Monday, March 28, 2011

settling in


Ever wondered what 100 pounds of luggage looks like?

I need packing lessons
Yeah... the good people at American Airlines had to put that awful sticker on my behemoth bag. If I hadn't been zombied out (it was about 5:30 A.M. when I checked the suitcase), I might have been embarrassed. In my defense, I'm accustomed to driving whenever I go to Oklahoma- a car has a lot more square footage than my suitcases. But since this trip was a relatively short one, I decided to fly... and my packing skills proved to be a bit ridiculous. Aside from trying to wrestle the bags into/out of my car, the trip home was great. Next stop: Dallas, TX in a week and a half, and not for work- I'm going to see my favorite band (Coheed and Cambria) with my good friend Colin! And then, off to Pittsburgh to see my best friend for Easter! I won't be traveling for work again until early May; I'm looking forward to a month of seeing people I love.


Jeremy and I have been really lucky since he left the country, and have been able to talk on the phone at least once a day. We were able to have a 20 minute conversation as soon as I landed in Alabama, and that put me in a fantastic mood. This led me to make the best decision of my life and, rather than go to the office for a few hours, went straight home to see my puppy (and by puppy, I mean 84 in dog years). Bookee has been a little stressed this week- it's been raining for the past week in Huntsville and she's never been a fan of stormy weather. I'm used to being gone for long periods of time, but I never quite get used to being away from my dog. So we played for a little while (she's still spry!), went for a short walk, and are currently taking advantage of the Secret Life marathon on ABC family. And don't worry, I'm judging myself too.

Contemplating what will happen between Ben and Adrian tonight!

I have been craving macaroni and cheese for weeks now, but there was no place in Lawton that sold the brand I like, and most recipes seemed a little too complicated for my hotel kitchen. I found a recipe on Vegan YumYum (yeah, the name makes me cringe) that looked good, so I decided to give  it a try. It had a lot of ingredients I haven't experimented with, like miso and nutritional yeast, so my expectations weren't super high. I did tweak a couple things in the recipe- I used almond milk instead of soy, quinoa pasta instead of whole-wheat, and I added fake mozzarella shreds to the pan when I popped it in the oven. It looked super pretty, was extremely rich (not low-cal in the slightest- which was fine with me!) and it tasted good... but nothing like the real thing. All in all it was a decent substitute, and it got rid of my mac and cheese craving. I paired it with a spinach, cucumber and clover sprout salad, and I've been absolutely STUFFED for over an hour.

It's no Velveeta... but still delicious!

So tell me...

  1. What are your best packing tips? Anything you just can't travel without?
  2. There's two types of people- Blue Box fans and Shells and Cheese fans. Which are you? (I'm a Shells girl myself...)

Sunday, March 27, 2011

on the move

This morning, I said goodbye to Lawton, OK and the hotel room I'd gotten all too comfortable in these past two weeks. I'm flying out of Oklahoma City early tomorrow morning, so I'm taking any head start I can to maximize my sleeping time and drove up here this morning. The hotel I'm in now is actually perfect for a one night stay- it's close to good restaurants and the airport, and there's even a Starbucks in the lobby! My only qualm- and it's a small one- is the fact that the decor is a little funky. Take, for instance, this chair. I know it's meant for laptop work, but it brought back awful memories of a couple weeks ago, when I spent two hours under the dryer at Ulta in order to correct an unfortunate dark hair dye incident.
For the record, a Level 2 brown looks an awful lot like black...

After days and days of anticipation, and a grueling 9 hours of building CAT5 cables in a tent, I was lucky enough to spend the evening drinking wine with two great new friends. Kerry and Vanessa's husbands were in the Army with Jeremy before he got out, and these girls have been amazing to me since I've been in Lawton. Having friends to spend time with while I'm traveling has really been a godsend- coming back to a hotel just waiting to go back to work 12 hours later can get mundane fast- and getting to hear some of my boyfriend's more embarassing stories is definitely a bonus. 

I was ecstatic when we pulled into the new hotel and saw a Panera Bread next door. The restaurant's always been one of my favorites, and since switching to a vegan diet, I've become even more appreciative of how awesome their menu is. Sunday is an extra-special Panera day too, because it's one of three days that they serve their Low-Fat Vegetarian Black-Bean soup. If you've never tried it, you're missing out- its extremely filling and tastes out of this world! The only pitfall is the sodium content- almost 1600 milligrams- but I don't sweat it too much since I don't eat it all the time. I paired this with the Asian Sesame Chicken Salad (sans chicken) and a whole wheat baguette. The cashier at Panera might have been the nicest I've ever encountered, and gave me extra romaine lettuce since I 86'd the chicken. But I'll be honest, I was a litle disappointed in the salad. The dressing, a sesame vinaigrette, was weirdly sweet, and there was a ton of cilantro mixed in the greens, which made it even more strange. So I just didnt use a lot of the dressing and avoided the cilantro as much as I could. Still a fantastic lunch!


 So tell me...
  1. What are some things that make you feel more at home when you're out of town?
  2. Are you going to watch To Catch a Predator tonight? (you should...)

Thursday, March 24, 2011

parcels. jogging. falafels.

I know I said I was a fan of technology, but getting a real live package in the mail? The lady at the front desk probably thought I was a basket case when I got teary as she handed me one yesterday…

So much love!
That’s right- these are actual, physical items to make hotel life a little more bearable from Ames. This package couldn’t have come at a better time- we’re working out in the field right now and I won’t lie, it’s gotten to be a little taxing. But then I got lollipops, Lärabars, awesome lotion, and a handmade card, just like we used to make each other in college. I felt the love.
When left to my own devices, I have to dupe myself into exercising, like I did this afternoon. Working out was easy in college when I lived with Amy, and totally painless when Jeremy and I would go to the gym together. But when I’m traveling, I just don’t have the natural motivation to run, or the metabolism to just sit around all the time. I’m softening the blow of the treadmill by re-watching all the episodes of Veronica Mars while I run. One episode is about 40 minutes, which means about 4 miles for me and my short legs. The last thing I wanted to do after getting back from 12 hours at the range was work out, but the hotel fitness room is so convenient and I’m still analyzing the motives behind Lilly Kane’s murder. As my soldiers would say, “Too easy.”

Spoiler alert: the sheriff got it wrong...
I didn’t feel like hotel breakfast this morning, so I scarfed down some Kashi Cinnamon Harvest with frozen mixed berries and rice milk in my room. I grabbed a few Clementine oranges and tossed them in my purse to snack on during the day, along with a Cherry Pie Lärabar and a 100-calorie pack of almonds. Dinner was a little more exotic than I'd planned... all day I wanted hummus and pita bread, which I actually had on hand at the hotel. I've been experimenting with hummus a lot lately, and felt like making some at around 10:30 PM last night (my hotel neighbors loooooved me). But once dinnertime rolled around, I thought, "Wow, a falafel sure sounds tasty right about now." So I made makeshift falafel patties by taking about 2 tablespoons of hummus, squashing it into a circle and frying it in a little olive oil. The result was actually fantastic, and then I made sure to get my veggies by pairing the whole-wheat pitas with a huge spinach salad.

Protein, carbs and veggies? Check!
So tell me…

  1. I’m on a mission to send Jeremy some baller care packages while he’s overseas. They’ll definitely include fun cards and snacks like Amy’s did… Any other creative suggestions?
  2. Do you have to trick yourself into a workout? What are your secrets?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

the basics

Confession: I can't stay in one place for an extended period of time. Maybe it's the fact that I grew up in a military family, or maybe I'm just a little flighty by nature. Truth is, I think I just get the itch to move around more than most people. This makes my job absolutely perfect.

I work as a military trainer for a major defense contractor, which entails traveling from base to base sharing my 24 years of wisdom with soldiers. This comes with some incredible perks, like not having to hang out in a cubicle every day and accumulating an obnoxious amount of Hilton points. I like to focus on these positives, and it's not too hard- I can honestly say that I love my job.

That said, there are a few things that make day-to-day hotel living a bit challenging.

  • I'm inappropriately messy. I sometimes go through phases where I pretend I'm organized, but this is my natural state. I'm very generous to our hotel housekeepers-- and THAT'S how I sleep at night.
One of my hotel rooms, circa November 2010
  • I'm always far away from people I love. My family's in Alabama, my best friend is in Pennsylvania (check out A Glimpse of the Gouglers), my college classmates are mostly in Texas, and my handsome boyfriend is in Afghanistan (and is always accepting snacks and WWE paraphernalia). For lack of a better phrase, it does suck. Thankfully, technology is my friend. I've become a big fan of Skype dates, rollover minutes, excessive use of someecards, and Mark Zuckerberg.  

    ...get it??!
  • I'm a vegan. Not really for moral reasons (I do love animals, but I don't belong to PETA ), and not because I don't like steak and cheese fries (I mean, I worked at Outback Steakhouse for 3 years). One day I just decided that I might feel better if I cut out the meat, dairy and egg products that I eat, and sho 'nuff... my body is much happier. If I decide tomorrow that I want a burger, then I'll have no problem devouring one. But until that urge strikes, I'll just carry on without the beef. Learning to adhere to a vegan diet while constantly traveling has been easier than I thought, but it definitely has its interesting moments. These can't be summed up in a paragraph, and my mission to whip up milk-and-butter-less mashed potatoes will definitely be a recurring theme.
My fridge, complete with almond "mozzarella," rice milk and quinoa

Maybe I'm biased, but I think I live a pretty interesting life... At least when it comes to eating, keeping a cool head and actually having fun while living out of a suitcase (or four).