brain dump: new job

So. Last week I started a new job! I have wanted to sit down and write something about it all week but have been so insanely busy. When I got there last Monday morning, I was informed that I would be following my boss, the director, around for the week to get a feel for things.

So throughout the week that included attending ~16 meetings among other things. At my previous job, I maybe went to 2 meetings a year. I also had the disaster area of my office to deal with. Oh yea, I get an office! With windows! (My last department had one window…for the entire department…and it was in the director’s office. So it could have been apocolypsing outside and I never would have known.) So to have 3 windows of my very own is incredible! And it’s not a bad view either!

not a bad view. my office actually has 3x the windows that my entire previous department did.

Those blinds are inside the panes of glass, which is annoying, but hey! windows!

My office got moved around, at my request, it was previously set-up so that anyone walking it would be at my back. Uh, no. So now I am facing the door and can see people. There were piles and piles of stuff everywhere. So I slowly went through that when I had some downtime, and still have not finished. And between that and other tasks, I literally had no time for anything. My job title is Clerical Supervisor and I have 9 clerical under me…but haven’t done anything with them yet aside from approving their time cards on Friday. I kind of worry how I will have time to “supervise” them if I don’t even have time for the other things I have to do, but I’m sure it will work out eventually. I don’t really know what is in store for next week, but I am sure I will be busy.

I had a few moments of “What have I done?” because even though I did everything at the previous job, I was never as busy as I was this past week. I actually went to Target this weekend to buy a watch because I have to wear fancy clothes and fancy clothes don’t have pockets for phones. And I’m up and out and around so much that I never knew what time it was.

 my other two outfits this week were boring, but I liked these 3. best part is that first dress was $15 and that pencil skirt was $5. #thriftylady #ootd #ootw #biggirljob #imissjeans #andsneakers #blistersfordays3/5 fancy lady outfits which include a $15 dress, $5 pencil skirt, $8 button down and $15 oxfords which were shockingly not uncomfortable.

Lots of changes with the new job, including clothing. I’ve gone from being able to wear jeans to work…to not so I’ve been wearing skirts/dresses every day. I wore a pair of pants one day last week and felt like a total frump, so I probably will limit pants to 1x a week. One thing that helped immensely for me was buying these over the door hangers and then the weekend before I started, I went through my closet and made 10 outfits. That way there was no scramble in the morning (since I have to wake up and leave much earlier) over what to wear…I would have anywhere from 10 (on Monday) to 6 (on Friday) outfits to choose from. This weekend I went through and added another 5. I’m not sure I’ll keep up with having 10 outfits at a time, but definitely a week’s worth. I also try everything on before I hang it up so I know it fits right and looks right so there is no second-guessing, just put it on and go.

I also have a terrible commute of 50 miles each way. The mornings have not been bad…but last Tuesday it took me 1 hr 20 mins to get home and Friday it took me 1 hr 30 mins. And Wednesday I had to go to class and it took me 1 hr 45 mins to get from Washington to Oakland. So that’s fun. I usually listen to podcasts while driving but I also added an audiobook to my phone and I don’t hate it nearly as much as I thought I did.

Also working later hours in addition to the longer commute so I am trying to do as much meal prep as possible during the weekends. Last weekend I made white chicken chili + beef stew (I skip the turnips add sweet potatoes and serve over egg noodles) + lamb & butternut squash stew (do not recommend, very bland) and that managed to feed us Sunday-Saturday. This weekend I made 2.5lbs of taco meat + lemon chicken orzo soup + have the stuff to make slow cooker butter chicken later in the week. Both new recipes, so we’ll see how they go. Oh also made pumpkin muffins from this bar recipe because my friend Chelsey posted about them and they looked so good.

One plus to the new job is I don’t have time to sit all day, so I also don’t have time to snack all day. This can only be a good thing. But there also is not a kitchen at work, so I’ve been bringing a sandwich and keeping it in a lunch bag with an icepack. Everyone has mini-fridges in their offices and I was trying to think how I could justify buying one for myself when we went to Keith’s parents’ house and I spotted a mini-fridge in the basement. It was Keith’s from college and is now mine! Now just to see how the hell I can get it into my office on the 5th floor.

So that’s what’s new with me. I’m a rambler, but I’ve had a lot of people as me how it is so I wanted to get something out, but I am tired and frazzled and figure I’ll be that way for a while so whatever.

monday prepper

So I was off work yesterday and accomplished so much that I deserve another day off just to keep my momentum.

Yesterday I was woken up by Daisy/the smoke alarm. A few weeks ago one of the smoke alarms in the basement was dying and it took me a little while to get around to changing the battery. Daisy acted weird that entire day, hiding and shaking and I never connected it to the smoke alarm until she followed me down to change the battery, it beeped again and she took off running. Poor baby.

So yesterday the alarm started chirping and Daisy was in our bedroom and freaked out. I went down to get a new battery and figured I’d let her out while down there, when I unhooked her from her lead to come back in, she bolted back into the yard. Pretty sure her thought was “I’d rather live in the yard than go back in where that terrifying noise is.” I finally got her back inside, changed the battery and went back to sleep.

Woke up at 9am, did a little reading, made myself a delicious breakfast of leftover carnitas topped with dippy eggs, some guacamole and tapatio.

leftover carnitas + dippy eggs + guacamole + tapatío.

I had a million things I wanted to do yesterday but I figured I’d do some food prep and laundry first. In two hours in the kitchen I was able to make breakfast/lunch/dinner for the entire week.

Breakfast = Pumpkin protein muffins

pumpkin protein muffins

They aren’t the most amazing thing in the entire world but they are good enough that I ate them every day last week and plan on eating them all this week as well. Seven ingredients (because I add chocolate chips) and made in one bowl. I also was able to get 12 muffins, using a 2TB scoop. They are best if you pop them in the microwave for like 30 seconds before eating. I’m a fan.

I also made lunch for myself for the week = Honey Sriracha chicken thighs + cauliflower rice

sriracha honey chicken thighs + cauliflower rice + broccoli

I’ve also made these before and they are great. I doubled the sauce this time and didn’t baste them, just saved it to pour over. (That broccoli is frozen, not moldy, haha.)

Dinner for last night was Smoky Maple BBQ chicken + veggies.


smoky maple bbq chicken + onions, peppers, sweet potatoes

Basically marinate the diced chicken in 1/3 bottle of sauce. Cook with chopped veggies (I like doing onion, pepper, zucchini and sweet potato but I forgot the zucchini) in oven til chicken is cooked through. Once chicken is done, take it out and broil veggies for a few minutes. It is seriously the easiest thing I make but seriously delcious. “Recipe” from The Dolce Diet book.

I also made Southwest meatloaf for dinners. It’s similar to my beloved Pioneer Woman cajun meatloaf but paleo. (I don’t eat totally paleo but lean paleo-ish.)

southwest meatloaves after

I couldn’t yet make the guacamole to top them with because my avocados weren’t ready.

So there we go. A week’s worth of food in two hours. If only I had every Monday off to prepare like that.

After that I finished up some laundry and even whipped out the paintbrush. I did another coat of white on the living room bookcases which haven’t been touched since January of last year. I figure I won’t be able to spend an entire day painting anytime soon, but I can spend like an hour every weekend and maybe finish painting by 2018. It looks like the bookcases are going to need yet another coat and that is kind of infuriating, but whatever. One coat at a time.

cookbook challenge: episode 2

The second recipe I decided to try out for my cookbook challenge came from the January/February issue of Cooking Light. Cooking Light is the only magazine I actually subscribe to and I enjoy it. 90% of the food blogs I follow are very decadent, so I like that I have an alternative, since it is more in line with what I like to/try to eat. I’d say from every magazine I probably find 2-3 recipes I’d like to try, so it’s worth it.

The recipe for this issue that stuck out the most for me was Stuffed Chicken & Herb Gravy with Polenta.

We like chicken, we like gravy. I hated polenta the time I had it at home, but it was from a tube so I had higher hopes for this one.


I actually cooked up the chicken/gravy on Tuesday while I was making chicken for something else and made the Polenta last night. We also had green beans from a can because we are classy. (And I hate bacon. And hate fresh cooked green beans.)

I didn’t use fresh thyme and probably accidentally used too much dried thyme to replace it, my grave tasted a little grassy. I added some sage to it and that seemed to help. Also added way more salt (and pepper) to the polenta.

chicminePardon the iphone photos, if I was pulling out my real camera, these would never get posted.

We were fans! The prosciutto got a little lost in the chicken and if I hadn’t known there was provolone in there I probably also wouldn’t have noticed. Maybe double those amounts, or use thinner chicken.

The polenta was creamy and wonderful. The gravy was good, it was my first try at real gravy and it came out well! The sage even helped tame the grassiness of the thyme. Looking forward to leftovers tonight.

Also – all that for under 500 calories? Two thumbs up!

2014 cookbook challenge

So I stated one of my 2014 resolutions was to cook at least one recipe from each of my cookbooks/cooking magazines. I did some cleaning/organizing on Saturday and pulled all my books together, here’s what we’re working with.

my new best friends

my new best friends

I have quite an assortment of books there. Some new ones, some old ones (hello, 1997), some healthier ones (Living Lean/Four Hour Chef) and then 2 versions of Cupcake Heaven, haha. I haven’t quite decided how I’ll go about picking the books, but I figured I’d blog about it, so I could check them off.

I’m not limiting myself to one recipe from each book, but I have to do at least one recipe. I’m also not going to be all food bloggery with nice photos and step-by-step directions, but I figured I’d stick up at least a photo of the end game (most likely from my iphone) and some basic ingredients/directions if I like the recipe.

The first book I chose was Living Lean. Keith bought me this book and requested a few recipes. He really really* misses pasta, so first up was:

Power Pasta Sauce

(slightly adapted from Living Lean)


1 bell pepper – chopped
1 medium onion – chopped
1/2 small zuchhini – chopped
2 cloves garlic
2 – 15oz cans diced tomatoes
1 – 28oz can crushed tomatoes
pinch – salt, pepper, basil, oregano
1-2T grapeseed oil

The recipe didn’t call for the zuchhini, but I had it in the fridge and figured it couldn’t hurt. Also called for all diced tomatoes, but I wanted something a little more saucy. Next time I’d sub actual tomato sauce for the crushed tomatoes.


It was pretty simple. The recipe calls for cooking the turkey and veggies separately, but that seemed like a waste of a pan. I browned the turkey with the oil, when it was almost ready threw in the veggies til softened, then threw in the tomatoes and let simmer for 30 minutes or so, salting as needed.


Served over thin spaghetti.

Keith liked it, although he requested it be more saucy next time. I didn’t actually eat it, I was eating leftovers, but will eat it tomorrow night.

One book down, seventeen to go!


*I don’t miss pasta at all. Definitely not traditional spaghetti. I have never been a huge fan and the spaghetti squash we eat completely takes care of that.

**Post contains affliate links. Not that anyone will ever click them/use them but I figured why not.

what’s cooking?

I spent quite a few hours in the kitchen Monday night and figured I’d share some of the deliciousness that I cooked up.

First up was Monday (and Tuesday) night’s dinner. Creamy Caprese Pasta from How Sweet Eats. I’ve made this a few times, but Keith and I really cut back on our pasta consumption so I haven’t made it in a while. I had a bunch of cherry tomatoes from my CSA so I decided it was time to make it again. It couldn’t be easier and I barely glance at the recipe anymore.



You start by chopping up your tomatoes, I usually just halve them, julienne your basil, and drain your mozzerella. In the past I’ve used a big ball of mozzerella but l think these pearls are so much cuter and zero work. I think the recipe calls for 4oz of cheese, but I always use 8, because c’mooooooooon.



Since Keith is now power lifter extraordinaire, I knew he’d want some protein so I cooked up a few (chicken) sausages and added them. I was tempted just to stop there and eat it like that.

The next step calls for adding 1c of tomato sauce and 1/3 cup heavy cream and tossing. I don’t usually have heavy cream and don’t buy it for that small of an amount so I just use some milk. Skim, 2% whatever is in the fridge.

Then you bake it for 20-30 minutes. Her recipe doesn’t say to but I think you should cover in foil while you bake. Each time I’ve made it, I haven’t and the top noodles get a little too dry. It doesn’t look nearly as amazing once it is all done, but it is pretty great.


I actually forgot to take a picture until it was all pyrex-ed up and ready for the fridge and it doesn’t look too appetizing, haha. It looked a bit better on the plate. Next time I’d add more than 2 links of sausage. Keith actually requested I add chicken, but since I like sausage better, maybe I’ll do both! Oh, it also begs to be served with garlic bread. Any excuse for garlic bread.


I also had two eggplants in the fridge that I needed to use, so I made these eggplant parmesan boats from Skinnytaste for my lunch. Again, forgot to take any pictures, but here is an iphone snap at my desk yesterday. It was really good! I might be sick of them after 4 days in a row, but I am looking forward to lunch today!


And my third culinary creation actually wasn’t finished until yesterday because I decided to tackle beef jerky. I read up about making it in the oven and it seemed pretty easy. Since I have a beef jerky addiction, I wanted to try out making it myself since it is so stupidly expensive.

So Monday I got a flank steak and popped it in the freezer while I cooked everything else. As the pasta was finishing up in the oven, I pulled it out and sliced it thin. Mixed up a marinade and threw it and the meat in a zilpoc to get to know one another for a day.

Avert your eyes, vegetarians.



Yesterday when I got home from work, I turned my oven as low as it could go (170), pulled out the oven rack and got to laying out the meat. It was pretty messy. Also the grates in my oven are pretty wide so there was a small amount of strips I couldn’t use because they were too small.


(It was at this point that I found my kitchen faucet totally detached itself from the sink. I didn’t like it anyways, it’s way too low/probably 30 years old, so I am using this as an excuse to buy a nice new one this weekend, yay!)

The recipe I was following said to line the bottom of your oven with foil, but the foil I JUST bought has magically disappeared, so I just put my largest cookie sheets below the jerky to catch drips.

Then I just cracked the oven door with a wooden spoon and let it go to town for 4.5 hours. The recipe said anywhere from 2-6 hours so I kept checking (and also had to go to bed at some point), so 4.5 seemed good for mine.


It said to let it cool/dry for 24 hours before you package, but you could eat it immediately. Well, I tried a piece…and wasn’t too thrilled. I figured maybe just because it was warm. Tried another piece this morning and it was better, but I’m still not thrilled. The marinade I used contained soy sauce and that’s pretty much the only thing you can taste. It might be an acquired taste, so I will keep snacking away on it and try a different marinade next time.

My 2# flank steak was 16.00 and I had everything else on hand so it was quite a bit cheaper than store bought. Not as delicious, but I guess I’ll work on that.

(If I’m going to play foodblogger, I really need to pull out my real camera instead of the iphone. Sorry, won’t happen again!)