Monday, October 10, 2011

Notre Dame Football Adventure!

This weekend we got to go to South Bend, IN for a Notre Dame football game, courtesy of my generous uncle in California. He had entered a lotto for tickets, and ended up getting tickets that he couldn't actually use. A few weeks ago my aunt called to see if we were interested in a set of tickets, and you know we couldn't pass up that opportunity! We had a blast exploring the campus, and experiencing the rich traditions of this historic university.

The campus was full of students and visitors, eating, drinking, and seeing the sights.

The main administrative building was beautiful!
It was full of intricate murals, and had this amazing dome about four floors up.

The basilica was amazing!

After exploring campus, we went to Legends, a bar right across from the stadium.

The band was great at getting the crowd excited... and the crowd was huge! 

They were playing Air Force, so there was a fly over before the game! Too cool!

Go Irish!
(We got shirts before so we would blend in!)

Fun tradition-- they lift the students up and down whenever the Irish score.
They do it as many times as they have points, so people joke about starting
with their heaviest friends first, in case it's a high scoring game.

Touchdown Jesus!

Speaking of high scoring... it was a great day to be a Notre Dame fan!

Thanks again Ron and Anne for the tickets!!! We had a blast!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Parks in the City

Last night I was supposed to go to the gym, but my hips have been sore since I did yoga & ran a few miles earlier in the week. I decided to wait one more day before going back to the gym, and took a long walk around my neighborhood instead. What a great decision that was! The weather has been beautiful in Chicago this week, warming up to the mid-70's each day. This meant lots of people were out and about, especially as I did a lap around a big park a few blocks south of our condo.

Here's the thing about parks in a city. Land is at a premium in most city neighborhoods, so back yards tend to be small, or all out absent. Many people live in multi-unit buildings, and the yard consists of some sidewalk and a small patch of slightly dead grass. It's a sacrifice we're willing to make, to be in such a vibrant and bustling city. And when you settle in to city living, you quickly learn that the parks are a giant shared backyard.

Walking around the park last night, I felt so happy to call Chicago home. I especially love my neighborhood, Lincoln Square, and am so grateful that Joe and I chose this neighborhood for our first home owning experience.

The park was bustling last night, full of people working out, practicing with sports teams, and walking approximately one million dogs. The tennis court was full, and the playground was swarming with kids. I saw baseball, football, and soccer practice, as well as a full game of ultimate frisbee. Little kids were practicing their bike riding, and runners were avoiding them by running on a side trail. Walking through this busy park made me pretty happy to call it my backyard!

And in case anyone was wondering, I did manage to get to the gym for tonight's workout!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Healthy Eating Challenge

Two times a year, my coworkers are all invited to take part in a 28 day healthy eating challenge, commonly referred to as "The Challenge". The last one was right as I started working there, so I heard other people talking about it, but didn't participate myself. Joe and I both think of ourselves as pretty healthy eaters most of the time, but we're always up for a challenge in terms of making our diet healthier. So this year we're both on board, and as of Friday we started The Challenge for ourselves. 

Everyone has different plans for exactly how they're going to do the Challenge, ranging from eliminating cheese or sugar to all out strict vegan diets. We decided to make our challenge focus on a few of our usual vices, and to eat a mostly vegan diet for the next 28 days. Here's the specifics of our challenge:

- no coffee (drinking tea for now, hoping to cut out caffeine completely by the end)
- no drinking during the week, limited drinking on the weekends
- vegan diet, with the occasional exception of eggs
- limiting oil and salt
- reducing sugar intake

Last night, I was looking at vegetarian cookbooks and references I usually use, and I had a hard time finding many recipes that didn't include some kind of dairy product. One of the things I'm really trying to limit is cheese, because I really really really love cheese, and know how unhealthy it can be. I'm sure I'll be eating cheese again once the challenge is over, but I think it's good to try to cut back. I ended up getting online, and finding tons of great sounding options on vegan blogs. Last night we made these fantastic delicata squash with quinoa and cranberry stuffing, inspired by a recipe from the Vegan Yum Yum cookbook. This was one of the more delicious dishes I've made recently, vegan or not!

We've also made lentil chili from the Whole Foods Market website, and have a bunch of recipes from online picked out for this week. I think Vegan Dad will be one of my favorite sources of inspiration, starting with his Indian Style Potatoes and Greens. I'll keep you guys posted on recipes I really enjoy!

Lentil Chili. Not pretty, but tasty and filling!

So far missing coffee is probably the biggest challenge! I have a feeling it'll get easier as this process goes on, and maybe by the end I'll stop drinking it quite so much. Expect a progress report in a week or two :)