December 30, 2009

The Kitchen Revealed

The kitchen is pretty much done and I could not love it more.  Best. Color. Ever.  Did I mention my fabulously handy husband hard wired lights under all of the cabinets?  Sorry to keep rubbing it in, but the man has mad skills.

Voilà!



Our tri-colored dog is a perfect match!

We still need some art on the large wall and maybe some window coverings but for now we are fini, finito, finished!


December 28, 2009

Don't Forget...


My Biggest Loser contest starts December 29th so please send your starting weight to me on Tuesday at keri.batchelder@pepsi.com or via Facebook message.  No weights will be shared or published so don't fret.

The competition looks fierce:  Me, Karin N., Marija, Carolina, Kristy L., Ann K., Jen K., Tracy C-R., Danielle, Claire, Jamie Z-H., LaVerne, and Amy S-C.  That's 13!  Did I forget anyone?  Any more takers?  It's never too late to start.  I can't wait!

Forgot the rules?  No worries, check back to this post.

Jillian posted this on FB earlier this week and I thought it was fitting, write down "why" you want to lose this weight and use that as inspiration when you need a little push:
"He who has a Why to live for can bear almost any How"- Nietzsche. So true. Weight loss is hard. So how do you tolerate the "how" of it? The answer, "Why" is weight loss worth it. Example: are skinny jeans worth passing on donuts? Is avoiding heart disease worth 30 min of exercise? With the new year upon us, mediate on your "Why". Then begin educating yourself and acting on the "How".

December 26, 2009

Merry Christmas!

We had the pleasure of sharing our Christmas dinner with the Trahey's again this year: Steve, Stef, Grace, Eve and Steve's mom Rosann.  This has been an almost-yearly tradition since I moved out to Colorado.  We had the usual holiday mishaps: I overcooked the beef a little bit, dropped the cake slapstick-style on the dining room floor and wall, and sliced my thumb open when a knife flew out of the dishwasher and I was dumb enough to try and catch it, you know, the usual.  Other than that, it was the perfect holiday dinner.  We still ate that cake by the way.  Don't judge.  15 second rule.  The menu is below. 


The Menu
charcuterie
Apple Cake
Steve's Mom's cheesecake

The Wine
Argiano Toscano non confunditur 2007
Orin Swift Saldo Zinfandel 2007
Chateau du Tertre Margaux 2003

I started taking pictures of the meal but then I got distracted I guess because I didn't get past the appetizers and salad (more wine anyone?)





p.s. I highly recommend the prosciutto rolls. Make sure the prosciutto is thick enough and I would use less arugula and more fig.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

December 20, 2009

So, Are You Going to be the Biggest Loser???

I've started Biggest Loser-type challenges at work a couple of times and they've been very successful.  Personally, I am motivated both by the competition and the accountability.  While my initial thought was to start after the New Year I started thinking to myself that I might not want to workout while I'm on vacation because I might hurt my chances so to speak.  Dumb.  So we'll start a little early and take advantage of the time we have off to do a little something nice for ourselves.  Take a little Me-Time this holiday and plan your workouts, meals, grocery lists, find a gym, by a workout dvd, etc.

A Few Rules:
  • First weigh-in will be Tuesday December 29th with a 1 week grace period for those traveling. 
  • Taking a 'before' pic is a good way to gauge your progress, followed by an 'after' pic when we're done
  • Weigh in every Tuesday for 12 weeks and report your progress to me via email (no one's weight will be shared on this blog but if you don't want to share your weight with me you can send me your percentage lost)
  • I'll post weekly results (unless you prefer to be anonymous)
  • Final weigh-in is Tuesday March 23
  • There will be a prize for the winner (uh, I mean loser), just haven't figured out what yet
A Few More Rules:
  • Ladies only, and only ladies I know (anyone else can certainly follow along)
  • We're on the honor system, cheaters need not apply
  • Weekly weigh-ins should be on the same scale, at the same time, in the same outfit (or sans outfit if you prefer) and don't do something sneaky for that first weigh-in like down a gallon of water or put on your snow suit (Claire, this means you).  See above - honor system.
  • The person that loses the largest percentage of body weight (not number of pounds) will be our Biggest Loser
  • Post a comment to this blog or send me an email if you want to participate!!! 
After the night I just had last night I'm so ready for this. Nothing like a good hangover and holiday excess to get things into perspective!  If there is anything I need to add or change to make this better just let me know.

December 15, 2009

Best. Apple. Pie. Ever.

Impossible French Apple Pie - the pie so good you'll never want crust again.  Perfect timing for the holidays.

This recipe came from my Grandpa Bell, but may have been stolen off the side of a bisquick box decades ago for all I know.  But who cares.  Best.  Pie. Ever.  Hands down.

Ingredients:
6c sliced pared tart apples
1 1/4t cinnamon
1/4t nutmeg
1c sugar
3/4c milk
1/2c bisquick
2 eggs
2T butter softened

Streusel:
Mix 1c bisquick, 1/2c chopped walnuts, 1/3c packed brown sugar, 3T firm butter - mix until crumbly

325F, grease 10x1.5" pie plate

Mix apples and spices and turn into plate. Beat remaining ingredients except streusel until smooth. Pour mixture on top of apples. Sprinkle streusel on top. Bake until knife inserted into center comes out clean, 55-60 minutes.

My Tips: bake this on a cookie sheet as mine usually boils over. In Colorado it usually takes me about 80 minutes baking time...maybe it's the altitude or maybe I cut my apples to thick. Use more spices on your apples - it never hurts. I use more walnuts, because who doesn't like more walnuts. I like to bake this pie the night before or morning-of because to me it is even yummier after it sets up awhile.  Bon appetite.

December 9, 2009

Let's Get Healthy Shall We?

Most of you know I’m a HUGE fan of The Biggest Loser and Jillian Michaels. I’m re-reading Jill’s book (she’s my BFF, so yes, I call her Jill) Master Your Metabolism and thought I would share the highlights with y’all. Most of you probably know all of this, but just in case you’ve been living under a rock somewhere in Mississippi…

If you want to look like my BFF Jill, read on.

 Step 1 - Remove:
• processed foods
• hydrogenated fats (shortening, partially hydrogenated blah blah blahs)
• refined grains (enriched, white stuff)
• high fructose corn syrup (in the interest of job security on my part, a certain beverage company is coming out with a naturals product line using sucrose)
• artificial sweeteners (that certain beverage company will also be producing products with natural zero calorie sugar substitutes like Stevia)
• glutamates (MSG)
• reduce intake of these “less than stellar options”: starchy root vegetables; tropical, dried & canned fruits; excess soy; excess alcohol (gasp); full fat dairy & fatty meats; canned foods; caffeine
• remove toxins from your life (there is a whole section on this, too much for this blog)
• Basically, “if it didn’t have a mother & it didn’t grow from the ground, don’t eat it!”

Step 2 - Restore:
• legumes (beans)
• alliums (garlic, onions, leeks, chives, shallots, scallions)
• berries (organic)
• meat & eggs (wild fish, grass-fed beef,)
• colorful fruits & veggies (in season, organic)
• cruciferous veggies (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage)
• dark-green leafy veggies (spinach, arugula, turnip greens)
• nuts & seeds
• organic dairy (full fat cheese in moderation, watch out for the junk in some of the low fat products)(once you get used to it, Greek yogurt is way better than the brands that fall into several categories of the “remove” section above)
• whole grains (steel cut oats, barley, whole wheat pasta, quinoa pasta (my favorite), amaranth, spelt)
• Go Organic! It is the best way to avoid 90% of all hormone-disrupting agents in our food supply (pesticides, hormones, chemicals, antibiotics, etc)
Basically, eat whole, natural, real foods as often as possible

Step 3 - Rebalance
• eat breakfast within an hour of waking up
• eat every 4 hours (3 meals, 1 snack)
• eat until you are full, not stuffed
• don’t eat after 9pm
• combine foods correctly (40% carbs, 30% protein, 30% fat give or take)
• sleep at least 7 hours a night
• move your body every day
• be good to yourself

Once you become aware and really look at your food labels you might be a little shocked by how many ingredients are in your favorite foods. I’ve been trying to follow the rule if it has more than 5 ingredients it probably isn’t good for me. Your best bet is to “shop the perimeter” as we’ve all been told, or better yet, grow your own food or shop the farmer’s markets then you don’t have to be bothered with those pesky food labels.

So, how have I been doing?  So so.  I've been working out, but could do more.  I'm really happy with how yoga is going, getting back into the swing of things.  Getting some therapy on my knee.  I could be eating better.  Still down -2lbs but need to kick it up a notch.  As a little extra incentive I will be enlisting all of you in a little Biggest Loser contest of our own after the New Year so get ready. 

If you're interested in the book...

December 6, 2009

Her Name is Jen, and I Love Her

She came home with me tonight and I can't wait to take her out on the town.


Our Basement Hideaway

I don't think I ever posted any pictures of our basement after we moved in.  This is where we spend the majority of our time in the house - so cozy.  Before we moved in we painted the walls a light green, the trim bright white, and had new carpet installed.  It is in need of some artwork but other than that, we love it down here.  Dick's artwork is hanging just to the left of the tv but it didn't make it into any of these pictures - it looks great down here.  (I just bought a digital SLR so I've been taking A LOT of pictures.  Beware.)





December 4, 2009

Hell Yeah, It's Christmas!!!

Christmas was big in my family.  Huge.  The biggest of deals.  Then I lost my mom and grandpa (the Christmas ring leaders) and moved across the country all in the span of less than a year - only to find out that Bernie hates Christmas, more specifically, Christmas decorations.  This may have been a deal breaker if I had known ahead of time.  I blame Frankenmuth for Bernie, home of Bronner's Christmas Wonderland

It's hard to get in the spirit when your significant other is shouting bah humbug.  But then against his better judgement I'm sure, Bernie came home on our first Christmas Eve in our new house with a 16 foot pre lit tree.  Such a sweet, and manly, jesture.  That tree was so big and bright it lit up the entire front room.  GE, we bring good things to light!  Look at the cathedral ceilings and the large day bed to really appreciate the scale.


We (when I say we, I really mean I) couldn't really enjoy this tree because it was out in the living room.  I'm under the belief that you need to be in the same room as your tree for maximum enjoyment.  So, I went out and got a reasonably sized tree for our family room.  So we could enjoy a tree in the room we were in the most.  Makes sense, right?


So in the last 7 or so years we accumulated two trees and about 5,000 ornaments, some even from Bronner's (thanks Karen).  The big tree didn't follow us to the new house, but all of its ornaments did.  We now have three shelving units of Christmas decorations in our small storage room for only one small sad Target tree.  I think next year a new tree is in order, and the Target tree will be our basement tree.  So we can enjoy it in the room we're in the most.  Poor Bernie.  For now, the Target tree reigns supreme in the parlor.  Merry Christmas!

Parlor Shoppign Guide: in case anyone was wondering, the awesome new lucite table came from Overstock, the lambskin rug is from Costco, and the jute rug is from West Elm.  The mirror, purchased earlier this year, is from Restoration Hardware.  "Vintage" day bed circa 2004 and monogrammed Christmas stockings are from Pottery Barn.

December 2, 2009

Prelude to the Keri-Julia Project

Doesn't quite have the same ring to it as the Julie-Julia Project. The only thing I don't like about this ladie's idea is that I didn't come up with it first. 536 recipes in 365 days? Seriously? I love the idea however I'm just not that ambitious. Plus, all that butter will be bad bad bad for my other goals. 

How about 365 days, 25 recipes?  Julia's book is on my Christmas list along with a book by Thomas Keller.  Plus I probably own 30 cookbooks already.  I'm excited to give it a go, even if it is on a much smaller scale than the original.  Stay tuned.  Maybe like Julie I'll start talking about myself in the third person, however, Keri thinks that would be a douche bag thing to do.

Julie Powell's first blog post:

Sunday, August 25, 2002
-----------------------------------------------------------------
The Book:
"Mastering the Art of French Cooking". First edition, 1961. Louisette Berthole. Simone Beck. And, of course, Julia Child. The book that launched a thousand celebrity chefs. Julia Child taught America to cook, and to eat. It’s forty years later. Today we think we live in the world Alice Waters made, but beneath it all is Julia, 90 if she's a day, and no one can touch her.
 The Contender:

Government drone by day, renegade foodie by night. Too old for theatre, too young for children, and too bitter for anything else, Julie Powell was looking for a challenge. And in the Julie/Julia project she found it. Risking her marriage, her job, and her cats’ well-being, she has signed on for a deranged assignment.

365 days. 536 recipes. One girl and a crappy outer borough kitchen.

How far will it go? We can only wait. And wait. And wait…..

The Julie/Julia Project. Coming soon to a computer terminal near you.

November 27, 2009

Mark Bittman's Impromptu Fried Rice

To balance out the Oh So Yummy recipes I'll post some healthy ones too.  This vegetarian recipe comes from the book "Food Matters" by Mark Bittman.  This recipe can only be classified as pure awesomeness - and it's full of stuff that's good for you!  You can eat it by itself as a light lunch or for dinner I like to dice up some baked chicken and mango for a sweet/savory mix with a punch of protein.  Yum Yum Yum Yum Yum.  This picture is straight from my stove top.



Makes: 4 servings; Time: 20 minutes, with cooked rice (Maybe I spent too many years being a carb-a-phobe but this seems like way more than 4 servings to me.  Serving it with chicken we got 6 meals out of it.)

INGREDIENTS
• 3 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil (I use olive)
• 1 bunch scallions, cut into 1-inch pieces
• 1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and roughly chopped
• 1/2 pound green beans or asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces (I've tried both)
• 1 cup fresh or thawed frozen peas (optional) (mandatory in my opinion)
• 1 cup soy or mung bean sprouts (optional)
• 1 tablespoon minced garlic, or to taste
• 1 tablespoon peeled and minced fresh ginger, or to taste
• 3 to 4 cups cooked brown rice
• 2 eggs, lightly beaten (optional) (love it with the egg!)
• 1/4 cup sherry, white wine, stock, or water (wine, duh)
• 2 tablespoons soy sauce
• 1 tablespoon dark sesame oil
• Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
• 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves for garnish (optional) (hate cilantro but that's just me)

DIRECTIONS
Keri's Tips - #1 you must cook the rice the day before and let it set up in the fridge or it will be too wet to use.  #2 the ingredients go into the pan pretty quick and there is a lot of chopping - you might want to prepare everything ahead of time so you're not running around like a crazy person.

Put 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet over high heat. A minute later, add the scallions and bell pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until they soften and begin to brown, about 3 minutes. Lower the heat if the mixture starts to brown too quickly. Transfer the vegetables to a bowl.

Add the green beans or asparagus and cook, again over high heat, stirring occasionally, until nicely browned and just tender, about 5 minutes. Add them to the bowl with the vegetables. If you're using the peas, drain them if necessary and add them, along with the bean sprouts (if you're using them), to the skillet; cook, shaking the skillet, for about a minute, or until steaming. Add them to the bowl, too.

Put the remaining oil in the skillet, followed by the garlic and ginger. Just a few seconds later, begin to add the rice, a little at a time, using a spatula to break up the clumps, and toss it with the oil. When all the rice is added, make a well in its center and break the eggs into it if you're using them; scramble them a bit with the spatula, then stir to incorporate them into the rice.

Return the vegetables to the pan and use the spatula to fold everything until combined. Add the wine and cook, still folding, for about a minute. Add the soy sauce and sesame oil, then taste and add salt and pepper if necessary. Turn off the heat, stir in the cilantro, and serve.

November 25, 2009

Oh So Yummy Brown Butter & Scallion Mashed Potatoes

I've been making these mashed potatoes for several years now and it may just be the best holiday mashed potato recipe EVER!  I'd love to take credit but this yumminess comes from Gourmet Magazine circa 2005.  Enjoy!!!  I'll be bringing these for Thanksgiving.

Ingredients:
5 lb yellow-fleshed potatoes such as Yukon Gold, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 tablespoon salt
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup sour cream
1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter
2 bunches scallions, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Directions:
Cover potatoes with cold water by 2 inches in a 5- to 6-quart heavy pot and add 1 1/2 teaspoons salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, until potatoes are tender, 10 to 15 minutes.

Drain potatoes in a colander, then return to pot and cook over moderate heat, shaking pot occasionally, until dry, 1 to 2 minutes. Mash hot potatoes with masher or force through food mill into another pot, then cover to keep warm.

Bring milk with remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons salt just to a boil in a 1-quart saucepan, then remove from heat and stir into potatoes until combined. Stir in sour cream, then cover and keep warm.

Cook butter in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat, stirring frequently and scraping up brown bits, until foam subsides and butter is golden brown, about 8 minutes. Add scallions and pepper and cook, stirring, until slightly softened, about 2 minutes. Fold butter mixture into mashed potatoes and season with salt.

Keri's tip - if you've never made brown butter before just hang in there and keep stirring, it will happen.  For the first 8 minutes you're going to be asking yourself, is it done?  No.  You'll know when it's done.  It gets really brown and starts turning into bits.  Trust me.

Cooks' note:
Mashed potatoes can be made 1 day ahead and cooled, uncovered, then chilled, covered. (Scallions may discolor slightly when potatoes are made ahead.) Reheat in a microwave or in a heavy pot over moderate heat, stirring.

November 24, 2009

Week 1

I've decided since my year started on a Tuesday I'll report my progress every Tuesday.  So how did this first week go?  Great!  Not perfect, but who can bother with perfection?  I think it is important to allow yourself to be successful and what I mean by that is challenge yourself, but be realistic in your goals.  For this week I set small goals: make my own healthy meals, start working out again, and have just one "free" meal (eat/drink whatever I want without guilt or loathing).  Next week my goals will get more challenging.  Here's how it went.

Make your own food & take your lunch to work - it not only saves you calories but it saves you a ton of money.  It takes a lot of meal planning and grocery shopping for this to work but it makes it so much easier to control what you are putting into your body.  Here is an example of a typical Friday night used to be like: eat 3-4 pieces of yummy delivery pizza, with ranch, with 1/2 bottle of red wine (a whole bottle if Bernie isn't drinking, don't judge).  Here is the healthier version that I made this week: store bought pre-stretched thin pizza crust from Whole Foods, put on some tomato sauce and use a light hand with the mozzarella.  I like mine with tomatoes and basil.  No ranch.  No red wine.  I had it with a small salad instead.  It wasn't any less satisfying, it was cheaper, and it was better for me.

Workout!  This week I got in four, count 'em, four 90 minute hot power yoga classes.  I can't say I enjoyed every minute but there is something gratifying about being in a pose while sweat is dripping off your face onto your mat.  I also went for a 70 minute walk with Claire and our dogs.  We weren't hauling ass by any means but hey, we were moving.

One free meal.  This is what you promise yourself that allows you to get through the week.  My friend Danielle used to keep a running list of all the things she was going to have on her free day.  Mine was two glasses of red wine, filet mignon, and a small twice baked potato.  My.Favorite.Meal.Ever.  Worth every bite.  No regrets.  Having some treats whether they be a little bit here and there, a free meal, or a free day allows you to keep some sanity.  I mean seriously, a life without pizza?  Please.

Final result: -2lbs.*
*since I'm not man enough to share my weight with the world I'm going to consider my starting weight 0lbs.  Each week I'll let you know where I am with respect to that number...preferably I want this to be a growing negative number - duh.

p.s. thanks for all the positive feedback this week - does an ego good.

November 22, 2009

My Secret Life as a Wannabe Designer

Most of you know we bought a 1904 Denver Square (American Foursquare) overlooking City Park at the end of July.  We love it.  It has most of the original features: hard wood floors throughout, windows, doors, moldings, claw foot tub, stained glass, etc.  It also has all of the renovations that us modern girls require: new electrical, new bathrooms, new kitchen.  Here's our baby, just look at that view of the park and downtown Denver!  It's like being in NY without the stench or rudeness.
Before we moved in we were able to get a lot of the painting done because who wants to paint after you move in?  You have to move all your stuff, again.  My engineer's brain tells me that is way too inefficient so I'm glad it worked out the way it did.  I'll post more as things get finished but here is a work in progress that I'm most proud of, the kitchen.  Here it was before we moved in.  Quite lovely, but slightly lame.  I don't have a good picture of the built in chalk board but it basically took up a large portion of the only empty wall in the kitchen.  There was also a very sad light fixture that has since been replaced with a beautiful all glass chandelier from Z Gallerie.
Someone at our housewarming party called this color "baby poop yellow" and I can't say I disagree.  I saw a lot of black rooms in the last round of home decorating magazines that I subscribe to and when Bernie came home that day I said, "We're going to paint the kitchen BLACK!"  He looked scared, but said okay.  Black then turned into a warm brown called "bitter chocolate" from Behr.  The chalk board is now a thing of the past and we have the main wall painted.  The rest of the room is going to be a biatch to paint so that will take some time.  Love love love it.  Big time. 

work in progress
Ta Da!!!  The color is warmer in person.  Tune back in around January - it will probably take us that long to finish painting this small room, unfortunately.  I'm envisioning either a large piece of art on this wall (which we can't afford right now) or four large framed photos that I plan to take myself of my favorite wine bottles and beautiful cheese plate setups.
As a side note, I've never understood people that live in beige houses. Some of my best friends are surrounded in beige. Which is fine.  Just don't live in beige because you're afraid of paint.  Be bold and try something new, if you don't like it, it's an easy fix.  A few tips: Don't buy a gallon from a paint chip.  They've made it so easy to buy samples for about $2.50 each.  I probably bought 25 samples to pick the colors throughout the house.  Then I gave all my samples away to my friend Claire so she could try them out on her new house.  Put the color on the wall, several walls, and let it dry.  Then look at it in natural light, dusk, artificial light...the paint will take on a different life.  Happy painting friends!!!

November 18, 2009

Day 1

I planned to start blogging on January 1st. I dreamed about all the things I wanted to talk about yet didn’t care if anyone listened – my goals for the year (typically fitness/weight loss related), wine & cheese & gourmet food, healthy living, gardening, green living, our adventures in the Big City. I was looking for an outlet.

I gave up yoga for 5+ months to train for the marathon. Last night was my first class back. I had a come to Jesus moment.  A big one.  Now, this isn’t pansy ass yoga with a few om’s and light stretching, this is 90 minutes of advanced Hot power yoga at Yoga on 6th with incredible teachers and incredible students and a lot of sweat and maybe a few om’s. This class felt as hard as my first class and I started having an internal conversation with myself that went a little something like this:

This sucks. Am I going to hurl? How bad is this going to hurt tomorrow? How did I just finish a marathon yet this is so hard? Chaturanga. Man, I should do something about this. But you’re going to start at the beginning of the year, you still have Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years to contend with so why start now? Did the marathon really make my calves this big?  Upward facing dog. Do you want to spend the next two months feeling like this while you wait to get started? Downward facing dog. No. No I do not.

So as I said, I planned to start blogging January 1st. I’m the kind of girl that likes to start fresh. I’ll start fresh on Monday! or the first of the month, or the first of the year, etc. Then plan, plan, plan for that fresh start!  I will start fresh as soon as I get my plan in place! This will be My Year! The year I finally lose the weight. The year I finally become a runner. The year I….(insert goal here). 2003 was going to be My Year! So I didn’t go into my 30’s overweight. 2005 was going to be My Year! It was the year I was going to run my first NYC marathon. 2008 was going to be My Year! The year I got married. 2009 was going to be My Year! The year I did my second NYC Marathon on my 35th birthday. Get the picture? Now don’t get me wrong, during this time I achieved a lot – got my MBA, got hitched, fought for and won a promotion, finished four ½ marathons and two full marathons (26.2 miles each people!). I just achieved them at a slower pace, and a higher weight, than I set out to do.

I try not to ever use excuses for why I didn't reach my goals, but I can give you several: I travel for work, my mom died, I like to eat, marathon training makes me hungry, my dad had a stroke, wine is yummy, I became hypothyroid, etc.

So, I throw this out for all to read, or not read, because once I’m fully committed to getting something done, I have way too much pride to quit. So I'll be writing about weight loss and working out but I will also be chatting about my other favorite things.  So this is my year, and it started on a random Tuesday night after a non-religious girl came to Jesus.

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