Keeping Myself Accountable and Setting New Goals

Hi everyone! I’m back!

I can’t believe it’s been over 4 months since I last blogged! I didn’t expect to take such a long hiatus, but one day led to another, and another — but I’m back and ready to be better than ever.

I’m back, because I need this blog. I need a community — however intangible — to surround me and to keep me accountable on my health journey. I need this concrete record of where I’ve been and where I’m going.

I’ve still been weighing myself faithfully on Wednesday mornings, but I’ve put a few pounds back on since my lowest recorded (recent) weight of 155.2 pounds on September 3. I think even more than the number on the scale, I feel the extra weight that I’ve put back on. I haven’t been exercising consistently, and I’ve been much more lax in my eating since the late summer. It’s time to get focused again.

I need this accountability, especially as we head into the holidays. Thanksgiving, my 29th birthday, Christmas, and New Year’s all fall within a period of about 5 weeks, and I need some accountability to help me finish the year strong.

***

As you may remember, I set some goals over the summer. Unfortunately, I didn’t stick to them very well. (I never even posted the update that I intended!) In order to spur me forward, I want to re-evaluate those goals and modify them if necessary or update them if they have been achieved. I will report on my progress on these on or around January 1.

Original goal: Achieve a total loss of 30 pounds by Labor Day.

New goal: Weigh 153 pounds (for a total loss of 24 pounds) on January 1.

I planned to achieve a total loss of 30 pounds by Labor Day, which unfortunately did not happen. Although losing about 1 pound per week is what I set out to do from the beginning, I want to give myself some grace during the holiday season. However, I do want to exceed my previous lowest recorded weight and weigh in at 153 pounds on January 1. My long-term goal: to be in a bikini next June in Virginia Beach!

New goal: Log every meal on MyFitnessPal.

I did not have this as one of my original goals, but it’s so important to keeping myself accountable that I need to formalize it here. I was so diligent about logging all of my meals on MyFitnessPal until about mid-September, when I really fell off. I traveled extensively for work through October, and I just about gave up on tracking entirely during that time. I plan on tracking every meal, every day, from here on out, with the exception of Thanksgiving, my birthday, and Christmas.

Original goal: Blog 4 times per week — including weekly “Weigh-In Wednesday” posts.

New goal: Blog 3 times per week — including weekly “Weigh-In Wednesday” posts.

I love blogging here, but it does take quite a bit of time. That said, as I mentioned above, it is necessary to keep me accountable. Three times per week is definitely do-able, especially if I plan ahead. I also plan to re-start my “Weigh-In Wednesday” posts, because I’ve been weighing myself consistently anyway.

"Weigh-in Wednesday" - 11/5/14

“Weigh-In Wednesday” – 11/5/14

Original goal and new goal: Exercise 4 times per week.

As I mentioned back in June, I need to re-find the motivation to get up early and work out. When I was exercising consistently, I was losing weight consistently. It’s pretty self-explanatory.

I also want to return to doing exercise classes at my gym, especially BodyPump. This will not be possible every week, but I want to get back into the habit.

Original goal: Return to restricting my consumption of sweets to Sundays.

New goal: Restrict my consumption of sweets to the weekend, except during holiday weeks (Veterans Day week, Thanksgiving week, birthday week, and Christmas week).

Portland Creme donut from Voodoo Donut in Portland, Oregon

Portland Creme doughnut from Voodoo Doughnut in Portland, Oregon

I very successfully gave up sweets for Lent this year, and I know that it made a huge difference in my weight loss efforts. I need to go back to doing this, but it is very hard for me to do!

I’m going to take this week by week during the holiday season. It may seem like I’m giving myself alittle too much grace here by not cutting myself off entirely, but I also want to be honest and to enjoy the season. I am starting out seriously this week, though: I’ve followed through thus far on a commitment that I made to myself to not eat any sweets this Monday through Friday (November 3-7)!

Original goal: Finish reading 4 books by Labor Day.

New goal: Finish reading 2 books by January 1.

Heaven, also known as Powell's Books in Portland, Oregon

Heaven, also known as Powell’s City of Books in Portland, Oregon

I love to read, but I have such a difficult time finishing books lately! I just started participating in a book club in August with my co-workers, which is helping me to focus and actually complete the ones that I start, and I’d like to take some of that motivation and finish 2 additional books before the end of the year. (One of them will likely be American Sniper by Chris Kyle, which I promised my hubby I would read before we see the movie at Christmas.)

Original goal and new goal: Re-energize my Scentsy business.

“Fragrance” is one of the three major focus areas that I established for my blog, but unfortunately, I haven’t really posted about my journey with Scentsy. I’m still figuring out where I want to — and feasibly can — take it, quite frankly.

Accomplished goal: Determine the direction of my career.

That said, I don’t intend for Scentsy to become a full-time gig, because I do have a full-time career as a nonprofit fundraiser in Washington, D.C. Since writing my original goals, I feel considerably more confident in the direction of my career. I attended a conference a few weeks ago in Portland, Oregon — as evidenced by the photos I’ve included in this post — which was hosted by the Grant Professionals Association, and it really solidified that I am in the right field and have the potential to accomplish a great deal — and make a considerable difference in people’s lives — if I continue on this path. My next step is to earn my Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE) certification.

***

Even though I do want to re-focus, I don’t want to lose sight of what I have accomplished so far — I am still down 19.8 pounds (as of Wednesday) since I re-started my health journey in late February! I’ve really come to love running and have completed three races this year — including the Marine Corps Marathon 10K — and there’s a Thanksgiving Day Turkey Trot still to come!

MCM 10K Medal

I finished!

That said, these are also huge reasons why I need to get serious again: I’ve made so much progress that I don’t want to throw away or lose, just because I don’t have enough self-discipline or control.

I’m so happy to be back!

Are you working toward any goals before the end of the year?

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WIAW #11, Weigh-In Wednesday Update, and Some Race News

Happy Wednesday, friends!

Stay tuned for my What I Ate Wednesday (WIAW) update, and keep reading for a few other newsworthy items!

***

Here is a look at what I ate yesterday — Tuesday, June 24, 2014.

Breakfast: Fage Total 0% Greek Yogurt with Peach and 1/3 cup maple and cinnamon granola

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The usual. (I raved about this combo at length on WIAW #1.)

Morning Snack: Sargento Colby Jack Cheese Stick

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I got pretty hungry yesterday around 11 a.m., so I reached for a colby jack cheese stick (only 80 calories) to hold me over until lunch.

Lunch: Mexican feast — officially known as the Tijuana — at Lauriol Plaza

So, remember in WIAW #7, when I had leftovers from Lauriol Plaza? Well, I ordered the same meal yesterday, and I didn’t bring anything back. I went to lunch with my team at work to welcome a new staff member, and I went completely overboard!

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This picture doesn’t even capture all of the chips, salsa, and guacamole that I ate, or the tortillas for my fajitas. Fortunately, I probably only had a quarter cup of that rice. Everything else (with the exception of some of the veggies) was gone!

Sometimes, I think it is easier to keep my portions in check when I am by myself, as I was the last time I went to Lauriol Plaza. Everyone was still eating yesterday when I should have stopped after one fajita, and I didn’t really want to take leftovers back because we have so much food in the fridge at home to use, so I just kept going. And I ended up being way overfull. When that happens — and it still does occasionally, even though I am exponentially more conscious of my eating habits — I think back to how I used to eat and can’t believe that I consumed that much in one sitting on the regular.

For what it’s worth, every bite was seriously fantastic. And those refried black beans…drinkable. And the 3 jumbo grilled shrimp that come with this meal (which sets the Tijuana apart from their standard chicken fajitas) are some of the meatiest and best I’ve had.

Head to WIAW #7 for another recap of how much I love this meal.

Dinner: Wild caught sockeye salmon fillet with 1/4 cup Wegmans Citrus Soy Sauce and 1 cup broccoli

Since I way overdid it at lunch, dinner was small. I thought about not eating anything at all for dinner, but I wasn’t sure that I could make it all the way to this morning without having anything.

Unfortunately, I totally forgot to take a picture of my plated meal, but I was able to get a photo of the components.

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Wegmans Citrus Soy Sauce is amazing on salmon — likely on any kind of fish. My hubby brushes a little bit of my 1/4 cup allotment on the fillet while he is grilling, and I dump the remainder on the salmon when it is finished.

(Have I ever mentioned how much I love sauce of any kind? Gravy, tomato sauce, marinades — if it’s a sauce, I love lots of it.)

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Even after putting some butter on my broccoli, this meal only came to 375 calories.

As always, it was a great day of eats. (How could it not be, when I went to Lauriol Plaza?)

Thank you for hosting the WIAW link-up, Jenn!

***

And now for a brief “Weigh-in Wednesday” update…

Even after eating so much yesterday, this morning I was down 0.2 pounds! That means I sustained my fantastic 2.6 pound loss from last week, and I even added to it!

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I would really like to see a 1 pound loss next week to put me even more on track to losing a total of 30 pounds by Labor Day, but for now, I’m thrilled with this.

***

One more thing to share…

I signed up to run two more races in the coming months!

I am doing another 5k, the Run! Geek! Run! 5k, in Fairfax, Virginia, on August 24, 2014. As I mentioned in my recap of last weekend’s race, I am aiming to finish this one in 33:30.

On October 26, 2014, I will be running the Marine Corps Marathon 10k in Washington, D.C.! There are 9 weeks between the Run! Geek! Run! race and this 10k — exactly enough time for me to complete Active.com’s 5k to 10k training.

I’m going to keep track of all of my race times and my upcoming runs on the new “Race Schedule” page that I created.

***

I really couldn’t be happier with how things are going.

Do you have a type of food that you can’t get enough of? Man, I love Mexican food. And Indian food. And Italian food. I basically just love food.

Have you caught the racing bug? I think that I officially have!

WIAW #10: Virginia Beach Edition

Hello friends, and welcome to the special Virginia Beach edition of What I Ate Wednesday (WIAW)!

My husband and I are spending the week with his parents and cousin at my in-laws’ timeshare at Oceanaire in Virginia Beach. Since arriving last Friday night, I’ve done a whole lot of sleeping, reading, eating, and lounging on the beach and in the pool. I’ve even worked out three times so far!

View from our hotel balcony

View from our hotel balcony

This relaxing trip is exactly what I needed. I know I’m going to head home on Friday rejuvenated and ready to get back to a routine — including consistently working out and blogging again!

Without further ado, here is a look at what I ate today — Wednesday, June 11, 2014.

Breakfast: Quaker Real Medleys Peach Almond Oatmeal +

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We’ve had some indulgent breakfasts over the last few days — my in-laws are big breakfast people — so I decided to break from the pack this morning and have something a little lighter and healthier.

I can never go wrong with this Real Medleys oatmeal from Quaker. I was thrilled to find this peach variety when we went grocery shopping down here on Saturday morning, because it is not carried at Wegmans at home anymore!

Lunch: Leftover Cavatappi and Meatballs in Lemon-Basil Sauce and 1 Tastykake Peanut Butter Kandy Kake

For most of our vacation, in order to save money, we’ve cooked breakfast, lunch, and dinner in our condo. Last night, my husband and I volunteered to make one of our new favorite meals for everyone: Cavatappi and Meatballs in Lemon-Basil Sauce from Pampered Chef.

We doubled the recipe and ended up having quite a bit left over to enjoy for lunch today.

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I actually ordered the Pampered Chef recipe book in which it is found — 29 Minutes to Dinner, Volume 3 — specifically to try this.

The meatballs are made from scratch with ground chicken or turkey (we use turkey), but my husband, who typically prefers beef, actually loves them! A key ingredient in the yummy sauce is mascarpone, an Italian sweet cream cheese. The whole recipe comes together with the help of Pampered Chef’s Sweet Basil Rub.

I wanted to finish off my lunch with something sweet, so I decided to have a Tastykake Peanut Butter Kandy Kake.

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Tastykakes were a staple growing up in southeastern Pennsylvania — they are made in Philadelphia — and I still love them! While I don’t buy them too often anymore, I’m thrilled that I can still find them in Virginia when I have a craving.

Dinner: Cup of She Crab Soup, dinner roll with butter, Stockyard Kabob, and baked potato with butter from Black Angus

I have a confession: I had too much butter with this meal.

We ate dinner out tonight for the first time all week at Black Angus, a Virginia Beach staple for the Verdejo family. My husband and his family have been coming to Virginia Beach every summer for probably 20 years, and they’ve gone to Black Angus for dinner basically every trip.

As a starter, I got a cup of the She Crab Soup, which is amazing. I think I’ve ordered it every time I’ve gone to Black Angus (the last 4 summers) and was really looking forward to having it again.

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(I made sure to work out today so I could enjoy this creamy, indulgent delight!)

A delicious dinner roll with butter followed, but I sadly didn’t take a picture of that.

As our entree, all five of us ordered the Stockyard Kabob, and I got a baked potato (with butter, of course) as my side.

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A big reason my in-laws like to go to Black Angus is their Early Bird Special — between 4:30 and 6:30 p.m., the kabobs are buy 1, get 1 free! It is an incredible deal for good food!

The kabob didn’t have as much flavor this year as it has in the past — I don’t think it was marinated long enough — but my father-in-law got the waitress to bring some of the extra marinade from the kitchen to punch things up, and it really enhanced the meal.

All-in-all, it was a great dinner, and it was so nice to eat out!

***

It was definitely another good day of eats! It’s a tough decision, but I think the She Crab Soup wins the award for my favorite item of the day.

Thank you for hosting the WIAW link-up, Jenn! (I can’t wait to try your Baked Seafood Dip!)

***

Do you go to the same place for vacation every summer, or does your family switch it up? My husband and I go to Virginia Beach at least once every summer with my in-laws (they have two timeshare weeks — one in June and one in August), but we like to go other places, too. Because we will likely not go on another lengthy vacation this year, we decided to spend the full week in Virginia Beach this time, which we’ve actually never done together until now. (We tend to stay for 3-4 days.)

Does your family have a restaurant they visit every year on vacation? 

Friday Favorites #8: Week of May 30, 2014

Happy Friday, everyone, and welcome to my 8th Friday Favorites link-up, courtesy of Heather at Housewife Glamour!

It’s been several weeks since I’ve participated in Friday Favorites, and it’s good to be back.

Here are some of the things that I am loving this week!

1. Organic Black Bean Dip from Wegmans

My obsession with black beans continues. This black bean dip was an impulse buy on Monday — I saw a sign for it when I was passing through the aisle — but I don’t have any regrets about purchasing it!

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There’s a good mix of tomato and black bean flavors, and I do detect the lime. The consistency is alittle thicker than standard salsa. The best part: it’s only 10 calories per tablespoon — making 1/4 cup, the perfect amount to accompany 1 serving of tortilla chips, only 40 calories.

2. “Summertime” by DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince (Will Smith)

Nothing says summer like this song. I will always love it!

3. Post on Jesus from James J. Martin, SJ

I discovered Jesuit priest, author, and commentator James J. Martin several years ago when I started reading one of his books, My Life with the Saints. He’s exploded in recognition lately, which is likely related to his appearances on The Colbert Report as the “resident chaplain” and his cultural and religious commentary in major media outlets.

I follow Father Martin on Facebook and Twitter, and last Sunday he posted about how we can know what God is like through the words and deeds of Jesus:

Now it’s true that God is a mystery. Beyond us. Beyond our complete comprehension. St. Thomas Aquinas said that if you can define it, or you think you know it, it’s not God. Because God is always bigger and more beautiful than what we can imagine.

But, by the same token, Jesus tells us quite clearly if you want to know who God is or how God is just look at him. That’s often helpful for people are struggling with their relationship with God. Because often you’re not relating to God, but to a creation of your own. Often, for example, people who have had parents or teachers who were harsh and judgmental project those images onto God. And that becomes their God. And then they have a hard time relating to that. People often need to be invited to let go of those images of God for God’s God.

Jesus shows us quite clearly who God is and how God is. So what is God like? Just look at Jesus. Always merciful, always forgiving, always loving. Yes, Jesus says God will be judging us at the end of our lives, but that make[s] sense. A God who doesn’t judge is basically a God who doesn’t really care what we do. But much more than the judging God, Jesus shows us a loving and merciful and welcoming God in Jesus.

Jesus is always welcoming people. The movement for Jesus is always from the outside in; he’s always bringing people inside. Including. Welcoming.

And most of all what is God like? Love.

I love everything about this.

4. Magnum Mini Classic ice cream bars

I am so obsessed with these Magnum Mini Classic ice cream bars!

My small group leader gave one to me a few weeks ago for the first time, and I’ve been hooked ever since. The chocolate is rich, and you can even see the vanilla bean specks in the ice cream. They are divine and only 150 calories each!

5. #KimyeWedding

I have a confession to make: the Kardashians are my guilty pleasure. I like reality TV in general, but I’ve really tried to cut down on my consumption in the last year. I’ve succeeded, with one exception: the Kardashians. I’ve probably seen 90% of the episodes of Keeping Up with the Kardashians and all of its spinoffs, like Kourtney and Khloe Take Miami. This obsession really doesn’t make sense, because their lifestyle often contradicts my values, but I can’t help it . . .

. . . Which is why I spent way too much time last weekend searching for details about Kim Kardashian and Kanye West’s wedding!

The couple finally released some official photos — posted by E!, on Kim’s Instagram account, and on Kanye’s Twitter — on Tuesday morning.

I’m completely in love with Kim’s dress. She looked flawless.

The above photo has become the most “liked” photo ever on Instagram.

Who knows how long the marriage will actually last — I really hope that it does, and they do seem genuinely happy — but the wedding sounded incredible, from all that I’ve read.  (It should, for the rumored $2.8 to $4 million that they spent on it.)

I’m looking forward to when Keeping Up with the Kardashians returns with new episodes on June 8th!

What are you loving this week?

Do you have a guilty TV pleasure?

WIAW #9

Hello friends, and welcome to another edition of What I Ate Wednesday (WIAW)!

Here is a look at what I ate today — Wednesday, May 28, 2014.

Breakfast: Fage Total 0% Greek Yogurt with Peach and 1/3 cup maple and cinnamon granola

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No surprises here. (I raved about this combo at length on WIAW #1.)

Lunch: Beef loin roast with red wine sauce (about 5 ounces), baked salmon (about 4 ounces), 2 small slices of French bread with 1 butter ball, and steamed carrots

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Can you believe that this amazing meal was completely free?

I attended a lecture over lunch today with a friend from work at the same organization that I went to a few weeks ago, and the complementary catered meal was just as fantastic as last time. The presentation on the necessity of establishing the rule of law and ending violence against the poor in order to effectively combat poverty in developing countries was excellent, too.

Dinner: Chicken parmesan sandwich with a potato roll, 1 slice Sargento Ultra Thin Provolone, 2 homemade chicken tenders, and about 2 tablespoons of marinara sauce, accompanied by homemade shoestring fries with ketchup

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Over the lazy Memorial Day weekend, my hubby and I watched quite a bit of television. One of the shows we enjoy is Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives on the Food Network, and I think we watched two or three episodes during the weekend.

One episode that we watched on Saturday featured a woman who owns a Jamaican restaurant in Nashville, and on the show, she showcased her homemade fried chicken tenders. My hubby, who is brilliant at putting together awesome meals without using a recipe or measurements, jotted down the ingredients that the woman used and the general preparation process. We actually already had all of the ingredients in our freezer and pantry that she used, including boneless, skinless, chicken breasts, so I did not even need to go to the grocery store for us to make them for dinner on Sunday night.

I served as the official assistant in the cooking process, and of course my hubby improvised even further. No complaints here, though — the chicken tenders turned out incredibly! It’s been a long time since I’ve had chicken tenders that were that crispy and good, even from a restaurant. The only conceivable downside was that we made way too many. Enough tenders were left over for a complete second meal, even after we both had more than enough. (I’m still not sure how we got so many out of two chicken breasts!)

That’s where tonight’s dinner comes in! I mentioned to my hubby yesterday that I wanted to heat the leftover chicken tenders for dinner tonight, and when I got home from work today, he was already in the process of preparing chicken parmesan sandwiches with them. Even as leftovers and in sandwich form, these chicken tenders were fantastic. They even retained their crispness by reheating them in our mini counter-top convection oven.

My hubby paired the sandwiches with homemade shoestring fries that he cut by hand and cooked in our mini deep fryer. (Out of all of our wedding gifts, I think the mini deep fryer is the one thing that we use the most!)

I was seriously craving something sweet tonight, but I was able to successfully resist! I want to go back to eating fewer sweets, and I knew that abstaining was the right thing to do tonight, especially because I actually ate 2 to 3 times the amount of fries pictured on my plate above! (Note to self: serving fries table side is not a good idea.)

Can you believe that we still have more leftover chicken fingers? I think I’m going to be making another chicken parmesan sandwich for lunch sometime in the next few days!

***

It was definitely another good day of eats!

Thank you for hosting the WIAW link-up, Jenn!

***

Do you enjoy watching the Food Network? If so, what is your favorite show? We also really enjoy Chopped.

Do you have a deep fryer at home? Our mini version makes frying so easy . . . which is a problem.

WIAW #8

I’m sorry for the unexpected blogging hiatus, friends. Last week was kind of rough, so I decided to just take a little break from writing. But I am back and happy to be here!

And now it’s my favorite day of the blogging week — What I Ate Wednesday (WIAW)! Here is a look at what I ate today — Wednesday, May 21, 2014.

Breakfast: Thomas’ Bagel Thin sandwich with 1 egg seasoned with Goya Adobo, 1/2 medium avocado, and 1 slice Sargento Ultra Thin Sliced Cheddar, with 1 cup Tropicana Orange Juice

I had yogurt and granola on Monday and Tuesday morning, so I decided that it was time to break out my favorite breakfast sandwich today.

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My avocado was definitely on the verge — it was in the fridge for several days — but it worked. I definitely need to buy some fresh ones this weekend, though!

Lunch: Spaghetti Bolognese with Parmesan Cheese, 1 slice of ciabatta bread with unsalted butter, and a handful of gummy bears from Vapiano

I went out for lunch today with a co-worker (who happens to be a very good friend) to a fantastic lunch spot near my office — Vapiano. In addition to a variety of pasta dishes, Vapiano offers salads and (very delicious) pizza. I’m completely obsessed with spaghetti and meat sauce (also known as spaghetti bolognese), and my hubby just doesn’t care for it (eliminating it as a dinner option at home), so I order it almost every time I go.

At Vapiano, which originated in Germany (even though it specializes in Italian-style dishes), every meal is made to order in front of you. I love watching my chef make my lunch, because I can see exactly what goes into it. I can customize it while she is cooking, too. I requested onions and garlic in my tomato sauce today.

When you order a pasta dish, your chef starts the sauce while your pasta boils separately. (Even the pasta is made and dried in-house.)

Starting the meat sauce

Starting the meat sauce

Once the pasta is al dente, it is added to the pan with the sauce and thoroughly incorporated.

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Incorporating the spaghetti

The made-to-order meal is complete in about 8 minutes.

The final result is beautiful — and delicious!

My chef definitely came through when I said lots of cheese!

My chef definitely came through when I said lots of cheese!

Another thing I love — the basil garnish on my spaghetti came right off the basil plant shown in the photos above.

I gave one of the pieces of ciabatta bread to my friend, moderated my butter usage, and set aside the basil, but other than that, I cleaned the plate! I was really full when I was finished, but it was worth it. I satisfied my spaghetti craving (for now). I had to have some of the complementary gummy bears upon leaving, though.

Dinner: About 4 ounces of chicken breast with worcestershire sauce and Adobo, about 3/4 cup rice, 1/2 cup red beans, and 5 tostones

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I had two chicken breasts in the refrigerator that needed to be used, so my hubby us made some simple but delicious chicken in a skillet tonight using worcestershire sauce and Adobo for seasoning. He paired it with rice and beans at my request, along with tostones. It had been at least a week since we had any kind of Puerto Rican food, and it was great!

***

It was definitely another good day of eats! Nothing beats spaghetti!

Thank you for hosting the WIAW link-up, Jenn!

***

Have you been to Vapiano? They currently have U.S. locations in the D.C. area, Miami, Chicago, and New York City.

What is your favorite pasta dish? I could subsist on almost any type of pasta, but spaghetti and meat sauce takes the cake for me. Pasta with vodka sauce might be second, and then anything with alfredo (which is hard to make part of a healthy living plan).

Friday Favorites #7: Week of May 9, 2014

Happy Friday, everyone, and welcome to my 7th Friday Favorites link-up, courtesy of Heather at Housewife Glamour!

Here are some of the things that I am loving this week!

1. Grumpy Cat Notecards

One of my friends from work surprised me on Monday morning with this fantastic box of Grumpy Cat notecards. I can’t wait to use them!

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My co-workers know me and my love for Grumpy Cat so well! I work with some really great people.

2. My small group

I was extremely fortunate to find a small group through my church that has strengthened and enriched my faith immensely. I am so blessed by all of the young women in the group and especially by our leader, who serves as a mentor. It’s crazy to think that I didn’t know any of them before I joined the group last fall. On Monday night, we had what will likely be our last regular meeting for the summer, and it reminded me again how much I value our group and how much it has impacted me.

3. Lunch at Heritage India‘s buffet

There were a number of people out of the office this week working at a conference we hosted in Boston, so 6 of us that were left behind trekked to a fantastic Indian buffet for lunch on Wednesday. I seriously can’t get enough of Indian food!

4. Italian Meatball Sliders from Cooking Light

I was finally able to make this recipe from Cooking Light on Wednesday night, and it was worth the wait! These sliders turned out awesome and are a great way to satisfy a craving for Italian flavors. My hubby even gave them his seal of approval! Definitely a win for me.

5. “Birthday” by Katy Perry

I admit it: I love Katy Perry. And this song is just super fun.

What are you loving this week?