My Idea of a Goodwill Time

A question to my fellow thrifty bloggers out there: “Do you ever go into a thrift store with the intention to spend about 20 minutes, but end up spending two hours?”

Well I do.

And I usually don’t leave until a) I’ve looked through all the racks, b) I have to be somewhere, or c) I have to pee.  Usually it’s C.

I recently spent about two hours at the Goodwill located at 701 East Broad Street in Richmond, Virginia.  I was in a really good mood; just had an awesome workout and a great pho lunch at Pho 79 (see picture) and my proximity to the Goodwill meant I just had to stop by since I hadn’t visited this one in over a year.

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Pho with all the yummy bits like tripe and tendon. No filter. Who wouldn’t want to go shopping after this goodness?

This particular Goodwill does an awesome job at sorting everything by type and color.  And the sales associate could not be friendlier.  Seriously.  She made positive comments on everything I bought.  It made my day.  I actually felt like…validated that I am good at this little hobby of mine.

Anyways, those two hours were very productive, clothing-wise!  And I probably would have spent more than two hours, had I not had to use the restroom.  Ah that’s life, I guess!

This summer, I’ve been on the hunt for long, flowing skirts.  I get on “item of clothing” kicks, and it’s recently been skirts.  I also love the bohemian look that you can really pull off with long skirts, plus they are so comfortable.  Like honestly, would you rather wear crotch digging shorts and have your legs stick to everything you sit on in this humid Virginia heat, or would you want a nice long skirt that is made of light fabric and is super airy and cool.  Is that even a question?

My first outfit du jour is made up of a turquoise printed peasant skirt I got for $4.99 from this Goodwill trip.  Yes, $4.99 is a little steep for second-hand prices, but I loved the print and colors, and it looked like it had barely been worn.

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Turquoise Peasant Skirt $4.99, White J.Crew Lace Top $1.98

The fabric was so light and airy, and I’m really going for that right now.  The skirt was one of those Target brands, so I probably paid close to what it sold for on sale at Target, but I really liked it, so it was a bit of a splurge.  Oh just fyi, all the skirts at this particular Goodwill were $4.99.  The white lace 3/4 sleeve top I’ve paired with it is originally from J.Crew, which I scored for $1.98 at another Goodwill located in Northern Virginia.

I also got this lovely French Connection floral printed, A-line skirt.  %100 cotton.

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FC Floral Skirt – $2.50 and Lafayette 148 Silk Cream Top – $1.99

It was rocking the 50 percent off tag, so I scored it for $2.50.  $2.50 for French Connection.  Yep, awesome.  It’s a size 4 (I’m usually a 1), however, it has loops for a belt, so I can actually put a waist belt in and it fits really well as a high-wasted skirt without too much bunching around the waist, or it can be worn on the hips.  I may get it altered at a later point…haven’t decided yet.

I found the white/cream colored top I’ve paired it with at Goodwill for $1.99.  Can I mention this is a Lafayette 148 silk top?  I looked up similar tops by this designer and they go for $200 at retailers like Saks Fifth Avenue.  Oh my word.  At the time, I only thought they retailed for like $60; so I decided to not get another Lafayette 148 top on the rack because it was a size 2 and way too big, but I should have bought it for my mom or a friend, or somebody…thrifter fail.

This awesome, elegant, couture purple skirt was bought for $2.50.

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Purple Long Skirt – $2.50…I feel so elegant!

It was probably handmade as there were no tags, however, handmade = couture.  Yes, don’t argue with me, it is.  It fits my waist perfecto-ly!

And there is so much love for this $4.99 white pencil skirt when paired with the black lace Banana Republic top also worn above that I got on final sale at BR for $12.  And a borrowed gold belt from the mother.  This love is just too, too much.

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White Pencil Skirt – $4.99. Oh look at me trying to primp…

It was a great trip that my mom gave me a little grief for after learning I spent two hours there.  Her nagging – “Paula, are you a hoarder?!” was on repeat when I got home.  This was until I presented her with a very like-new Banana Republic salmon colored silk dress that I bought her for $6.99.

No complaints after that.

 Happy Thrifting!

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Free Bread

Free bread is a true indicator of a restaurant’s greatness.

I mean, like, let’s be real here, who really finds a hardened loaf of pre-sliced white “Italian” bread appealing?  Why even bring it out to the table in the first place.  It says one thing about your food establishment: cheap.  Maybe lazy, but definitely cheap.

There’s my rant on table bread.

But really, let’s talk about free bread.

Recently, I went to Zorba’s Greek restaurant, one of my family’s go-to places for a nice meal when we can’t think of any place else to go.  Which is silly because Richmond has a gazillion restaurants.  But it’s like writer’s block…foodie’s block, I guess.  Eh.  We also like it because it’s close to my parent’s house.  Yes, I’m crazy about this Greek place located in a little strip mall in suburbia.  Maybe it’s because of their free bread.  Hot, yeasty honey glazed rolls right out of the oven.  These rolls, which I will have to describe in great detail since I failed to get a picture, are puffy circles of dough that bake up to be the size of your forehead.  They are, and only are, served warm.  And they are probably 400 calories each…but I digress.  I care, but you know, life is short, and sometimes I don’t really care.

Zorba’s was also voted #3 best Greek restaurant in Richmond Magazine’s Best of 2012.  I personally think it should have at least been #2.  But that’s just me.  I’m also kind of obsessed with restaurants where the owner is ever-present and remembers your name even if you only visit every few months.  It’s just good patron care and goes a long way.

Oh, side note alert!  In 2011, Zorba’s caught on fire, and the entire restaurant was closed for a while.  Now that it is open again, it is completely renovated and really pretty!  Definitely a date night place.  Of course, It’d be great to have someone to go to date night with…yeah, I’m digressing again.

Anyways, cutting to the good stuff.  This is what we ate:

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From upper right and clockwise…
Pastichio (the thing that looks like lasagna): Ziti noodles, bechamel, ground beef layered pie topped with meat sauce and parmesan cheese
Medallions of Lamb Tenderloin: Tereyaki demiglaze and garlic mashed potatoes
Pasta A La Greek: Baked with feta and mozerella cheese (choice of sauce)
Veal (something): Spinach and cheese ravioli, mozzarella cheese and prosciutto

It was all really, really yummy (so descriptive, I know).  More descriptive: The different flavors in each dish really stand out but come together perfectly.  More importantly: The Pasta A La Greek will last you about 5 meals.  Their garlic mashed potatoes are my favorite anywhere.  Is this sounding like an overly thought out Yelp! review yet?  Okay.  I’ll stop.  Just, if you live in the RVA area, go, try it!  And report back what you think.  Cause I’m sure in love.

If you’re interested in trying Zorba’s Greek, here are the details:

9068 W. Broad St., Richmond, VA 23294 – (804) 270-6026

http://www.richmondzorbas.com/

P.S.  There’s this awesome homemade gelato shop in the shopping center across the street.  Gelati Celeste.  Like they make this heavenly goodness in the back of the shop.  There are zero calories in this ice cream!  I…promise ;). It too, has been around forever, and is absolutely amazing.  We’ve been going since I was a little girl.  I love the banana gelato.  They just recently started taking credit card; I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wanted this deliciousness and didn’t have cash on me.

You must go here.  Trust me.

8906 W. Broad St., Richmond, VA 23294 – (804) 346-0038

http://www.gelatiicecream.com/

Happy Eating! And where have you had good free bread?!

The Liebster Award

This is really, really belated, I know.  However, I recently got into to maintaining my blog on a regular basis and I wanted to save this fun post for a time when I am nurturing my blog like a good blog mamma should.  I also hadn’t been following many blogs at this point, so wanted to wait until I could pass this recognition onto some deserving bloggers 🙂

Anyways, back in January, I was selected by Becky at BEPCITY for the Liebster Award!  She, like me, blogs about many different topics and experiences.  Thanks for the award!  What exactly is the Liebster Award?  It’s an award given by a fellow blogger to up-and-coming bloggers with less than 200 followers.  Also, did you know that “Liebster” means “dearest” in German?  Interesting facts.

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Here are the rules:

Share 11 facts about yourself.

Answer the awarder’s 11 questions.

Ask 11 questions of your own.

Nominate 11 bloggers.

Facts About Me!

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1. I can’t wear adult size shoes.  They aren’t made in my size!  I think my feet stopped growing in elementary school and I currently wear a CHILDREN’S size 2/2.5.  Even an adult size 4 (when you can find them, which is rare) doesn’t fit me!  I find most of my shoes at Target…sometimes I can find shoes at this specialty small-footed person website called Cinderella of Boston.

2. I am half-Chinese and half-Caucasian (some sort of German/Scottish/English mutt).  I’ve gotten asked “What are you?” ever since I can remember – some of the way off guesses…Hawaiian, Italian, Hispanic of some sort.  Also, my dad is Chinese – most people assume it’s my mom.

3. The farthest I’ve traveled is to Vietnam.  In total, I’ve been to 8 foreign countries.  Wish it could be more!

4. I transferred colleges three times.  I started at American University (freshmen year), then went to Virginia Commonwealth University (for one semester), and then The College of William & Mary for the rest of my college career.  I’m so glad I ended up at W&M!  Also, I only went to VCU for one semester because it was close to home and I missed the deadline to apply to W&M.

5. I’m addicted to Diet Coke. I can’t break the habit.

6. Growing up, I was a HUGE theatre kid.  I spent five consecutive summers performing with a teen theatre company.  I went to the same performing arts school Jason Mraz went to in Richmond.  I did so much theatre in high school.  Even though I didn’t major in theatre in college, I took two acting classes and I still try and fit the extracurricular theatre “thing” in whenever I can.

7. When it comes to food, I’ll try everything once.  Like weird stuff.  Like intestines and all the nasty bits.  Part of growing up in a half-Chinese family, I guess!

8. When I was a little kid, I wanted to be a roller coaster designer.  Too bad I suck at math…

9. I am a Delta Gamma!

10. I was a huge Alias fan in middle/high school.  I didn’t want my parents to know I was watching it for like the first two seasons because it was somewhat violent, so I would always make up some lie that I was watching something else upstairs and they wouldn’t bother me.  Then my mom found out I was watching it and she got equally as hooked on it!  I’m currently re-watching all the seasons on DVD!

11. When my high school senior class voted for superlatives, I was voted the “most outspoken” and “most flirtatious” female.  When we took pictures for the yearbook, I had to take the picture with my ex-high school boyfriend who got voted “most flirtatious” male, and who, at the time, I despised.  Pretty sure I lack all ability to flirt now, but I am still very outspoken.

Answers to BEPCITY’s questions:

1. What is your favorite/go-to item in your wardrobe?

Probably my jeggings, leggings, or skinny jeans.  They are perfect to wear with a cute, long top.  And yes, I do consider them pants for you haters out there.

2. If you could be on any reality show, which one would it be?

Anthony Bourdain’s “No Reservations”, even though the final season aired last year.  I love him and  I’d love to show him my hometown!

3. Have you ever had braces?

I had braces in 5th grade to 7th grade!  They were absolutely horrible and I also had rubber bands at one point too!  I remember the day I got them was the day right after Halloween – horrible timing!  About two hours after they put them on, one of the brackets fell off my bottom teeth (they had only put a wire in the top at the first visit).  I was so upset and crying because I thought it was my fault, but apparently it happens a lot.  In better news, I found out I was getting them off the visit right before the final visit.  I feel like most people know months in advance, and it came as a welcomed surprise to me!

4. What was the first CD/cassette you ever purchased?

It was a classical music CD from the bargain bin at Wal-Mart.  I’m a nerd.

5. What drink do you order at a restaurant?

Non-Alcoholic: Diet Coke | Alcoholic: Vodka soda or a local beer, if they have it.

6. What kind of camera do you use?

I was using a Canon Elf (I think?) but now I just use my iPhone 5 camera because it’s actually better quality and I can do all the fun Instagram filters and such.  I would love a DSLR camera, but I’m poor so that is not happening.

7. If you could change your name to anything what would you choose?

I like my name as it is now, however, in middle school I wanted to be called “Star”.  What a weirdo!

8. Do you now or did you ever play on any sports teams?

No sports for me growing up.  But I run and spend a lot of time in the gym now.

9. If you formed a band what would your name be and what kind of music would you play?

I love indie-pop-rock music, so the music would probably be like Mumford & Sons or The Avett Brothers.  I’m horrible with band names.  However, those image capture things you type into  so the computer knows you’re human always comes up with some catchy phrases.  I’ve always thought those would be good, unique band names.

10. Who was your first celebrity crush?

Pierce Brosnan as James Bond.

11. Do you subscribe to any magazines?

I actually started subscribing to Glamour after my mom had a mysterious subscription to it last year.  Ironically, I got a mysterious subscription to large print Reader’s Digest.  And the secret subscriptions were sent to different addresses and my address I only lived at for one year.  We think the subscriptions got mixed up (she should have gotten the Reader’s Digest, as she’s mid-50s and mid-twenty me should have gotten the Glamour).  We asked everyone we knew and still can’t figure out who subscribed us.  Anyways, I ended up loving Glamour, so I resubscribed this year!

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Pierce Brosnan as James Bond. Who doesn’t love a secret agent man? Image Source

What I Want to Know!

1. If you could travel anywhere, where would it be and why?

2. What was your favorite subject in school (high school or college)?

3. What is your favorite season – winter, spring, summer, or fall – and why?

4. If you had to pick a “last meal” (sorry to be morbid, I’m a foodie), what would it be?

5. Are you an early morning or late night person?

6. Do you have any pets?

7. Have you ever dyed your hair any crazy colors?

8. Did you have a favorite teacher?  Who was it?

9. How many cell phones have you lost?

10. What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever eaten?

11. Do you have a favorite quote? If so, what is it?

You’re Fabulous!

Here are the blogs I’ve nominated!  I’ve mostly been frequenting food/thrifting/travel blogs so check these out if any of those topics interest you!

Babska’s Journey

Student living and me.

Thrifty Magnolia

Gatsby’s Green Light

Modern Miss Thrift

Urbohem (ur·bo·em)

grub like a girl.

fille & feline

Thrift Your Heart Out

Coti’s Travels

Modern  Mouthful

Phew. That was a long post!  Hope you’ve enjoyed learning about all my quirks and maybe you’ll find a new blog you just happen to love in my list of awardees!

Happy Blogging!

The Family that Eats Together

“I don’t know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve.”

– written by J.R.R. Tolkien, said by Bilbo Baggins, The Fellowship of the Ring

This past Saturday, I spent the first spring-like day of this never ending East Coast winter in Williamsburg, Virginia, with family from my dad’s side that I haven’t seen in almost 10 years.  We ended up meeting up with my cousin, Mark, his wife, Lauren, and their 4 awesome kids ranging in ages 5-15.  They were visiting Williamsburg on spring break.  We joke that we only see each other whenever someone gets married, which is partially true; the last time I saw them was at a HuYoung wedding.  Doesn’t it end up happening that way?  Weddings and funerals always brings family closest together…anyways I digress!

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My Cousin’s Kids – they are half Chinese like me!

Life does get busy, and with family spread all over the country, it’s hard to get everyone together.  But when we are able to see each other, albeit 10 years later, it’s always a good time.  I also really enjoyed the opportunity to show my family around my alma mater and Williamsburg.  With it being spring break, a Saturday, and the first nice day of spring, the historic area was absolutely swamped with people.  I wanted to try out the new DOG Street Pub and their extensive beer menu, which I got the opportunity to try last summer, but it was over an hour wait.  Absolutely crazy!

We were able to get a table for our party of 9 at Blue Talon, which was perfectly fine with me.  We had a 15 minute wait, but the kids went to the Peanut Shop and sampled all the yummy peanuts and chocolate covered nuts (I may have sampled a few too) while we waited.  I love free samples!  Anyways, Blue Talon is so yummy!  All of their dishes are French-inspired.  I ended up getting the Chicken and Mushroom Crepe, which was delicious.  It’s a creamy chicken/mushroom (bechamel sauce – I think) combo, wrapped in a crepe, then topped with Parmesan cheese and baked.  I also got a side of their fries – I never eat fries, but Blue Talon fries are so good!  And I got a Champagne Julep, which my cousin said tasted like spearmint gum; it was very refreshing!

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Chicken & Mushroom Crepes

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Champagne Julep! Minty!

After lunch, we went in a few of the Merchants Square stores –  Ocean Palm to look at all the pretty Lilly dresses I can’t afford, the Christmas ornament store, the toy store, which all the kids liked…and there was a live band in Merchants Square that day too!

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Why are little kids so cute?!

I then suggested we go to the Wythe Candy Store.  All the kids wanted candy, and my dad ended up buying them each a treat…you can’t take a kid in a candy store and not let them get a treat…that’s just torture!  However, they were so well behaved, and didn’t beg for anything at all!  There was a little “can we get this?” but no whining!  They were very well behaved!  The adults got chocolate truffles at $2.50 a pop, which we cut into fourth’s and enjoyed later in the evening with a bottle of Col Solare wine – yum!

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Is there really anything better on this earth?

We still had about two hours until dinner, so we walked over to “old campus” and I tried to convince my cousin’s eldest and only son, who is 15, that he should consider William & Mary for college! 🙂 Then we ended up going to Aroma’s, a W&M staple, for some wine (for the adults) and tea/soda for the kids.

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The gang minus a few at Aroma’s

Dinner was at Peter Chang, which is like this cult Szechuan Chinese restaurant that originally opened in Charlottesville, Virginia.  Many of the items are very spicy, and all their food is authentic.  Seriously, check out the link and go, it’s delicious.  There’s also a location in Glen Allen, Virginia, in a strip mall next to the Wal-Mart in Short Pump.  Peter Chang, so they say, doesn’t want the fame and fortune that comes with an amazing culinary establishment.  Apparently, he hates the interviews, and just wants to cook…so much, that the Charlottesville location, after much acclaim, closed.  The Glen Allen location, on a weekend, fills all its tables around 6 pm and has people waiting.  The Williamsburg, Virginia, location was busy, but did have empty tables.  We got so. much. food.  My family loves to eat.

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Family Style Chinese!

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SO.MUCH.FOOD.

It was so great to see my family after all these years, and I really hope it isn’t another ten years (or me getting married) before I see them all again!  Life does get busy, and I’m famous for saying “life gets in the way”, but it’s really important to maintain the relationships we have with people that are important in our lives!  This weekend definitely reinforced that belief for me.  Even if people don’t make an effort to reach out to you, you have to be persistent because if not, they will slowly fade out of your life, and maybe reappear five years later, and you’ll sit there, with your glass of wine, being like “Why didn’t we do more to maintain our friendship? etc.”

Now that I don’t really have any commitments (i.e. I’m not married, don’t have a demanding job, not in school, etc.), I feel like it’s a really great time and maybe even should be a goal for me to visit family and friends that I don’t get to see very often.  In the long run, family and friends are the most important things in life.  I’m guilty of spending an entire weekend vegging, doing nothing, when I could spent it getting to know people I don’t see very often!

Quick update!  I was misinformed and there actually is a Peter Chang restaurant in Charlottesville.  They just closed for a while to move to another location.  You can find it here! 2162 Barracks Rd.  Charlottesville, VA 22903

Keep Calm and Bake On

My parents always tell me they have no idea where my “creative” gene came from.  They are very sure, however, that I did not get it from them.  I probably didn’t get my baking gene from my parents either.  Both Mom and Dad are good cooks; they might not have time to produce a gourmet meal on a weeknight, but holidays and special occasions were on point.  And my Dad makes amazing authentic Chinese food on special occasions – I need to learn his recipes!

However, I am pretty sure all cakes in my home came in squares and out of boxes growing up.  And frostings came from circular containers.  Not that there’s anything wrong with this, but I love a good, made-from-scratch baked good.  Using individual ingredients and not a box mix is such a healthier choice!  So in the past two years, I’ve set out to bake everything from scratch  with flour, baking power/soda, eggs, milk, sugar, confectioners, sugar, etc.  And the best made-from-scratch thing is frosting.  Nothing beats it!

This obviously isn’t a “let’s bake all the things” and “I’ll tell you how!” blog, but I do enjoy baking every now and then.  Actually, I’d love to bake every single day, but there are issues with this: a) I work 9 hours a day, work out, and there’s no time, and b) I’d get fat…maybe.

My love for baking came from a really silly entrepreneurial idea about a year ago.  I went to visit a friend in Vietnam and didn’t see any sign of this crazy cupcake trend we have going on in the US.  No “Sprinkles” or “Frostings” or “Vietnam Cupcakes” existed!  I was like, we should start a cupcake shop in Vietnam!  Well, that probably wouldn’t have been a great idea… (Maybe it would have! Who knows? It didn’t happen.  Anyone want to open up a cupcake shop in Vietnam?!)

But that’s when I decided to learn how to make cupcakes from scratch because if I wanted to start a cupcake store I’d need to know how to make one.  No Betty Crocker boxes here!

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Cute Poster! Find it on Esty

I ended up making two types of cupcakes recently: a Vietnamese Coffee Cupcake with a recipe that I got from Cheryl Porro’s Cupcake Blog.  She had so many awesome recipes that I one day want to try more of! And a Strawberry Champagne Cupcake  I adapted from Erika’s ‘The Sweet Life’ blog.  Thanks for the inspiration ladies!

I think it is harder to make cupcakes than a regular cake, but maybe that’s just me.  I also don’t have a Kitchen-Aid Stand Mixer (shameless plug here to how awesome Kitchen-Aid is! Hint, hint, nudge, nudge: Send me a free mixer?) and it’s really hard to make perfect batter and frosting with a hand mixer.

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Vietnamese Coffee Cupcake

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Strawberry Champagne Cupcake

Baking has helped me a lot “mentally” in the past year.  For some reason, I’ve found it to be really calming and I love being able to put my energy in and see a result.  Even if that result doesn’t always turn out right.  Put on some good music, measure out all your ingredients in advance (this is key for ‘sane’ baking), follow recipes, and put in the oven.  I also get so much joy when people enjoy the things I make.  That’s the best feeling in the world!  I wish I had more people around that I could force my baked goods on 😛  I also feel good about baking because if you’ve been reading this blog, you know I work out a lot.  So I do reward myself with baked goods!

This past weekend, I made a Marbled Chocolate Banana Bread.  The roommate and her boyfriend liked it, so that’s a good sign!  You can definitely taste the chocolate, which is a great combo with the banana.

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Marbled Chocolate Banana Bread

The recipe is from “Cooking Light” Magazine…as a disclaimer, the recipe isn’t really all that “light” (I think one serving is like 183 calories, but who’s counting!) If you eat this in moderation, you’ll be fine.  Here’s the recipe for a 16 serving loaf!

Ingredients:

2 cups-all purpose flour

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup sugar

1/4 cup softened butter

1 1/4 mashed ripe bananas (about 3)

1/2 cup egg substitute (I used 3 egg whites)

1/3 cup plain low-fat yogurt

1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chip

cooking spray

Preparation:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt, stirring with a whisk.
  3. Place sugar and butter in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended (about 1 minute).  Add banana, egg substitute/egg whites, and yogurt; beat until blended.  Add flour mixture; beat at low speed just until moist.
  4. Place chocolate chips in  microwave-safe bowl, and microwave 1 minute or until almost melted (I microwaved for 1 min 15 seconds), stirring until smooth.  Cool slightly. Add 1 cup batter to chocolate, stirring until well combined.  You will have two bowls – one of the banana batter and one of the chocolate banana batter.
  5. Spoon chocolate banana batter alternately with plain batter into an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2-inch loaf pan coated with cooking spray.  Swirl batters together using a knife. Bake at 350° for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool 10 minutes in pan on a wire rack; remove from pan. Cool completely on wire rack. *I baked for the full 1 hr 15 minutes, however, I like my bread more gooey and moist.  I would suggest baking for 1 hour, and checking to see if it is done.

Happy Baking!

Dumpster Diving and Parents Visit!

The parents came to visit for the day about two Saturdays ago (sorry for the late post!).  We had planned to go to Dim Sum, then Eden Center and a little shopping in the Seven Corners area near my new apartment.

Right before they got here, I went down to the outside garbage cans where we are supposed to leave recyclables and big boxes (I had a box to throw out).  There’s usually a bunch of junk and trash throw in this area; people throwing out broken toys, lamps, etc.  Well…just my luck…I turned the corner and found these two beautiful pieces of furniture!

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Beautiful!

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Dumpster Dive Table!

One is a TV cabinet, which was in perfect condition, except for a little nick at the corner of one of the doors.  The other is a hall table that’s missing a drawer, but you can’t really tell a drawer was supposed to be there in the first place.  They aren’t the highest quality pieces (i.e. they aren’t 100% wood, which is a huge mark of quality for me) but they were in great condition, and would have cost at least $300 for the two pieces at Ikea or Target.

I lucked out because my parents were able to help me carry these pieces in!  My sparsely decorated bedroom that needed more storage space now has two amazing, free, dumpster dive pieces.  I may be a dumpster diver, but hey, I didn’t have to spend $300 on furniture, nor did I have $300 to spend on furniture.  It makes me sad that people just throw things out.  Like I said, I’m a huge fan of recycling pieces, and an even bigger fan of organizations (Goodwill, Salvation Army) that will come pick up items for free that they resell to help their nonprofit organization.  I know it’s easier to just “throw it out” but it just shows we are a wasteful society.  Next time you think about throwing out a perfectly good piece of furniture or clothes, please, please consider donating it (or calling me first!)

Also, we went to Goodwill later in the day, and I found two Riedel wine glasses for 96 cents each.  These glasses, for the lower end glasses (I’m not sure if these Riedels are on the higher end or what) are $10/each at Target, but for the Sommelier’s tasting glasses can run about $120/pair.  I wish I knew! I could probably find out with some more research/investigation, but still…how much of a steal is that!  This is why I love thrifting and this is why I’m good at it-my discerning eye!

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96 cent Riedel glasses, pretty sure these are the $10 ones, but wouldn’t it be neat if they were worth more?

We also went to Dim Sum at Hong Kong Pearl, which is just a mile down the street from me.  It was really good, and they had a lot of selection.  Some foods I had never before tried at Dim Sum!  And of course, I always have to get some nasty bits – this was in the form of a soup that had liver, intestine, stomach and tofu! It was good, but I can only handle them in small increments.

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Yes! Nasty Bits!

I’ve also come to love chicken feet, which I didn’t when I was younger.

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Dim Sum! Chicken Feet, Bao (steamed pork buns), Tripe, dumplings galore!

We also went to Ross (the discount department store), and thanks to the parents, I got a new comforter, pillows and some wall art (not pictured).  Now my bed looks like a real bed and my room is finally furnished!

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New pretty comforter and lots of pillows!

Thanks to the parents for still helping me out  when I can’t afford nice things for my room, for their physical strength and willingness to break a sweat to help me carry my dumpster dive treasures to my apartment, and for always treating me to a great meal whether I’m at home or they are visiting!

INSANE Observations & Rewards

Week 1 of INSANITY is done!  And I made it!  So here are my observations about it so far:

1) It makes you question your level of fitness.  Okay, I know I’m in shape.  I know what not being in shape is like (i.e. The Paula of yesteryear who almost passed out from running a mile) and I know what in shape is (i.e. The Paula who worked out multiple times a week, once with a trainer who told her she was more fit than 99% of her clients).  INSANITY probably isn’t for you if you’ve never worked out before, just saying.  And I’m not saying it isn’t doable for a fitness newbie, but the moves are fast and put a lot of stress on your body.  You must have proper form, or you risk injury, so this is why I’m hesitant to recommend it to you are just starting a fitness regime.  Major modifications should be made if you aren’t already somewhat in shape, or maybe another Beachbody program is more appropriate!

2) Knees, knees, knees!  Protect your knees!  Land softly and with knees bent.

3) Legal Highs.  Best endorphin high of my life.  More than you get when running.  Let’s just say that after “Pure Cardio” I may have blasted Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’,” danced around the room, and sang at the top of my lungs.  This was after having an absolutely horrible day where I had to push myself to not take a nap after work and get my workout in.  I then went into the kitchen, saw my housemate and told him how much I LOVE INSANITY.

4) Shaun T. is really hot, positive and understanding.  He’s hot because he’s Shaun T. and he has a great smile!   He’s positive because he tells you to keep going and says he is “right there with you”.  He’s understanding because he makes sure you “know your limits” and to take breaks if you need them.  I actually have some not so nice opinions of DVD workout instructors, but I’m a big fan of Shaun T.  (especially when he takes his shirt off!)

5) Holy Abs!  So I’m not sure how to feel about the fact that my abs are actually becoming firm, muscular and more defined because as this happens, I’m seeing them grow outwards.  Let’s note that I’ve always been pretty skinny (thanks for the good genes!) but I’ve never actually had serious abdominal muscles.  I do my exercises right and always pull my belly button inward, but still see my stomach actually getting bigger where muscle is growing.  It doesn’t look bad, but I’m just not 100% used to it.

In other news, I bought some protein shakes that were on sale at Target.  I always feel like I should refuel after a workout, but never know what exactly to drink/eat/etc.  They basically taste like flavored milk, yum I guess?

I’m also training for the Monument Avenue 10K in Richmond, VA, on April 13th.  Last year, I ran it in 58:10 and would like to PR again this year!  I’m running in the seeded 58 minute wave, which is huge for me because four years ago I couldn’t run two miles without stopping!  To be in a seeded wave is really exciting for me – it means I’m an actual runner! But I’m trying to keep up with the INSANITY workouts and run too and it’s pretty stressful on my knees.  I’m wondering, does anyone have any recommendations to fit running in with INSANITY?  If you do, feel free to share!

As for now, I’m starting Week 2!  I only really want to upload progress photos every two weeks, but here’s me at the week mark!

Photo on 2-9-13 at 5.52 PM #6

Sweaty in Pink!

Also, because people like to see pictures on these blog things, I’m leaving you with the reason I work out – FOOD.

I love food and use it to reward myself!  I try and eat healthy, but I don’t think it’s wrong to indulge every now and then, especially if your workouts make you want to weep on the floor like a small child when you are done.

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Spread of tapas I had all to myself in Barcelona

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Vietnamese Coffee Cupcakes (made from scratch)

Happy Sweating!