Sunday, March 24, 2013

Old dog, new tricks

Whew. What a couple of weeks it has been! I started my new job on March 11th. When I walked into the store on the first day, it was a huge empty space, full of contractors doing the finishing work. There were boxes all over, and my manager and I spent the week receiving and tagging all the incoming merchandise. We have a beautiful, sunny - and that first week - EMPTY space that needed to be filled with goodies. The fixtures arrived on that Thursday, so we had more boxes to unpack.

Last Sunday, the people from the home office arrived to set up the store. I was amazed at how, after three days, it was absolutely beautiful and looked like a real shop. The transformation was incredible. My real training as an Inventory Specialist was last Monday and Tuesday. O.M.G. Let's just preface by saying that I have been using a Mac since 1985, and now I have a PC at work. Right click? Huh?

Except last Tuesday I wasn't smiling. There were tears. Lots of them. Poor Emily and Tony, who had come home in time for dinner Monday night and were staying till Wednesday. They got me at my worst. Sorry Tony - welcome to our house. And Emmy - thanks for pouring the wine. When I got home from work on Wednesday (w-a-y better day), the kids had already gone back, but there was a lovely bouquet of yellow roses (my fave) on the table to greet me. What a lucky mama.

Wednesday was good (opening day!), Thursday was better, and Friday was great. Either I am getting the hang of it, we didn't get much merchandise in, or I am totally missing something. I think it's a combination of the first two, though. I had time to do some organizing and poking around on the computer so I feel more confident there. Baby steps. Except for me, the past few weeks have been great big huge giant steps!

And I'll tell you what is good for weight loss: starting a new job! My hours are 11-3, and if I want to get done, there isn't much time for a real lunch. I've been taking a bottle of water, a good meal-replacement bar (~200 calories), and some carrot sticks. I drink the water throughout the day, eat the bar when I'm doing receiving, and have the carrots on my drive home. I try to have a normal breakfast,

Like you've never seen this before

a snack before I leave the house, and then something when I get home. String cheese and turkey jerky have been the norm, but as the jerky makes me so thirsty, I am going to have to switch that up. I think maybe some veggies and hummus, or a green monster smoothie. Any other suggestions?

I made the best dinner last night: chicken tamale casserole from Cooking Light. (If you click on the blue link, it will take you to the recipe). Emily has mentioned it on her blog a few times, and since it looked pretty quick and easy, I thought I'd give it a go. It was so good! Dwight mentioned several times that "this is a keeper." I had the exact same meal for lunch today, except subbed out the veggies for an apple. And it was still delicious.


[Just a quick plug for Emily's blog, The Swallow Flies. She is on the same healthy lifestyle journey that so many of us are, with the added benefit that she is an incredible writer. (You know those English majors....) Anyway, her posts are full of recipes, fitness inspiration, and motivation. I printed out the one titled "Naturally Thin" and pinned it to my bulletin board.]

Erin is coming home tomorrow for her spring break and a week of wedding preparation. This girl is the mellowest bride. So far, her biggest issue is that the red rose "love" stamp looks like a vagina and she doesn't want to put that on her wedding invitations. Luckily, she found a more tasteful one with white roses. Whew. Otherwise it was going to be Pixar stamps.

As I am in my yoga pants and baggy top, it is a snowy afternoon (still - I am SO OVER winter), and basketball is on, I am going to curl up on the couch and undoubtedly fall asleep.

Here's to a good week!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

New beginnings

Well, the next stage in my life is about to begin! I met the manager of the shop for the first time on Thursday, and I am pretty excited to work with her. She is young, energetic, and full of enthusiasm. And except for the young part, I think I am too. We will be a good team. I like that the shop is scheduled to open on March 20, which is the date of astronomical spring this year in the northern hemisphere. Spring to me is always the sign of new beginnings and rebirth (hello, spring buds and bulbs!) This will be a new venture into the Omaha market for the store, and a venture into a new position for me.

I've been trying to organize my life since I will be working Monday-Friday for the first time in, well, forever. Even back in my lab days, weekends were involved. I know I'll like having weekends off, but I need to adjust my schedule. For example, no more mid-morning-during-the-week grocery shopping. I am going to try to make our weekly menu and get the shopping done on Sundays. And I know I'll be more organized in my errand-running. And somehow, I need to factor a nap in here and there!

One of my projects was to organize cleaning supplies (I know. Pretty exciting). Well, every time we change out our toothbrushes, I throw the old ones in a container under the sink because you never know when you need to clean small spaces and a toothbrush is just what you need. Well:

I apparently need to clean that cupboard more often. Really - how many scrubby toothbrushes does anyone need?

I went to sleep last night listening to thunder and rain. It sounded like spring - and I can't wait. I was getting my hair cut and colored this week, and Troy and I were talking about the fact that even though it hasn't been a particularly bad winter, it has been so dreary. I am really ready for some sunshine. It was warm this week (in the high 40's and low 50's) so I ran outside, and it was wonderful. I immediately remembered how much I hate the treadmill. I'll do it because I have to, but give me fresh air any day.

And speaking of my hairdresser, he told me about a new recipe: Hummus-Crusted Chicken. It couldn't be easier: take a chicken breast, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and coat it with hummus (he said that sounded too messy so he just put a thick schmear across it, as did I when I made it). Add some rosemary or tarragon if you want. (I didn't, since I used jalapeno hummus; thought that one strong flavor was enough). Then squeeze some lemon juice over the top (no lemons in my fridge, so I used a lime). Troy said to not add a lot of juice because otherwise you wouldn't get a good crust from the hummus. Anyway, bake at 400 degrees for 35 minutes. Easy, healthy, and yummy:

With some roasted peppers

I tried another new recipe that I am already looking forward to making again. And yes, it's from Cooking Light. But it's ABCDelicious: Thai Chicken Saute.

The recipe called for two tablespoons of Sriracha, but I thought that sounded like a lot, so I used 1.5 tablespoons. I might even use less next time; it was pretty spicy, although the coconut milk mellowed it a bit. I used a 90-second Uncle Ben's Ready Rice (basmati) instead of the boil-in-bag called for in the recipe. The chicken was so tender, and the flavors were so good together. I just served it with some baby carrots, but that turned out perfect because they were cold and helped balance out the heat. Make this!

Other dinners:

Went to Costco. Rotisserie chicken, roasted Brussels sprouts and broccoli, summer salad of baby cukes and grape tomatoes drizzled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar

More rotisserie chicken. This time in a salad with cukes, tomatoes, craisins, and olive oil and balsamic for dressing


Vitatop, 2 HB eggs, strawberries. And coffee.

PB English muffin, blackberries, 1/2 cran juice / 1/2 Trop 50. And coffee.

Vitatop again. HB eggs again. Mixed berries. And coffee.

I really need to be better about lunches. When I uploaded my photos, I realized I hadn't photographed anything. Blah. Worst meal of the day. I stopped at Panera yesterday and had a cup of chicken noodle soup and half a turkey sandwich. I can't even remember what I had earlier in the week except for Thursday when Emma and I went to Jams and I had my favorite shrimp tostada from the appetizer menu. Now THAT was a good lunch!

On the schedule today is more organizing, watching Creighton play basketball this afternoon in the MVC semi-finals, and then dinner at Oak Hills tonight for their Seafood Buffet. I'm hoping for lots of shrimp, and Dwight's hoping they aren't peel-and-eat. I agree - I just don't want to work that hard for my food. Same thing about crab legs; can't someone clean them for me?! (You just read that in a whiny voice, didn't you?)

Happy weekend!

[Update: I made Aly's bars for knitting, but took some to work on Tuesday morning and some when I got my hair cut on Wednesday - and had recipe requests from everyone. We're calling them Aly's Oh Sweet Jesus bars since that's what Alex said when he first tasted them. If you need a good dessert recipe, click here. The sea salt takes them from merely delicious to Oh Sweet Jesus. They are so addictive that we had to get them out of the house.]

Monday, March 4, 2013

Life is weird

Tomorrow is my last day at the Joslyn, which in itself is bittersweet. Jane, whose Alex played club soccer with OUR Alex (and I feel like I've known forever), is the shop director, and in January of 2006 took a chance on this middle-aged housewife and hired me to work in the shop. Who knew that after getting my BS in medical technology, raising our three kids, and too-numerous-to-count volunteer positions, I would find my calling in retail. Life is weird. 

But to celebrate, Jane and Katherine took me to lunch at an Omaha institution (featured on Diners, Drive-Inns, and Dives) - California Tacos. Or if you're from here, Cali Tacos.

I've been wanting to eat there forever, but as it is out of my usual sphere of travel (i.e., it's east of 72nd Street), and in a somewhat sketchy neighborhood, I have just never made it.  I really meant to take a picture of all the food, but forgot until it was all gone:

Jane had told me that one taco would be enough, and she was so right. But we had rice and bean dip, just to get the whole experience. It was all delicious, and the taco was seriously the best I have ever eaten.

And then my friends gave me some treats:

Do they know me or what?! Jane wonders if my new boss will buy me Peeps?!

Some healthy breakfasts, to balance out Cali Tacos:

Oatmeal with blueberries, brown sugar, and almond-coconut milk

PB toast with bananas, 1/2 cup Trop 50, 1/2 cup diet cranberry juice

PB toast, mixed berries, and the OJ/cran juice again

A way-healthier lunch:

Romaine with fake krab, cherry tomatoes, and an English muffin

And a pretty good dinner:

Cooking Light's pesto and goat cheese pizza

We're having knitting here tomorrow, and in addition to a few snacks, I made some bars that Aly told me about. She said they were kind of like my caramelodie recipe, only better. She said they were so good that she had to wake up Alex (he's on a night rotation) to try one. He just said, "Oh sweet Jesus." I think that's the new name of the bars: Aly's Oh Sweet Jesus Caramelodies. How can anyone not love salted caramel and chocolate? I'll let you know if my knitting friends have the same reaction.

And just to leave you laughing, here's a headline from our paper the other day: