Sweet Tea & Liberty

Hi. My name is Ali & it’s been one week since I took a sip.. of sweet tea.

I also take goofy selfies at stop signs.

I also take goofy selfies at stop signs.

Don’t mean to make fun of AA, but lately I have a new appreciation of the willpower & restraint it takes to give up something you adore just because you know it isn’t good for you.

Of all the things I miss, sweet tea is certainly the one I would love to bring back.

But it just isn’t worth it.

So water it is & occasionally coffee.

Still figuring all this out but so far it has been fun.  Like a daily puzzle. Track the numbers in the food & make it all work.  It’s a good distraction to give me a break from stressing over the love life or lack there of.

Cooking at home & having lots of healthy options ready to go has made it almost easy. Thankfully I have always been a lover of vegetables & who doesn’t love fruit?  There are a ton of great recipes for nearly anything you can think of all over the internet. Discovering a few new ones has been just what I needed.  (like this one.. hummus crusted chicken has rocked my world!)


The biggest issue so far has been being afraid of eating anywhere outside of the kitchen. Used to just hit a drive thru when time was short. Quick cheap meal on the way to class is what got me into this mess.

Yesterday I found myself dashing from class to the beach & hungry. First instinct was just grab something quick. But I don’t really know what to get. Iceberg salads have never been appealing. Prefer lettuce with some actually taste & nutritional value and that isn’t wilted from being made a couple of days ago. I could blow all my calories on one meal, but that would leave me either going over or starving the rest of the day. I’m sure there are options, but I didn’t have the time to figure out where to go & what was safe.

So I headed home. I took time out to make a hummus wrap & bag some berries that would travel just as good as anything that would come in some greasy bag and was a heck of a lot tastier. I was pretty proud of myself. Just a bit of thought and this all works out.



Didn’t think about the cherries. The pits in particular. A smarter version of me would have brought a spare container to put the pits in. A smarter version of me would have used a reusable container not a plastic bag. But live & learn.

I will get the hang of this.



Welcome back

Sometimes you have to return to where you were to realize how far you have come.  This weekend seems to be one of those times.

Like yesterday I spent the day with my parents around town.  So much has changed & yet not changed.  Had lunch with mom at a local greasy spoon that I remember going to as a kid pretty often.

Seems NOTHING has changed there.  Same seats, same dishes & even same waitresses.  Which makes me think they must enjoy their jobs.

I want that.  I want a job I can love.

I got the job I interviewed for Friday, but honestly I already hate it with a passion.  I hope that I can get it together to present a smile Thursday when I go in to start, but I want to run screaming already.  I was ready for low pay – not that low.  I was ready for crazy retail hours – but not 3 am unpacking shifts.  I was even ready for a dress code – however I was not ready for khaki & black – collared polo.  No.  I was really not ready for all of them combined.

1st who wears khaki polos?  …ok OFF a golf course?  Might be ok if I could do a black polo & black pants, but nope has to be black polo & khaki pants OR khaki polo and black pants.  I own the black pants, but nothing else in that dress code.  So now I have to spend money on clothes I am going to hate for this crappy position?  and NO ONE I know looks great in a khaki shirt.  I certainly don’t have the skin tone to look good in it that close to my face. yuk. Not to mention where is the sense of creativity? No where in that big box store that is for sure!  Once again, local businesses seem ideal.

I know the experience will teach me something & I have done it all before, but I also feel like I have grown into a new person since then.  In a lot of ways this feels like I am taking giant leaps backward.  Why did I even accept the position?  Just to have something.  A chance at a check.  But this is insanity.

Looking at the interview, I don’t have a clue why they offered the position to me.  I made it clear that I would be looking for another job due to the low pay & that this would need to be a temporary thing until I found something else.  In my experience this isn’t typically the ideal candidate since you will be rehiring soon in the future.  Who knows…

I should be grateful.  I should be happy.  I should remind myself that its temporary & that its a chance to gain new perspective and learn from new coworkers.  I should be thankful that I have a team that wants me on it… but instead I have to wonder, will I end up the person who never finds the job that makes my soul soar?  I want to find something I love.  I want to be like the waitress that is still working at the same place 20 years later – because she loves it.

So nice, had to do it twice

Yesterday was one of those rare days lately where I ate at home. Something I have gotten way too out of the habit of since I was restricted with the hand in recovery last year. Lifting heavy pans while cooking was just too dangerous & even washing dishes was difficult one handed. Just too easy to go out or bring home take out.

But then I missed delicious meals like this…

ahh… berries, black eyed peas, dry salad (I know I’m weird) with coconut chicken!  On purple sparkly glitter plates!!

Sure it wasn’t exactly a lot of cooking going on, but it was enough to feel home cooked & healthy.  I loved it!  Something I have really missed, although Wilmington has some incredible spots to dine that certainly have a home feel with the delicious fresh food and friendly familiar faces.  Still getting time to actually sit down and eat a real lunch is bliss.

Its one of the biggest things that got on my nerves with my previous job.  Duty calls and I did the job, but it was a benefit I missed for sure.

So today I put in sometime with applications and submitting resumes and then it hit me…. LUNCH TIME!

Same meal, but I switched it up to meatless monday!  Substituted the Quorn patty from the back of the freezer for the chicken & added in some BBQ sauce to spicy it up a tad.  One thing about living alone is there seems to always be leftovers!

Nothing like having Baxter begging for blueberries & being able to share some with the birds.  A gal could really get used to this.

But then again…. there are the bills.  So more applying, more thinking & budgeting.  I could dwell in the situation & how the uncertainty looms, or I can thrive in the moment & enjoy it for what it is.  A chance to regroup.

I have a sense that things are going to be just fine.  (& yes I realize fine is not always easy, but in the end its going to be ok)

PLUS I get to dream of great places to work…

which may or may not let me have lunch breaks, but for the moment I am loving each & every one of them.

Pugs & Kisses

Remember how I started the Grilled Chicken Sandwich Challenge?

yeah, I barely do either, but last night I remembered while I was getting take out & thought, why not?

Its a HEART! awww

Course this morning I almost forgot it in the fridge!  Doctoring it up didn’t really happen but I did remember a pack of honey & one of barbeque sauce in my desk.  Less than thrilled? So was I.

However the Lemonade Girl Scout cookies were a nice surprise!

Last night a friend & her daughter were selling them & I knew I HAD to replenish the Thin Mint supply.  Along the with Thin Mints I just asked her to pick me out another box of something yummy.  Lemonades it was.  Typically I never think lemon with cookies and at 1st I almost said “pick a different one!” but it WAS her choice, so I went with it.  I brough the box into work to share in hopes to sweeten the day.  So far its only worked on me, but that’s ok.

In case you want to try them, there is a Girl Scout Cookie finder ap for your iPod available at iTunes! Yes I have to admit I  downloaded it after a friend mentioned.  Or you can check this website for them.

Also a few pieces of things I love today.  Since I pulled a card from a fun “tarot” deck I had at the house.   Not sure why, but it was sitting there on the shelf as I walked by & I thought why not?

the Lovers from the Housewives Tarot

The Lovers card.  I’m partially ignoring the obvious since I’m still on the fence about this whole let Shadow back in my heart or keep moving on searching thing.  Who knows.  Time to think isn’t going to kill anyone…  So focus on this other great love.  Baxter.  The pug adores me.  I adore him.  What more can a gal ask for?

my Baxter

its a mini-Baxter! full of knowledge!

I would love one of these for the bedroom redo!  Hoping that Mod Cloth has them in stock then.  It would look cute on a dresser or shelf up against the sage/mint walls.

because, well he does..

I will gladly take the morning Keurig in one of these… especially if its German Chocolate Cake coffee like this morning! Delish!

muwah! pugs & kisses

Also I love this stuff!  I got one for each member of my family as part of their holiday gifts.  Bonus: It benefits the Pug Rescue Network who use the money to help pugs with medical care, finding homes & all that other stuff that seems to come along the way for pugs.

Pug Party & My Saturday Adventure

Today was the first time Baxter & I were able to attend the local pug meet up group!  It was fantastic!

yes that's Baxter right up front coming towards me!

Pugs everywhere!

new friends everywhere!

We took over the dog park – although a few other small dogs stayed around to be honorary pugsters!

Baxter is already ready for next month's meet up... & a nap...& a bath...

So home it was to get in a nap… & off to explore a few sites of my own since this nap was sure to be a long one.

missing the convertible but the sunroof is still nice!

First a pit stop for something delish… a BBQ chicken sandwich at one of my favorite places – Chris’ Cosmic Kitchen! If you are in the Wilmington, NC area, this place is a MUST try.  WARNING you will crave it after you taste it & there are not enough days in the week to try everything you want to there. But if you are brave, attempt the Large Stack of pancakes! Only 5 people have been able to finish them.  If you do you get to join the hall of fame & even get a T-shirt!  Impressive.

Seriously good stuff! He even makes the BBQ sauce from scratch.

After lunch I decided to drive just out of town to check out an antique store to see if it might be a good place to get some furniture to fix up – after I end up getting in a better financial place…. like with a job!

No real luck, but it was an eye opener to see a few things I had as a kid being sold IN AN ANTIQUE store!

I had one of these! ....but I'm guessing no one paid $95 for it!

Tempted by this (THE MUPPETS!!!) but in the spirit of decluttering, I left it on the 50% off shelf. I'm STRONG!

So no luck there.  On to another shop that I always tend to find something I wish I could bring home with me.  But I wasn’t sure if they had beds…. found out they had a few, but not many queens & not really any that worked with the look I was going for, even repainted.  Still the stock changed every week so it could be fun hunting just in case.

I was able to spot a few pieces that with some paint & maybe new hardware might be great finds!

Both of these caught my eye, but do I want more storage or comfort while sitting in front of the mirror? Both need some white paint!

Maybe its the colors on this, but its cute!

This sign did inspire... but I had to leave it there to inspire someone with more cash flow.

these lovely ladies wanted to come stay at my house, but we all decided they needed a grander (bigger) yard to view

The bonus here is that the longer it sits on the sales floor the more the price drops.  So when I do get the money coming in, these may even be a better deal.

So maybe I am open to a few other ideas than just the IKEA stuff.  But I still love my Hemnes pieces!  Who knows?! But what fun it is to dream.

Oh & as far as purchases… I did AWESOME!

Didn’t get a thing other than some creamer for tomorrow’s coffee & a few supplies to make it easier to eat in rather than picking up take out again.

yeah me.

Now…. where is that pug?  Its BATH TIME!

the Grilled Chicken Sandwich Project

Started on December 23, 2010…..

BLAH right?

So last night I thought ahead & picked up a grilled chicken sandwich.

Felt good going a healthy route, but dang that sandwich is less than inspiring.

Some how I managed to find a small thing of honey, which added some mild flavor, but all in all I wanted something else.

Which got me thinking.

Wonder how many possibilities there can be to jazzying up a simple grilled chicken sandwich.

Once a month,  I will be getting a grilled chicken sandwich & jazzing it up.  Join me & share your experiences & suggestions!

Anything Fresh Lo Mein

ahhhh chinese & no MSG!

Even better the next day!

It all started in the veggie aisle with a shopping cart & a ravenous stomach… 

Which lead me to snatching up ANYTHING FRESH!  I quickly nabbed some broccoli that was on sale & some snap peas, an orange pepper & some little yellow squash that just looked good.  Then I had to ask what in the world to do with them?  It hit me later in the store – STIR FRY!  The lo mein noodles were a new discounted item in the store as was the East West Sizzling Stir Fry Sauce.  The LIME pepper salt mixture by Jane’s Krazy Mixed Up Seasonings was new to me & sounded perfect for that chicken breast I had in my freezer.

So with just a slight bit of oil, I browned the seasoned chicken.  Then added some minced garlic & the bite sized chopped broccoli.

I just washed the snap peas & added those to the pan.  For the small squash I ended up washing & cutting off the top stem pieces & the bottoms, then chopping into thirds (or bite sized pieces).  The pepper also want chopped up into smaller pieces.   I don’t know why I hardly ever fix snap peas but I should a lot more often.  They are divine!

While the chicken & veggies cooked away, I cooked the lo mein noodles as directed on the package.  Mine took maybe 5 minutes in the boiling water.

The final step was adding in the sauce & noodles to the pan & letting it cook enough to get everything warm.  I added some sauce, tasted & loved it so much I ended up dumping in half the bottle!

I was really pleased by the lime, pepper, sugar & salt mixture.  Even with the sauce it accented the flavors perfectly.  Why haven’t I tried this stuff before?  Wasn’t expensive & just a simple idea.  I love that I can count the ingredients on my hand & pronouce all of them!

Next time I make this, I think that some crunchy fried tofu would be great.  I know it can be done… just not sure I can do it the way the local Thai place does.  But this would be a perfect dish for it.  Which honestly, I can’t say that often about tofu!  (But I am learning… lol)