Thursday, June 24, 2010

Insanity Workout

Last Friday was my last day with the Wrigley Company.  Now that I've got some extra time on my hands, I decided to try out this Insanity Workout from Beach Body Fitness recommended by my old trainer, Randy.  There's been a lot of hype and talk about this program so I figured I'd try it out.

Last night, Ernie and I did the first fit test.  My results were pathetic and today my back is completely sore.  Sigh. I've got a long way to go.

Here are the results:
1. Switch Kicks: 48
2. Power Jacks: 38
3. Power Knees: 50
4. Power Jumps: 24
5. Globe Jumps: 6
6. Suicide Jumps: 15
7. Push-Up Jacks: 12
8. Low Plank Oblique: 20

We're supposed to do this fit test every two weeks. The whole program goes for 60 days and is pretty intense.  I'll try to keep you updated on the results but so far, I'm feeling out of shape and blubbery!

Kellogg Graduation

We finally had the graduation ceremony at Kellogg. I've been finished with coursework for 3 months and now it's really the end of a long three years of work and studying. Check out some photos from the Big Day!
Both families outside of Jacobs Center.


Irene Rosenfeld, CEO of Kraft Foods, was our graduation speaker. Thanks to Tony (Part Time Kellogg Student Association President), he got me an invitation to lunch!

Tejus's wife Soumya also graduated with me!

Part Time Friends Nick and Mike.


Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Gluten Free Eating in Jordan

Eating Gluten Free in Jordan was surprisingly easy.  The only thing you really miss are the pita breads (and boy did they look delicious!)

Here's a run-down of how to keep your tummy full and the wheat far far away.  The easiest thing was having Mike, who lived there while we visited, to write down "no-wheat" in Arabic and show it to restaurants.  Surprisingly, I didn't show it to one waiter!

Reem Shawarma.  Totally local, totally yummy shawarma.  I didn't eat the pita that it was served in, but the meat itself is still delicious!  Check out the huge log of shawarma!  It was even reviewed in the New York Times.

Raw Almonds.  Have you ever eaten a raw almond? Did you know they look like this:

Habibah Knafay.  Kanafay is melted cheese, sugar and oil on wheat cake. It sounds disgusting, but it's actually quite good. I did break my gluten-free diet for one teeny bite of this local dessert.  No bad after-effects!!  Dessert before Dinner - always a good option.

Hashim's Falafel.  The falafel maker was so speedy! Watch this video of him making the delicious little balls of mashed chick peas and spices.

Jerusalem (Al Quids) Restaurant.  We went here for the local dish called Mansaf. It's basically a bed of rice with either marinated chicken or lamb on top. It's served with a white yogurt sauce and of course flat bread. You'll have to avoid the flat bread, but everything else is gluten-free-friendly!

Biggly Wiggly honestly has the best falafel in town. Yes, it's located in the gas station. and Yes, you should definitely eat there. All 5 of us feasted for $3.

Zad El Khair Iraqi Restaurant.  Check out the menu. Fried birds? So Mike and Elisa tried some. Not me, no thank you!  They said the birds were crunchy like you could chomp your teeth on the bones.  We did also actually get normal food.  Fantastic. Lots of curry and rice dishes in Iraqi style cooking.  Another NYT Recommended joint.

Not many remarkable places to mention in Petra, or at Kerak Castle where we skipped lunch and I was a grumpy bear.

Wadi Rum had some amazing eats! We stayed at the Jordan Tracks campsite and the chef was amazing!!! Spectacular buffet of many Arabic Foods. The BBQ chicken was aaaaaammmmmaaaaazing. The best we ate during our entire trip!

Hayat Zaman. A new restaurant in Aqaba with huge portions. Someone needs to help them with the English on their menu.  Lamp Brains? Anyone?

Wesalak. A famous ice cream joint. Supposedly their ice cream is 'strangely elastic' says Rough Guide Jordan 2010.  And yes, as you can see from this picture, it's definitely elastic.

We went there a second night. Language Barrier picture below. I asked for "ice cream with hot fudge." I got ice cream (with chocolate syrup by chance) and a hot chocolate.  Awesome!

Back in Jordan for our last night: Mike says, "look for the blow up chicken! That's where we are eating!" and so... here's the blow up chicken at Yemeni Restaurant.  The food was delicious - and extraordinarly cheap! I think it was 10 or 12 Dinars (maybe 15 bucks) for all four of us to be stuffed full!

But there was still room for Gerard's Ice Cream.  A go-to spot for ex-pats in Jordan. You can even see from Angie and Brad's last trip to Jordan that even the big-dawgs make it there!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Eating from Toilet Bowls

"Modern Toilet" in Taiwan

This is so unusual that I had to repost.

2010 Candy & Snacks Expo

Every year, we go to the Candy & Snacks Expo. There's lots of samples available of all kinds of new innovation. There were a lot of new gluten-free products for me to try! Especially from Glutino and Ian's.  Let's hope they start making their way into the grocery stores!  Enjoy some random pictures...

Me and the big M&M!

A Native American that serves as a lolli-pop holder... is this PC?

This Mona Lisa was constructed entirely of Jelly Belly Jelly Beans! Impressive!

An advertisement for my new product, 5 React.

Connelly Wedding at Carnivale

What an amazing wedding weekend. Two of Ernie’s good friends finally tied the knot this weekend.  The ceremony was at St. Clement’s Church in Lincoln Park which is absolutely gorgeous inside with stained glass windows, intricate paintings and a black and white tiled aisle.  Kelly was a stunning bride and the ladies looked lovely in a fresh summertime yellow.  Dan was on his best behavior and the guys even wore bowties!
Their reception was hosted at Carnivale, which was a bit more non-traditional compared to hotels and banquet halls.  The main dining room is eclectically decorated with a multitude of festive colors that somehow match and only a professional designer can pull off.  From the ceiling hangs huge bell shaped lights covered in cloth. Along the west wall were hundreds of wine bottles in a custom wood rack that were illuminated with changing lights from red to green to blue.
The food was unbelievable, far and beyond blowing away any other wedding I can remember attending.  Having said that Carnivale’s food is better than a wedding at Shutters on the Beach in Santa Monica, CA is no small comment since that wedding set the bar extremely high as far as food goes! 
The cocktail hour started with fresh guacamole and chips.  Then, butler passed Mint Mojitos, Sangria and Margaritas accompanied the fine eats of empanadas, Ropa Vieja, mini-lamb chops and Seared Ahi Tuna.  Although I couldn’t eat the empanadas due to the flour shell, I couldn’t have been happier with the other Primero plates.  I can’t decide which is better, the Ropa Vieja or Mini-Lamb Chops!  Ropa Vieja was a slice of sweet plantains fried till they were crispy and topped with braised beef and a spicy mayo sauce. The Mini-Lamb Chops completely melted off the bone and was seasoned with deliciousness.  The Ahi Tuna was also amazing, served on top of a gluten-free homemade flax seed cracker with a drizzle of pureed avocado.  All this before the main event!
Our beat salads arrived first and served with manchego cheese (one of my favorite types) atop a bed of arugula with light sherry vinaigrette.  Dinner was served family style with three amazing options.  After seeing the menu card, I was so happy for family-style so I could try every dish without having to eat off other people’s plates.  The pan Roasted White Fish was my favorite of the three and served with fluffy red-yellow tomato herb rice and green beans to top it off.  The Grilled Skirt steak was also totally amazing and served with a dark black bean and rice mixture.  Lastly, the grilled Guatemalan chicken with potatoes was so moist and delicious.  I was so full that I never even made it to the dessert table!  
Check out a quick video of our weekend.  Here’s to the happy couple! Congratulations!

702 W. Fulton Market
Chicago, IL 60661

Friday, June 11, 2010

Books in 2010

I've been on a bit of a reading binge since completing my coursework at Kellogg. I guess we really did spend a lot of time on those business cases!  Here are some of the books I've read lately:

 Confessions of a Wall Street Shoeshine Boy: A Novel  An interesting story told through the eyes of a New York Shoe Shine Boy. It felt so real and the stories were so descriptive, that I honestly thought that this was an autobiography.  I was actually dissappointed to find out it was all fictional. 

Love the One You're WithI love the other Giffin books, especially Something Borrowed and Something Blue which is the same exact story line told from the viewpoints of two best friends.  Baby Proof was also a fun read that continued the lives of the main characters from Giffin's previous two novels.  This story starts with new characters but in the same NYC setting.  It reminds you why you love who you're with and even though the grass may seem greener on the other side, you just have to be reminded that the cloud will pass, and your grass is even greener.

The Namesake: A Novel Totally insightful on living as a first generation immagrant to the US. The pressures of American society, the challenges of being so far away from your family, inter-racial relationships... all things I've seen with my own two eyes and have a fond appreciation of Jhumpa for depicting the feelings in a beautifully written novel.

Shantaram: A Novel  Amazing. If you only read one book on this list, or one book all year - read this one.  It's an amazing recollection of the author's life in a fictionized format and is completely insightful on the Indian cultlure, the streets of Bombay and the excitement of Mafia Dons. 

American Wife: A Novel (New York Times Notable Books) A lovely novel about an American First Lady, based on the story of Laura Bush.  I had also read George and Laura : Portrait of an American Marriage which is how I knew the background of Laura and understood more about the first couple.

Twilight (The Twilight Saga)  I just had to. It's too much a part of pop culture and I felt like I was missing something by not reading it!  A quick read with well developed characters in a fantastical world.

One Fifth Avenue It was fun to read this and then go see the Sex and the City movie!  A upbeat silly story of New York's elite artists told through the eyes of the building in which they reside.  Fast, fun and a break from the mundane.

Currently Reading:

The Last Song This book reads like a movie. I can picutre every scene on the beach, in the music shop and in the broken down bungalow that the family lives in.  It feels a bit like a teenage-grade read, but sometimes you just need those mental breaks!

Up Next:
Breaking the Bamboo Ceiling: Career Strategies for Asians Recommended to me by Joan Chow, CMO of ConAgra Foods who is an extremely successful and inspirational Chinese Woman who has "made it" in the American Business World.