run 10K road races that were easier than this trail course, but I can’t remember the last time I’ve had this much fun on a run.
Michal and I stuck together during the race, which was something we’ve never done in an actual race before, so I was happy about that. We do casual runs together once or twice a week, but Michal is a much faster runner than me, so on a race day it’s always been easier for us to go our separate ways–mostly because when we run together I try to run too fast to keep up with him, and he tries to run too slow as not to get ahead of me, and it ends up messing up both our paces. Sticking together for this race still required him to slow down at a few points, but before the race we decided to treat it like a casual run (and not a competitive race), and that mindset helped us cross the finish line together. Our final time for the 3.25 mile race was 28:40, which I was happy with (note my smile below).
Michal was just happy to have a pair of green running socks, which he insisted on putting on before the race.
After the race we headed a bit more north to Middletown, CT so we could enjoy the beautiful weather and eat at a restaurant called ION (It’s Only Natural), which was voted best vegetarian restaurant in the Hartford advocate last year. It deserves any accolades it gets, because it’s the first vegan and vegetarian restaurant I’ve come across where the entrees are actually gourmet. The prices are a bit steep, but it’s completely worth it.
We started off the meal with some fresh juices. I had the veggie bomb (left) which was carrots, beets, celery, and parsley, while Michal had a juice called Bee Green which was a bunch of green vegetables with agave syrup for sweetness.
For our entrees, I had the Macrobiotic Plate which was organic brown rice, legumes, sea & other vegetables, with a huge pile of kidney beans on the side. I mashed everything up together, and it tasted incredible. The sea vegetables had the perfect amount of saltiness to them, so I didn’t even have to season the dish.
Michal had one of the specials, which was a phyllo dough packed with tofu and mushrooms with a huge scoop of mashed potatoes and a side of asparagus. I had a few bites and it was to die for.
The serving sizes are really generous at this restaurant, which made this the perfect place to have our post-race meal. As you can see we inhaled are food.
I should also note that Michal and I have been here once before and we had the ION burger and Sweet Potato Enchiladas, and they were just as incredible as today’s menu choices. The ambiance of the restaurant is really nice too, and today we were seated at a fun table which doubled as a chalk board so we could draw on our table while we waited for our food.
I’m off to try and fit in a nap before a friend’s dinner party tonight.
Happy spring everyone!
March 20, 2010 3 Comments