Exciting News: Please Read!

Hello friends!  I have some exciting news for you!  After a few months of behind the scenes work on my blog, I am so happy to announce a brand new look for Dash of Curry!  Thanks to my two talented and incredible friends, John and Alex, I am eager to finally reveal the gorgeous redesign they have come up with for me!

So, in order for you to keep up with my shenanigans, please check me out at www.dashofcurry.com, as this is my last post at this address.  And if you have trouble getting there, try deleting your browser history or data so that it goes to the new site.  Update your bookmarks friends, because Dash of Curry is moving on up!

Thank you so much for your support and taking the time to read about my silly life!  I’ll talk to you all over at my new digs!

 

Week in Review and a Jersey Shore Brush With Fame!

Sometimes, when I write a post, I feel like writing a long narrative about a particular topic.  However, when I am feeling particularly spacy and all over the place, a list is more my writing speed, as it gives me a chance to recap and reflect on the things bouncing around in my brain.  This is certainly one of those mornings when creating a list will be like therapy.  So here’s my week in review!  (Be sure to read to the end of the post for the highlight of my week!)

1)  All week long, I had a huge work-related task to get done.  I originally set a goal of chipping away at it an hour a day until I was finished, by next Wednesday, when it is due.  It was definitely one of those things that once I started, I just wanted to keep going to get it done.  So I did, and I finally finished the dreaded assignment yesterday afternoon!  I worked on it Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, and I happy to report that weight has been lifted off of my back.

2)  What I am unhappy to report is that another work task has been placed in my lap, and this one may be bigger and badder than the last!  I do have more time to make it happen, including my winter break, so I am not going to stress over it too much right now.  I will certainly use my “chipping away” approach, so it gets done without too much interruption to my daily routine.

3)  Food this week has been a healthy, but boring.  I have been feasting on Mama Pea’s Spicy African Peanut Stew with quinoa and steamed veggies for dinner all week.  Lunches are the only semi-interesting part of my day, food-wise.  About a week ago, I roasted up a gigantic butternut squash, and have been trying to be creative with how to incorporate it into my lunches.  For the past few days, I have been layering the coconut-oil roasted squash with either goat cheese or a slice of provolone and baby romaine lettuce between two whole wheat mini pitas.  The combo is a hit– it’s sweet, savory, salty with a nice touch of crunchy greens, and now I am sad my squash is gone! 

Here’s a pic of the goat cheese version (before I piled on the greens).

I also included the squash in an all veggie and hummus salad:

Lastly, I enjoyed it with some other roasted veggies, carrot-ginger soup, and pita bread with cheese!

4)  This has been my best workout week in a long time, due to consistency and sticking to my plan.  As I already documented a few days ago, I worked out Saturday through Wednesday, and kept it going both Thursday and Friday.  I plan on running today in a little bit, which will have me at a week-long exercise streak!  Don’t get me wrong– everyday was not heart-pounding– rather, I mixed it up with weight-training, harder cardio, and easier recovery cardio.  I am quite proud of myself for sticking to my fitness schedule this week!

5)  Now, for the biggest and best announcement of the week:  I had a major brush with fame last night.  As I have mentioned on the blog before, I have a certain local connection with my favorite reality tv star Pauly D of the Jersey Shore.  No, I do not know him personally, but I had a feeling our paths would cross soon enough.  That time finally came last night, when Pauly D was the surprise DJ at a small event I was chaperoning!  I nearly lost it when I saw him!  Listen boys and girls, dreams can come true!  And my dream of seeing Pauly D live and ten feet in front of me came true last night!  Need proof?  Here’s some awful, but equally awesome pictures!

I can only show you the pics that do not have student faces in them, so that’s all I can share, but believe me, it was so much fun to be surrounded by a bunch of high-schoolers dancing to DJ Pauly D!  There were even camera crews, as rumor has it he is filming for his own spin-off show! 

How could I end my week on a better note?  I think it probably would have been impossible to top that one!

How was your week in review?

Spotlight On. . . Kumquats!

The other day in Whole Foods, my eye spied one of my most favorite, hard-to-find, seasonal fruits ever– the tiny, but mighty kumquat!  Sold in containers similar to strawberries or raspberries, I was quick to snatch up a carton of those juicy nuggets of citrusy goodness!

For those of you who are unfamiliar, kumquats resemble itty-bitty oranges, and while there is not one-hundred percent agreement kumquats are in the citrus family, the majority of  botanists do agree these are citrus fruits. A little history for you (since I am a history teacher, you know):  kumquats originate from China, and they are a Chinese symbol of prosperity.  Eventually the kumquat made its way to Europe and the United States, and there are only a handful of kumquat varieties that grow today, the most common being the Nagami kumquat, which is likely what you will find in your average grocery store.

Moving on (history is cool and all, but what about the flavor?), kumquats are absolutely mouth-watering, in a practically literal sense!  The kumquat is meant to just be popped in your mouth, rind and all, and the slighty bittersweet rind serves as a nice foil to the sour flesh.  If you are a fan of sweet and sour fruits, like pineapples and mangos, I think you just may love the kumquat!

As you can imagine, kumquats of course serve as excellent source of Vitamin C and fiber.  Nine kumquats will provide you with ninety calories, nine grams of fiber, three grams of protein, and one-hundred percent of your Vitamin C needs.  For such a sour-patch-kid-candy-tasting-like fruit, that’s not bad at all!  (Source)

In terms of use, honestly, I have never eaten a kumquat any other way but whole, tossed in my mouth like an olive or grape.  However, I bet there are tons of uses for the humble kumquat, such as turned into marmalades, jams and jellies, in salads, or even candied, like you would do to ginger.  Oh, a candied kumquat– yes please– especially if it’s on top of a cheesecake!

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If you see a package of kumquats, please, give them a go.  They’re a fun seasonal fruit that hopefully will bring you some prosperity if eaten!  My favorite way to enjoy the kumquat is sparingly– I only eat one or two at a time along with other fruits so I can make the carton last as long as humanly possible!

Have you ever tried a kumquat?  If so, what did you think?

Writing It Out As Motivation

I’m going to start today’s post with a question– do you ever have those things you kind of have to do, but in no way, shape, or form can muster up the motivation or energy to tackle the task?  I am in that situation, and let me tell you, it’s weighing on me– badly!

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I have a ton of stuff to do over the next week, most of it work-related, and quite frankly, I have zero motivation to get it done.  It’s not the usual planning lessons, teaching, correcting papers kind of work; rather, it’s extra stuff I am required to do besides my day-to-day teaching activities.  Up until now, I have been a card-carrying member of procrastination nation regarding this chore, but it’s definitely time to get my act in gear, so I created myself a bit of a plan to get it all done by next week.  It’s not rocket science– I need to work on it at least one hour a day, after school and on the weekends, until next Wednesday night.  That’s not so bad, right?  That’s what I tell myself anyway.  I am writing it here though to keep me accountable, because if I say it on the blog, it must be done!

Moving on, I have been pretty good at tackling stuff lately besides that big, stressful task.  Particularly, my workouts have been pretty solid since Saturday.  Let’s recap, shall we?

Saturday:  10 mile run, with 2 mile cool-down walk, walk with husband

Sunday:  8 mile run

Monday:  70 mins elliptical with handles machine; biceps, triceps, and shoulders lifting

Tuesday:  60 mins crosstrainer/elliptical like machine

Wednesday: 6 mile run, followed by 2 miles of walking, legs lifting

I think writing it all out is fantastic motivation to continue my workout streak.  When I see what I have done in black and white, it definitely serves as inspiration, since I don’t want to write that I skipped a planned workout!  It’s a simple technique, but it works.

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In other “write it out” news, last night I found myself in need of making a quick and easy dinner that would take under forty minutes to prepare.  As you know, I prefer to do my cooking on weekends, but with all the holiday party madness as of late, food prep fell off my radar on Sunday.  I scoured my brain for an easy, hearty recipe, and I remembered how simple and fast it was to make Mama Pea’s Spicy African Peanut Stew!  Since the majority of the ingredients are canned pantry staples (chickpeas, fire roasted tomatoes, light coconut milk), I was able to toss it together in a matter of minutes, with minimal chopping/washing etc. . . It came out fantastic, as per usual!

A major pantry staple!

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As far as “writing it out,” as soon as I used an ingredient in the recipe, I immediately wrote it on my shopping list, so I would not forget to stock up next time I went to the grocery store.  Having a full pantry is key to quick and easy dinners,  so when desperate situations arise, you can always create a meal out of your pantry store.  In fact, Mama Pea’s healthful stew really only required a single fresh ingredient– a sweet potato– and everything else can easily come from your pantry.  I make it a point to write items down on my shopping list as soon as I deplete my supply so I can ensure I always have it on hand!  As the theme of this post suggests– write it out people– as soon as you run out!

Well, I suppose that is enough randomness for the day! 

What do you “write out” in order to keep your motivation high?

A Rhode Island Treasure

The other day, my husband and I decided to go to random stores and browse, with no intention to buy anything whatsoever. We went to Dick’s Sporting Goods, The Sports Authority (where I showed him my b-ball dribbling skillz), and Ocean State Job Lot, a close-out store known as “the home of adventure shopping.”
 
 
(Source)Now, I know most of my readers have never heard of Ocean State Job Lot before, as it’s a Rhode Island/nearby Massachusetts thing, but I’m sure almost every state has something similar. It’s basically a few steps above a dollar store in my opinion, in which you can find the most random things for cheap. Much of the stuff they sell is of a decent quality, but there’s a lot of junk for sale too! The best part about Ocean State Job Lot, though, is their food section. Again, you can find the most random things ever, but much of their stock is good stuff! In fact, they sell many exotic/unique/imported/foreign food brands, so it wouldn’t be unusual, for example, to find cookies from England or sauces from India. It’s a great place for foodies to poke around and score a prize or two!

So as we were browsing around, we turned down one aisle, and I was immediately floored and literally unable to move. Here’s what I saw:

 
Oh wait, there was more!

 
If you can’t figure out what I was gasping over, it was an entire aisle of Bob’s Red Mill products. Mind you, this aisle was home to about ten times the number of Bob’s Red Mill products I’ve seen at my larger, local Whole Foods! For those of you who are unfamiliar, Bob’s Red Mill is a company known for selling a huge variety of whole grains, flours, bean and grain mixes, seeds, etc. . . I saw bags of grains, beans, and flours I didn’t even know Bob’s Red Mill sold! On top of that, nearly half of the selection was gluten-free!

 
If I had to try and list all of the varieties of Bob’s products I saw, I couldn’t, as it was just so overwhelming! Here’s just some of the things I recall lusting over:

Buckwheat flour
Quinoa
Brown sesame seeds
Corn meal, of various grinds
Soy flour
Sweet rice
Bean and grain soup mixes
Many, many hot cereal mixes
Various granola blends
TVP
Cookie mixes
Bread mixes
and all kinds of other grains, cereals, flours, and mixes!Did I mention they were much cheaper than if you were to purchase these products at Whole Foods? Yes, they were.

I still am in awe at my jackpot find, in Job Lot of all places. I now have a new source for all my grains, dried beans, flours, and the like! I can’t wait to go back and stock up!

Do you have stores similar to Ocean State Job Lot where you live? If so, what goodies can you find there?

My Holiday Wish List

As an adult, I can pretty much buy whatever I want, whenever I want (within financial reason of course!).  In other words, I feel a bit silly creating a wish list of things I want because I can get these things for myself, and I likely will purchase these items for myself in the very near future.  However, I am definitely one of those people who has a thought to buy something, and then forgets about it in a day or two.  I just want to make a list so I do not forget the things I do want to treat myself with over this holiday season!

1)  Compression socks/sleeves:

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Lately, my calves have been cramping a lot, especially at night when I sleep.  Also, I find that my legs have not been recovering from my runs as quickly as I would like, so I figured compression socks or sleeves may be an easy solution.  I haven’t done a ton of research on brands, but Zensah compression socks seems to be what a lot of bloggers own, so I think that’ll be my first choice.  I think a trip to the running store is in order this week!

2)  Heating Pad for Abdominal area: 

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Weird, I know!  Do they even exist?  I assume so,  but I am not quite sure what brand or type to look for.  The reason I desire such a pad is that I have a very sensitive tummy, and often experience pain and cramping in my abdomen.  I have heard that heat applied to the stomach area can sometimes ease symptoms, so again, I figure it’s an easy enough way to try to soothe my stomach!  My mom claims she saw some on QVC that are microwaveable, which would be a fantastic option!

3)  A facial

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My skin has been so dry lately, that it needs a mega-dose of professionally applied moisture!  Nevermind the fact I am getting older every second, but I really want to take care of my skin the best that I can, and having an all-natural, spa facial is just the ticket I need to get a good jump start on a solid skin care routine.  Admittedly, I have been a bit lazy with my skin care routine, which typically includes whatever bar soap is in the shower, followed by an all-natural, alcohol-free toner and an all-natural moisturizer I picked up from Whole Foods.  I can’t remember the name right now, but it has SPF in it too.  I just want  to “start over” in a sense with my skin, and get a nice, relaxing, and rejuvenating facial, just so I can remember how nice my skin can look when it is fully moisturized!

4)  Love Grown Foods Granola:

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I am so not going to lie– I just bought the variety pack of this granola off of Amazon!  As you know, I heart granola and eat it every day.  While my heart will always belong to Paleonola, I have read so much about the Love Grown brand on a ton of other blogs, and my curiosity has been peaked!  Since it isn’t sold in Rhode Island yet, on-line ordering is my only option.  I am on my last bag of Paleonola, so I figured this would be a nice change of pace!

5)  Long Sleeve T-Shirts from Target:

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This is such a lame item to have on my wish list, but I wear long sleeved t-shirts under my shirts nearly every day!  I have multiple colors, and probably five of the same white ones in my rotation.  And guess what. . . I want more!  Such a necessary staple of winter dressing/layering!

Looking over this list, I guess I don’t ask for too many extravagant things– no jewelery, expensive clothes or fancy cars!  Just some running gear, good food, something for the aches and pains, nice skin, and the ability to layer freely!  I’m sure there’s a lot more on my wish list, but I can’t think of it right now!  Maybe there will be a part two to this post. . .

What’s on your holiday wish list?

Lazy, Sleepy Saturday

Saturday was both lazy and productive.  I spent a lot of the day on the couch napping, watching Baseball Wives (dumbest show ever by the way!) and hanging out with the husband as he wrote out holiday cards.  I did, however, run 10 miles in the morning and go on a long walk with the husband, which, of course, is being fairly productive.  After a long day of lounging, we had a late dinner reservation at one of our favorite restaurants, Chardonnays, in nearby Seekonk, Massachusetts.

Chardonnays is a funny place for us:  it’s very warm, cozy and inviting, and it is always packed to the brim with big parties of young people celebrating special occasions.  However, it’s also the kind of place you can find older couples enjoying a nice meal.  In other words, it’s not so trendy as to exclude quieter crowds, but it’s trendy enough to attract the young folks too!

My husband and I love this place because it is one of those “compromise” restaurants we both can agree on.  It’s menu is varied enough so he can fulfill his cravings for things like sushi and seafood, while I can get my pizza/salad cravings out of the way. 

We sat down around 9 P.M. and were presented with an enormous bread basket of fluffy Italian bread and butter.

I obviously ate a slice!

For dinner, I had both a pear and gorgonzola salad, with pineapple vinaigrette-dressed greens, sliced pears, candied walnuts, and a balsamic glaze drizzle.  This is exactly the salad I get from my favorite take-out pizza place, Pizza Gourmet, so I assume the restaurants may have some sort of connection, but I am not quite sure of that!

Sorry for the dark, blurry picture!

I also shared a tomato, mozzarella, and pesto grilled pizza with my husband.  Chardonnays is famous for their grilled pizza– it never disappoints!

I destroyed two slices!

Since I had such an epic exercise day, I figured a little chocolate and sugar couldn’t hurt.  So, of course, a warm brownie sundae with vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, chocolate sauce, and candied walnuts was in order!

Chardonnays was a perfect spot for a date night.  The restaurant was packed, but we had our own little corner table, which provided plenty of privacy.  My husband and I ate heartily, chatted about Depeche Mode and the Smiths, and had just a wonderful, relaxing night!  It was the ideal Saturday night date.

How did you spend your Saturday night?