November 24, 2009

end of the semester flurry

I have two class periods left before the end of the semester, which basically means I have two classes to finish the research project, plan and prepare the presentation, then stumble along to the other projects for a class I'm taking this summer! I've already had one paper due for that class, don't get me started - I know it's a process and it's to help us work on things gradually over the course of the year instead of trying to do forty hours of work in one shortened semester. That doesn't mean it's any easier. And then I really REALLY need to get the editing finished on this other paper that I'm trying to submit for publication - actually that might be able to occupy me on my flights. I leave for vacation in two and a half weeks and could not be more excited or ready!

That doesn't sound all that busy, does it? But it is, because it's in addition to working 40 hours a week, commuting 10 hours a week, fitting in exercise, playing with the dog and making sure she doesn't feel ignored, my standing appointments during the week, PLUS the holidays!? I hate the end of the semester flurry, but it's all worth it when the break begins! I get to take three glorious weeks off this year, and will be spending the first third in sunny Arizona and California visiting family and friends. Can.Not.Wait.

November 19, 2009

who needs to be a millionnaire?

I DO! I need to be a millionnaire because right now? All my clothes are too big. Which is a GREAT problem to have and believe me, I'm not complaining. I've lost almost 40 pounds (don't get too excited, I have a ways to go yet) and I've shrunk as much clothes as I can and it's not doing the trick. I just bought this fantastic pair of jeans, maybe four weeks ago. First jeans I've found in a while that I really liked, they fit well, great boot length; loved them. Spent money on them, these aren't like Old Navy throw-them-away-they-were-so-cheap jeans. I can't even keep them up - I had a momentary scare when my boot heel caught on the hem.

So on top of all that, I'm going on vacation in a month and I need a new wardrobe! A friend suggested I get some essentials (like the beloved jeans) tailored and taken in rather than spend money on clothes that I will only have to replace in another month anyway. Have any of y'all ever done that? Does it work well, or does it make the clothes look funny? Is it cheaper just to buy new clothes? I'd rather spend my vacation money doing fun things than on new clothes!

November 11, 2009

baby, it's cold outside!

It is that time of year when the sky is shades of gray and backdrop to naked tree branches. Frost makes the grass crunchy and flip flops out of the question. It's the time of year when I most crave comfort food, the kind that warms you from the inside out and also the time of year when it's tempting to curl up and not move until the sun comes back. I've been trying to be healthier, my classmates and I have a competition going to see who can lose the most weight by the end of the semester, and I love me a competition! I've been trying to get some of those comfort food feelings without the comfort food calories and have found some great recipes. Like this one from Not Eating Out in New York

Coconut Curry Butternut Squash Soup
(makes about 6 servings)

about 2 lb butternut squash (or substitute with acorn squash, delicata squash, pumpkin, etc.)
1 large onion, chopped
1 ripe tomato, chopped
1 small clove garlic, minced
2 cups vegetable stock
1 can coconut milk
2 teaspoons curry powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional, or more, to taste)
salt and pepper to taste
2-3 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
2-3 tablespoons vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Slice the squash in half and scoop out the seeds and pulp with a spoon. Save for another use or discard. Spread about 1 tablespoon vegetable oil on the bottom of a roasting tray and place the squash halves cut side-down on the tray. Roast for about 30 minutes, or until the flesh feels soft when poked and it has shrunken away from the skins a bit. Flip over and let cool. Once cool enough to handle, scoop out all the flesh and reserve in a bowl.

Meanwhile, heat a heavy-bottomed pot with another tablespoon or so of vegetable oil and sweat the onions over medium-low heat. Season with salt and pepper and cook until translucent, about 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the curry powder, optional cayenne, chopped tomato and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, another 4-5 minutes. Add the roasted squash, coconut milk and vegetable stock. Stir to combine thoroughly and bring just to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook, covered, for about 20 minutes or so. Using a hand blender, puree the soup to a smooth consistency (this can also be done by transferring the soup in batches to a food processor or blender). Taste for seasoning. Add additional stock or coconut milk if it’s too thick to your liking. Once the soup is to preferred taste and consistency, stir in the lemon juice to taste and serve.