Monthly Archives: August 2012

Leftover Mashup

A couple of nights ago I had a fridge full of leftovers and not very much time. I’ve started cooking extras when I make dinner then just pop them in the fridge for meals later. It’s awesome until you find yourself with just a little bit of everything, so I made a leftover mashup!

I always keep tomato sauce (with no added sugar) on hand for occasions like this.

So I had leftover: brown rice, lentils, and chicken (from the roast earlier this week).

I added: tomato sauce, and broccoli I bought on Sunday at the farmers market.

Because I’m doing no more microwaves: I put the rice in a pot with a 1/3 cup of water (it hydrates the dried rice) then covered and put it in the oven at 200°F for about 15 minutes. Stir frequently so rice doesn’t stick to the bottom.

^ I can’t find my good camera so pictures are a little grainy until I have some extra time to find it.

Then I cooked the broccoli, chicken, lentils, and tomato sauce on medium until it was warm enough to eat. It’s ok if the broccoli is a little crunchy, the less the heat it, the more nutrients it retains.

Then just pour the sauce over the rice and add some grated parmesan or pecorino (it’s sheep’s milk so there’s very little lactose in it) over the top and enjoy! In the words of Mike,”MMMMMMMMMmmm….”

Don’t forget to smile! They’re contagious.


I had planned to post the recipe of dinner last night but then I watched this video my grandma sent me.

My generation has been so lucky to not have faced a war on our home turf, we can only imagine what it must be like in the Middle East. But when we did get attacked, boy did we band together. Remember how we all promised always to remember?

This video is a little long but just clear your next 10 minutes and watch it, trust me.

As a first generation American (my parents are both British), I have always struggled to find my American pride. I know this sounds awful but I only really ever noticed the bad things about the US. About five years ago, when I really started to travel, I realized how wonderful a place this is. We all know the freedoms and all that stuff but what about all the different cultures you can find here in this one giant country? And the people, wow the people here can be so awesome. America has been in a bit of a rut over the last few years but it’s the people here, the millions of different cultures and points of views, that will eventually float our heads back above water.

Don’t forget to smile today, they’re contagious 🙂

A Word for the Interested

I love my job. I started there very recently and already feel at home in our office. My daily routine consists of some event planning, some public outreach, some charity work, and A LOT of helping people get healthy. Its awesome! Work doesn’t feel like work, just a mission to change the health of our community one family at a time.

It also has the added benefit of motivating me to get healthier and stay that way. I’ve been referring some of our patients to this blog for help with easy recipes, tips for keeping up with workouts, and some inspiration thrown in there.

Just a word for the interested though: I am on a journey to health just like every person reading this (hopefully). My diet and exercise regime is a work in progress. In fact, I don’t think my pursuit of a healthier lifestyle will ever end. I am so happy that I started my education on health and fitness at a young age (thanks Ma and Pop) and just continue to learn as much as possible and better my health every day.

This blog is not intended as an example of perfection, just a show of the baby steps it takes to achieve a healthier, sustainable lifestyle. SUSTAINABLE being the key word. It’s a struggle for all of us but the key is to take it one day, one step at a time so that backward steps rarely happen.

Every once in a while I will outline my goals for the upcoming months so you guys can know what I’m working at. But stick with me and hopefully it will help you to know that someone is struggling right along with you.

Have a happy day, and don’t forget to smile! They’re contagious.

Roasted Chicken and Some Other Deliciousness

Gooooood Morning!

I have to say that I’ve been so excited to get back into a routine and now that I’m finally getting there, all I miss is sleeping in! I just have to make up for it with weekend napping.

Anyhooo. Last night I ran to the grocery store after work and decided to roast a whole chicken. I got this recipe from a good friend of mine. I cooked her dinner one night and we got to talking and trading recipes. This one has withstood the test of an amateur cook (me!).

The organic chicken I bought was $12 for 3 lb at our local Kroger’s (it’s like Stop and Shop or Vons). It’s rather expensive but so worth it for the lack of toxins, mistreatment, and better taste! And roasting a whole chicken is really cost-effective. The 3lb I bought will last us at least three days with chicken for one meal a day.

NOTE: the recipe seems long but it’s SO easy and has very basic, very flexible ingredients.

Ingredients for the chicken:

one whole, organic chicken (if frozen, let thaw for 24 hours)

few sprigs of rosemary, chopped into 2 inch pieces

half a lemon

1 tbsp sea salt and 1 tsp ground pepper

1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 garlic bulb

Additional, optional ingredients:

sweet potatoes

normal potatoes

butternut squash



bell pepper

Prep the Chicken:

Preheat the oven to 450°F. Remove the innards if they came with the chicken (this is the grossest part). Place chicken on a baking pan. Cut 4 or 5 tears in chicken skin and stuff some chopped rosemary and a garlic clove in each one. In a small glass mix sea salt and pepper, olive oil, juice from lemon (save the skin), and rest of the garlic. Use your hands to rub the scrub mixture into the chicken. Flip it over to get the underside as well. Stuff the bum of the chicken with the used lemon skins and more rosemary.

Add the fun stuff: 

I also bought a butternut squash and some potatoes and had some leftover onions in the fridge. I’d never cooked with squash so I was kind of nervous but I just went for it. Cut your add ons into bite sized pieces and scatter them around the edges of the chicken. No need to season, everything you just put on the chicken will make it SO delicious.

^ The chicken and add ons before roasting. Don’t put it on wax paper, it ended up sticking.

To Roast:

Scroll down to find “Roasting Temperatures and Times”: < I definitely keep the temp at 450° for the first 10 minutes then lower it for the rest of the cooking time. You can pretty much leave it alone after that.

I regret to inform you that I was so excited about the chicken that I didn’t take a picture before carving it. But here it is all plated with cabbage salad (not so yummy)! Mike and I both agreed that it was delicious. And the squash turned out better than I could have imagined.

^Bon a petit! *from now on pictures will be taken on a real camera instead of my iPhone. no more blurriness.

Tips to End the Tossing and Turning

I was talking to a friend of mine this morning and she said that like me and so so so many other people, she has a lot of trouble falling asleep at night. She often works the late shift and ends up falling asleep on the couch. I can commiserate with her on this because, with the stress of life comes an inability to relax. So, when my friend comes home, it takes her so long to relax that by the time she slows down, she’s already asleep!

I’ll tell you guys exactly what I told her: the key to falling asleep and staying asleep is a bedtime routine. It works just as well as when we were 5 years old.

My routine starts about an hour before I want to fall asleep:

9pm – Sip some chamomile tea (with an ice-cube because I’m too impatient to let it cool down) while I write a short entry in my personal diary.

9.15pm – Draw a warm bath. Throw in some epsom salts if you had a hard workout that day, it aids in muscle recovery.

9.30pm – Settle into bed with my fan on (wind helps me sleep) and earplugs in my ears (see below). I find some trivial summer romance novel or something similar to calm my brain and take it away from work.

10pm – Hopefully I’ve drifted off to sleep and can wake up at 6am ready for a workout!

^These earplugs changed my life. They were originally made to keep the water out of swimmer’s ears but are incredible at keeping out noise. I was uncomfortable at first because you basically seal off your ear cavity and I was scared I wouldn’t get them out. But I did! And 5 years later, I still use them every day. The best part: you can get them at any drug store for very cheap!

Helpful Hints:

– Keep a notebook next to your bed to write any thoughts that may be spinning around your head. I often have my best creative ideas right before bed and they’re always there waiting for when I wake up!

– Sleep with a heating pad near your body, the warmth continues the relaxation from the bath.

– Sprinkle a few drops of lavender on your pillow, the smell and its effects are amazing.

– Never fall asleep and stay asleep on the couch or with the TV on. It’s important to separate the sleep zone from the unwinding zone.

– Also, never do anything but sleep and baby making in your bed; including eating and watching TV. Don’t mix zones!

^My bedside table complete with a “night-time notebook.”

Postcard Sized Mood Buoy

It’s a little bit gray out here in Peoria, IL. Lots of rain and cloud cover. Needless to say, I love it!! I love the rain. Growing up in Southern California means that I still regard it as special and fun. My favorite thing to do is put on some rain boots and go jump in puddles. I’m not joking. Sometimes the most childlike activities can be amazing therapy.

Anyway, if you’re not like me (ie. sane) then the weather (or the various thrills on life’s rollercoaster) probably get you down sometimes. So here’s a tip:

When you have a birthday or graduation or promotion or whatever, you inevitably get cards from your loved ones. Sometimes they are the generic, but still lovely, “Congratulations, we love you!” cards; but sometimes, they’re the kind that the writer really thought about. They tailored it just for you and when you read them, you get all fuzzy inside. I find that a lot of times, I’m so busy celebrating that I don’t get to sit down and digest these kinds of cards. So I cut out the part of the card with the happy words and I post it up in my apartment. Stick it to the fridge, put it in the front of your notebook, take a picture of it and set it as your phone’s background! Just be sure to put it somewhere that you will notice it when you really need to.

Let these cards be a reminder of how loved you are, even if people don’t show it all the time.

^ This is a graduation card from a family friend. “You have a great combo of beauty, brains, determination, and kindness”?? Heck yes I do and thanks for reminding me!

^My mom put this sticky note in a big hunk of bill and loan mail that she forwarded me from my house in San Diego. That was about 2 years ago. I stuck it to my bedside table so I see it every night before bed 🙂

Also, seeing these daily reminds me to tell people how much I love them, often and with enthusiasm. Hope you’re all having wonderful Sundays!

Our Office (corner of the living room)

There is one space in our apartment that, after six weeks, I finally feel is finished. Our “office.” Before we moved in I had three goals for whatever space we decided to put our desk:

1) A library! I think it’s so interesting to look through other people’s libraries and I’m proud of my book collection. Also it really encourages me to read instead of watch TV.

2) Two distinct spaces for Mike and me. We need our space when we’re working and I didn’t want this to be something we resent each other for.

3) A secluded area to focus completely but with enough natural light to stay awake during the day. I do a lot of my real job work at home so it’s important that I feel encouraged to work.

Unfortunately, I didn’t take a picture of the blank living room corner before we populated it with stuff but I can assure you, it was a definitely a blank living room corner. Our living room is huge (compared to what we’re used to in Boston) so it was the perfect opportunity to develop a little space tucked away in there.

^ It’s in the corner between that wall on the left and the door.

We bought a ton of our hardware and basic needs at Menards. I had never heard of this place until moving to the Midwest but its AMAZING. Its like Home Depot, Lowes, Target, and Best Buy all rolled into one much, much cheaper store. On top of all that, the people that work there are so nice. I think they may actually enjoy their jobs. Its pretty much heaven. One of our purchases there was the shelving. Which cost about $40. It was steep for us but that and the picture frames for our degrees (Menards-$8 each) were the only things we bought for this space!

Everything else:

– Table = My contribution from a previous apartment. Perfect for our two individual spaces. And so easy to fold up and move.

– Plastic drawer set and computer monitor = free from the previous tenant in our last place and free from Mike’s parents!

– Two Red Lights = Free from a great friend of mine who moved to China the same time we moved here. When we finally decided to move, I sent out a blast email to all our friends in Boston asking to check with us before they threw anything away. This particular friend donated almost her entire bedroom. Her stuff is scattered throughout our apartment. They’re plastic too which is extra cool.

Anyway, here are the photos. I’m pretty stoked on the space. Definitely accomplished all our goals for a total of $64. Heck yes.

^ The overall look. I wish that we could afford nicer, matching chairs and non plastic drawers but I think it still looks pretty put together.

^ The “library.” The only negative about this is we want to buy more books! The positive is that if we do we can adjust the shelves and add another one.

^ It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s the miraculous folding desk! Love this thing. Expensive when my ex and I bought it back in 2011 but so worth it. Solid cherry, comes with 4 folding chairs that store in the middle, and has wheels. What more could you ask for? FYI, we bought it on Amazon as a Valentine’s day present to ourselves. $300. Thank goodness he gave it to me when we broke up because I’m in love with it and could never afford another one!

^ Just a little detail but makes all the difference. Now my cords don’t get lost when I unplug them from my laptop!

I feel like this post was full of exclamation points but I just love this stuff! !!

Hope you’re all having good days. And don’t forget to smile, they’re contagious.

Weird Dreaming: Time Travel, Trucks, and Tunnels

Alright here’s another update for the HappyLass Weird Dream Journal:

I find myself standing at a large intersection yelling across the street to my mom who is yelling into a sewer grate to my aunt who is apparently waiting down there for a train. This must be a very high-speed, walk-on-water, need-no-fuel kind of train because it will, I assume, take her home to Australia.Then, because she can’t hear me, she pops her head out of the manhole cover and yells that she loves me, and she’s off!

I guess my family had been traveling together but now, I’m transported a few days ahead and everyone is gone. I’m in a different city than anywhere I’ve ever been and I’m standing in the middle of about five people frantically planning in the last hour before a big party. I have a big crisis about what I’m going to wear. I don’t have anything nice in my tiny suitcase!

While I’m getting dressed in a semi-suitable but really cute dress (I actually own it in real life) I watch the party setter-uppers construct this really long, really awesome pedestrian bridge/tunnel across the yard. It goes from nowhere to nowhere. All of a sudden I hear a bunch of honking and, for some reason, one lane of traffic has been diverted through the party yard. Every car manages to dodge the various obstacles but a huge semi appears on the lawn and screeches to a halt. It fishtails straight into the tunnel! NO! Its ruined! How will we make everything look good before the party starts in the hour? I have a flash of happiness that I don’t have to worry about it because it’s not my party.

Then I hear music. Its our radio alarm clock.

Yummy Breakfast in 10 minutes

This morning I woke up 10 minutes before my alarm. So instead of dawdling like I would normally, I made Mike and I a delicious “to-go” breakfast.


4 eggs

3 potatoes, chopped to home fry size (this leaves enough for leftovers)

1/4 onion, chopped

handful of spinach

splash of milk (I used almond milk)

coconut oil (most other common cooking oil, including olive oil, turns rancid at high heat)

salt and pepper


Heat pan with a little bit of coconut oil. Saute onion and spinach on medium heat until spinach is wilted. While that stuff is cooking, beat together eggs and milk. When spinach has wilted, add eggs, salt, and pepper. Scramble in pan until eggs are cooked. Put the eggs in a Tupperware and cover but don’t bother washing the pan yet (it’s a waste of water).

Heat pan again to high heat with approx. 1 tablespoon of coconut oil. Add chopped potatoes. Fry them in the pan until cooked just a little crunchy on the inside. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and any other spices you think would taste good (I learned to smell the food cooking then smell the spices; if the smells combine well, so will the spices). Add the mostly cooked potatoes to the Tupperware and cover. The moisture in the Tupperware will saturate the potatoes and make them soft when you’re ready to eat them.

It’s yummy to reheat but I try to avoid microwaves because they suck all the nutrients out of the food. So maybe just eat it at your desk when you get to work?

Hope you’re all having happy days!

Time for Design!

If you’ve checked out my “About Me” page, you know that health is not my only passion. I recently got my Masters in Architecture and I love anything to do with design. Building, furniture, walls, structural, ANYTHING! So when my boyfriend and I moved to our new apartment in Peoria, I was pretty stoked to decorate. Our only restrictions were that we couldn’t paint the walls and we had almost no money (which was a problem since we also had no furniture).

Over the last several weeks we’ve been scouring thrift stores, garage sales, and soliciting free stuff from friends and things are turning out pretty well. I’m also really proud of how creative I’ve gotten with a lot of the spaces we had to inhabit. So I’m gonna post every once in a while about design, maybe it will inspire some of you!

^We drove from Boston to Peoria on a budget so we had to sleep in the back of the car. I put down a foam mattress topper and it was surprisingly comfortable!

^We literally had NO living room furniture, aside from Mike’s giant new TV.

^ We picked up this awesome IKEA bed and mattress for $200 from a friend back in Boston. Then sold my old, ugly one on Craigslist for $220. Profit!

Stayed tuned on how all these rooms morphed over the last several weeks.

ps. Keep smiling! They’re contagious.