Sunday Afternoon Bender

I don’t like to shop for myself.

I know this screws up my whole “girly girl” persona, but it stresses me out. Shopping trips are dreaded almost as much as a trip to the dentist.

Helping friends find something they’re looking for? Ok, I’ll totally go along.

For myself? Blah…

Just like dentist trips, I need to start rewarding myself with ice cream at the end…

Anyway- maybe it was because I used to live in close proximity to the 5th (something like that) largest mall in the United States that came hand in hand with overwhelming anxiety and insane crowds. Or maybe it’s because I never truly have a lot of disposable income burning in the ol’ pocket.  Whatever the reason, I just don’t like it.

Online shopping is my friend.

However, I am a girly girl and was actually needing a nice cocktail dress for my friend’s rehearsal dinner and one or two staples in the summer wardrobe for work/casual affairs. Not “want”. “Need”. There’s a difference.

And that’s how I went on a bender…

Mon came down to see my new apartment and have a lil’ Sunday Funday downtown.

And this is how I experienced, for the first time, all that is The Water Tower Place on Michigan Avenue.It’s astounding how much bigger this place looks from the inside- you just keep going up and up and up! And the jellyfish display for Shedd Aquarium was also pretty cool.  Ohhhhh pretttttyyyyy…

Wait… what was I talking about?

Oh yeah- 3 hours later, my credit card was exhausted and I was already trying to figure out what returns I’d be making in the next couple of weeks.

Or not. I mean… maybe I’ll just eat ramen for a few months to make ends meet?

However, that would probably lead to malnourishment. And then all the clothes bought on Sunday probably wouldn’t fit.

I just can’t win.

Either way, it’s safe to say, even with returning a few things, I’m set for the rehearsal dinner. And summer. Hooray!

Instead of ice cream for our success (let’s not live in TOO much excess), we decided dinner would be appropriate.

I chose Wishbone- a southern cooking restaurant that I’ve been to once before, but it’s so good, I had no problems going back.When shopping is your cardio for the day, it’s important to carb load with free cornbread.

All I could do was rave about the blackened catfish salad I had the last time, so when it was nowhere to be found on the menu (the menu changed after 15 months- imagine that), I had to switch it up with the blackened catfish entrée:Let’s discuss…

Rarely do I ever love coleslaw. If it’s too vinegar-y, I won’t touch it. This shiz was JUST right.

Also, I love sweet potatoes, but I never make them this decadent. They were above and beyond. I know the milk used wasn’t fat-free. And in every bite was a hint of pecans and brown sugar. Beautiful. The definition of delusionally happy.

After our little exploration of the city, we meandered (or waddled?) back to my place where Mon kindly offered to help me unload some odds and ends.Even with all the changes going on in my life this month, I know one thing for sure-

The two of us will never grow up.

Anyway, it’s Tuesday. So uh… good luck.  ;)

Stupid Tuesdays…

Online Shopping Is Way Easier

I could not have slept better last night. 8 hours is almost unheard of. But Monday was packed. So it is completely understandable how I was buried under the covers before 9:15.

Considering the holiday, none of it was spent relaxing.  Then again, I guess that’s what Sunday was for.

I started out the day with a solid 8-mile run.  Yeah, after Saturday’s not-so-long run, I finally got it in!  With an 8:42 pace, nonetheless. No issues or anything. Unless you count the stares from the people in the management office wondering how much longer I’ll be on the treadmill. 

I’m pretty proud of the run. Saturday’s struggles left me a little nervous. My endurance seems to be building back up without too much of a problem- given that I keep away from the cocktails (um, duh?). So I will take it as a success! Score!

After that, the errands began. A couple of years ago, I found a tailor/seamstress about 20 minutes away that I absolutely love and go to her for everything.

However, I forgot to check when her shop is open. Turns out Monday is not one of those times. My dress is being held hostage until next Saturday. Grrr.

After driving 20 minutes out of my way, I grumpily headed straight to the mall. If you know me, you know I’m not a big mall person. So spending almost 5 hours walking around in it (after that 8-mile run), you can imagine my mood. Especially when coming home empty-handed. My strategy now is to not find a new dress for my Vegas vacation, but to possibly re-accessorize what I already have.

Hopefully my creativity will help me out on this one. Because I’m usually not a big accessory person.  More of a shoes girl.

Speaking of shoes… I’m excited to be breaking some new ones in this week.Because my Omni ProGrids I got fitted for last year were the most comfortable shoes I’ve ever owned, the exact same pair was ordered. It just took a while because I dislike buying anything online unless I can hunt down a good sale on it. Ironically, the time spent hunting online didn’t bother me nearly as much. Shopping online really is so much easier.Although I’ll honestly say I prefer girly colors, I found the green/silver version for about $50 cheaper than the pink/silver and $15 cheaper than the blue/silver.

They’re running shoes. I’ll get over it. And pocket that extra saved cash. Thank you…

Try not to let Tuesday get you down!

Phone Tag

I really dislike going to the mall.

I know. I’m a girl. This is blasphemy.

But you have to understand where I’m coming from. One of the closest malls in my area happens to be the 5th largest mall in the United States (or something ridiculous like that).

Which is awesome. They have EVERYTHING.

What is NOT awesome is everything that goes with that one benefit. Overcrowding. Long lines. Parking lot is a DISASTER. The list goes on.

So you can imagine how long it takes for me to work up the energy to go. Especially on a weekend. I need to. I need a new dress (that can be worn in Vegas both during the spring and summer- yes, I’m going twice). Running shoes are also becoming and immediate necessity.

So I went. Reluctantly. It took 15 minutes to park. Strike one.

One store. Tried on a few things, but didn’t find anything. I screwed myself on that one because as soon as I walked in and saw the lines at the cash register (strike 2), I said to myself, “omg, I REALLY hope I don’t find something here because of the lines alone.”

Got what I wanted.

At about that time, my friend Annie called and was ready to meet up for dinner.  Perfect timing.  I didn’t even need a strike 3, I was ready to leave.

And that was my 30 minutes at the mall. I’ll try again next week. Maybe.

Alongside the gigantic mall is a gigantic Whole Foods. My friend Annie had never been to this particular one, so I took the liberty of giving her the tour. Whole Foods isn’t frequented often because I’m much too poor to do so, but the food bar is worth the trip. And walking around the store to try all the samples sitting out is a good way to get in a free appetizer.  ;)She liked it. I hope I didn’t create a monster.

But either way, it was good to catch up. Do you ever have those friends you play long games of phone tag with until you actually get to chat?

She and I are AWESOME at that game.  I don’t think this is even considered a salad. It’s just a massive bowl of food. With some lettuce that happens to be at the bottom.

Although I have issues with the gigantic mall, none are with the Whole Foods.  It’s a good thing I don’t live closer because reasons would be created to stop by on a daily basis. There is a Whole Foods in close proximity to me, but every time I’ve given it a chance, it FAILS.

Annie’s traveling for work this week, so I made her promise to call me at some point when she was waiting for a plane or bored at the hotel.

Because I know when she’s calling, hopefully this means our phone tag game will be a little shorter?

Enjoy your Sunday, everyone.  Since I had my 7-mile run yesterday, today is a planned day of strength training and just a little more relaxed.

Have a good one!

Do you like shopping or are you more of an online person?  I’m considering becoming an online convert…

Such a Rush

Why is it that I feel horribly rushed when there’s only three days in my work week?

It’s strange.

But yet, it happens.  Like last night- instead of my usual routine, I met up with my friend Bailey at the mall to do some last minute New Year’s shopping.  She has a bit of a NYE date and asked me to assist her. 

Hilarious- because my fashion sense is in the medium to medium-low range at best. 

And we don’t even need to get started with my accessorizing skills.

Either way, there I was trying to help her out while peeking at some stuff for myself.  Being two days away, I still have NO CLUE what I’m doing. A backup outfit may be a good idea.  Plans are flying around from multiple sources. Some intriguing. All with the possibility of being a lot of fun.  All logistically challenged.

Right now, I’m comfortable admitting that the idea of a low-key New Years keeps getting better and better.  It’s easy.  Simple.  Cheap.  And I’ll wake up the next day in my own comfy bed. In legit sleepwear.

After last year being an overpriced failure of an evening, and the year before involving an incident with my new coat being stolen IN coat check, can you really blame me?

Stay tuned. The final decision probably won’t happen until that day. 

Since it was later than usual when I got home, it was decided right then and there that shopping was my cardio for the night. I was wearing heels.  And Woodfield is the 5th largest mall in the United States. Include all the dodging of slow walkers and oblivious children (grrrr), and that’s a legitimate workout.

Plus, The Insight Bowl was on.  Mizzou vs. Iowa.  The cable channels at the gym do not include ESPN and the television is too tiny for sporting event viewing. 

Priorities, people.

So I sat my butt down and enjoyed dinner with the Mizzou football team (or at least tried to as they seemed to struggle through the entire game).Told you I’d start up the avocado rage soon.  And Thousand Island dressing was a random purchase made last week on a whim.  Best.Idea.Ever.  Usually, I go for a basalmic variety. And even when I do creamy dressings, it’s ranch all the way.  But there was a buy-one-get-one going on and this caught my eye.

I could not be more satisfied with my wild ways.  A different dressing?  Crazy talk!

Another crazy move I made was the trip to the gym this morning. Lately, the dvd morning workouts have been just fine since the weather requires wasting precious time bundling up like mad.  But it’s been quite some time since I’ve got some decent mileage in. And “No More Trouble Zones” has left me a little sore in the arms.  Weights weren’t being used today.

A 4-mile run!  I’m a total geek about it, too.  My alarm went off a little after 5:00 and I was actually excited to get up.  This must mean 5 days away from cardio makes me straight-up crazy. Noted.

Excited to work out?  Yes.  Anything crazy about the actual run?  Not really.  4 miles at an 8:41 pace.  It kicked my butt, even though I wish I would have had more time for my cool down walk.  Another 1/2 mile or so would have been nice.  I heart my morning workouts, but the rush to get done is such a suck.

During my short cool down, I said hi to the sassy Miss Heather.Heeeey girl, heeeeey!

I know she posted about her article that she did for Women’s Health ages ago.  But our gym’s magazine selection is sad at best.  And a few months behind. 

But it’s cool.  It’s like I was surprised and excited for her all over again.  Neat. :)

Plus when I find a new magazine in the rack there, it’s like gold.  Victory!

Anyways, it’s the 2nd day of my 3-day work week. I hope your work days (unless you’re on vacation- lucky ducks) are also going just as quickly!  Later, kids!

Rockin’ Out

Hey kids!  How are you this fine day?

I’m a little anxious.  Because this is gonna be me in a short period of time:It can’t avoid it any longer.  Off to the mall I go to battle the crazies.

And who am I kidding?  For me, it would be a good idea to wear the helmet anyways in daily life.  I’m a walking catastrophe.

But before I battle the crowds to get into holiday spirit, here’s a quick recap of what I’ve been up to this weekend.

Friday night wine night.Mon and I watched Sex and the City.  Notice the theme we were rockin’? We like to think we’re cute like that.

I woke up to snow.  Lots and lots of snow.  As in, I’m pretty sure it didn’t stop snowing at all yesterday.

Since I didn’t have much to do (thanks weather…), I made it a super long gym day.  The Shred happened early- because I knew it wouldn’t happen later on.  Plans to do it (or any strength training in general) kept getting pushed back almost all last week.  Not feeling the weight training lately.

What can I say?  This girl is a cardio junkie at heart.  As evidenced by my 5 miles that I rocked out yesterday.  Really only 4 were planned.  I was running it at a relaxed pace (8:45) the entire time, but wasn’t tired when I stopped to walk.  So what else is a crazy girl with nothing else going on to do?  Run another one.  Duh.

I also continued my belief that breakfast all day is a good thing:Hey look at my Christmas mug I’m rockin’? The snowman represents the fact that outside it was snowing.  

Did I mention it snowed ALL DAY?

 Of course the show must go on!We dug a car out of the snow and went back to Cubby Bear North– the scene of the crime from our random Thursday night happy hour(s).

What can I say?  We like to rock out to Rod Tuffcurls.For real.  As in we like to get up and be stupid on the dance floor.  I’m wondering how long it’s going to take for the band to judge us.

My guess?  Not long. I’ve got no rhythm.  And it’s obvious.


What’s your favorite song to rock out to?  I won’t judge- the crazier, the better!

You should totally see me break out the “running man” to “500 Miles” by The Proclaimers.  Ok, maybe you’ll never see it (no pictures please!), but I bet you can imagine it.  :)

Time to get this show on the road.  Have a good Sunday!

And where’s my helmet??

How To Attack Black Friday

Ok kids, say hello to Danielle- a friend of mine who consistently cracks me up with her sarcasm and is an awesome girl that I’ve gotten to know over the last year.  This girl is THE expert on all things Black Friday.  So, being as how it’s officially a week away, here is a game plan that may get even me out to the stores.  Or keep me at home because I’m terrified Danielle will plow me over…  Either/or.

Amy asked me to write a guest blog sharing my Black Friday tips, tricks, and survival strategies. I’m not a blogger (this is actually the first blog I’ve ever written) but I love Amy’s blog and I’m excited to contribute!

Black Friday is my favorite Holiday of the year. As a kick off to the most wonderful time of year, there is no other shopping day like it.  Football fans have the Super Bowl, baseball fans have the World Series, hockey fans have the Stanley cup, Michael Phelps has the Olympics, and shoppers, well, we have Black Friday. You do not have to be “Pro” to participate in this event. However, I firmly believe there should be an application process to shop on this day. Unfortunately there isn’t, so dodging the “minor league” players is all part of the fun!

I have shopped on Black Friday every year since I can remember. I “trained” with my mom until I was old enough to drive and go by myself. Mom taught me that Black Friday requires preparation. Just like a marathon runner would not run a race without a training plan, you must also prepare if you want to be successful. You need a clearly identified goal and plan of execution.  And though mom was my teacher, I do highly suggest going it alone on Black Friday. Friends and family members will only hold you back. All the Christmas decorations will be on display and shiny items only prove distracting for the inexperienced shoppers. Don’t let their lack of commitment to the plan effect your success. On Black Friday…YOU control your destiny.

I assure you, hold true to these tips and you will not be left crying in your car in the Macy’s parking lot at 5:45 a.m. because you missed a sale. You will not be one of the sad souls holding up the line because you can’t find your coupons. You will not be aimlessly wandering each store, randomly grabbing things. You are on a money saving mission. Your patience will be tested. Your desires questioned. Follow my simple rules and YOU WILL be one of the few champions who can proudly claim, “I conquered Black Friday and purchased every single item on my list with minimal stress!” You will be so on your A-game that when a sales person questions your ability to utilize a coupon, you will quickly educate them on exactly what the rules of engagement are and SAVE EVEN MORE MONEY!

Early Research and Budgeting. Every year I research any websites that are able to get any of the ads early ( is my favorite). This can be more fun than anything else. Remember to keep in mind that fake ads are sometimes released by stores, but the real ads come out in the paper on Thanksgiving Day. This step leads me to my first “official” tradition: Before Thanksgiving day, I make a list of each person I need to buy gifts for and then the amount I have budgeted to spend on them. This helps me not overspend or go into debt for Christmas. Next to their name I write down 5 or 6 gift ideas for each of them that fit into my budget.

Official Ads and Sorting. First thing I do on Thanksgiving morning is to throw on my slippers and run to the closest 7-11 and buy 2 or 3 newspapers and coffee.  I get multiple papers because sometimes not all of the ads get into each paper. As soon as I get home, I grab all the ads and put them into a big pile. I sort through the pile and pick out all the ads I want, throwing out everything else so nothing is mixed up. Once I’ve narrowed down my pile, I sort through it and circle any of the items I want.

Selections and Time of Sale. I take a Post-It and write down all the items I want from a particular store, making certain to write down the hours those items are on sale. I highlight the time because it’s VERY important. The BEST Black Friday sales are only good until a certain time; sometimes before 6:00 or 7:00 A.M, sometimes as late as 1:00 or 2:00.

Order of Attack. Once I’ve figured out the stores I want to go to, I figure out what order to go in. The order is determined by what time the sale ends and how big of a priority the item is (this year I have one major mission; all other items will have to wait until after I get the item…and I WILL get it).  

Thanksgiving Dinner. Since this is a food blog, here is where the food part comes in. I try not to over-indulge so that I’m not in a food coma the next day. I taste everything (I like) and take bigger portions of my one or two favorites. I really try to eat as normal of proportions as possible. I tell myself I’m doing it to be on my A-Game Friday morning, but I’m also trying to make healthy decisions and not gain 10 pounds in one day. My belly does not need to be jiggling more than Santa’s on Christmas morning. It’s much easier to resist the temptation of over-eating when you have a bigger goal in mind. Trust me; nothing sucks more than shopping on Black Friday with a hangover (alcohol or food). By exercising a bit of self control, I have a huge advantage. Only one GPS left for the early bird sale? No problem. I can leap over shopping carts and snatch it before food coma chic even realizes it’s there. Only one last past pair of boots left at Macys for the coupon special? Done. I’m paying for them as hangover dude is trying to figure out if Macy’s sells bottled water.

Master List and Coupons. Thanksgiving evening, as I watch Christmas Vacation (or whatever Christmas movie everyone decides to watch together as a family), I grab a zip lock bag, scissors, and the ads. Once those things have been gathered, this is what I do:

-Make a master check-list of the stores I need to go to and the items needed at each store. I write the list in the order that I’m going to the stores which is based on the times of the sales (this is where the Post-It’s come in handy).

-Clip any coupons necessary and place them in individual baggies segregated for each store. Ensure to READ THE FINE PRINT on each coupon. Most have restrictions and you want to make sure you can use them.

-Put a Sharpie in the gallon-sized Zip-Lock bag along with the master list and baggies containing the coupons. The Sharpie is used to check off items as they are purchased (or to draw a mustache on the sleeping husband passed out in the chair at Macy’s….JK…maybe).

-Carefully pick out my clothes for the next morning. Clothes usually include yoga pants, Reebok easy tones (might as well tone my butt as I shop), a tank top and a zippered hoodie. Stores can get super hot and you don’t want to have to carry around a jacket and all of your bags. Picking out my clothes the evening before saves valuable time in the morning.

-Sort through my purse and remove all the junk. I don’t want to lug around a 20-lb purse along with my shopping bags.  I keep only essentials which includes:  a bottle of water, energy bar and almonds for snacks throughout the morning (bonus tip…If you’re running low on cash, sell your snacks to other people who are waiting in line with you…it’s amazing how much you can get for a bag of fruit snacks at 4 in the morning). Finally, I get out two big reusable shopping bags and then set my alarm and try to get a good night’s sleep (I usually feel like the kid in the Disney commercial).

Day Of. After my alarm goes off, I take a quick shower, add some simple makeup (this is the day you will run into someone you don’t want to see at the store), grab my stuff and GO. In the car I listen to Christmas music (from a carefully selected Christmas shopping playlist) and execute the plan I designed the day before. I go in each store, grab the specific items I need, check them off the list, and get to the next store as quickly (and safely) as possible. I try to stay focused on my goal and ignore all the craziness around me. If I have to wait in a line, I play on my phone or look at my list and plot my next conquest. I try not to impulsively buy anything that is not on the Master List unless it’s an amazing deal I somehow missed while going through the ads.

Success! Once I’m done shopping (usually by noon or 1), I come home, warm up some leftovers and take a nap. Nothing tops sleeping in the sweet satisfaction of shopping success!

Easy, right?

What are your shopping tips for Black Friday???

The Big Flea

That’s what we decided to call it.  Every first weekend of the month, there’s a giant flea market in St. Charles, Illinois.  Did you know that?  I sure didn’t until my friend Danielle came along.  She lives for this stuff.  She also maps out and has a time schedule for the day after Thanksgiving.  So you know she doesn’t mess around.  And technically, in her case, you can define shopping as a sport.

Anyways, before I left, I knew I’d need my energy to keep up with this shopping guru. I decided to do a broccoli scramble.  With toast.  But I had no toast.  And since I’m leaving early Thursday to go back to Mid-MO for a wedding, I decided to not grocery shop and live off of what I had.  My problem is that I like to have a carb with most meals.  Enter another “cleaning out the pantry” moment.I think I bought it for when I planned to make chili earlier this year.  Didn’t happen.  Lucky me.  :)

I made spicy corn muffins by adding chili powder and red chili pepper flakes into the mix.  Good idea, but if you want to try it, be more liberal.  I held back.  But that’s ok- still good.Off to the Big Flea!

What did we find there?  A LOT of crap.  Seriously.  Crap.  Such as interesting lawn decor:Debbie Downer Frogs:Fashion statements:And fun signs for the whole family:It was also a fun people-watching event.  I highly recommend it. 

Unfortunately, the 6-foot tall metal rooster wouldn’t fit in my car, so I had to settle for a smaller purchase.  If you believe the label, it’s Dolce and Gabbana.  What a steal for $25, right?  ;)  I wasn’t “in the market” for a purse, but had my eye out.  After sifting through a million, I found this one with a not so obvious fake label.  I’m a sucker for the ruffle.  I kept going back to it until Monica said, “well just get it, Amy.  You’ve looked at it 10 times- clearly you want it.”  So I did.  And I sorta love it.

Does anyone else do the flea markets?  I’ve done the fake designer things before, but this was my first junk scavenger hunt in such a large-scale ordeal.

Afterwards, we left Danielle (who was still on the hunt), and decided to go to downtown Geneva to enjoy a little stroll and get some eats.Tapas, anyone?

We started out calm, with a light salad of asparagus, tomato, basil, evoo, and bleu cheese.Angie wasn’t quite used to the whole taking-pictures-of-food thing.  But Mon sure was and showed her how it’s done.  :)

My favorite?  Probably the baked artichoke stuffed with bread crumbs and topped with the most amazing sauce that I can’t remember the name of…And off of Angie’s recommendation, we chose the “Popeye” pizza- topped with spinach, feta, and mozzarella.  This picture was so posed, it was out of control.  I immediately regretted the decision- the cheese instantly started to burn the top of my mouth.  I think Mon caught me wincing in pain.  But once the pizza cooled down… oh my- it was fabulous.  Thin crust is my fav!

After I was filled up on cheese and such, I came home to my red box selections for the night.  Hot Tub Time Machine was one I was curious about.  I think I’ve heard more buzz about it now as it is coming out on DVD than when it was in the theaters. 

Someone compared it to The Hangover.  They were clearly wrong.  But it was the same general outrageous humor.  Had a few good lines.  Entertaining.  But I’m glad I only spent $1 to watch it.

Happy Labor Day, everyone! Let’s enjoy the end of our extended weekend!


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