What I Made: Valentine’s Day Dinner

steak

What I made: Filet mignon with garlic herb butter sauce (recipe from Caramel Potatoes)

rice

What I made: Cheesy zucchini rice (recipe from Buns in My Oven)

NOTE: Neither of these images were photos I took — they are from the sites where I found the recipe. I have yet to master taking appetizing photos of food, so I have to use the beautiful pictures that these talented people have.

About a week and a half before Valentine’s Day (a couple days before leaving for my winter-getaway to Florida), I asked Dan what we were doing for Valentine’s Day. He didn’t have anything in mind…so I told him to think about while I was gone. A day after getting back (two days before Valentine’s Day), I asked him if he’d made reservations anywhere. When he said no, I initially got a little angry. But then I asked myself, “Is there anywhere you wanted to go? Were you craving anything?” The answer to the first question was no. I really didn’t want to spend a lot of money on dinner, especially when I had just returned from Florida where I spent quite a bit on food. The answer to the second question was yes, but that’s because there’s always some kind of food I’m craving. For holidays and other special events, the food I’m craving — as of late — seems to be steak. I could go into a long monologue about how much I love steak and my relationship with it since childhood, but I will spare you. The point is that I wanted steak for my Valentine’s dinner.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been making recipes I’ve found on Pinterest. It’s actually been really fun. Mostly because I have never been someone anyone would describe as “good at cooking.” On the afternoon before Valentine’s Day, I started exploring Pinterest for dinner-worthy meals. And incredibly easy-to-make meals. I found a recipe for filet mignon that sounded easy enough. Then I searched for an appropriate side dish and luckily found the rice recipe. Since I had a hair color appointment that evening that is conveniently located near a Super Target, I decided I’d head over there early, get all my groceries and then leave them in my car while my hair was being done. That’s about the only convenient thing about winter: you can leave groceries in your car without worrying about them spoiling while they sit.

Overall, everything turned out really well. I would definitely make this meal again. However, I would probably splurge and buy meat from an actual butcher or a place that is known for its high-quality meat. The filet mignon meat I bought from Target was fine…but not melt-in-my-mouth amazing.

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What I Have: An Addiction to Workout Clothes

I have a problem, and it’s called Old Navy Active.

girly-on-active

When I find clothes I like, I typically buy multiples of it. I get worried that these clothes will be my favorite clothes ever and I won’t have enough of them, or when I decide to buy more, they’ll be gone. I have no idea why I have this phobia. I’m sure there are jeans or shirts that I loved and wished I had purchased more of, but it clearly isn’t that big of a deal since I can’t name them. Wait, yes, I think I can name one item I’d wished I’d purchased multiples of: my favorite pair of flared Tommy Hilfiger jeans. I got them in high school and LOVED them. I wore them so much that the back of the legs wore super thin. My mom tried to patch them after they ripped, but it never worked and I had to say goodbye to those jeans.

OK, moving on.

So right now, I’m mildly (read: incredibly) obsessed with Old Navy’s Active line of workout clothes. Back in January, Old Navy had all of their Active line on major sale, so I bought quite a bit then…and have continued to do so ever since. They do a great job of providing multiple styles in tons of colors (all interchangeable — like workout Garanimals!) so you can buy several pieces and make tons of outfits. (Am I the only one who wants my workout clothes to be outfits?) I love the tank and capris here, but I’d add a pop of color with this coral running bra.

popofcolor-on-active

I wore more Old Navy Active clothes than anything else while on vacation in Florida. Partially because the weather wasn’t really that warm, and partially because I wanted an elastic waist as much as possible. But mostly because I felt like I had so many cute outfits! I need to find a way to convince my company to change it’s dress code to workout casual. I realize that could get scary, but I’d be willing to overlook some people’s bad choices in exchange for yoga pants and long hooded sweatshirts every day.

Not only are all of their sports bras, running tanks and hoodies adorable, but I’m loving their compression pants too. I bought several pairs of the full-length bootcut and leggings, and then splurged and bought a few of the capris as well. I seriously can’t stop myself. I change into their compression pants within a few minutes of coming home from work. They’re so comfortable, but not sloppy.

lounge-pants-on

And I have been practically living in the black pullover for the last week. I wore a grey one while in Florida almost every day of the trip.

lounge-tops-on

I browsed the Kohl’s website just to check out their workout clothing selection and compare to Old Navy prices (sale prices — this should go without saying, but don’t ever — EVER — pay full price). It looked like they had a lot of great deals, which I hope to check-out in person. Scratch that, I need to NOT check it out in person because I will end up buying a lot of additional workout clothes that I clearly don’t need.

In an effort to save money while still feeding my hunger for workout clothes, I pinned a bunch of DIY workout shirt and headband ideas. I’d like to think I could get motivated to save money by cutting up old shirts I already have in order to add to my running wardrobe, but I’m not overly optimistic. Me and craft projects don’t seem to last long.

What I Tried: Conair Instant Heat Curling Iron

curling-iron

What I tried: Conair 1.25-inch Instant Heat Curling Iron

What I paid: $12 (looks like it’s on sale on Walmart.com)

Right before Valentine’s Day, I visited my new favorite salon to get my hair color updated. When my color was all done, my stylist dried and curled my hair. The crazy thing was that she was able to curl my entire head of hair in about 5 minutes. Normally when I curl my hair, I have to separate it into sections: bottom left, top left, bottom right, top right, bottom back, top back. My stylist didn’t section off my hair at all — she just took big pieces and went to town.

Since I was mostly in awe, I didn’t think to ask her what kind of curling iron she was using, but I did notice that it was either a 1.25-inch or 1.5-inch barrel. I decided that’s what I needed (I currently use a 1-inch barreled curling iron).

So I started doing research, and came to this conclusion: all curling irons have people who love them and people who hate them. There is no curling iron (in my price range) that gets 100% perfect scores. So that wasn’t helpful at all. I decided I didn’t want to spend much money, so I went to Walmart and bought the only 1.25-inch barrel there. It was the Conair Instant Heat. The curling iron I currently use, that I actually really love, is also Conair, so I figured I would be in good hands while also spending next to nothing.

Unfortunately that wasn’t the case.

While the Conair has 25 heat settings, the hottest setting really doesn’t get that hot. I thought maybe I had the dial going the opposite direction so I re-read the instruction manual, only to learn that I was correct. Maybe I’m spoiled because of the CHI straightener I have, which gets pretty close to the temps I imagine you’d find in Hell. Seriously, that thing could severely burn someone if not handled carefully.

Anyway, the Conair was nowhere near Hades heat, which meant it definitely wasn’t going to curl my hair without sectioning things off. Not only does this mean I have to spend more time than I’d hoped, it also means I wasn’t getting the desired curl look: loose curls. Since I had to section things off, the curls were pretty tight. I could have just used my 1-inch barrel if I’d wanted that look…

Other than that, the iron is fine. The controls are easy to use; the handle is relatively comfortable to hold. The clamp seems a little stiff right now, but it seems like all styling tools loosen up after you’ve used them quite a few times. If it weren’t for the heat issue, I’d probably like this iron.

Oh, I should mention that it has a “turbo” heat button, which the instructions say provide quick bursts of intense heat for the “hard to style” areas. I have zero use for that. I want intense heat ALL the time! Maybe mine is a lemon.

Would I recommend this product? Not if you want high heat or fast styling. If you’re looking for a 1.25-inch barreled iron and relatively tight curls, then I’d say sure.

What I Finished: Healthier Choices Challenge Update

Well, my wonderful and warm trip to Florida has come and gone. I maintained my healthier choices challenge goals up to the trip…and that’s it. I plan to continue some of the goals (eating healthier, walking throughout the workday, standing at my desk, etc.), but not with any specific metrics assigned.

I made a concerted effort to be a healthier me for a little over a month and lost approximately 7 pounds. I owe pretty much all of my success to the MyFitnessPal app. Seeing exactly what I was eating and how much (or little) physical activity I was getting was eye opening and motivational. Anytime a cookie, donut or Mountain Dew was dangled in front of me, I thought about how many calories it would be and whether I would be able to offset that by making other food choices later in the day or adding exercise. Sometimes the offset was worth the treat, sometimes it wasn’t. But for the first time in a really long time, I actually thought about it and considered the consequences.

I also started cooking a lot of my own meals (seriously, thank you, Pinterest). It was a lot easier to control my calories and up my vegetable servings when I was the one putting all the meal’s ingredients together. It was great to make dishes that not only filled me up, but also kept me under my calorie count. Plus I really enjoyed it whenever Dan would say, “Wow, that was really good!”

Since returning from my trip, my dedication to MyFitnessPal has waned. I’ve entered a few days’ food and exercise, but I haven’t been quite as obsessive-compulsive about it. I’ve also entered my food intake without really caring how far over I was on my calorie/nutrition goals. (OK, so that’s mostly because I maybe went overboard during my last grocery trip in the cookies aisle…but almost all the sweets are gone now, which means I can get back on-track soon. If the cookies are there, I will eat them.)

Even without my full dedication to MyFitnessPal, I’m definitely more aware of what I’m eating and what the consequences are. I think if you do something and you see results that make you happy, you’re much more likely to stick with it. I’ve been beyond happy with my results. I plan to continue being a healthier me…just not obsessing about it.

How I’m Doing: Healthier Choices Challenge Check-in 2

Time for another check-in!

So far, I’ve been really happy with my progress. I’ve lost about 6 pounds (yay!). I owe all of that to using MyFitnessPal, honestly. Seeing exactly what I’m eating and how that affects my goals has been super motivational for me. There have been times I wanted to eat an extra piece of pizza or an extra-large bowl of ice cream. When I did the math and realized those foods would put me over the edge, I either refrained from eating anything at all, or I found a healthier alternative.

Exercise has been a huge piece. When I see how many calories I’m consuming, or if I really, really want that extra piece of pizza, I make a deal with myself. I can eat the extra piece of pizza, but I have to run an extra mile or two on the treadmill. This weekend I met up with one of my favorite people for breakfast. The night before our get together, I checked the nutrition info for the restaurant, found something on their light/healthy menu, then made myself run a little more than 4 miles that morning so I wouldn’t feel guilty. Mission accomplished.

I’m doing well on all of my goals…except the number of fruit and vegetable servings. Once week three started, it’s like I forgot that I needed to buy enough groceries for three servings of each every day. I ran out of fresh produce midway through the week, and refused to go grocery shopping due to frigid temps. I also started making more meals via recipes on Pinterest, which has been fun, but I end up eating only the entree that I make, rather than having a side of veggies to go along with it. All the recipes I’ve made have a good amount of veggies in there, but I’m not eating enough in one sitting to make up for multiple servings, I don’t think.

Even though Dan and I went grocery shopping yesterday, somehow the only fruit I came home with were bananas. We have a ton of frozen fruit for smoothies…I might be making a lot of smoothies this week.

As for walking three miles a day at work? Killing it.

Standing up at my desk for at least two and a half hours a day? Not killing it, but close enough.

In less than a week, I’ll be on my sun-filled (if the weather cooperates…) vacation. Even if the weather isn’t nice enough to sit on the beach, I’m looking forward to non-frigid temps and fresh air.