Thursday, November 24, 2011

Gobble It Up: Southern-style Pumpkin Pecan Cheesecake

For as long as I can remember I've had this undying need to create some sort of showstopper dessert for each holiday. There is nothing, I repeat no-thing, that gets me more fired up than seeing some ridiculous themed dessert on the cover of a magazine that requires far more skill than I actually have, and deciding that will be my holiday, baking "Everest" for the season.

Like I said, this goes back as long as I can remember, starting with the Fourth of July, triple tier, Jell-O jigglers, cake. I must've been somewhere between ten and 12 years old when I spotted this beauty on the cover of some ladies mag. I made the thing two or three times before I was finally able to get the tiers to stand majestic like our Lady of Liberty (as opposed to the previous Leaning Tower of Pisa versions) and to get the scratch made icing thick enough to keep those Jell-O stars from sliding down the sides. FYI - I just googled hard for about twenty minutes trying to an image of the cake from whatever magazine it was on and/or some replica that was close, but no dice. Don't worry, I'll keep looking.

Monday, November 14, 2011

A Balancing Act

When I was a kid I took gymnastics class. It was the type of class where you got exposure to all the different apparatuses (FYI - I googled, that is the correct plural) and skills. Now, I have very little memory of childhood, but you bet your leotards I remember the time I tried my first backwalkover on the balance beam. My hands missed, leaving me to flail backwards, feet over head, smacking my crown on the beam before falling off altogether. And like most cracks to the melon, there was a valuable lesson to be learned.

Unfortunately, the big ta-da! wouldn't come until nearly tweny years later when I realize I am horrible at balance. I took a hiatus from this blog and filled in my time with a million other things. I got distracted. I got "busy." I got overwhelmed with life. Whatever, whatever, I dropped the ball on doing something I enjoy that gives me a creative outlet and I'm ready to be done operating in that zone. I realize one of my big challenges in this life is achieving that exquisite lesson of balance, and the virtue of some valuable "me time."

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

"49% Less Than Half Ain't Really Much Of Nothing..."

Confession time: I've been half-assing it. Yep. I'm owning it. Let's get all the excuses I've been using out of the way with: "work is crazy," "I'm traveling like mad," "when I'm not traveling I'm catching up on everything else," "the hotel has a crappy gym, I can't stick to my routine anyway," "I didn't sleep well because I was at a hotel so I need the extra sleep this morning instead of working out," "I don't have any fresh food in the house from being gone so much, there's no point in restocking the groceries anyway, I'm about to leave again," "I finally have a night off' I want to celebrate!" - I'm slightly purged, but there's probably forty-five more cop outs that could be added to this list.

That said, I put my best foot forward today. And for that I'm giving myself a pat on the back. I packed my latest installment of Oxygen magazine - I did it half-heartedly. As I sat on yet another airplane, I cracked the spine and felt annoyed by all the "you can do it" messages and hard bodies. I was just deflated. I kept reading and there was an article from a fitness idol of mine (in her mid-thirties) talking about how hard it was for her to learn the art of self-control and the true meaning of commitment - in her case she was applying this to health and wellness and relationships. This I can relate to.

Monday, August 1, 2011

"I Could Be So Much More Than This..."

The past couple of days have been the "fall to pieces kind." I hope you don't know these, but I'm pretty sure all of us do. The kind of days where someone looks at you funny when you pass them in an intersection and you feel like breaking down. Or you find yourself staring out a plane window wondering why there isn't more joy in the world - or your world in particular.

When I went to hit the treadmill today I dug in to the archives for some Jimmy Eat World. I don't have a whole lot of  "aggressive music" and I wouldn't say Jimmy Eat World is aggressive, however they do have some hard charging, sing-along, haul ass tunes that get me moving. Then "My Sundown" came on and I almost started crying on the treadmill when I was reminded how much I love this song and how much it resonates. 

Give it a whirl. The lyrics literally make my heart split open in the best most truthful "look in the mirror" of ways. Enjoy. 

Pork and Peanut Stir Fry Shelley-style

I don't particularly mind eating the same thing day in and day out for breakfast, or even lunch. But dinner, that's a whole other story. Maybe it's because it's the time of day I enjoy eating most, maybe it's because I consider it the food grand finale of the day, I don't know. Fact is, I am always trying to find something tasty and creative and I admit, it is often challenging.

Adding to this challenge is having a "picky eater" as your most frequent dining partner. That my friends is the situation I find myself in. Now, me... I'm what you would call an "adventurous" eater. I've been known to chase mozzarella sticks down Jeff Hill (that's in O.U. for those of you who haven't been there) brush 'em off and devour them in seconds flat and eat a hoagie off a questionable (at best) apartment floor. However, my usual dinner guest is nowhere near this comfortable with food. He's frightened of chicken, consistently questions the number of times I've washed my hands while prepping dinner, and won't touch anything that isn't cooked to a crisp. This makes my cooking life all the more challenging.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Healthy Living On the Road

If you know me well at all, you know my full time gig is in consulting. Which means a lot of things and may one day lead to my bestseller I plan on penning titled, "Your Consultant Does Not Want To Go To Dinner With You." This has less to do with being hit on by clients - which truthfully never seems to happen to me unless they're cute, old grandpa-types innocently flirting or gay men who think I'm fabulous - and more to do with clients that seem to find it totally appropriate to plan every last detail of your time on-site with them, down to your meals. Anyway, I digress.

Traveling a lot leads to the inevitable hot mess of trying to make healthy choices on the road. It's a real trial. In fact, I was once interviewed on this topic, see here . That said, as I type I'm in an airport waiting to head to Connecticut for work for the next 2.5 days. So, my thought is if I "put it in writing" perhaps I'll do a better job of holding up to my end of the bargain to travel healthy... that said, here's the game plan:

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Cardio Done Smarter (Not Harder)

Let's face it, I've gotten to a place where I hate cardio. My goals have transitioned towards strength training and it's hard to find the fortitude to get my buns on the treadmill, elliptical, bike, etc., etc. However, it's a necessary evil that I've been avoiding far too much lately. After scoping out the July issue of my Oxygen magazine and seeing a walking workout on the treadmill I thought a couple of things: first was - "walking can't possibly be enough for me to feel I exerted myself and why even bother with this work out?" Second was, "I don't feel like doing running intervals today, walking? Let's do this!"

1 Month Pull-up Challenge: Workout #3

Monday, Monday... in so many ways all of us despise you... but then again, you give us the opportunity to start over. And this Monday, after indulging far too much all weekend, starting over felt good. Busting my ass felt great and working towards the pull-up was just what the doctor ordered.

Monday I started week 9 of a 12 week strength training program I've been toiling away at. It was also the third workout in my 1 month Pull-up Challenge (so basically I'm combining my original workout plan with some pull-up-related exercises).

Monday, July 18, 2011

Easy Asian Noodles with Chicken, Peanuts and a Kick!

The other night Jake and I took in some Asian fare at Bac in Tremont. I'd been there before and thought it was delish but Jake downright flipped his lid. All he could talk about while we downed the rest of our PBR's at the bar was how delectable his wok-seared steak tips were. As he raved, I thought about the ingredients and the prep of both our dishes - nothing super intense. I could do this.

That's how we get to to this Monday night's dinner. I didn't go with red meat because quite frankly, I consume far too much of it as it is and I was going for something lighter. However, this dish could probably be served with any protein (pork, chicken, shrimp, beef) and hold up.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

1 Month Pull-up Challenge: Workout #2

Workout number two was quick, simple and brutal. Wednesday could have and probably should have been my rest day, but hey, there's only 30 days to get my weak ass over that bar. So in the gym we went and to the squat rack we mosey'ed. 

Seeing that I told Jake it was his job to develop the exercises for this challenge, I did something I rarely do: listened to him as if he was indeed my master. After all, he adds extra weight to his pull-ups. I know when to shut my yap and let someone who knows what they're doing teach me something new. 

Everything but the Kitchen Sink Italian Salad

For better or worse, I am one of those people who can't bring herself to eat leftovers and never just tosses something together with what's hanging around in her fridge. If I'm going to cook it's definitely a premeditated process including a recipe and I'm focused on making something great. Not just something to get by. Today was an exception. There was some produce laying around the BF's apartment that was about to go to waste and there was chicken in my fridge that needed to get cooked or perish. That said, I broke my own rule and flew by the seat of my pants with this "everything but the kitchen sink" salad. 

Now the very spirit of this salad is counter-intuitive to giving a list of ingredients - as it was just a "use what you've got hanging around" experiment. However, it was good enough that I'll likely replicate it. So here's what I came up with: 

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Eat Your Heart Out Chipotle - Mexican Salad Done Right

Up until a few months ago I had never understood what the big deal with Chipotle was. I'd tried a burrito once or twice a couple of years ago and found it gut busting - and not in my favorite "oh my lord, this is so delicious I can't stop" way, but more like "ugh... now I feel like I'm having a food baby and I'm not sure I even enjoyed the foreplay" way. I finally understood what it was all about when I ordered a steak salad. Damn. That thing didn't stand a chance. That vinaigrette dressing... the softball-sized dollop of guac... really, it was heavenly. I ate every last bite and could barely pull myself off the ledge of licking the cardboard bowl.

Then, in my fuzzy post-meal glory, I remembered all the hoopla awhile back about Chipotle posing as heath food when really, it was packed with calories. I did a little nutritional info surfing. Holy delicious guacamole... that delightful vinaigrette was 260 cals for a meager 2 oz. (?!) I love you Chipotle, but we are through. I can do better on my own. And I can prove it. Oh and did I mention, I'll look better for it?

Monday, July 11, 2011

Sweet Sounds on a Monday

Mondays more than any other day of the week I NEED music. I imagine a lot of people feel this way to get in to their weekly grind, errrr... I mean groove. Thing is, Mondays I'm usually a little anxiety-riddled and I don't get around to putting any tunes on until well in to the day when I'm already a stress ball. Today I broke the habit and got Pandora carnking while the morning caffeine was still brewing. Today I came across this beauty:

Man am I a sucker for the girl-guy combo not to mention the synthy little flourishes and lyrics like:

Someone told me you had oceans in your eyes
Cold as shadows over European skies
Coasting out the shallow day
Leaving London in decay
To islands on the sea,
lands I’ve never seen,
things will get calmer—follow me.

The 1 Month Pull-up Challenge

Once a week I engage in the exquisite torture that is "The Pull-up." I both dread this day in the gym and look forward to it. It is the very definition of a "love-hate relationship." I love it because I picture myself as Linda Hamilton in Terminator or Demi Moore in GI Jane (I prefer Demi to be honest) as an ass-kicking, bad-ass broad. And... I hate it because I've yet to be able to get my chin above that bar unassisted and I feel like a real candy ass for that.

Last week upon lamenting to the man, "I truly don't know that I'll ever be able to do an unassisted pull-up," he very assuredly (and with a level of cockiness I'm not sure I appreciated at the time) responded: "I can get you doing a pull-up in a month." I told him to put his money where his mouth was: I put in the time, he develops the exercises and we've got exactly 30 days to make this happen.

Today was day 1.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Lateral Raises With Some Oomph

While in the gym today doing some upper body work, lateral raises to be exact, I was cruising through my set. You know the feeling when you're not concentrating on your form as closely as you should be, you're not checking your breathing - basically, you're on auto-pilot? That's where I was at. I swear, half the battle in the gym is staying mentally present and not letting the rest of your life creep in. So, I checked myself and got back in to the zone and was able to do some more effective strength training.

A quick tip I picked up in Oxygen magazine that I always use now when doing lateral raises: at the top of the move, direct your thumb down to raise the back of the dumbbell ever so slightly. This helps you define your delts even faster. It also is a trick that helps force you to stay present. Happy lifting!

Throwback Thursday

Okay it's not quite a throwback... six years old isn't that long ago. However, this isn't a new tune, but it popped up on my iPod today and it brought up old memories and it sounded heavenly to my ears. Not to mention anything with bittersweet lyrics will always rise to the top with me.

If you've heard this one, take a little trip down memory lane and listen to it again. If you haven't, you're welcome.

Pre-Fall Polish Preview

So there's a brand of nail polish out of the U.K. that a best gal pal and I are OBSESSED with. I'm not going to lie to you, Rescue Beauty Lounge (or RBL as you'll see my refer to it) polish runs $18 a bottle plus shipping. It's the Bentley of the nail polish world and from my opinion as a nearly certified nail polish reviewer, it's worth every penny.

That said, today I caught a quick snippet on Facebook that RBL had previewed its "pre-fall" collection, coined - L’Oiseau de Feu - which means "The Fire Bird" and is also a famous piece by Igor Stravinsky. Yea, I'm not that cultured, I grabbed this from the article, but it intrigued me nonetheless. Evidently RBL's head honcho Ji Baek, was inspired by the color transformations that Hurricane Earl brought on while she was vacationing in St. Barts and that brings us back to the nail polish. From this quick pic I am really digging the color on the bottom right but not having my hair blown back too much by any of the others. Looking forward to the big and complete reveal coming soon!

Bitchin' Baked Apple & Cinnamon Oatmeal

By far my most favorite experiment in the kitchen thus far: baked oatmeal. Sounds unsexy, right? Oatmeal is a snooze-fest, health food that you put up with to keep your heart healthy and your waistline small, I know. Until today I was in that camp. Let's just say, I've been converted. Baked oatmeal is the new granola or if you really want to know what it tastes like, it's like apple cobbler and a gooey oatmeal cookie made love in your mouth. I can't sell it enough. Just try it, who doesn't want apple cobbler and oatmeal cookies making love in their mouth? No one I can think of.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Guilty Pleasures Made Healthy

I love junk food. I love salads that pack more calories than the daily allowance. Similarly, I love chicken tenders. There were points in my younger years (okay, it wasn't that long ago) where I ate chicken tenders every single time I dined out. I also did not find it at all trashy that Britney Spears served chicken tenders at her wedding. I get it. I'll probably do the same but I'll one up her by having a dipping sauce bar.

That said, here are my "faux" fried chicken tenders accompanied with a mock cobb salad. Oh yea, and homemade healthy ranch dressing for dipping sauce.

Cobb Salad
(adapted from "Oxygen" magazine a.k.a my bible)
- 4 cups preshredded cabbage and carrot slaw
- 2 slices applewood smoked bacon (sub turkey bacon)
- 1 diced avocado
- 2/3 cup diced tomato
- 2 tbsp crumbled blue cheese
- Sliced green onion (as much as you like)
- Handful or two of roasted sunflower seeds

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Hi, I'm Shelley

I can be summed up in four words: an exercise in opposites. My personality is like my hair: quirky and a bit all over the place. My mega pursuit in life is nailing what my purpose on this big, bad ass planet is and how I can most meaningfully spend my time here. One little hurdle: I'm interested in everything from Asparagus to Zuchini (truly, I love both of those things). I would like to be a personal training, interior decorating, restaraunteur-ing, wine-making, CEO of do-good'ing and happy making. Alternatively, I wouldn't mind being a blissed out, enlightened goddess who moonlights as an ass-kicking rock chic. I like to think of myself as a trailblazer who is looking for her GPS. Also, I love people. If you want to chat, shoot me a line: Some other stuff you probably ought to know about me:  

My nicknames include the following: Smells, Shells Bells, Suzie, Fi-fi, Doodle, Little Ear, Hot Mess, Boops, Hoots, and Dorothy (a.k.a. Dot).

I love to cook. I identify way too much with this video. I have the appetitie of a truck driving man beast which has led me to get creative about how I can cook sinful, delicious but healthful food that doesn't turn me in to a TLC obesity special. I have the motto that I'm not the greatest cook, I just practice a lot, try very hard and put a lot of heart in to it. You'll read A LOT about food and recipes if you stick around this blog for long. And for whatever it's worth, I've never met a potato I didn't like. Baked, roasted, french, hash... In heaven I will sit in a giant baked potato cloud and eat potatoes all day (and drink wine and have a cheese and meat platter at my disposal as well).

Exercise and music are the two closest things I have to a form of organized religion. They both are inextricably linked with my daily life. Nothing gets me more fired up than discovering a new tune or band I haven't heard before or coming up with a new strength training program.

Random things I'm obsessed with include owls, the color robin's egg blue, nail polish, anything boho chic, candles and/or twinkly lights, old houses, extra dirty vodka martinis with fancy olives, getting sucked in to random sporting events on tv (e.g., bowling tourneys), reality tv and celebrity gossip, eastern religion/philosophy, my record collection, ironic animal themed-clothing (think bedazzled tiger t-shirt)... I could go on and on...

Monday, June 20, 2011

Asian Steak and Spinach Salad & Sweet Potato Hash

Q: If I could be one meal what would I be?
A: D'uh. Meat and potatoes.

Tonight's menu was a healthy take on my all time favorite food genre, meat & taters. This steak and spinach salad recipe I pulled from the archives and remembered why it had been a staple in my recipe arsenal awhile back. As for the sweet potato hash I was really excited to try this one out. And let me tell ya, I was not disappointed. The hash was super simple, super tasty and with a minor modification on the bacon (subbing in turkey bacon) it was a healthy and pretty (color galore!) side. So here's the scoop on the recipes, you'll see my notes on any need to know info. and/or alterations.  

HIIT You Are The Devil

Alright, alright, I finally bit the friggin bullet and forced myself to do some HIIT intervals on the treadmill today. Guess what? I hated every second of it just as much as I anticipated I would. Guess what else? I think that means it was working. Let's back it up by saying I'm subscribed to Oxygen magazine, I wait for Muscle & Fitness Hers with anticipation every other month, I peruse Women's Health and Shape and I read fitness-related blogs and web sites every damn day. I know what HIIT is. I hear about all the benefits it reaps a gal. I hear how it's less time, more benefit. I hear how it breaks plateaus. In short, I know it's all the rage and evidently it's really good for your fitness regimen. True story: I've been avoiding it like the plague. Why? I have no idea other than maybe I wasn't really up for the challenge of going at "100%." What the hell does 100% even look or feel like?

DCFC Has A Death Grip On My Heart

Before Ben Gibbard got snatched up by that Zooey Deschanel - who I'm convinced is posing as sweet as apple pie, but truthfully is a mega bitch - he was endeared to a million others of us who thought no one could ever understand what went through our brains when we returned to our hometown for a visit; what we pondered sitting in the passenger seat on a dark drive; what we felt in our chests when sharing a smoke on a front porch with an old flame, except for Ben. Then Zooey came along and I'll be honest, I was worried Ben would lose his bittersweet and knife sharp lyrics and his general optimistic cynicism on life and love.

I'm woman enough to admit when I'm wrong, Zooey didn't ruin Ben. He's still got it and "You Are A Tourist" and "Underneath The Sycamore" off Death Cab's latest offering, Codes and Keys, is proof positive of that. I have had these bad boys on repeat for days now. Sink your teeth in. Let Ben remind you over and over and over again that we're all screwed up and isn't that oh so lovely.

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If You're Going To Lollapalooza Be Sure To Wear Some Feathers In Your Hair

Anyone who knows me well knows that I'm obsessed with birds. Particularly owls and peacocks. In addition, I will buy just about any accessory or clothing item that has a feather incorporated in some way, shape or form. Want to know what is REALLY blowing my mind? The featherlocks hair extensions I've seen all over the interwebs lately. Holy hell, this has me written all over it. Do you mean to tell me, there is a way to make my crazy mop top even more crazy and feathered fabulous? Sign me up. I don't need to know the cost, I must have them. Let's disregard the fact I have a corporate 9-5 gig. I'll hide those bad boys in my hair somehow, but I absolutely must get my hands, or locks, on a few of these extensions. I mean, if they're good enough for this guy...