I managed to not spend any of my (remaining) $95 the entire third day of my challenge, and it wasn't until last night (Day #4), after I got back home, that I miraculously caught a second wind to cook a fantastic meal and enjoy a few beers with some painting and NBC's Thursday night line-up. As best as I can remember and through the blur of our conference at work, here is a short recap for how day three and four of my ten day challenge went:
I had a very hefty bowl of cheerios and some very strong coffee, of course! I almost had a second bowl since I knew the day was going to be long, and when you work a national conference, the timing of lunches and dinners can be unpredictable. Nevertheless, the hefty bowl and a lot of milk kept my hunger subsided until I managed to sneak away for a lunch.
Around 1:30pm, I was able to grab a box lunch (roast beef sandwich with chips, a soda and some cookies) from the buffet tables. It was filling, and it was free! I had two sandwiches, actually...
Happy Hour / Dinner
Oddly enough, my happy hour was my dinner. For the evening reception at our conference, we held a private screening of Brooklyn Castle for our participants and special guests. Starting at 7pm and for the 45 minutes that followed before the film, we had an open bar and light hors d'oeuvres (read: cheese, crackers, veggies and dip, and dessert items). I filled my small plate with as much as it could fit--skipping the deserts entirely. I stayed through the first half of the film (in my defense, I had watched it four times already). Brooklyn Castle is an incredibly moving film about the most winning chess team, which is an afterschool program in a Brooklyn public school. If you haven't seen it, I highly, highly recommend it.
About half way into the film, a few of my coworkers and I finished our drinks and packed up the things we needed to return to the office. Once we were back and unloaded, I thought I was going to fall asleep standing up, so I walked home in an effort to save my $95 for another day (I should have cabbed home). This only managed to wear me out even further to the point where I unabashedly tucked myself in bed at 9:15pm. The only thing on my mind at that point in the night was the 5:30am wake I had the next morning for our second full day of the conference on Capitol Hill. Alas, no painting occurred on day three..
I skipped my morning routine and instead settled with as much sleep as possible before I needed to be at the hotel by 7am. No pressure, really, but I was responsible to make sure all of our 300+ conference participants made it on one of the five buses we chartered to schlep them to the Hill for our Breakfast of Champions. Thankfully, they all made it on a bus by 7:45am, which gave us all enough time to arrive early, grab a small breakfast and some coffee at the Breakfast, and settle into a seat before it kicked off at 8:30am.
Lunch did not happen until 1:30pm, which was an incredibly long stretch from the 7:45am breakfast consisting of an egg sandwich, a few pieces of fruit and some coffee. I managed to save myself from going into my pocket for this particular lunch and instead used some of the petty cash I was provided for the conference. Had I spent my money, it would have been $6.87 for a small cup of chili, a side salad and a Fresca. That's a pretty good deal, and thankfully, we didn't go far to get it or wait long.
We concluded our events that day around 4pm, and by then, I was exhausted and had been on five Hill visits with the team from the Utah Afterschool Network. We had some great conversations with Hill staffers from both Senator's offices and three Congressmen's offices. The team of four from Utah informed a lot of the Hill staff we met with, but it was a tough set of visits (four out of five were Republicans), AND in this political economy, it's incredibly difficult to ask for level (not even increased) funding for afterschool programs - regardless of the Member being Democrat or Republican. Alas, Utah has a few Members of Congress who support afterschool programs in their state, and the group ended the day of visits on a very positive note with their strongest supporter from the Utah delegation.
Happy Hour / Dinner
I left Capitol Hill and headed home to enjoy a relaxing night. At this point, the $95 was burning a hole in my pocket because I was craving a well-cooked and nourishing meal, a few beers to celebrate a long week and NBC's Thursday night line-up. Since I started this challenge, I had eaten simple breakfasts, okay lunches and dinners on the go (or hardly at all). I think I deserved going into my pocket a little bit for some groceries and beer.
Once home, I immediately shed my suit and tie and headed to the store for what I needed to make dinner. For the entire afternoon, I had been thinking about the leftover ground beef from when I made the Seven Layer Dip for Super Bowl Sunday, and since I am on a tight budget in this challenge (or at least, that's the challenge), I thought it best to utilize what I had already, so my mind was lazer focused on making meatballs and homemade pasta sauce to also go with a box of whole wheat penne pasta I had in my pantry.
I used a fairly simple recipe for the meatballs, which for the most part, called for ingredients I already had on hand. I just needed to pick up a few additional things to make the sauce, some beer and a couple other items for the rest of the weekend and the following week. Of course, I forgot to buy coffee, so alas, there is another visit to the store in my near future. Here's how I did:
After this trip to the store, I am down to $62.84, and not to get too optimistic, I am nearly half way finished with my ten day challenge! Not too bad, but I have not yet started my weekend, and I still have a full work week ahead (read: pressures of Happy Hours, seeing friends, dinners, etc). After making some of the best meatballs I have ever made or had (following this recipe), I inhaled a huge plate of penne pasta covered in my homemade tomato sauce topped with three of the massive meatballs. I'd like to point out that making this meal was also very purposeful since it has left me with two or three dinner leftovers.
After a few beers while cooking, I was ready to get in some painting before shifting to my couch to watch The Office, so here's the (small) progress I made as well as a sneak peak of the canvas I am painting for Christa--my bestie from another testie:
As you can see, this week did not allow for much progress on my painting, and to be sure, I fell asleep about halfway through The Office (at about 9:15pm). I woke up this morning (it is now 4pm on Friday - Day #5!) with a terribly sore throat and aching joints. I attribute this to the previous two days of a lot of talking, walking, time on my feet, and just generally, being dehydrated from all the go-go-go of our conference, so I took a legitimate sick day, stayed home, rested and rehydrated.
By about 10am, I felt good enough to get up and get my day started. Although I am still feeling under the weather, I felt okay to paint and made a lot of progress, which will be shared in a post this evening recapping Day #5 of my challenge!