1.21.2013

Meatless Monday: Roasted Mushroom Medley

Fun paper lanterns at Hello Sushi

Happy Monday! I hope everyone had a fantastic weekend. I had packed one that included a lovely sushi lunch and movie (Life of Pi) with Mario, a Top Chef catch-up session (sooo not happy with last week's results), Restaurant Week planning (one of my favorite weeks of the year!), and homework. Yes, actual homework. As of last week, I have assumed the dual role of instructor and student. I'm taking two online classes through my school (geography & politics). As much as it's a bummer to have to do both lesson planning and homework during the weekends, I am excited to be back in the classroom in a student capacity. I'm a big nerd/awesome like that. :-)

I came across today's Meatless Monday dish, Roasted Mushroom Medley (my first food post of the year - what took me so long?!), on Pinterest last summer. After filing it away in my to-make file, I forgot all about it until I saw the recipe make its away around again a few weeks ago. I decided it was finally the perfect weather for a hearty roasted veggie dish. While it's intended to be served as a side dish, I found that the mix actually makes a really delicious sandwich filling (similar to a sloppy joe, but with mushrooms instead of meat). This is a must try for all mushroom lovers!

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1.15.2013

13 Years

Mario and I went on our first date thirteen years (!!!) ago today.

We went to the movies to see The Talented Mr. Ripley. He gave me his long blue scarf as we waited in the ticket line and the biting January wind whipped around us. During the movie, we giggled to each other about the old ladies in front of us who kept asking each other, "Is the movie over yet? Is he dead yet?" every five minutes as they crinkled their peppermint candy wrappers. After sharing coffee at the little shop near my apartment, we decided we couldn't bear for the night to end, so we rented another movie and cuddled under my comforter. Halfway into that second movie, he kissed me. Six months later, he said he was in love with me.

Since that night, there have been some amazing highs and some ugly lows... and thirteen years later, we're still kicking. I think one of the key contributing factors to our longevity is our willingness and ability to communicate - we talk about everything from the silly to the mundane to the serious. I always know how Mario feels about any given topic (this includes the good and the bad) and he's always the first person I want to talk to when something exciting happens or when I need some advice. As much as he may frustrate me, he's always the one I want to come home to. He is my support system, my biggest cheerleader, and my best friend.

Happy anniversary to us! ♥

Celebrating Mario's birthday with a big-ass snake
April 2000 



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1.07.2013

Life List

When Alissa from Clever Compass asked if I would be interested in participating in The Life List Project, I immediately said yes (well, technically, I typed yes, as the interaction took place via facebook). I am a fanatical list maker - I have multiple to-do lists (both paper lists & special categorized lists on my phone) for work and home, lists of goals to accomplish, lists of various recipes to make & restaurants to visit, a travel list, and even a list of lists to make (I am such a stereotypical J!). I guess you could say that many of pinterest boards are also to-do lists (travel, cook, drink, buy). Thankfully, I'm not just a list maker; I'm also a list follower. I am a one of those task-oriented, goal-driven people. I derive great satisfaction from the entire process - so, it should come as no surprise that the idea of a lift list greatly appeals to me... and that I actually already have several one. :-)

In the interest of time and space, I'm only going to list a short selection of my life list: my long and constantly expanding travel goals and the seven specific non-travel goals I would like to accomplish in 2013.

Travel
In theory I want to travel the world, but realistically, there are some places I don't really want to waste my time/money/energy visiting (however, I probably wouldn't turn down a free trip to most of those places). While my travel wishlist is enormous and ever-changing (I have a bad case of wanderlust!), there are a few absolutes that I would like to make happen:

Seattle: In my mind, Seattle is one of the coolest cities ever. It was even on my shortlist of places to move to post-college. While in Seattle, I specifically want to visit Pike Place Market & the gum wall and do several hikes in the surrounding parks & mountains. I'd also like to eat and drink my way through the city, but that's no different from any other place I want to visit (yes, I do have a few restaurants in mind and yes, I am loving this season of Top Chef!). Considering I know several people who live there, this shouldn't be all that difficult!

Niagara Falls: As with any good Michigander, I've been to Canada multiple times, but I've never made it to the Falls. I'd like to visit the Canadian side to see where my parents spent their honeymoon and several subsequent trips. Ideally, I'd like to go during autumn so that I can also drive and hike through the miles of gorgeous foliage.

Paris: I imagine spending spring days filled with French cheeses, croissants, bisque, baguettes, visits to Le Pont des Arts, The Louvre & Eiffel Tower, walks along the Champs-Élysées, and picnics by the Siene.

Italy: I want to road trip along the Almalfi coast, eat pasta, pizza, gelato & mussels, wander around the tiny Italian villages, ogle the beautiful people in Milan, explore the palazzi in Venice and the ruins in Rome.

Also on my list: Vegas (girls weekend), Japan (cherry blossom festival), Greece (Santorini), New Orleans (Mardi Gras!), Ireland, Redwood National Park, New Zealand, a ride in a hot air balloon (California?), a tropical cruise, NYE in Time's Square (I've been to NYC, but not for NYE), and snorkeling (Bahamas? Jamaica?). I also really want to return to both London (hell, I want to move there!) and San Francisco.

*Even more travel goals here!

Life List Goals for 2013
Besides knocking out a travel goal or two, I have identified seven specific goals from my life list that I plan to accomplish this year. As I mentioned, I am a task-oriented person and I tend to do my best when I break down my big lists into smaller ones. I usually choose 3-10 goals from my life list to target each year (my #1 goal for last year was to find a new/awesome job - I totally knocked that one out of the park!). Yes, I suppose you can call them new year's resolutions, but I don't always implement them at the beginning of the year (it all depends on what they are/time needed/how motivated I feel). 

  • Run a 5K. I've done numerous 5Ks & 10Ks over the years, but I've always walked/partially jogged them. I want to finally fully run a complete 5K. I'm not particularly interested in doing anything more than a 5K because I don't love running (yet... maybe never?). So why am I determined to run a 5K if I don't like running? Well, mostly because I want to challenge myself. It's something I've always wanted to do - once I've accomplished it, I can step away from running if I still hate it. It also fits into my overall fitness goal and will push me into sticking with my gym schedule (I love kickboxing, but I can no longer make my normal weekday classes because of my commute - it's time for me to step outside of my comfort zone and try something new) and into wearing my fitbit every day.
  • Publish, publish, publish! I'd like to get at least one published piece out this year, whether it be a journal article or creative writing piece. I know that this may extend into 2014 (depending on deadlines/publishing times), but I want to at least put out some serious submissions.
  • Take a photo every day for a year. I enjoy taking photos and love having a record of both big and small moments from each year. As an added perk, I hope that taking photos each day will improve my photography skills.
  • Create my professional website/portfolio. I've created several versions of my website over the years, but I've scrapped them all. I want to finally finish a site that I'm not embarrassed to share. 
  • Snowshoe. Again, this is something I've wanted to do for years (unlike running, it's something I believe I'll actually enjoy, as I love hiking). I've had plans with various friends that have all fallen through - this year, it's actually going to happen (perhaps I can recruit Diana to help me complete this goal?!).
  • Save more money. This is one of my ongoing goals. I've implemented various methods during previous years that I will continue with and I'd like to add in one new method this year - the 52 Week Money Challenge. It's not something that is complicated to follow and really, I can handle it.
  • Find a happy work/life balance. Again, this is one of my ongoing goals. I was a bit of a mess during my first semester at my new job (I gained back 25 of the 60lbs I had lost in 2010 and was constantly exhausted & sick). While I love the school, there were a lot of lifestyle adjustments I needed to make (some of which I still need to address). I need to find a way to happily balance my commute, grading load, gym time, sleep, Mario time, and friend time. Honestly, this shouldn't be too difficult as I'm in such a good place mentally (I have many fabulous colleagues, great students, loving and supportive partner/friends) - it's mostly about getting myself on a schedule and sticking with it. I realized something very important about myself last semester - while I'm open to change, I kind of fall apart when my normal schedule faces a huge shift (again, I am such a J person!). It's time to forge a happy new normal!

The majority of the goals I've targeted for this year required an early start and I'm happy to say that I am very much on track. So far, I've gone to all of my regular fun classes at the gym, I've started Project 365 on facebook, followed the money challenge, and figured out a tentative sleep/gym schedule for once the new semester starts (next week - yikes!). I'm also kicking around some travel plans for spring break (I usually spend most of the break holed up with stacks of essays and the DVR). I feel good the year and I'm excited about the possibility of finally crossing off some of the big items from my life list.

What's on your list? Do you have anything specific you'd like to accomplish in 2013? Please link up below or leave a comment. I'd love to hear what's on your list! :-)

**If you are a company or blogger and think you can help me check something off my list, please email me at chicagofoodiegil {at} gmail {dot} com.

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