April 25, 2012

Beer-garitas: It's All in the Wrist

In an attempt to escape the reality that is my life be fun last weekend, I hopped back in the car and headed to meet some friends in North Myrtle Beach. Like me, they love to drink margs and endlessly discuss the finer qualities of shows like Cougar Town and Happy Endings. Unlike me, they aren't teachers, so I knew I wouldn't have to talk about work. 

It's a win-win, really. 

Speaking of "win-win", Saturday night we made the brave attempt at making "beer-garitas", which are exactly what they sound like: beer + margaritas. I got the idea when I lived in New York, where the Mexican place around the corner from my apartment served a Red Nosed Bulldog: frozen marg with a Corona turned belly-up, topped with sangria. As you drank the margarita, more and more Corona would bubble out of the bottle and deliciously mix in with the tequila. 

It was heaven. 

My black bean salsa recipe on left, beer-garita on right. Yes, it's more delicious than it looks.

Luckily, Saturday night my girls took a leap of faith with me, and pay off it did. (That is, after my first few attempts to upturn the beer bottle into the marg, which ended with lots of frozen tequila slush all over the floor. Woops.) Trust me, it's worth the risk of having to mop the next day. See for yourself: 

Step 1: 
  • 2 quarts ice cubes
  • 1 (12 fluid ounce) can frozen limeade concentrate (or lemonade if you're in a pinch)
  • 12 fluid ounces tequila (measure with empty limeade can...oh yeaaaaah)
  • 1/4 cup triple sec

Blend ingredients together. Avoid drinking directly out of the blender, as this makes you look like a lush.

Step 2: 
6 bottles of lime-flavored beer, such as Corona, Bud Light Lime, or Mich Ultra Lime.

Fill each glass about 1/2 full with frozen marg. Get the mouth of the bottle as close to the slush as possible, and quickly turn it upside down into the slush (do this over a sink). It should be completely vertical, otherwise it's just going to gurgle out and your glass will overflow. 

Top with lime wedge for garnish. Add straw and enjoy. 

Cheers, ya'll!

April 24, 2012

30 Day Shred + Lilly Bikinis

Spring Break have come and gone, but my desire for a beach body hasn't waned. (The desire is heightened by the fact that Spring Break drinking has made my pants just a littttle bit harder to button. Gross.)

Basically, my 0.5 mph after-school strolls around neighborhood aren't cutting it when it comes to losing weight. Inspired by my super-hot friend Jamie, I picked up Jillian Micheal's 30 Day Shred at Wal-mart on my way back from the beach this weekend. 

The basic premise: there are three different levels, each increasing in intensity. The program is designed to do Level 1 for 10 days, Level 2 for 10 days, and so on. 

Oh, and the other thing? You have to do it every. single. day....for 30 days. 

Since I this will be my first summer off...ever...I plan on spending a LOT of time at the beach, and I've finally reached the point of desperation motivation where I'm willing to do something like this. 

I started Sunday, then yesterday decided to be a rockstar and do Zumba + 30 Day Shred. Today will be Pilates + 30 Day Shred. 

Can we say "modeling career"? Oh yeah. 

The light at the end of the tunnel? I've told myself that if I can actually stick with the program for 30 days, I can buy myself a Lilly bathing suit: 

Boardwalk Bikini Ties Top and Sandy Ties Bottom 

Lilly Keene bandeau and Surf's Up Bottom 

So, despite the fact that my arms may fall off of my body at any minute, I think it's worth it. Summer 2012, here I come.

April 20, 2012

Magic Teaching Pants

Cafe Capri in Abstract Leopard (I die.)
I may have discovered the secret to teaching middle school:

Cute clothes.

Not joking. Besides giving you me that pep in my step that only a great outfit can, showing that you actually take care of yourself and your appearance seems to show students that you are, actually, Somebody. Plus, my female students write about my outfits in their journals. (Um, the fat, frumpy, middle schooler in me is dying that someone is writing about my clothes in their journal. Dying.)

Also, the best teaching pant ever? The j. crew cafe capri in...every.single.color. Not only are they comfortable enough to sit on the floor if need be, they make me feel a little Jackie-O -ish when I pair them with low heels and a boatneck. Die.

Cafe Capri in Dazzling Sun
How. Awesome. Are. They.

Cafe Capri in Warm Jade

Cafe Capri in Fresco Floral Sateen

I could keep going...forever. The best way to stock up? Score them at the outlets. Did I mention j.crew gives a 15% teacher discount on sale items as well? Done and done. Sorry, credit card.

April 19, 2012

Three Little Birds

Trust me, it seems even farther when you realize you have to walk alllll the way back
I spent the last weekend of my (incredible, perfect, amazing) Spring Break in Charleston with my amazing friend Lindsay. Friday morning, I somehow thought it would be a greaaat idea to walk the Cooper River Bridge in Charleston....all 5.2 miles of it. Let's just say that about halfway through, Linds had to put up with me crossing my arms, stomping my foot, and pushing my lower lip out like a 2 year old. (At which point she kindly reminded me that our car was back at the other end of the bridge, so if I ever wanted to make it home, I was eventually going to have to start walking. Touche.)
Yes, I Insta-grammed. So shoot me. 
 Luckily, you can convince me to do pretty much anything if there is a food-related reward at the end. Since Linds know me all too well, she took me to Three Little Birds, a cafe on James Island that has vegan breakfast items.
 Unfortunately for her, I got a little "hangry" (hungry + angry) and could barely put a cohesive sentence together. (Unless you consider "Where the heck is our waitress I need a coffee IV drip nooooooooow" a cohesive sentence.)
Post workout, but happy to be fed
Eventually, I chowed down on the Breakfast Burrito: black beans, sweet potatoes, and peppers stuffed into a spinach wrap and doused with salsa verde. Yum. With calories and caffeine coursing through my bloodstream, I was semi-pleasant to be around. I think I might have carried on an actual conversation as well.

Sigh. Now I'm back in the land guzzling a smoothie on the way to work. Not quite the same. On the bright side? I'm not having a mid-bridge meltdown either.

April 13, 2012

Bull in a Lilly Shop

I was a very bad girl yesterday. 

But how could I be good when:
1) birthday money was practically burning a hole in my pocket, and 
2) the Lilly store in Southpark was practically beckoning me to enter?

The short answer: I couldn't.  

 They politely let me snap some pictures of the gorgeous store on my phone (perhaps because it was clad in a Lilly cover?). Check it out:
If only my kitchen cabinets looked like this...

Yum. How much longer until the Phi Mu print is out?
I tried to steal this couch, but didn't get very far.

Just gimme.

I was there for a purpose (other than drooling all over myself): buying a dress for my cousin's (Royar's brother) upcoming graduation from Hampden-Sydney.

The staff was incredibly kind to me as I paraded around the store, asking them questions like "Is this too casual for a graduation party/outdoor fete/all around debauchery?" (Their answer: No.) 

I walked away with the Somerset dress in this print:

Somerset dress in Worth Blue May Flowers $108.00

I haven't quite mastered the hands on hips aloof look yet, but I'm working on it. 
And, for my vegan travels, a roomy cooler (bottle opener and corkscrew included):
Insulated Cooler $32.00

However, you know you have (financial) issues when you go to pull out your wallet at said Lilly store, and two Lilly koozies fall out of your purse. Woops.

Isn't the first step to recovery admitting you have a problem?

I'm in Charleston for the last leg of my Spring Break...hope you are relaxed and happy wherever you are. Happy Friday, ya'll!

April 11, 2012

Alicia Silverstone Defends Mouth to Mouth Baby Feeding

In my eyes, Alicia Silverstone can do no wrong. (So much so that I didn't blink an eye when she named her baby Bear. Huh?)

And then this photo came out.

Isn't that what mashed bananas are for? (Mashed with a fork, I mean. Not your molars.)

While I suppose a non-mommy like myself can't pass judgement on those that have given birth, this is one of those things that us Southerners just consider "a bit too much", which is the nice way of saying "what the hell are you thinking?". (Example: as a teenager, when I would try to leave the house in a dress that was too short, my mother would turn me right on my heelhang ego back and change, telling me it was just a bit too much.

Thoughts? Is anyone else going to have nightmares about Alicia feeding a nest of screeching
baby birds wither chewed up food? Me too.

April 9, 2012

A Discourse on Pancakes

You will be in a bikini on Thursday. You will be in a bikini on Thursday. You will be in a bikini on Thursday. 

Eh, screw it. Who I am I to deny the cravings for carbs and fat  whims of my body? 

For the past few weeks, my breakfast has consisted of a few raw pieces of fruit: an apple and banana, say, or a few nectarines. (This may be the closest I ever come to a raw food diet, and I'm willing to live with that.) While it gives me amazing energy and (surprisingly) keeps me satiated until lunch, for the past few days I've been craving something a little more...substantial. 

Which means one thing: bring on the pancakes. Lots of 'em. 

To give myself a little credit, they're whole wheat, vegan, and I added some fruits and veggies for more fiber. 

Does that negate the fact that I slathered them in SmartBalance Light and agave nectar? My sources point to no. 

Day 1: Carrot Pancakes
Yes, I realize this looks like someone already ate it. It's about the process, people!

Doesn't it look like they're holding hands? Aww...#ineedtogetoutmore

Not bad if I do say so myself. 
Day 2: Apple Pancakes
See caption under: Day 1 Carrot Batter

One minute, they're all peaceful and ready to be flipped...

then..BAM!..they're on a suicide mission. (Camera shaking due to laughter.)

Can we all agree that my photography is majorly improving? Thank you, thank you very much.
Carrot/Apple Pancakes
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 Tbsp.  baking power
1 tsp. salt
1 cup almond milk

Optional: 1 cup shredded carrots OR 1 cup unpeeled, diced apple

1. Mix everything together in a big bowl. Stir it around a little bit.
2. Spray a griddle or skillet with cooking spray. 
3. Drop batter onto griddle using a 1/3 measuring cup. 
4. When beginning to brown around the edges and bubble, it's time to flip them. 
5. Make every effort to keep the pancake on the griddle and off the floor as you turn it. 
6. When lightly browned on other side, remove griddle from heat, pour on the (vegan) butter and syrup, and enjoy! Serves 2. 

So maybe I won't look like Gisele on Thursday. (Or ever.) But I'm happy, healthy, and not longer hungry after two days of eating like this. Now pass the syrup, please. 

Cheers, ya'll!

April 6, 2012

April Showers Bring...Spring Raincoats

Thank you, Mother Nature, for sending a cold front my way on the first day of Spring Break. Instead of sunning myself on a pier overlooking the serene waters of Albemarle Sound, I'm huddled under afghans while desperately rubbing my hands together, trying to keep warm caveman-style. I'm trying to determine if the color of the sky would be described as Slate or Shark's Belly on a Martha Stewart paint chip. I'm going to invent my own paint chip entitled This Sucks I Need A Tan.

The silver lining in all of these clouds is that now I have an excuse to shop for spring raincoats to ward of all this chilly dampness. (Let's get real: There's only so many episodes of TiVo-ed House Hunters I can watch before I start voraciously shopping online.)

I love kelly green at all times, but especially spring. It contrasts beautifully with jeans or khakis and is just plain timeless. This one from Land's End looks fabulous, with warm lining and removable hood:

Women's Modern Swing Raincoat $140.00 (the green is on sale for 94.99!)

Leave it to Vineyard Vines models to make me feel inadequate. Seriously, how cute is this girl? And the pink color of the raincoat is to die for, as well as being bright enough to pretty much guarantee you won't get run over when crossing the street.
Vineyard Vines Stow & Go Rain Coat $155.00

Have you ever looked like this on a rainy day? Because I sure haven't. 
Then we get to the raincoats a teacher can actually afford: Target. But hey, with a cotton lining and cute roll-up sleeves, these anoraks are worth every bit of their $34.99.  

Target Women's Hooded Rain Anorak in Pink $34.99

Target Women's Hooded Anorak in Polka Dot $34.99
Even though I promised myself I'd stash my tax refund instead of spending it on clothes, I'm pretty tempted to press "Purchase". The fact that it just started raining again isn't doing anything to help my willpower.

Where do you find cute rain gear?

Are you saving or spending your tax refund?

April 4, 2012

Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead

After a recent recommendation from my neighbor (yes, in small towns our neighbors stop by to recommend the latest in award-winning food documentaries), I spent a few hours in bed last Saturday night weekend watching Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead, a documentary that follows two men on opposite sides of the world (Australia and Iowa) as they attempt to take back their health by...gasp! eliminating animal products (ok, and all solid food...) and diving head first into health by embarking on a juice cleanse for 60+ days.

I'm sure you can guess what happens next, and you'd be right. They both lose incredible amounts of weight, their blood pressure and cholesterol plummet, and they form a super tight bromance while on their journey to health. Ka-ching! Amazingly, they both also suffered from the same rare autoimmune disease that...drum roll please....was basically cured after 60 days on the cleanse. As in: they no longer had flare ups or needed medication of any kind. If that's not a cure, I don't know what is.

Believe it.

While I wish the movie had gone a bit more into how to maintain a balanced diet after a juice cleanse is over, I was impressed at how the guys in the movie were determined to get their message to others by walking into what seemed like every truck stop and diner in America. (I like to think I'm tough, but some of those truckers were a little, um, intimidating.)

Watch it if you: Have a friend or family member who claims they would "put a steak in the juicer" (yes, someone in the film said those.exact.words) rather than eat that many fruits and vegetables, or if you're just curious about juicing.

Something surprising: According to Joe, 5% of the calories Americans consume are from fruits and vegetables. Five.Percent. The rest? Processed foods, starches, and animal products. Ugh.

Have you juiced? Are you curious about juicing? I'll never say never, but I'm not sure this is something I'd be able to stick with.

Cheers, ya'll!

April 2, 2012

G-mama's Cornbread

Just about the first thing I would register for at my wedding (you know...my wedding that's permanently hold until I locate a, uh, groom) would be a cast iron skillet. It was always a big deal when my G-mama would make us a batch in hers when we were younger, and I'm still impressed by the thought of her 95 lb. self whipping that heavy thing out from the cabinet like it was light as a feather. That was also the time in high school in which I became vegetarian and she was worried about my mental health, so she never failed to remind me it was an easy way to get more iron in my diet. (Got it, G-mama. Thanks.)
I like to think about her, resolutely mixing up the cornmeal in her country kitchen with afternoon sunlight bursting through the window. As a teenager, I absolutely hated visiting the super-tiny town that my grandparents lived in, since in my opinion any place that far away from a mall wasn't worth a trek of mine.

And here I am, at 26, mixing up cornmeal in my own country kitchen with afternoon sunlight bursting through the window. 

Now that she's gone, I should've paid more attention to the way she wrangled that cast iron skillet and wish I hadn't been so reluctant to spend quiet afternoons with her in little patches of sunlight.

What I can do is spend sunny spring afternoons thinking of her, updating her work in the kitchen in a way that she would be proud of. I think she'd be pretty impressed by the nutritional value in this cornbread as well as the taste: a hint of spice from the green chiles topped by a quick crunch from the kernels of corn. Shredded zucchini adds bulk without adding calories, and certainly ups the fiber content. It's perfect for sopping up the last bits of straight-from-the-can tomato soup she would have cheerily made me while silently praying that I would quickly grow out of this "vegetarian phase" so she could really get down to business. 

Zucchini and Green Chile Cornbread
2 cups self rising cornbread mix
2 cups grated zucchini (about 3-4 small zucchini)
1 can whole kernel corn, drained
1 small can green chiles, drained

1 cup almond milk (or other non dairy milk)
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/4 c. vegetable oil

1. Preheat oven to 400. 
2. In a medium mixing bowl, combine cornbread mix, zucchini, corn, and chiles. Stir to combine.
3. Add almond milk, applesauce, and oil to the cornbread mixture, stirring until all ingredients are well mixed. If mix is too dry, add more almond milk by the tablespoon until ingredients are moistened but not soggy. 
4. Pour batter into a greased 9x13 baking pan. 
5. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until golden brown. 



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