Monday, May 30, 2011

Burgers, Burns and Bites

Memorial Day Weekend 2011 - where is this year going? Mother Nature seems to be taking her cues from National holidays this year ushering in the sweltering summer heat just in time for the "unofficial start of summer".  Personally, I'd be thrilled with 4 more weeks of spring, but I decided to play along with summer's early arrival and head down the shore yesterday to celebrate one of my oldest and dearest friend's birthdays.

At 10:30 a.m. Jimmy and I donned our bathing suits for the first time this season, packed up the car with beach chairs, towels and sunscreen and hit the road.  What should have been less than a 2 hour drive delivered us shore front at roughly 2pm.  Anxious to hit the beach, we quickly found parking and were on the beach in no time.  After an inaugural dip (only ankle deep) in the icy Atlantic, I lathered up with sunscreen and settled in.  Even though it was in the high 80's, there was a cool breeze coming off the ocean and before long I was snoozing on the warm sand. I awoke a couple hours later hungry from the heat and ready to hit the shops and restaurants.  Upon first examination, I didn't appear to be burned but a closer look revealed that my right arm, and only the outer side of my right arm was lobster red. Ugh!  Note to self: apply sunscreen before sun exposure - and yes, hanging your arm out the passenger window on a 31/2 hr drive is sun exposure! As I brushed the sand from my body I noticed I was getting kind of itchy and discovered quite a few welts on my legs and one HUGE one on my forehead.  I initially dismissed them as mosquito bites but when the swelling on my forehead became such that it appeared as if I got conked with a baseball bat and the itching turned to a dull stinging sensation I knew these were no normal mosquitoes (I later found out that I'd been bitten by horseflies - ew!).  Not insect bites nor sunburn were quelling my appetite though so Jimmy and I headed for a quick bite to eat at a local greasy spoon before heading farther south to Atlantic City to continue the birthday festivities.  We returned home around midnight (after doubling my gambling budget on the slot machines - woo hoo!), and after a quick shower and a liberal application of aloe I was more than happy to fall into bed for the night.  I awoke this morning in a bit of a sunburn haze, happy to have the day off from work  and happier yet to be inside in the air conditioning.

Did you know that this weekend is not only Memorial Day, but also another National "holiday"?  It's National Burger Weekend!  As if we didn't already have enough of a reason to fire up the grill and celebrate!  Usually the thought of an unctuous burger dripping with melty cheese and thick slices of bacon is my food porn, but after the damage I did at the beach yesterday (What? Can you blame me? I'm sorry, but strolling down the Boardwalk munching on carrot sticks is not nearly as refreshing as a twisty cone or freshly squeezed lemonade!) a greasy burger is the last thing I want.  But, I'd been kicking around an idea for a lightened up Greek inspired burger with a refreshing Tzaziki sauce for a while now and what better excuse to give it a shot than National Burger Weekend?!

Monday, May 23, 2011

I love a rainy night...

             Or is it rainy days and Mondays always get me down? Usually it's the former,  but after a week of this rain and no end in sight, I'm leaning towards the latter.  And after yet another dreary day in the city, what's better than a bowl of soup?

I worked my first full week at the new job last week and it rained every single day. And not just little showers, full on storms - pelting rain, driving wind and a chill in the air more reminiscent of October than May.  In the afternoons, when it wasn't chilly, the air hung stale and heavy with humidity; making each breath on my walk to the subway suffocating. 

I have a love hate relationship with the city.   I've learned that we are, in the most literal sense, fair weather friends. Unless it's sunny and hovering in the low 70's, I haven't much use for Manhattan and she, likewise, isn't altogether kind to me.  Rain and humidity make me wonder why I bother to do my hair each morning.  When summer comes the stifling heat in the subway will render any make up I've applied completely useless.  And winter - I'm already dreading the bone chilling winter and we've barely begun spring. But, Manhattan isn't without her charms.  The draw of Broadway, the street corner cafes, the wine bars and beer gardens, the quaint streets of the west village, the insomniatic nightlife - all attributes I love to love.  And, once the weather isn't so gloomy, I plan on loving them fully!  In the meantime, though, I think I'll curl up with a bowl of soup, dry and comfy on the couch, and listen to the rain.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Happy Pounds and a Blog Award

I've been a little absent from blogging over the last month but I promise it's been for very good reasons.  Last we knew, I was unemployed, a little lonely and getting very frustrated with my job search. While that's as good a place as any to pick up my story, I think I need to go back even farther.  To summer 2008. It was a big one.
You know how people always tell you that once you get your own life in order and stop looking for things, those things will inevitably find you.  Well, it's true; as evidenced by my experiences in late spring/summer of 2008.  I was happily working for a company I liked and had made some great friends there.  I had gone back to school at night and my work schedule allowed me to work full time, take night classes and still have a social life.  I had a great new apartment and I had just met a great new guy (one who I've come to share my life with today).  With all this happiness, stability and comfort in my life, it seemed like the stress pounds that had decided they wanted to be a part of my journey during the previous years were just melting off and by summer of 2008 I was at my goal weight and getting comments such as "holy skinny!" from good friends who hadn't seen me in a while.  Life was good and it only got better for the next 9 months.  Nights out for drinks, dinners and desserts with the new boy, who truly didn't mind a curvier version of me, had started to put on a few "happy pounds" here and there and I found myself back at "within 5 pounds of goal weight" and telling myself "eh, it's only 5 pounds and they're there for the best of reasons!". Then in early 2009, due to company cut backs, I lost my job and became veiled with a slight depression.  It was quickly replaced, however, with the realization that I now had even more time to spend with the boy - and, of course, most of that time was spent consuming yummy deliciousness of the liquid and solid variety.  The ups and downs continued for the next year and a half to 2 years, battling fruitless job searches, one truly horrific job that lasted only a short time, one truly horrific break up that lasted only a short time, one truly fantastic job that lasted only a short time and another unemployment that lasted much longer than it should have - which brings me to where I left off with my last posts.  

On a Friday in late April, I received a call from a recruiter in NYC wanting an interview to discuss my experience and what I was looking for.  We scheduled an interview for the following Monday.  I'd worked with this recruiting company before without much success so I was expecting the interview to go as such: "It was a pleasure meeting you. You have an impressive resume. I'll put my feelers out and we'll be in touch." then go weeks without hearing so much as a peep.  Needless to say, I was pleasantly surprised when I left my recruiter's office with an interview with his client scheduled for 3pm that same afternoon! By 4pm I had the feeling that I aced my first interview and my suspicions were confirmed before I had even exited the subway with a voicemail from my recruiter saying they loved me and wanted to schedule a second interview a.s.a.p.  We had it scheduled for Wednesday morning as I boarded the train home.  Doug and I celebrated my successful interview with dinner out and a bottle of wine that night.  Wednesday morning's interview came and went in a flash and I had that same feeling of success as I walked to the train station. I boarded an early afternoon train home and by 3pm I had an offer letter in hand.  I happily accepted and Doug and I celebrated with an impressive fondue dinner (and many drinks) at the Melting Pot.  I started my new job on Monday, May 2nd.  

Three days later Doug and I left for a week long vacation to Northern California.  It was a whirlwind trip  from San Francisco and Oakland to Reno, NV to Lake Tahoe to Napa Valley and back again.  The week was filled with many drinks, much wine and some of the best food I've ever eaten - and lots of it! And, as I'm sure you've gathered, a few more "happy pounds".  But, now I'm back to the grind.  Finding my days are much longer than ever before and the temptation to just grab something on the go greater than ever.  It's time to buckle down and do what I do best - cook healthy foods that are just as tasty as they are balanced and good for us - with the goal of losing a few pounds but keeping the happy!