Sunday, August 12, 2012

End of the diet and a new recipe

I received such love and support this past week for my elimination diet - so thank you everyone!  You all gave me some great recipe ideas, and even though the diet is over and I'm slowly re-introducing things, I'll definitely still take your suggestions, recipes, and other ideas to heart.

If nothing else, I've learned that I can give things up if I need to (never been one for dieting, I prefer the 'exercise your butt off' method).

Bottom line is I am 'mildly to moderately allergic' to chili pepper, black pepper, and garlic, in descending order.

I'll ask my doctor about scallions and grains of paradise as substitutes, and they're working on referring me to an allergist.  Hopefully he or she will say something like "Take two of these before having garlic and you'll never have a reaction again!"

 A girl can dream, right?

I do want to share a pretty kick-butt recipe I just threw together yesterday for lunch today and again tomorrow.  Quinoa salad with goat cheese and veggies!

Quinoa (cold)
Goat cheese
One whole tomato
Half a cucumber
Olive oil
Balsamic vinegar
Sea Salt

Its delicious.  I've found that I really do like quinoa, and really want to keep eating it... just, you know, with other stuff, not just steamed broccoli!

I guess I'll need to find something else to blog about now that I can't complain that I'm not drinking coffee or I can't find enough different foods to eat!


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Kale Chips = Goldfish?

A very sweet college friend (thanks Colleen!) sent me a link to this blog, The Particular Kitchen.  Molly's recipes look really good, and absurdly healthy... but they all have things I can't eat.  I'm so limited right now its just sad.  I mean, when the only condiments you can put on your food are sea salt, olive oil, and brown rice syrup, you're rather limited.

I made kale chips as soon as I got home from the doctor's office on Monday, after a trip to Trader Joe's (I figured Joe would have more of the things I could eat than our local Stop and Shop, which is still very much geared to the neighborhood Irish population).

Kale chips will be my saving grace - they add texture to my day, and have a really interesting flavor.  If I can't have goldfish, I'll have kale chips.

This recipe is not at all exact - so feel free to adjust.

Kale (duh)
Olive Oil

Rip kale into bite-sized pieces
Remove the veins (I took out the bigger ones, the smaller ones were fine)
Place kale on baking sheet
Drizzle with oil (I used about 4 large spoonfuls per baking sheet)
Sprinkle salt
Toss by hand
Bake - I think I did 5-7 minutes at about 475 - they got nice and crisp, even thought the recipe I found called for a much longer time.

And enjoy!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

No-No Cup of Joe

I write to you while "enjoying" a dinner of quinoa and broccoli, drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with salt.  I used the 'al dente' method of quinoa-cooking... boil water, THEN add quinoa.  The mushy method heats the water and the quinoa in tandem.  The things you learn about a no-fun diet.

The most difficult part of today was the lack of coffee.  Sure, I had green tea in the morning... afternoon... and late afternoon.  But it just wasn't coffee.  There's something about that wonderful black stuff that zings your eyes open and makes you ready for the day.  I don't feel human until my first cup of coffee, so 4:30 PM looked like me falling asleep at my work computer.

I also had my first workout on the diet this morning.  I was so hungry from not eating enough the day before that I got dizzy walking to the gym.  I had a handful of rice puffed cereal and took it easy.  Very easy.  My 27 minutes on the stairmaster were a joke at level 7 - I usually start at 9 and end at 17.  It felt like the first workout after a stomach bug... but I did it!  

I suppose it is good for me to decrease my dependence on coffee.  It was a miracle that I didn't get a caffeine headache.  I'm sure when this is all done I'll go back to coffee, but maybe my intake will go down to one cup a day, rather than several.  And green tea isn't so bad.  The only herbal teas I like involve fruit, so those are out.

So tomorrow, like today, I'll wake up, have some iced green tea, and at least be thankful that my body is de-toxing, slowly but surely.

The No-Fun Diet

I'm writing this post because I need someone to vent to and my guess is that my fiance is going to get rather tired of my whines by the time this whole 'experiment' is over.

I'm on a diet.  The first 'real' diet that is doctor-driven and being stuck to OR ELSE in my adult life.  And it is no fun.

It all started with allergic reactions - I'd have them, mildly, from time to time, after eating something.  Somethings.  Different things, and not always a reaction after getting the exact same dish at the exact same takeout place.  But the reactions began coming much more frequently over the past week and a half.  This past weekend included THREE, with the last one involving an ER visit.


Onto the doctor, where I'd started a few allergy tests last Thursday, to see what we could see.  Turns out I'm allergic to garlic.

That's right folks.  The part-Italian girl who loves ethnic food of any sort is allergic to GARLIC.  Please cue the violins so I can make my pity party more musical.

So, the doctor suggested what any good doctor would - an elimination diet.  I'll go ahead and list for you the things I CAN eat:
Rice Cakes
Rice Cereal
Almond Milk
Plain fish
Olive Oil
Pears (gross)
Green beans
Swiss Chard
Collard Greens
White beans
Sweet Potatoes
 Green and herbal teas

That's pretty much it.  Nothing additional - no herbs, spices, flavors, sugar (I'm allowed brown rice syrup as a sweetener), and no coffee.

In/conveniently, this of course happens a month before my wedding, so I'll look fabulous, but I've been losing weight just fine on my own, without any real dietary sacrifices, so that isn't as much of a bonus as one might think.

I'll use this blog to kvetch and re-live the bland food fun that I have.  How many nights in a row can I eat quinoa?  Are apples more interesting to eat off the core or in slices?  Is white bean hummus still tasty without garlic or tahini?  We'll find out!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Monty Python Day

Apparently, today, May 10, is International Monty Python Day.

Not to brag anything, but my parents' good taste included Monty Python, so I was familiar with those dudes at a young and impressionable age.  John Cleese has always been my fave.  He looks so proper, but is just so silly.
I like to say that I won my man over by quoting Monty Python on the first date.

We were at an adorbs tourist trap restaurant in the North End, Memorial Day 2007 (egads, has it really been 5 years?)  Witty banter went back and forth, and at one point I quoted, "I'm not dead yet!"

B laughed, then said, "Wait... you know that's Monty Python, right?"

"Obviously I do.  Why else would I have quoted it?"

B responded, "Well, a lot of girls don't know Monty Python."

My retort: Well, this one does!

And see folks?  We're getting married in less than 4 months!  (One day less, to be precise.)  So single ladies, be sure to quote Monty Python on the first date.  It works!

Monday, May 7, 2012

I love the 90s

Our local alternative radio station, 92.9, hosts a free concert every year.  They call it Earth Fest, although its usually held about a month after Earth Day (Boston's weather in April can be rather unpredictable).

Earth Fest pretty much kicks off summer for us.  I mean, we had St. Patrick's Day in March beginning tourist season, then Marathon Monday (excuse me... Patriot's Day) when it was a scorching beach day.  But mid to late May begins our unofficial summer, especially with Memorial Day weekend just around the corner.

This year's Earth Fest has my 15-year-old self's heart yearning and burning to go.  The featured bands include Eve 6 and Third Eye Blind.

A long, long time ago I went to see those two bands at Southern CT State University in New Haven.  I went with two girls from high school, but of course since we couldn't drive, there was a parent or two with us.  Young Clare was only able to sit and watch the crowd surfing, and check out the adorbs college men from afar.  I did manage to buy an Eve 6 tank top, which I then wore underneath my father's flannel shirts.  I was a little slow to catch onto the grunge trend.

Third Eye Blind was my very, very favorite band in the first half of high school (before they got too poppy and I switched my loyalties to DMB).  In fact, Semi-Charmed Life just came onto my iPod this morning during my circuit training at the gym.  I used to bring my old school boom box into the bathroom and take bubble baths while I listened to their first CD in its entirety.  Oh, those were the days...

Now how can I maneuver myself to the very front of the stage for this show, and tell the band members how much they shaped my musical tastes?

Friday, April 13, 2012

Spring Flings

One of my favorite things about spring is the simple brightening up of the world.  It is lighter, and lighter for longer.  People open up their coats and show themselves off to the world (and of course there is Boston Skirt Day, which I participate in yet roll my eyes when men 'enjoy' it overtly.)  I have quite a few favorite things for spring at the moment, fashion wise AND other-wise.
1. Tom's Ballet Flats
I posted about Tom's impending ballet flats here and then received them as my birthday pressie (thanks, B!)  They're wonderful.  I did have to return my normal size 8s and get 7s.  I could have gone to 7.5, but everything I heard about Tom's told me to order them a size smaller because they'll stretch.  The size 8s were so large that I thought 7s would be perfect, and after a little more than a week of breaking them in, they totes are!
To remind y'all, here's a nice pic:
Hello, friends.
I have the dusty pink color... not great for city walking, they're already a little dirty, so later I'll google "Keeping Toms clean" and hopefully will find something of value.

2. New tote!
I'm linking to this tote as well, so y'all can buy it right away.  Seriously, don't wait.  A mere $12 for a ginormous, super cute tote.  I can carry EVERYTHING I need for the gym and work, and then some.
"That store I'm too old to shop at" (Forever 21) had loads of colors.  At first I was hesitant that the bottom was pleather rather than canvas, but now that I think about it, I can put it on the floor of the T, or on the pavement, and not worry about it getting it dirty... wipes right off!  Bonus!

3. Essie nail polish
I'm not great at polishing my fingernails, and whenever I take it off my nails feel  unhealthy for weeks.  However, toe polish is fair game.  I recently discovered Essie and can't get enough of this coral color
 Now to find some new sandals... all of mine are 100% worn out (yes, I walk through shoes.)

4. Bath and Body Works Eucalyptus Mint anything
We had the battle of the soap in our ladies room at work a few weeks ago - the management company switched soaps, which really just seemed like they were instructing the cleaners to water it down.  Not so, said the cleaners.  Added to that, they don't fill the soaps every night (or every few nights) and sometimes there will be soap in one of three dispensers.

So some wonderful soul brought in hand soap.  Then another wonderful soul did the same.  Until finally, a SUPER wonderful soul brought in Bath and Body Works Eucalyptus Mint hand soap.
Readers, it was gone in two weeks... because that's all we ladies want to use.  It smells so fresh and clean on your hands, and is a perfectly compliment to my Trader Joe's lavender hand lotion I keep at my desk.

 Use it.  Love it.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Oh Crumbs!

One of my fave bloggers, Nat the Fat Rat, has been on a quest for the perfect chocolate chip cookie.  She lives in NYC, where apparently there are ample purveyors of cookies, all with different textures, chocolate-to-cookie ratios, crumbliness, and of course taste.

I'm a huge fan of the homemade chocolate chip cookie.  Chips Ahoy I could live without.  But when my dad, the good Reverend, gets it into his head to bake some cookies, you'll have me a) hoping they're chocolate chip (maybe with crasins, an added bonus) and b) that he'll send me some.

I mean, what do y'all think I had for dinner on my 21st birthday?

But Dad's baking notwithstanding, the ultimate cookie is hard to find.  Places like Starbucks and Au Bon Pain sell them, but they're out of a huge mix and do tend to taste processed.

What's a girl to do (when she doesn't want to bake an entire batch herself, because then she'd just eat them all.)

First, the Hotel Marlowe.
I have no idea what other sort of food you can get here.  I have been there once, because we were scouting local hotels for a venue to run a program.  And while we were there, the lovely events rep gave us chocolate chip cookies.
Fresh. Out. Of. The. Oven.

I have no idea if I can go there again and get another cookie.  I don't know if they sell those cookies, or if they just have them on hand as an afternoon staff pick-me-up.  I'd apply for a job at the Marlowe for those cookies.

(Perhaps its best for my waistline that I am never, ever, actually hired by the Marlowe.)

But recently, I found a pretty awesome alternative to a homemade chocolate chippy.  Folks, I'm talking to you about Tate's Cookies.

Tates of the light green wrapper.  Tates of the gourmet food specialty shops.  Overpriced, delectable Tates.

Flakey, buttery, crunchy cookie?  Check.
Ever so slight taste of salt? Check.
Melt in your mouth semi sweet chocolate? Check.

I am drooling just thinking about another Tate's cookie.  They never last long in the Intelligent Blonde house because, lets be honest, they're like crack.

(No, I actually said that to the dude at the corner store the last time I bought them.  "You ever try these" he asks.  "Yeah.  They're like crack."

I would like another packet of crack right now, please.

Thursday, March 1, 2012


I sometimes wonder if we're too dependent on electronic things for our daily lives.

Totes confirmed now at work.

I'm an event planner/admin of all trades.  I send out emails via our mass emailer, Communigate Pro, which we have re-named Communi-hate, because it has caused me some serious angst.

Yesterday and today, I haven't even been able to log in.  You see, it has been going suuuuuuper slowly (a turtle walking in molasses would go faster).  I try to log in.  Sometimes I am successful.  Sometimes not.  If I AM successful, I have to then click on the 'mailboxes' link in order to do anything.  But it takes so darn long that by the time it realizes where I want to go, it has logged me out, because it logs you out if you are inactive for too long.


I have an event tomorrow that I'd LOVE to remind people of.  But no dice on that one, because the only way I can access our email lists is through this stupid web site.  And I'm concerned that we'll have a crappy turnout because I couldn't send these emails.

I have another event in April that's a much bigger deal.  The early registration deadline is coming up in a few weeks and I'd love to remind people of that.  But again..... I CAN'T ACCESS THE MASS EMAIL SITE.

So yes.  I am depending on this stupid web site to get things done, and they cannot be accomplished.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Travel Recap: Ocean Reef

Sometimes, it is fun to pretend you are wealthy and important.  Like when you use the restrooms inside the Taj Boston.

Or when your fab cousin gets married at an uber-sweet gated community/resort at the top of Key Largo, called Ocean Reef.

Apologies, this is my time to gloat.

Its snowing right now in Boston.  But this was me 5 days ago.  Notice the blue skies, palm trees, pool, and my freshly painted toenails.  In 80+ degree weather, with humidity so high that my hair scrunched itself.  No gel required.  Usually not welcome, but it was so nice.

The journeys there and back were rather unremarkable, apart from every flight we took (4 all together) was 100% booked.  I guess that's what happens when you travel during February break.  And I must say that our journey from Boston to Orlando, a flight that had more children than I've ever seen on an airplane, was surprisingly quiet.  No screamers.  Well done, parents.

Now... pardon me while I live vicariously through my weekend:

We watched the boats come in before the ceremony... it was pretty gorgeous.

Check out the living room... awesome, right?

Yes, the skies opened up.  But that in no way hampered the wedding.  In fact, I was very impressed with the way the events staff was able to take an entire bar table, with bottles on top, from outside to underneath an awning so guests could drink AND stay dry.
(End event planner analysis.)
Our room... And B's superhero pose.

Our pelican buddy

The uber-happy couple.  Thanks, Liz, for choosing to get married in a super warm climate in the middle of winter.  I owe you one!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Eleven

My duty at the office today is to input business cards into the mac address book program - cards my boss collected at a recent conference.  And apparently it was a 'lets all trade cards conference' because I'm on #82.  So yes, I got a tad bit bored.  Checked blogger.  One of my fave bloggers (Beantown Prepster, the name alone makes you smile) posted something about being tagged.

You first pick 11 things about you (randomly) and write them down.  Then you answer her questions.  Then you create 11 more questions and tag 11 bloggers.
Well - I don't know 11 bloggers personally, and I doubt the bloggers who I follow also fallow me back, apart from a few buddies (AT I'm looking at you! You're tagged, I don't care that you write a food blog!)

Here I go!
1. I really really really love my engagement ring.  I mean, I know every girl does, but I love mine so much that I don't want a wedding ring.  I just want to wear only my e-ring for ever and ever.
2. I have an alarm set on my phone for BC pills at 9:20 PM, and to run up and down the stairs at my office building at 1:00 PM.
3. I don't like drinking ice water.  Its too cold.  The ice gets in the way of my attempts to drink the water, and I get thirsty a lot.  Even if I have a straw, it is too cold for me to drink at my normal drinking speed.
4. I am a super lightweight.  I started getting a semblance of a tolerance the first time I lived in the UK, but then my 21st birthday happened, I couldn't touch alcohol for 2 weeks, and it never came back.
5. Even before I got engaged, dated B, or thought of getting married myself in the abstract, I was obsessed with weddings.  I blame my mother, who brought me to see every wedding at my Dad's church.  We would sneak into the balcony and look at the bride's and bridesmaids' dresses.  That being said, I'm letting my bridesmaids choose their own LBD for my wedding.
6. I've become a bit obsessed with wedding etiquette.  Seriously.  Ask me anything.  I'll likely know the correct and proper answer.  You may not like it, but etiquette isn't always easy.
7. The coolest thing that happened to me this year so far is seeing my picture in my sorority's magazine.  It literally made my night - even better than homemade pizza (sorry B, it was delicious though!) and watching Moneyball.
8. I really don't understand the point of twitter unless you're famous or important.
9. I sometimes live vicariously through Mom blogs.  I mean, its like being an aunt or a grandparent.  You have the luxury of learning about parenthood and seeing cute children without actually having to deal with them.
10. I'm a vegetarian who eats fish, but I really enjoy the smell of good meat being cooked (steak, BBQ, turkey on Thanksgiving).
11. B and I have the same anniversary (we just use the date we met) as an ex of mine.  Kind of weird.

Beantown Prepsters' Qs!
1. If you could have a theme song play when you walk down the street, what would it be?
See, I always ask this question, only at baseball games, asking what peoples' at-bat songs would be.  But mine is always "We Built This City on Rock and Roll."
2. If you could watch only one TV show for the rest of your life, what would it be?
It would have to continuously be new episodes, first of all.  Because I do tire of the repeats after repeats after repeats. But if they just kept on making new episodes... Parks and Recreation or The Office.
3. French fries: Skinny and Crispy or big and mushy?
Skinny, crispy, and truffled.
4. What is your guilty pleasure outfit?
Leggings and anything.  I wear leggings to work because my office is that casual.  Not all the time.  But at least once a week.
5.Soda: fountain, bottle, or can?
Fountain Diet Coke.  Be still, my heart.
6. Favorite thing to do at the gym?
I love me some stairmaster.  Also, I just learned a new exercise for the abs, back AND inner thighs.  And you do it lying down on your back.  Talk about awesome.
7. If you could live anywhere, where would it be and why?
I really really really love Boston.  Its so great.  I'd stay here forever if I could (I have an allergy to suburbia) but we'll probably have to move when we buy a house because we aren't kajillionairres and can't afford a house in Boston.  Darn real estate prices.
8. What was your first animal and do you remember its name?
I had TWO animals, Figaro and Natasha (I didn't name them).  My parents already had them for a few years before I was born, and man were they interested in me when they brought me home from the hospital.
9. What is the one thing you carry in your purse that you absolutely cannot live without?
You mean besides my wallet, keys, and phone?  I try to always have a book or a live iPod.  And lotion.  I need lotion.
10. What is your most embarrassing habit?
Either popping zits or playing with my hair.  I play with my hair constantly.  Like, all.the.time.
11. If you could meet and be BFFs in real life with a blogger you follow, who would it be?
Well, I already follow my BFF, La Cucina Francesca.  But if I were to pick another one - it would be Nat the Fat Rat.  She just seems so funny and down to earth.  And she loves to eat.  And I could play with her baby.

Whew!  I answered all those questions AND I have input 100 business cards.  Not bad. 
My questions:
1. What are your feelings on walking as a form of transportation vs. form of exercise?
2. Books that you wish you could read again for the first time?
3. Favorite smell(s)?
4. Favorite silly song from childhood?
5. Most favorite beauty product and why?
6. What friends had the best snacks/toys growing up?
7. What made up holiday do you wish the world celebrated?

My mind is gone after the great business card input day.  That's all I've got.  Go nuts, readers!  Leave a comment if you end up answering my Qs!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Don't know what you got

People often say things like "You don't know what you got 'til its gone".

Inversely, you don't know what you're missing until you experience it.
Since I began working at NECSI, I've held down a second, weekend job at Zinnia.  In the long history of second jobs, I'm confident Zinnia is a very good one.  I'm friendly-friends with the rest of the workers, the customers are for the most part pleasant, and the discount is an added perk.

However, clearly this puts a strain on my time off.  I'd been doing Friday nights and "eitherSaturdayorSunday" since October 2010, making Fridays 11-13 hours long and giving me one day off per week (sometimes none because of volunteer responsibilities).  A girl can get exhausted before she knows it.
This past December, I told the lovely manager at Zinnia that if she needed to cut hours in January (aka the slowest sales month known to humankind), she could cut mine.  So this past weekend was my first 'real' weekend in a long, long time.  And friends, it was glorious.  Thank you, labor unions, for creating the modern weekend.  To have Saturday AND Sunday AND Friday evening off?  It was a little piece of heaven.  The weekend before I worked Sunday, but had the MLK Jr. holiday off the next day, so in truth I had TWO 2-day weekends in a row.

Big deal, Clare, you say.  Lots of people have that.  Well, friends, it had been longer than I care to admit.  So long that it reminded me of what loveliness it was to hang out with my fiance and do nothing all day - grocery shop, wander, read and draw (I read, he drew).  
Now, I don't like to complain about my lot in life.  There are people holding down 2+ jobs who are much worse off than I am.  The economy is not great, to say the least, and people are struggling.  I am grateful for the jobs I have.

But I was also very grateful for the break.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

The snow, it is snowing

I know a lot of people have some choice words to say about snow.

After all, it can cancel travel and social plans, down power lines, cause accidents, and is a pain in the butt to shovel.
In the city, snow can go from 0 to ugly in a few hours, as soon as the fresh powder stops falling.

Me?  I don't care.  Not even a little bit.  I am a city dweller, and I love snow.
There is nothing like the calm that fills the city in a snowstorm.  Everything is quiet.  Everything is peaceful.  The ugliness of a stark winter is covered by a fluffy white blanket.

We renters have a pretty sweet deal when it comes to snow.  For the most part, we don't need to shovel.  The landlord takes care of that.  And while owning a car may  have a whole heap of benefits, when you don't own one, guess what?  You don't have to shovel it out, and you don't have to find a lawn chair, traffic cone, or barrel to save your parking spot.
In fact, the snow is perfect for the walkers.  We're slowed down a little bit, which makes us enjoy the weather, makes us really breath in the air and the freshness snow brings.

Its Saturday.  B and I are both home, a weekend rarity.  Relaxed music plays.  Until recently, I sat in the window drinking tea and reading the latest VF.  B is drawing.  We're cozy in a way one can only be on a cold winter's day.