Wednesday, March 18, 2009


The countdown has begun!

Okay, it actually began the moment he left, that cold, January morning that I hugged him one final time and teared up in my driveway as he drove off. I guess I started subconsciously tracking the amount of days until I would see him again. But now, this week, that time is tangible. 

It has been 10 weeks and one day since I last saw Geof. And in three days, I get to see him again!

I leave for Hawaii on Saturday at 5 a.m. I will arrive on Oahu at 3 p.m. Factor in the five hour time difference, and I have a full day of traveling in front of me. I despise air travel, but this trip is worth it. I will get to spend a full week with my boyfriend!

This trip marks my first visit to Hawaii. The next time I take the million-hour plane ride to the island, I won't be returning. I will be toting all of the possessions I can possibly fit into two carry-ons and a giant duffle bag. I will be entering Geof's house and call it my own. So, on this trip, I hope to over-indulge in Geof time as well as scope out the island and possible job situations. 

With the journalism industry the way it is, who knows what I am going to find out there. I joke that my schooling has given me excellent secretary skills, but certainly office work is something that I will look into. No matter what, I will begin freelancing on the side, and maybe some day, my name will make its way into a byline once more. 

This trip won't be all snuggles and business. I plan on completely tourist-ing out while I officially call myself a tourist. We are going to snorkel off the southern coast (where Obama takes his daughters to snorkel, I hear). We are going to drive the entire coast of the island, stopping at the North Shore to attempt a Jack Johnson spotting and the west coast to attempt a "LOST" siting. We are going to rent mo-peds, hike Diamond Head, go bodysurfing, lay on the beach... everything I have always wanted to do on a beach vacation with a boyfriend.      

After the trip concludes, I will fly back to life in Columbia--and another three full months sans-boyfriend. The distance is so frustrating, but the only thing I can do is wait. It is discouraging to know that, after getting through a long three months (which felt like forever, believe me), I will face another span of time the same length. There is no way around it. I will just keep on trucking through. The three months will turn to two. The two months will turn to two weeks. And the next time I see him, I will leave for Hawaii with him, and we'll never have to deal with distance again.  

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

mango tacos

Some sweet Hawaii news: Geof and I have found the house that we will move into in June! From what he tells me, it sounds great: lots of living space, big yard, three bedrooms, nice kitchen, short walk to the beach, etc. The place has all the fixings that a midwestern country girl could ever hope for. But one thing in particular captivated my attention more so than the abundance of bathrooms or the availability of free parking. Perhaps the sweetest thing of all, for the first time in my life, I am going to have a mango tree!

Simply put, mangos are the best-tasting food in the whole entire world.  Better than strawberries, better than Bush Stadium hot dogs, better than mexican food, better than buffalo chicken fingers with ranch (although I now wonder if I could make a mango-honey buffalo sauce; that sounds pretty dank.) I am mango for mangos. I love them, and now I will see them grow in my very front yard! I would eat the fruit everyday if the growing season would allow it. And because their sweet, tangy flavor is so versatile, a lot of meals could actually benefit from a mango addition.   

Point at hand: I was messing around in the kitchen a few days ago, battling the never-ending challenge thinking of something healthy, yet delicious to make. I had just bought two ripe mangoes from the grocery store, so I started fooling around with fruit and chicken ideas.

Twenty minutes later, mango tacos were born. And, OH MAN were they delicious. Here is what I did:

What you need: 
1/2 mango
1 chicken breast
1 tablespoon sugar, give or take
1 tablespoon crushed red pepper
1 bottle of low fat asian ginger salad dressing
flour tortillas
chopped romaine lettuce (if you like lettuce in your tacos.)(I do. It adds crunch.)    

1. Get the chicken breast marinating in the asian ginger salad dressing. Peel and dice the 1/2 mango and put into a bowl. Toss the diced mango with the sugar to pull some juice out of the fruit.

2. After thirty minutes or so of letting the mango sit in the sugar, slice the chicken into short strips. Begin cooking the chicken strips in a skillet.

3. After the chicken looks thoroughly cooked, add the mango (and all of its juices) to the chicken. Sauté the mixture on medium heat for 7 to 10 minutes, adding as much or as little as red pepper as you like. The more red pepper, the higher the heat. 

4. After cooking the chicken with the mango, dish it out into the flour tortillas. Add chopped romaine lettuce for some extra crunch or drizzle some asian ginger dressing on the taco for some extra flavor. Enjoy the low fat, mango-tastic dish!  

Friday, February 13, 2009

feeling the weight of distance

Advice to all women who are enduring a long-distance relationship: don't watch chick-flicks. I consider myself an emotionally sturdy individual, but there is something about watching two people who are happy, in love, and (more importantly) physically together that makes my longing for Geof agonizing. 

I saw "He's Just Not That Into You" last night with my girlfriends. Although I enjoyed the movie, I didn't like the way I felt afterwards. It put the thoughts into my head that I have been trying to avoid since he left--like how I am alone right now; and how even if I move there, it might not work out; or how if we get married some day, he might cheat on me with Scarlet Johanson. Well, scratch that one. But basically, it made me think about just how much I miss him. 

I miss holding his hand. I miss rubbing his beard. I miss watching him look at me. I miss cooking with him; we would laugh the whole time. I miss shopping at Wal Mart with him; he would give me piggy-back rides and we'd playfully argue over whose turn it was to pay.  I miss the long hugs we would share after being apart all day; I would nuzzle my head into his soft shoulder and breath in his scent, and he would tighten his embrace and lean his head against the top of mine. I miss falling asleep next to him; we would tangle our legs together and whisper nonsensical pillow talk back and forth. I miss waking up next to him; I would feel so happy and content watching his sleeping head softly breath in and out.    

I miss all those little things that, though seemingly insignificant at the time, accumulate to form the most important element of our relationship: our bond with one another. Those little things are the difference between him and every other guy I've ever been with. Those little things are why I love him so much.

After I drove home from the theater, I sat in my car and cried for for a while. I guess in every long-distance relationship, its counterparts will inevitably reach their breaking point, and I had finally reached mine. Before this, I was being stoic. I was trying to ignore Geof's absence and concentrate on the future, a technique that evidentially won't work forever.  

I looked at my phone, and tears streamed down my cheeks. My phone has become the manifestation of our relationship. All of those little things that make us work so well have been replaced by text messages and phone conversations about nothing in particular. He is becoming just a voice. His persistent "I love you"s are starting to fall on crude ears, his quite manner is failing to translate over the line. Our empty wishes of togetherness continue to go unanswered.

I am overwhelmingly frustrated.

Next time I go to the movies with my friends, I will insist that we see Friday the 13th. 

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Smart Ones... pretty smart.

I usually try to navigate my grocery outings around the frozen food section. The sight of DiGiornos and Ben and Jerry's ice cream makes me hunger for the food that I am tying to avoid. But I have found something worth venturing down the cold isles for: Smart Ones frozen meals. 

I will not deny that frozen heath-food doesn't typically please the pallet, but the right Smart Ones meal will often find me licking its plastic plate clean. Really. Smart Ones has created a few low-cal, low-fat meals that can compete with the full-flavored, fatty foods. 

The Teriyaki Chicken and Vegetables dish is to die for. It is more filling than its 2.5g, 230 calories let on. I always add a dash of soy sauce and a squeeze of Sarachi for some extra flavor (I prefer my food spicier than normal eaters). It is the perfect answer for a guilt-free, mid-day meal. Or, add a spinach salad and make it dinner. 

Smart Ones Fruit Inspirations Honey Mango Barbeque Chicken meal is also killer. I happen to be bananas for mangos, so I naturally gravitated towards this microwavable wonder, but it a good choice for any pallet. The chicken is glazed in a salty-sweet barbeque sauce with generous chunks of mango, and the dish is served with orzo pasta with spinach (which I always mix in with the chicken). 

The meals are about three dollars a piece and take four minutes to make. For those of you going the Weight Watchers route, the meals even have your points all divvied out.  

Light. Filling. Cravable. Who ever knew losing weight would taste so good?

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


Last weekend, something very usual happened to me. 

I went out on Friday night and drank--probably more than I should have. By Saturday, I didn't feel very good. 

And, like I normally do when I am staring down the dark tunnel of another hangover, I craved junk food. So after I finally woke up, I called over to Willies and ordered some buffalo chicken tenders and loaded cheese fries to-go (of course, another realm of hangovers is that, though you feel absolutely starved when you first wake up , you normally aren't hungry at all. Likewise, I only ate half a tender and a dozen cheese fries.)

Why must I throw away a day of healthy eating on a hangover? It is very frustrating. My goal is to find something that I can eat after a night of drinking without feeling too guilty. Any ideas?  

Monday, February 9, 2009

To eat a salad, or not to eat a salad. That is the question

Salads are such a misleading food. 

Ever since it became attractive to weigh under 100 pounds and constantly look hungry, salad-popularity has been like stock in Apple: on the rise. Salad sections on menus have grown. Fast food venues have begun to offer their quick and convenient spin on the sought-after dish, and restaurants completely devoted to the lettuce-based meal are opening across the country (my favorite: Ingredient. It's super trendy and Oh! so delicious.)

I think this is great. I love salads. I eat them about once a day, and I began developing my salad-making talents when I was in high school. My friends and I would get drunk and crave food, but instead of making a pizza, I would mix a giant salad. We would fulfill our hunger without feeling guilty about the binge the next morning. 

Like I said, I love salads. But I still think that they can be painfully deceiving. True, lettuce has very few calories, but once the fried chicken and cheese and egg and ranch and bacon and pecans get thrown into the bowl, whoever is eating the salad would be better off heath-wise with a burger and fries. Caesar dressing? Croutons? Steak? All these things make a salad yummy but aren't going to help you lose weight. Unfortunately, salads from restaurants--you know, the ones we order when we are trying to be "good"--are often the ones that are the worst for us.

But, alas! I have tips that will help you eat a salad guilt-free, the way it ought to be.  

1. If you need to add some crunch to your salad, try using saltine crackers or baked croutons. These are lower in fat, yet just as satisfying.

2. Low fat dressings are the way to go. My favorites are Zia's fat free raspberry vinaigrette and Fortels' low fat Italian, both available at Schnucks.

3. If ordering a salad from a restaurant, ask to get the dressing on the side. A lot of times they will overload the salad with more than enough. Also, ask what their low fat dressing options are. If they do not carry any low fat dressings, choose a dressing that is oil-based, like balsamic vinaigrette or oil and vinegar. Cream-based dressings will add on a crazy amount of fat grams. 

4. Darker lettuce, like Romaine or spinach, have more nutritional value than iceberg. Go with these types to make the meal even healthier.

5. Worried that skipping out on the fattier toppings is going to make your salad taste bland? Try adding flavorful yet healthy substitutions, like corn, black beans, snow peas, raspberries, onion, or fresh garlic. 

6. Try to avoid adding cheese to your salad, but if you must get some dairy in there, try to use low fat mozzarella or grated parmesan.   

7. Use lean fish or chicken to add protein to the dish. If you like a little spice, add some Frank's Red Hot or Tabasco to your fat-free vinaigrette dressing. It is like eating a delicious buffalo chicken salad, minus the fat!