Confectious Concoctions

Archive for the ‘About Me’ Category

Kyle’s mom sent me a book for Valentine’s Day, Always the Baker, Never the Bride, and it’s actually affected me quite a bit.

For one thing, I’m a pathetically helpless romantic, and even the simplest of stories with even a touch of romance (realistic romance – not the Fabio-on-the-cover romance novels) get me in a state of I-can’t-put-this-book-down-because-I-need-to-see-if-he-kisses-her. And this book has a super sweet storyline to it between employer and employee. Sigh.

However, the heroine in the book is a baker. I.e. she’s me, except I’m not diabetic, or 5’9″. But she’s amazing. And I want to be her, and so this book has rekindled the thought of going to culinary school – a thought that has all but left my mind since I started at Barkley, at an agency I truly loved, in a career I knew could take me places and that I was finally enjoying life as a working girl.

And then this book had to show up with Top Chef All Stars in full swing. With the bud of an idea of a cupcake war event in Kansas City in the spring beginning to blossom.

Oh. BTW, this book has recipes in it, including Espresso Fondant, and tips for how best to layer a multi-tier cake, and top 10 wedding themes.

This book makes my mind swirl when I’m not concentrated on my quickened heart rate induced by the I-can’t-put-this-book-down-because-I-need-to-see-if-he-kisses-her.

So what did I do for 3 hours on Sunday night? I made cookies for Valentine’s Day. Heart shaped ones. Sugarless, except for the Barbie Pink royal icing. I thought they were ok. Others thought they were fabulous. We’re our own worse critics.

Kyle and I went to Justus Drugstore in Smithville for Valentine’s Day last night and it was beyond amazing. Chef Justus even came out to greet each table during the several hours it takes to finish the fantastic meal there, and I learned that at 45, he had only been cooking for about 8 years.

So for now, because culinary school ain’t cheap, I’m still all but ruling it completely out as a future endeavor. So there’s still hope for me and my bakery. Some day.

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I never thought I’d be one of those women who cried when they got their long locks cut short. But when I went last week to do that very thing, I damn near teared up.  I came to love how it felt on my naked shoulders when I wore tank tops and the swoosh of my pony tail when I ran. I did not, however, like it when it got caught in bag straps and car doors. That part’s no fun. So, thanks to some wine and some good sense, I didn’t embarrass myself.

It all started about 4 years ago. That was the last time I cut more than an inch off of my hair – in fact, it was 7. I was hoping to be able to handle the heat and humidity to grow my hair long enough to donate to Locks of Love (10 inches is the minimum). But July turned out to be extremely monstrous and I gave in, vowing to continue to grow it until it was long enough so I could donate.

And I did. And it feels great to be able to do so. I even got my Certificate Of Appreciation already.

I know you’ve been waiting for the hard evidence. Here are some before and after pics at the salon. The longest layers of my pony tail ended up being 11 inches, but she really could’ve cut a little more, as the final style is much shorter. I do love my fresh, new look, and am glad I didn’t become that attached to my hair.

I do kind of feel a little bad for the poor kid who now has to deal with it. But I’m glad I could provide something to deal with more. And I encourage everyone, especially if you have long enough hair, to donate it at least once, even if you are somewhat attached to it. It’ll grow back, and it will give you such a great feeling that keeping your hair can’t.

Re:Start

Posted on: July 1, 2010

Sorry, y’all,  for the long hiatus (not like anyone reads this blog anyway). It’s been an interesting couple of months. Life at K&W has been busy with planning for GEHA Open Season 2010, Crown Center summer events, and all the “normal” stuff has to squeeze in between all that.

Not to mention non-work stuff like making a dress for our trip to Cancun, lots of gym time in prep for said trip, Ad Club stuff, social events, etc.

In between all that I managed to get a new job that I really, really wanted. That’s right. I’m now a “partner” at Barkley working for now on Sonic‘s media planning team. Yes, that means my life will be ruled mostly by Excel and PowerPoint … heavy on the Excel. It’s been an interesting few months trying to be stealth about the process and I really wanted to share my joys and frustrations with more than just a couple very close friends. But I definitely feel like I made the right move. A good friend and cohort told me a good measure of knowing if I did make the right decision to leave familiar and safe to new, different, unknown is if among my high of being desired as an employee, there were also feelings of, “Oh shit, what have I gotten myself into?” And, trust me, there are.

So last week, after making sure my clients were set and I downloaded my knowledge to my replacement and other co-workers, I packed up all the stuff that had accumulated over almost four years into two large Panera bags, and one medium-sized gift bag. It was really odd seeing my desk that empty again, as if a part of me was gone forever. But you and I both know that that’s not true. I will hold my time at K&W as a wonderful growth period. I learned a lot about myself as a professional, what I wanted to do, where I wanted to be, developing client relationships, working with different personalities, etc.

Week 1 at Barkley is almost done and so far so good. My coworkers are really great, and I’m trying to get the new agency and client vernacular down, though I know that will take some time. Hell, I even did my timesheet wrong the first time around, but that shouldn’t be a problem from now on.

So, if you’d raise a make believe glass for a moment with me, here’s to then, here’s to now, and here’s to seeing how this next chapter turns out.

The scale was way down today – yay!

Here’s my supposed last day of the cleanse and I am actually feeling pretty darn good. I’m not as tired as I usually am in the mornings, and am on the fence on continuing it (at least part of it). I mean, I do have half of a grocery sack full of spinach to use. I might also continue my abstinence of coffee for the rest of the week. Although, I actually do love the taste of coffee. I’ll let you know how that goes.

And we’re off! This is repetitive, so sorry. But not really.

8:00 am Breakfast: oatmeal and blueberries. Duh.

10:30 am Snack: apple w/ PB. Duh.

12:00 pm Lunch: spinach, pecans, chicken, edamame, lemon juice. Duh.

Sidenote: I miss flavor during lunch, so I added some dried basil to the salad.

4:00pm Snack: orange and fat-free vanilla yogurt. Been chuggin water all day.

7:00pm Dinner: yummy salad with quinoa again – I really do like this salad and am going to try to make it my daily lunch salad.

9:00pm Snack: 1/2 c low-fat cottage cheese w/ 1/2 c blueberries. I was a little hungry and looking for something sweet.

The Morning After

I actually feel lighter without having eaten any processed foods or refined sugars or flour. I’m not really craving carbs or sweets, and will continue part of this diet for quite a while. I did have one cup of coffee (well, almost a full one) this cloudy morning after the Cleanse, and it was SO delicious. But I think I’m going to try my damnedest to have only one cup, not 4, and then stick with tea for the rest of the day. It’s better for your metabolism anyway. =)

So that’s that. Thanks for following my brief journey/experimentation with a cleanse. And thanks to Women’s Health Magazine for sending it to my inbox. I will probably use it at least once a month from now on. I think that would be very beneficial, at least especially if I had a not-so-clean weekend.

Day 2 of my Women’s Health Magazine “healthy” cleanse. I’ve been getting questions of why I’m doing this, what I’m trying to get rid of, and if I felt any differences yet. And my answers are:

1) To experiment and see if there were any changes, on or off the scale, and to see if I felt “cleansed.” I wasn’t too keen on that insane cleanse with the maple/cayenne pepper lemonade drink. And coming from Women’s Health, I thought there was some merit to the advice.

2) Not really trying to get rid of specific toxins, just wanted to see what it was like not eating processed foods, refined sugar/flour, etc.

3) My energy level does seem more natural, without my “fake awake” habit to rely on. And that’s about the only change I’ve felt.  Women’s Health says eating every 4 hours will keep my blood sugar level up and, “This means you’ll be able to cut back without feeling cranky, exhausted, or hungry.” Well, I’m not that cranky, exhausted is a meh, but hungry – I’ve been getting hungry in between meals/snacks, but have just tried to satisfy it with another cup of tea or water.

So here goes Day 2.

The scale was a little up today from yesterday morning (only .4 lbs, but still up).

8:00 am Breakfast: Oatmeal and blueberries again. Green tea … Again. For some reason do not feel as full as I did yesterday after breakfast. Hmm. Maybe I’m craving something … oh, like COFFEE maybe?

I am surprised I’m not experiencing caffeine withdrawal-induced headaches. And I’m really not as sleepy as I assumed I would be sans-java.

My friend Jean just told me about Yogi tea, whose product line includes a few flavors of detox tea. I might have to try it out because I’m not the biggest fan of plain green tea, but I do like flavored teas.

10:30 am Snack: Apple and 1 TBS peanut butter.

12:30 pm Lunch: I remembered my edamame! And, again, 4oz chicken breast, spinach, pecans, and water with lemon. Very vanilla. Am wondering why can’t I have other/more veggies in this salad? I guess I could’ve opted for the asparagus instead of spinach. Tomorrow.

4:30 pm Snack: yogurt and an orange (which is a typical PM snack for me, so it’s familiar). Haven’t been drinking a lot of fluids today – got caught up in meetings!

9:00 pm Dinner: same salad as last night, but opted to not consume the cottage cheese/berries. I did have a small bite of my boyfriend’s polenta pizza he made, so I hope that didn’t throw off any progress I made.

Feeling pretty good, even after 30 minutes on the elliptical and 30 minutes training with Trainer Sam at the Quality Hill YMCA. Over my daily points by 3.5 (23.5 total points today) but another 6 activity points. Can’t wait till tomorrow.

I got an article from Women’s Health Magazine in my email a couple weeks ago about a healthy body cleanse – not like those fad cleanses that make you drink gallons of cayenne-spiked lemonade (um, yuck) – and I decided to try it. I’ve been wanting to do some sort of detox or cleanse for a while, and this is only for three days, so why not? What do I have to lose except for a couple pounds (hopefully) and a lighter sense of being?

Wait a sec, there has to be some sort of catch, right? Right … One thing that kind of put me off for a minute, at least slightly, was that coffee was completely absent from this cleanse. And, if you know me, I need my coffee. And I thought to myself, well, what about one cup a day? But, that’s still cheating, before I actually started the cleanse. *Sigh*. This might be harder than it seems at least, when it comes to productivity.

Day 1

8:00 am: Breakfast of 1/2 old fashioned oats (that’s before cooking) with a bit of cinnamon and 1/2 c. frozen blueberries; 2 cups green decaf tea (blech). The oats were actually pretty good with the berries. I usually have to sweeten my oats with brown or regular sugar and add some milk, but didn’t even put Splenda in it – I wanted to do this cleanse the “real” way. No cheating.

10:00 am: Snack of 1 Braeburn apple and 1TBS peanut butter. The cleanse calls for natural PB, but I didn’t feel like purchasing any since I had a big jar of regular at home already. 2 more cups of green tea gone. Have had to visit the ladies room 2 times already this morning.

11:00 am: Getting kinda hungry and on cup of tea #5. Hello again, Loo!

12:00 pm: LUNCH! Finally. A salad of 2 cups fresh spinach, 4 oz chicken breast, baked, seasoned with lemon pepper, 8 pecan halves (chopped), fresh lemon juice squeezed on top. And a tall glass of cold water with lemon slices. The cleanse calls for only 1 cup of spinach, but I wasn’t sure if that was packed, or what, because if not, that’s like, one leaf. Plus, I had forgotten my edamame at home. I had baked 3 chicken breasts last night, each seasoned with something different, knowing I needed one a day and so they’d be ready to go to work and when I got home late from the gym.

I decided that I should continue bringing fresh lemons to work – so refreshing! I might even make a fake lemonade, too, once this cleanse is done and I use Splenda.

12:30 pm: I’ve already consumed 13 points! (Yes, I’m also doing Weight Watchers). And I have 2 snacks and dinner to go, with only 7 points left for the day. *Sigh*

4:00 pm: Snacktime! Orange and 4oz low-fat raspberry yogurt. Om nom nom. Have visited the ladies room at least 6 times today, since I keep downing glass after glass of water with lemon slices.

WW Points left: 3.5… so confusing about which plan I should actually follow. I guess three days of this won’t be so bad, since I have those 5 points/day buffer. I am curious what the scale will say next week though.

8:30 pm Dinner: Am STARVING … 4oz baked chicken, salad of spinach, green pepper, carrots, green onion, parsley, 1/2c cooked quinoa, dressed with 1 tsp EVOO and about 1 TBS balsamic vinegar. I was supposed to also have 1 cup asparagus or artichoke hearts, but I didn’t feel like making anything else.  1/2c low-fat cottage cheese and 1c frozen blueberries made a nice, fresh dessert. Am full and happy now, not at all growly.

I’m 5.5 points over my goal (25.5 total today), but acquired 6 activity points with a 3 mile jog and 80 minutes of yoga. So, not too shabby. I didn’t really need the cottage cheese and blueberries at 9 pm – according to the cleanse it’s meant to be a snack. But, oh well. Just following instructions.

I used to use baking/cooking as a way to get some aggressions out. The more dirty dishes on the counters, stove top, and in the sink, the better. It’s usually my safe harbor, a place for me to go to not think about anything but the tasks at hand – mix this, measure that, prepare, wisk, beat, grease, sift… I also didn’t really mind the clean-up.

And I’ll be the first to admit (my boyfriend will be the first to point out) that I’m not the easiest person to cook with – especially if I feel like the more experienced cook in the kitchen. I like things done my way and often see an other person’s methods as “it’s easier if I do it myself,” not the more diplomatic “here, can I show you a better way.”

Recently, though I feel like I’m getting better at being a cooking buddy/teacher. More patient, more willing to delegate. But it’s also different if you’re in someone else’s kitchen. Over Easter weekend, I helped my boyfriend’s mom, Kathleen (who is a fabulous cook BTW), bake a Carrot Cake Cheesecake to take to an Easter dinner party. (PS If you make that cheesecake, double the frosting recipe and do a light layer on the sides and top, let it set in the fridge, then frost with the remaining frosting).

I find that it’s consistently interesting not knowing where anything in a new kitchen is, especially when its organization isn’t tuned to your intuition. I wonder how those Top Chef contestants do it! But this wasn’t really the case for Kathleen’s kitchen. Everything had a place that made sense, and she knew that in order to avoid awkwardness, to bring everything I needed out before we got started. So half of her sprawling, 6+ foot island was filled with odds and ends of baking paraphernalia. Canisters of sugar and flour, egg carton, cream cheese, baking soda, vanilla, measuring cups and spoons (the spoons were great – magnetic in the center and each end had a different shape for different fits and uses)… you get the idea. You’re probably familiar with this scene. It was fabulous.

So while I manned the KitchenAid, making the cheesecake mixture and then the carrot cake batter, Kathleen did the prep-work: chopping the carrots, draining the pineapple, then cleaning up as we went along, etc. I feel like we made a good team in there, even though the project wasn’t very complex, I still had a lot of fun in an unfamiliar kitchen with a new baking buddy.

Sorry. No photos of the project in progress. But here I am frosting it!

What I really loved though, was the fact that the night before, she consulted with me on what to make for an event their community was holding for 100+ people in the near-future (and said my chopped red peppers were perfectly sized). Kathleen had said she’d do a simple appetizer (because she really didn’t want to put that much effort into it – just enough to make it tasty and good enough for the cookbook that was to be a sort of fundraiser for the event).

I had been raving about polenta, and she was thinking of some sort of round bread/cracker topped with some balsamic veggies. After putting our brains together for a few minutes, I think she decided on baked polenta rounds, topped with balsamic sauteed peppers, fennel, and onions, with some sort of cheese. I can’t quite remember when this event is, but I’ll be sure to post the recipe (and hopefully get a picture) of the finished product.

In the meantime, here we are. Triumphant masters of the kitchen!

Kathleen and Chelsea.

Can’t wait to cook and bake in her kitchen again… Ideally alongside her, too. Oh what dangerously delicious concoctions we will make!


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