Happy New Year!

Happy New Year! It is officially 2015 AND it’s officially winter in Chicago. We finally had our first real snow and the temperature dropped below zero, so…yay? After last winter, I’ve been bracing myself for this year’s polar vortex, so I suppose it’s almost a relief. Actually, no. It’s still terrible.


In spite of the depressing plummet of the temperature and the fact that I have to put boots on my dog again, I am grateful for the start of a new year. I’ve always loved new beginnings. When I lived and died by the academic calendar, the first day of school was a magical day full of possibility and the joy of a fresh new planner. As an adult, I still love that feeling of possibility in the new calendar year, and yes, even still, a fresh new planner. (I even designed my own for 2015, which I’m thinking of making available online!)

I have lots of big goals for 2015 but the overall theme is to live life more fully, more intentionally, and find joy, beauty, and pleasure in every day. By the end of 2015 I hope to become a healthier, stronger version of myself – one that has pursued her creative passions and sought new adventures. One of my food goals is to not only blog more, but also eat more whole foods and focus on eating mindfully. One of my biggest health pitfalls is mindless eating. I love food and if I’m honest, I definitely use it as a crutch for when I’m feeling bored, tired, cranky, etc. Cooking whole, healthy foods and practicing mindfulness will hopefully put the true pleasure back in cooking and eating, as well as force me to really think about what I’m putting into my body. I hope to share my learning and knowledge with anyone who might benefit so you’ll definitely be a witness to this on the blog.

I have a good feeling about 2015 and I wish you a beautiful new year.



Goal-Setting for Gluttons

One of the rules of successful goal-setting, that I just now made up, is this: don’t make contradictory goals.  For example, don’t set a goal to never drink beer again while setting another goal to start your own brewery.  You will not set yourself up for success. Common sense enough, right?  Another example: don’t set a goal to get super fit while also setting a goal to make perfect pastries from scratch.  Well, despite my own thoroughly researched advice, I have set those two goals.

My goal of getting fit came first, and I had been doing an ok job the past month and a half:  joining a gym, getting myself to go to the gym, working out regularly, eating decently, etc.  Then I went on vacation to Florida, where it became a distant memory.

Before I went to Florida, however, I bought a few sessions with a personal trainer at my gym, something I had never done before.  I figured I could use someone to kick my ass and teach me how to correctly use the machines in the gym.  My first session was yesterday, the morning RIGHT after I came back from my weeklong junk-eating, laying-around extravaganza in Florida.  Short story short, I almost threw up during the workout.

Afterwards, to make myself feel better, I went to Half Price Books and bought a book about making puff pastry.  The second goal, to make the perfect puff pastries, came about before I went to Florida.  I had made some pastelitos de guayaba (guava pastries) like I always do, using Pepperidge Farm Frozen Puff Pastry Sheets.  My friends enjoyed them, but they tasted so bland to me. That’s when the wheels started turning and I decided I would learn how to make awesome puff pastry from scratch.

After I bought the book at Half Price, I went grocery shopping and bought some kitchen supplies I didn’t have.  As much as I love baking, I had managed to survive almost a year in my apartment without a roller.  (One time I used a wine bottle I wrapped in plastic wrap…)  I got home, put my supplies out on the counter, and…took a three hour nap.  The exhaustion from the workout caught up with me.

I did manage to make myself some dinner, a Crunchy Curry Pasta Salad.  Since I needed to save a greek yogurt cup from expiration, I adapted a dip recipe from the June issue of Women’s Health (Sweet-And-Spicy Yogurt) for the “sauce.”

I combined a cup of greek yogurt with 1/4 cup diced peaches, 1 1/2 tsp of curry powder, 1/4 tsp of cumin, and a 1/4 tsp of salt.  I also added a little bit black pepper, cayenne, and a few drops of sriracha sauce to taste, because I wanted a little more kick.  I put this mixture in the fridge while the whole wheat elbow macaroni cooked.  Once it was done, I drained it and then mixed it with chopped carrots and cabbage (which I bought prechopped at Whole Foods–so convenient) and the yogurt sauce.  The next step would have been putting it in the fridge to let the flavors develop, but I was really hungry…I put half in the fridge and the other half in a bowl to eat leisurely on the balcony while I plotted my pastry plan for the next day.