Sunday, February 27

Birthday Nonsense

The past two days have been, well, #epic (<- this hash tag was used during the live tweet of Biff’s Birthday Bash)…

We started our shenanigans on Thursday night, as yooj. I could describe the past 48 hours to you, but no amount of words will do it justice. Here is a photo/video montage instead:

Thursday Evening

Killing brain cells is F-U-N!

Meat sauce and veggies. They ended up getting all mixed up and slapped onto the bread. The blackberries were dessert!

What a great camera I have...

Orange, carrots, and cinnamon raisin bagel with cream cheese.

Dunkin' Donuts coffee pre-meeting, courtesy my Biff. If only she wwasn't order-challenged, then maybe I would have gotten a mocha coffee as requested...

Painting nails.

Chillaxin' in my sweats.

Tuna, Food Should Taste Good chips, and broccoli.

I was very tempted to go out with my hair like this.

Birthday girls!

Birthday girls in color, everyone else in black and/or white.

Our hostesses. From left: Cross-stone, Sabs, Robester, Biff, Duffmeister, and Lambster.

Biff and I in space. Space was painted by Lambster...

Stew-Mart sandwich!

Our usual Thursday night crew, sans Sabs.

And so began the chip eating. I am fairly certain I ate at least a quarter of a lb. of chips. I'm ok with it.
Biff's Birthday Bash was a super success (Look at those alliterations!). We had a great time, as always, and spent it with fun people. The end of senior year is in sight. Gotta making memories while it lasts.

Friday, February 25

Taking It Easy

Hi guys! I hope everyone's week is trucking along! Only one more day until the weekend. Hooray!

Well, as usual, my weekend is starting on Thursday. However, since I have been working my little butt off (5 am wake up calls) doing Senior Thesis and anything school-related that I can get my hands on, I've decided to taking it easy. This post is very low-maintinance, as will be the next two days. Biff's Birthday Bash is tomorrow night, which as been on the minds of everyone-who's-anyone (heh) over the past two weeks. It promises to be epic.

I am treating myself to a few homework-free days to gear up for a work-filled weekend. On Saturday, I will be posting about our birthday antics. Be prepared. On this next-to-last day of the week, relax and take it easy. Only one more to go. You can do it!

Until Saturday...

Here are some interesting reads:

Simple, Smart, Tasty
Edemame Snack
Strawberry and Cream Cheese Snack

Lady Gaga's Secret to Staying Thing
3 of the Unhealthiest Menu Options in America

To My Body: I'm Sorry

What are your plans for the weekend?

Thursday, February 24

It's Great to Be Gluten-Free

When people find out that I am gluten-intolerant, I generally get a reaction like, “Oh you poor thing,” or “That must suck.” Well, I’m here to tell you that it does not, in fact, suck. In reality, I look at it as a really great thing. Sure, I can’t eat what everyone else is eating all the time, but is that really a bad thing? Let’s discuss…

1. It makes me more health conscious- When I first became GF, I did a heck of a lot of research trying to figure it all out. In doing so, I learned about health-related things outside of what it means to be gluten-free.

2. I’ve become an awesome cook, if I do say so myself.- Being gluten-free means steering clear of a lot of processed foods because of fillers, thickeners, etc. Because I can’t eat those quick and easy foods any more, I have learned how to cook, and do it well. I’ve also become really good at improvisating (or “improvising” if you want to be all correct about it…). Resourcefulness is as must for a gluten-free eater.

3. I don’t consume a lot of chemicals- This goes with my last point about processed foods. Now that I cook for myself, I find that I don’t consume ingredients that my grandmother wouldn’t recognize on a label… very often.

4. I’m more in-tune with my body- Now that I have this allergy (although they think I’ve always had it and was simply unaware that my body was hating me for stuffing it with gluten), I pay much closer attention to how my body is feeling all the time. Now, I can feel a gluten attack coming a mile away, which gives me time to pop half a bottle of enzymes at an attempt to soften the blow. For those of you who aren’t gluten-free, there is no pill that you can take for gluten-intolerance/Celiac. Nothing makes me more angry than when people say, “Well don’t you have medicine for it,” like I’m gonna whip out an epee pen and suddenly my face rash and painfully bloated stomach with magically go away. Not happening.

5. It has opened the world of new foods/desserts- I’ve always been one to try new things food-wise, but now more than ever, I am always searching for fun new foods that I can incorporate into my diet. Now, I think, why would I settle for something like this:

…when I can have this?

6. I eat bread. All. The. Time.- Before I found out I was gluten-intolerant, I was on every diet you can think of. Throughout this dieting process, I realized that I always lost weight when I stopped eating carbs, especially breads and pasta. Well, it really wasn’t the carbs, it was the gluten. Now that I have GF options I eat a heck of a lot of bread- at least once a day- and there is no bloated tummy to follow. It’s fantastic.

7. It keeps me healthier all around- Being GF has been enlightening for me in so many ways. I pay attention to my food, my body, and my fitness these days, and I attribute it all to my (relatively) new lifestyle. I see my “problem” as a blessing in disguise.

I’ve realized how important it is to take care of your body and how what you put in it affects every aspect of your life. I know that without this “problem” as people like to call it, I would still be eating crap food and not taking care of myself. Luckily, I can’t put gluten in my body, unless I want to risk death... Well, close enough.

Wednesday, February 23

How NOT to Starve to Death

Before we get started, I want to send a shout-out to my Biff! It's her birthday, so go read her blog and tell her to have a happy one!

Now, let's talk about Tuesday. It was a bad day in Ashley’s world of food. It started out great, but then took a swift turn toward the worst…

I ate a lovely breakfast of sacred muffins.
Chobani, banana, and banana muff.
 When it was snack time (precisely 11:15), I munched on a yummy apple.So far, so good.

When lunch time rolled around, I was starved. Biff and I took advantage of the balmy Florida weather and sat by the school fountain to eat.
Biff chatting it up.
 Rather excitedly, I unzipped my backpack and reached inside for my bagged lunch. To my shock and horror, the main event of my meal was MIA. I frantically began searching my bag in hopes that the missing Tupperware would appear emerge from the darkness, but nothing. My long awaited sweet potato had been left at home. Curses! All I was left with was a measly salad and an apple sauce.
Overwhelmed with sadness.
 As I reluctantly poured on the dressing, a brilliant idea came to me. My hypoglycemic mother has always taught me never to leave the house without a snack in your purse- you never know when you’re going to need a blood sugar boost, or in my case, be hungry. I remembered that I had in my possession a bag of raisins and almonds. Sweet relief. I hurriedly scrounged for the nuts and sprinkled them on my salad. On my hunt, I also found a Just Great Stuff bar from Betty Lou’s for an afternoon snack. My lucky day.
 My tummy wasn’t quite as happy as it would have been with a potato in it, but it was satisfied.

Within two hours, it became very clear that “satisfied” is not enough to keep me going. I need “full.” I spent the whole afternoon hungry and wanting to eat. Even though I ate a bar and an orange that I confiscated from my aunt’s house on the way home, my stomach was on a rampage. I needed some serious food.

I could feel my stomach slowly eating itself as I arrived home, and I headed for that dang sweet potato. In the interest of time, I settled for a side of frozen vegetables and some rolled up turkey.
I scarfed this down faster than you can say, "Bops your uncle." Although I don't know why you would say such a thing....
 Never has a meal tasted so good. I don’t even want to imagine what my day would have been like if I didn’t have snacks stashed away for days like this. I may not have been here to type this post. You would have cried, I know. It was a close call, but I made it out alive.

The moral of this story is: Always keep a spare snack in your purse, gym bag, car, or desk drawer, because you never know when hunger is going to strike.

Tuesday, February 22

Oh, Happy Day!

Happy Monday! The day just flew by today, and I have no idea where it went. It was a fairly typical day, but super, super great. It went a little something like this:

Early morning homework,
I apologize if this face is way too sexy for you to handle...

Yumalicious breakfast (I am usually a sweet breakfast kind of person, but I opted for savory today),
Broccoli scramble and toast with cream cheese.
Cleaning, tidying, washing, and otherwise being domesticated,

Apple and cottage cheese

Pretending to be studious,

Catching some much-needed Florida rays,

GF roasted garlic and mozzarella sausage, carrots, and grapes.
 Tickling the ivories while flexing the golden pipes (I will be posting a video of this in the near future),

Making Banana Oat Muffins a la Healthy Tasty Cheap (check out this blog for some REALLY great recipes!),

Banana Oat Muffins
Recipe adaptation
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose gluten-free flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup wheat-free  oats
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup agave syrup
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil
  • 1/3 cup almond milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • 2 mashed bananas
  • chocolate chunks optional
Preheat oven to 350F. Sift flower, baking soda, powder and salt into a bowl. Mix together wet ingredients with mashed bananas. Add spices. Slowly add dry mixture to wet mixture and add oats.  Stir well. Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out dry.

Holy Muffin! No seriously, these might actually be sacred muffins.
Walking with Mama,

And chowing down on some deliciously comforting eats.
Sloppy Joe on garlic and onion bagel, sauerkraut, and sweet potato.
 I plan on rounding out the night with some more reading followed by Chicago Code. If I keep up this awesome attitude I’ve got going on, just my smile myself to death. Hopefully I’ll rub off on someone else. :D

Monday, February 21

Mommy and Me

Hiya Pals! Can I tell you how much I love the weekend? Seriously, it seems like every weekend has been fantastic lately. I always start it out with my Biff (on THURSDAY, no less), spend Friday through Sunday with the fam, and then have a school-free Monday. What? Schedule perfection? I think so. I think another major component to my cheery disposition is that I feel like I am actually accomplishing things.

I have gotten on a new routine of waking up at 5 am to work. You might think I’m crazy, but you're not the one analyzing the heck out of Bob Dylan (hereafter Frog Man or The Lej), now are you?

My reasoning behind the madness is as follows:

Number one: In the mornings, my brain is still half asleep, allowing me only to focus at one thing at a time.

Letter B: In the mornings, my brain is still half asleep, refusing to let my body move from one position and forcing me to stay put at my desk.

… and Number C: It’s dark out and no one is awake. Those who know me are aware that I am quite the talker and would rather be right next to someone chattering all day than by myself. My poor mother feels the bulk of this burden. Here’s a clip to demonstrate my daily custom when my mom is around.

Have I ever told you how awesome my mom is and how much I love her (When she reads this she’s gonna be all, “What do you want?”)? Ha. Oh, Moms. It would appear that I am completely independent in my mother’s absence, but as soon as she is around, I find that I am suddenly debilitated and become unbelievably needy. I have yet to figure out the reason for this. But, I digress. By 7:30, I could no longer stave off the hunger and had to make myself some brec (workin’ the abbrevs today).
Blueberry muffin and Greek yogurt with cocoa powder, strawberries, and bananas.
I chowed down on my dessert-like breakfast and prettied up to go see Unknown with Mumsy and Gigantor. Liam Neeson rocked my socks. The movie definitely had that Taken feel to it, but I suppose the common denominator is the focus on the European Underworld. Scuzzy. Sketchy. Fantastic for movie-making.

After the movie, Gigantor left Moms and me behind to hit the retail. But first, we headed straight for Five Bucks (more commonly known as Starbucks). I wanted a skinny latte, and Mama wanted a whole milk latte with whip cream. After a heated debate, we settled for a skinny Cinnamon Dolce Latte with whip cream on top. I think the barista was mucho confusedo.
Sweet compromise.
Hopped up on caffeine, we shopped around, played makeup at the Clinique counter, and then…

Frosty. Yum.
Fries dipped in frosty. Even more yum.
Gasp! I know. Fast food. So bad, but oh, so good.  

By the time we got home, I was completely famished. Ok, not so much. But it was 3 pm and I all I had consumed from 7:30 until now was a protein bar, half a confused hot beverage, half a frosty, and half a medium fry. I was in desperate need of a whole something-or-other.
Salad beast: lettuce, turkey, red peppers, feta, corn, salt, pepper, and apple cider vinegar.
The rest of the afternoon was spent watching my Mama do my auntie’s hair. While I observed the chemical process, I made dinner.
Tuna melt with mozzarella cheese, dill pickle, and carrots.
Yowsa! This was to die for. My taste buds were freaking out on me. I think it is probably because tuna melts are one of my most favorite forgotten foods of all time. You know what I’m talking about- those foods or dishes you love, forget about, and rediscover due to a random craving? Yeah, I thought so.

Tummy happy, and hair beautified and out-the-door, I curled up on the couch for some more mommy-and-me time. *Smiles*

I woke up Sunday morning to visit my close friend, Butt Crack of Dawn, and worked on Senior Hell a little more. After diligently typing away, thoughts of breakfast began to lure me into the kitchen, pulling me away from my dear, dear thesis (No, really, I was kicking and screaming).
Eating another dang muffin... waste not, want not. Muffin accompanied by strawberry, chocolate, espresso smoothie.
Later, I accompanied the parentals to church and then returned with one thing on my mind. Do I even need to say it?
Cantaloupe topped with chicken salad on a bed of baby spinach. Doesn't it look sooo posh?
Given Florida’s emergence from its momentary lapse in weather identity crisis (we’ve spent 3 months bundled up. It’s not normal), I decided to take advantage of the sun and get some rays.

The next 5 hours was quite similar to Saturday afternoon: shopping with Mama (with no purchasing), talking to my honey-bunny, making dinner and watching TV.
Dinner was much less glamorous: Spaghetti squash with olive oil and Parmesan and quinoa with corn and marinara sauce.
 What an awesome weekend it has been spending time with my lovely mother. I’m usually not one for monotony, but in this case, I can make an exception.

Friday, February 18

Get Pumped!

Hello friends! I hope the last two days have been as awesome for you as they’ve been for me. I’m in a fantastic mood, if you haven’t noticed. Thursday morning’s breakfast got the cheerful ball rolling for me.

I was super pumped to eat one of my delicious blueberry muffins for breakfast. Yum. New obsession? I think so.
Muffin and green protein shake.
 Although I had a muy loco day, I had even more blueberry power for lunch, which made everything seem like a walk in the park.
Blue quinoa. Looks like mush, tastes like heaven.
 With four classes behind me, Biff and I went to played with the poopers at Journey’s End.  At 5:45 we jetted home to change and have dinner before our forthcoming fun extravaganza.
"Pizza"- millet flat, spaghetti sauce and cottage cheese. Cyooks on the side.
 I sang for the men’s basketball game at school and felt like I did a pretty sweet job. I forgot to get a video of this. *makes sad puppy face*

No sooner were the words, “…and the home of the brave,” out of my mouth than Biff and I disregarded school spirit and sprinted out to pick up our friend Beccs. And so began our Girls’ Night! We had been anticipating it all day and were PUMPED!!! Reinforcing our stereotypical female roles, we went straight out to go shopping and look for a dress for Biff’s upcoming birthday party (which is going to be epic). She was successful and Beccs and I were happy to have browsed the retail.

We returned home, shopping bags in hand, and picked up our other friend, and Beccs’ rommie, Abell (pronounced aye-bell). It was 9:30 by this time, and we decided it would be a great idea to fill our brains with reality trash. After whipping up some frozen lemonades and popcorn, we cozied up to watch Jersey Shore.
Abell and Beccs drinking out of the blender.

This picture sums up our lives.

Getting ready for Jersey madness.
 I’ve never been a huge fan, but it was quite entertaining. Guidos are beyond ridiculous. I felt sleep creeping over me as the Shore came to a close, and was super excited to hit the sack early. 11:30, baby! *sigh*  

Friday, I woke up bright and early to head to the gym. I was feeling the need, the need for… sweat.  I had a baller gym sesh. 1.8 miles in 15 minutes (that’s 8.18 min. mile if you’re curious… I’m proud of myself), and I could have gone faster! I followed my cardio with my Trouble-Spot Toning. Fatigued from running and wanting to forgo any possibly injury, I opted for two sets (instead of three), followed by some Captain’s Chair Leg Raises. I was pouring sweat and feeling so good. Physical signs of working hard (i.e. a soaked shirt) make me feel really accomplished. Luurve it.  

I’ve heard mixed reviews about doing cardio before weights, and even though it worked for me, I still wanted to do a little research. Here are two articles I found about weights and cardio:

Cardio vs. Strength Training- This article discusses the benefits of both types of exercise and how they compare. It actually makes me want to work do less cardio and more weight training! Did you know that weight training spikes your metabolism for an extra hour after your workout?!?! "So if you burned 200 calories lifting weights, it's really closer to 250 overall." That’s awesome. Calorie burn from doing nothing? Yes, please.

The Best Strength Training for Women- Here are some tips and info on strength training especially for women and why it’s so good for us. AND all of it is backed by clinical studies. Thanks, Women’s Health Magazine!

I think I am definitely going to be inclined to lift weights more often. I’m so PUMPED!

What kind of workout makes you feel awesome?