Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Twilight and single life

What's a girl to do when her husband is traveling for work and leaving her home alone? Read the Twilight Saga of course. Oh, and hack into said husband's Netflix to order the movies. Despite the all around horribleness that is K-Pat, I'm pretty sure I'm going to rate all movies with 5 stars just to screw with C's netflix suggestions. Dawson's Creek...also 5 stars.

For the past 3 weeks I've been living the "single" life as C is traveling for work. With all this free time I've been able to get back into my routine of working out a bit. Our old trainer at the Y was a little shocked to see me. I've also completed 90% of our Christmas shopping, wrapped all the gifts, hung curtains we bought back in May, read 3 Twilight books, and watched 2 Twilight movies. Oh, and let's not forget impromptu family togetherness time at McDonald's while my parents were in town and a visit to my Grandpa last weekend. My single life is riveting.

Can we talk about Twilight for a minute? I mean, have you read these books? How on earth did these become so popular? They are terrible! I get that it's a somewhat compelling story despite any ounce of reality. That's what keeps me reading. But seriously, these are some of the worst written books I've read. People give Kristen Stewart so much flack for being a horrible actress, and she is. But really people, she didn't have much to go with on this one. And the movies? Are you kidding me Hollywood? I'll admit that New Moon was about 100 times better than Twilight in production quality alone. Also, at least the music is good enough to tell me how I'm supposed to feel in that moment since the actors can't seem to portray any emotion whatsoever. But guess what, the actors are supposed to play kind of an important role. Don't you think you should have cast actors with some ability to act? This is one of those times when I'm going to have to say that pop culture has failed me.

Okay, rant over.

I cannot believe Christmas is less than 2 weeks away. I am looking forward to having more than 4 hours to spend with C. I'm looking forward to more family togetherness time in general. Although I was ready to have my sister move out of my house, and she only lives about 15 minutes away, I still miss seeing my nephew as much as when he lived here. Why is the happiness of a 3-year old so darn contagious? It's impossible to stay mad at this kid, even when he spits food out...on your lap...on purpose.

Due to all the travel C and I have been doing for work this year, it turns out we really haven't taken many pictures together. Which means, we aren't sending out Christmas cards this year. I'm pretty bummed about it; but also, my Scroogy side is okay with it. I still hope I get all the wonderful cards from our friends and family, but if not, I understand that sometimes life takes priority over Christmas cards. We'll try to be better in 2013.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Mental Pep Talks and Chocolate

I have been more productive tonight than every night of last week combined. Trying to be productive in an empty house takes at least 5 mental pep talks and 3 pieces of chocolate. It's a formula I've worked out. To be fair, my "evening" started early today as I left work at 3:15 to go to a doctor's appointment.

1. Got my tetanus shot. It turns out my last one was in 2000. Who knew? This is my third shot in a week. I'm becoming a pro.
2. Had my wedding ring cleaned and inspected. This was a bonus to-do item as Shane Co. is next door to my dentist's office and my dentist called and asked me to push my appointment back 30 minutes. Now my ring is sparkly. PLUS they gave me a little inspection book I can keep in my wallet so I don't have to bring my paperwork all the time. Why did they not have this sooner?
3. Got my teeth cleaned. No cavities for this girl. I also found out today that my dentist no longer works at the office. Don't you think they would send out a letter to clients letting them know there's a new dentist?
4. Went Christmas shopping and actually bought gifts. I've done a few other Christmas shopping trips where I haven't found anything I was looking for, so this was a good trip.
5. Two loads of laundry completed.
6. Dishes - this one took serious pep talks, even if it was mostly a cutting board and a knife. Yup, this girl's eating salads for dinner this week. Reason one: She needs to get back in shape. Reason two: She really doesn't want to do anymore dishes than necessary. It's mostly reason two.
7. Paid C and I's property taxes for 2012.
8. Went through an old stack of mail, sorted everything and actually put it all where it goes!
9. Put up our December calendar. This is a big deal. I haven't put up a new calendar since September.
10. Blogging!

Unfortunately in my haste to leave the office today for my appointment, I left my to-do list at work. I'm not really sure how many of these things were on that list, but I promised C I would be more productive this week and I think this counts. Last week, while he was gone, I did nothing but read Twilight all week. I'm still reading the series, but trying to minimize it to 2-3 hours per night. Speaking of....

I hope you all are finding time during the holiday season to slow down, enjoy yourselves, and remember the meaning of Christmas (or whichever holiday you celebrate).

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Tis the Season for a monthly update!

It's time for my monthly update on here and my monthly apology for being so absent. I have plans to get at least one or two more updates in before Christmas, I promise! Here's the highlight of what's going on in our lives right now:

1. My Spain Travel is done. I think. Of course my work could always ask me to go back, but we launched our project and it's pretty successful so far, so we are all happy. I am just happy to be home for awhile. As an added bonus, I had some great travel partners this last trip that did a lot of sight seeing with me over the weekend. Here's a sneak peak and I promise to dedicate a post to Spain pictures soon!

My travel buddies at Park Guell overlooking Barcelona. Not the best picture but a great group to travel with!

2. Unfortunately, I am finally home and now C's travel schedule for work is picking up immensely. Here's hoping we can both be home at the same time soon! On the bright side, I'm using these nights alone at home to to catch up on my reading. I may reach my 15 books this year goal after all!

3. My sister and nephew have moved out, which means my house is nice and quiet again. I loved having A around, but I'll admit it's so much more peaceful coming home after work to a calm house.

4. I'm getting back in shape. After a few months of eating what I wanted and general laziness, my clothes stopped fitting. Thank God for that wake up call. While the scale hasn't really climbed more than a couple pounds, I can tell I've lost a lot of muscle tone and definition. C and I are back on our normal eating routines and getting back into our exercise schedule starting this week. Maybe I'll even do some of those exercises I have pinned on pinterest. Maybe....

5. On a sad note, my grandmother passed away a few weeks ago. She fought hard for three long and painful months, but she just couldn't fight any longer. She was an incredibly kind, caring, and spunky lady. Our hearts are broken and she'll be missed by all of us, but I'm comforted knowing she's in a pain free place now. Please continue to keep my mother and grandfather in your prayers. Losing a mother and wife after 67 years of marriage has been devastating.

My beautiful grandmother. This was taken about 2 months ago when she first got home from the hospital after about 3 weeks of being away. She was so happy to be home. 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

My Absence

If you've wasted your time checking out my blog lately, I apologize. I've been absent. It turns out that things get really busy and no matter how much I want to take the time to write a bit, it just doesn't happen. Here are some things that have been going on in my life lately. This might help explain why I've been so absent. It might not. Take it or leave it.

1. My sister and (almost) 3-year old nephew have been staying with C and I for about 3 months. Life with a 3-year old is so much more than I ever imagined. I'm not committing to whether it's a "good" more or "bad" more.

2. My grandmother is not well. Please pray for my amazing mother who spends every weekend driving 2 hours each way to be with her and help ease some of the load from my grandfather. Please pray for my Grandpa to get some rest through all this. And mostly, please pray for my Gma's comfort and peace as she goes through this time.

3. I'm going back to Spain next week. Our project is (hopefully) coming to a close, which means one more trip to Barcelona. Please pray that my nephew doesn't destroy my house and my husband actually eats more than fast food while I'm gone. :)

4. A co-worker is out of the office for the entire month of October, and I'm his back-up. I love being busy at work, but this is getting a little crazy.

5. My neighbor's dog is barking loudly at 11:00 at night. Okay, so this isn't an ongoing problem, but it's a little more than annoying given the time and the fact that he rarely barks this late or is even outside right now.

6. C and I are going to India! We booked flights this past weekend. We have our Visa's in hand. It's happening. And if I thought planning a trip to France last summer in only 5-weeks was stressful, it's nothing compared to trying to book a trip to India. Luckily we have a little more planning time, but not much.

7. I've begun volunteering for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Kansas City. I have filled out my paper work and completed my interviews. Now I'm just waiting to be matched with a kid. So excited to see what God has in store for me and my little!

So that's my top 7 list of things going on in our life. I'll try to post once in awhile, but with the holidays coming up and no end in sight on the majority of things keeping us busy right now, my absence might be a little while longer. Please forgive me. And if you're the praying type, please remember to keep my Grandparents and mother in your prayers.

Thank you for being a faithful reader even when I fail you.

Friday, September 21, 2012

High Five for Friday in Barcelona!

1. I'm writing this from Barcelona! This is my 3rd trip this year and although my site seeing was next to nothing this trip, I did get to do a little window shopping and enjoyed some delicious meals with great views.

2. This week has been extremely productive. We got through everything on our agenda this week and training went very smoothly all things considered. It's so nice leaving here knowing I accomplished what I wanted to.

3. I get to go home tomorrow. This is for reals. I've been here a week and I'm really just ready to go home, eat a salad, and sleep in my own bed next to my husband. In approximately 10 hours I will be in a taxi on my way to the airport. Perhaps I should be packing instead of writing this....

4. The internet is working! My morning started with an alarm going off in the hallway of the hotel and then the internet not working when I logged on to Skype with C. In our Barcelona office, the power goes out when it rains more than 30 minutes at a time. Life is a little crazier here and I learn every day to cherish the small victories.

5. I found Mexican food near our hotel. I didn't eat there tonight, but I now have some fresh restaurant choices and possibly some mexican-like food when I come back at the end of October. That will likely be a 2-week trip so I'm really going to need a lot of options...

What's your high-five for Friday? Be sure to link up with Lauren!

Friday, September 7, 2012

High Five for Friday!

I figured the Friday after a 4-day week is the perfect day to post my first High Five for Friday, linking up with Lauren at From My Grey Desk!

  1. My weekend ahead has no official plans booked. This is rare. Despite a growing To-Do list (currently 11 items), I might actually have time to relax a bit. I like to add menial tasks or errands to my To-Do list. It makes me feel really productive when I get to cross them off the list.
  2. I had 0 meetings at work today, which meant I had time to get some lingering projects done. I love being able to leave on a Friday afternoon with my inbox mostly cleaned out from the week. 
  3. My blog reached 5,000 views today! Woo hoo! 
  4. Grocery shopping at Walmart is approximately 500 times less stressful on Friday evenings than it is at any time on Saturday or Sunday. My groceries for next week are purchased and grocery shopping is officially crossed off my list. Life is good.
  5. And finally, Friday nights are better with 30 Rock on Netflix streaming and a bottle of red wine with the guy I love. Thanks to C for hiding out in our room with me to get a little quiet "us" time. 

    Post your own High Five for Friday post and be sure to link up with Lauren! 

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Deanna Rose Children's Farmstead

Today C and I got to spend the whole afternoon babysitting our nephew A. Since it rained all day Friday and Saturday and he was stuck inside, we decided we needed to get him out of the house. A loves animals so we took him to the Deanna Rose Children's Farmstead in Overland Park, KS. He was excited. Aunt "Sissa" and Uncle C were just glad our house wasn't being destroyed for a few hours. It was definitely worth the $2 per person admission fee. 

A can't really read, but he likes to think he can. He got to "read" a book at the one-room school house. 

This was supposed to be his "happy" face, but I'm not sure it was successful.

For $1 he could get a bottle and feed the baby goats. The goats tried to eat his shorts for free, but he wouldn't let them. 

For 25 cents, we bought some food to feed the ducks. 

For another 25 cents we got to buy food to feed the "big" goats. This kid is fearless. 

Overall the day was really fun. I wish it had been a little cooler, but everyone really enjoyed themselves. A enjoyed his time seeing all the animals and playing on the various playgrounds. He even met a nice little 6 year old to help him navigate his way through the playground. He colored some fake money in the bank and got to put it in the vault for safe keeping. And he got to go down some big slides attached to a barn. 

The Deanna Rose Children's Farmstead was a great value for the money. I had always heard about this place from coworkers with little kids but hadn't had a reason to go until now. It was much better than what I expected and had tons of activities. We'll have to take him back when it opens next spring so he'll be able to do the pony rides and tractor rides (you have to be 3 to do those activities). The farmstead is open until the end of October so be sure to check it out if you're looking for an afternoon of family fun!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Life with a toddler

A 2 and a half year old monster moved into our house today. He immediately pulled every toy out of his toy chest and threw it on the floor. Then he refused to eat his dinner while acting out scenes from Toy Story. After a LONG walk (about a mile), he came home to have a little ice cream, take a bath, and is now sitting on my lap watching Despicable Me on my sister's Kindle Fire. Yes, I'm typing this with him sitting on me. This is life with a toddler. C has no idea what he just got himself into.

I will admit that my initial goal was to just run him around a bunch and wear him out. Unfortunately, I think I'm the one that got worn out. Well played little guy, well played.

Other happenings around here:
1. C had a dinner with his thesis group last night, which meant I had dinner with 10 physicists, a chemist, and the thesis professor's 12-year old daughter. Physicists are exactly as weird an awkward as I thought they were.

2. My grandmother had another break in her hip and after a long weekend at the hospital is now at home with the help of hospice. It's been a long couple of weeks but her spirits are much higher now than they were a few weeks ago, so we just keep praying for her comfort. My mom is amazing and worked really hard this weekend to help get her in a wheelchair and outside some, so she was pretty happy during my visit this afternoon. Prayers are still very much appreciated.

3. I'm traveling back to Spain in a few weeks which mean work is as busy as ever while we prepare for our visit. In addition to work, I'm trying to keep our house picked up and clean so it's not overwhelmingly dirty when I come back from my trip. I'm starting to understand why people hire maids.

4. My nephew is seriously pretty hilarious. As exhausting as it is to chase after and "control" the uncontrollable, he says really funny stuff and his vernacular is impeccable at times. It has been awhile since I've been around toddlers and I'd forgotten how creative they can be.

5. I got to meet a beautiful little girl named Harley Jo today. Isn't that such a cute name?!?! She's the newest addition to my cousin's adorable family of (now) 4, only 2 weeks old. She let me hold her while she slept soundly for probably an hour or so. So peaceful.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Back to School Update!

Since I've seen a million back to school photos on facebook today, I thought it was time for an update. I guess this the signal for the end of summer.

I'm starting  to realize that no matter how much I avoid it, ignore it, or wish it not so, life will always be hectic. I like to say things like "Life has just been crazy busy lately"...but the truth is, life has been crazy busy for the past few years and I don't see that changing.

So that's it, I'm accepting the fact that life is busy. And that's okay. Sometimes weekends aren't busy, so that makes life seem a little less busy for a brief moment.

And let's be real, I don't know how many facebook status updates I've read complaining that people are bored or looking for something to do. I guess I'm just thankful I'm not so bored that I update my facebook status 10 times a day. I was bored enough last night to "reorganize" some of my pinterest boards, but that was in between baking batches of cookies. (I'm super productive, don't you worry).

Here are some things going on in our house right now:
1. My sister has moved in with us. It's an adjustment for all 3 of us, but so far my sister and I have not punched each other, yelled at each other (except last night when she ate one of the cookies I told her not to eat) or locked each other in a room. So I'm figuring that's a success.

2. My grandmother fell and broke her hip 2 weeks ago. It's going to be an extremely long and painful recovery, but she's in a nursing home now and while some days are better than others, we have high hopes for her healing process. Prayers are much appreciated.

3. C and I have had some great weekend trips this summer, including a trip to a friend's wedding in Fort Smith, Arkansas (C's first trip to AR) and a trip to visit some dear friends in Springfield. Photos to come!

4. C and I have cooking club this weekend! It's been about 6 weeks since the last cooking club gathering so we're pretty excited. This will be bittersweet though as this will be the last cooking club for some dear friends of ours that are moving away for about 6 months. While 6 months will go by very quickly, it will still be sad not having them around. Here's hoping we can plan a trip to go visit them!

5. Work continues to pick up for C and myself, including additional travel. It looks like I'll be heading back to Spain probably 2 more times this fall while C has various trips around the US planned. I have no doubt this fall will go by extremely quickly and Christmas will be here before we even realize it!

6. (With any luck) C begins his last year of graduate school next week. We are still hoping he can complete his thesis work in time to graduate next May, which will put him on the 5-year program....only 1 more year than his Undergrad took! I don't think he'll know what to do with himself after that, but I'm sure I can find some projects around the house for him to work on. ;)

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Closing Ceremonies

As I sit here watching the Olympic Closing Ceremonies, I have to admit, I'm ready to move on from the Olympics. They were wonderful, and everything I had hoped they would be. But it seems my Olympic fever is all burnt up. After 2 weeks of non-stop Olympic coverage I am ready to clean my house, do my laundry, and maybe even get to bed before 11:30. These are real life things that aren't being done around my house.

I didn't get to blog about as many "international" meals as I'd hoped but I promise we have been eating a variety of ethnic cuisine in this house as well as some not-so ethnic cuisine. Life is a balancing act.

Check out this homemade French Bread. Congratulations to France and their 34 medals!

We supported Mexico with these taco lettuce wraps found here via Pinterest. True Mexicans love turkey taco wraps, don't worry.  

I hope you all have enjoyed the Olympics as much as we have. Perhaps now that we must experience life sans Olympic coverage, we can use the motivation we gained watching the Olympics to get back into a normal workout routine. Or perhaps we'll just spend our extra time catching up on all the other neglected shows on our DVR. I'm getting a little anxious to know what's happening in Falling Skies. 

What was your favorite Olympic moment? What will you do with your time now that you aren't watching the Olympics?

1. Favorite Olympic Moments: Fab Five wins Gold!, Mo Farah wins 5k and 10k (I know he's not an American, but his races were awesome AND he trains here in the US!), US Women's 4x100m relay take Gold (and break the record by a half a second!)

2. My time fillers: Perhaps it's time to start that wedding album. C and I are coming up on our 2nd anniversary after all.  

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Olympic Pizza

Two years ago, C and I found ourselves at my parents house for a weekend visit during the Winter Olympics 2010. My sister, her husband and their son were living with them at the time so it was a full house. We thought it would be fun to do homemade pizza for dinner, and thus was the start of Olympic Pizza.

2010 Olympic Pizza

This year, C and I decided to recreate Olympic Pizza, and a tradition is born. This is the first tradition C and I have "started" for ourselves, so I'm pretty excited about it. This is going to be a great tradition to experience as our family grows over the years. Feel free to make this your own Olympic tradition, too!

Our Olympic Pizza is made with a premade thin crust by Pillsbury (the refrigerated canned kind). We topped it with a little garlic olive oil, pizza sauce, black olives, bell pepper, leftover diced tomatoes, and turkey pepperoni.

2012 Olympic Pizza

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Fab Five takes Gold!!!

Have I mentioned how much I heart the Olympics??? We have watched non-stop Olympic coverage since Friday night in this house. And tonight, we got to see some great swimming races, including watching Michael Phelps become the "most decorated" Olympian ever. 19 is a lot of medals. But even more exciting (for me at least) was watching the Fab Five Women's Gymnastics team win GOLD!! I have extremely fond memories of watching Shannon Miller win Silver and Bronze in 1992, after which I immediately signed up for gymnastics. Unfortunately for me, I was already an overweight 7 year old, which isn't exactly the making of a gold medalist.

Then in 1996 I sat glued to the television (my gymnastics "career" long over by this point) watching the Magnificent Seven take GOLD! I probably cried that day. True story. In fact, I may have cried twice, once when Kerri Strug landed her vault one-legged, and then again when they officially won. I didn't cry today, but my heart did swell and it was truly enjoyable to watch Jordyn Wieber do her whole floor routine with a smile on her face.

In the spirit of the Olympics, C and I have continued our World Food Tour. This week we've been supporting the Asian countries, with Sushi one night and Indian Food for lunch on Sunday.

Sushi Haru is a little sushi restaurant near our house. We drive by it frequently but have always been scared to try it. Sushi restaurants aren't really something we generally try on a whim, without recommendations. After seeing some good reviews on Urbanspoon we decided to check it out and are glad we did. Prices were pretty average for sushi and everything we had was good. C even said he would go back, and he's definitely not sushi's biggest fan. I'm just really excited to know there is good sushi so close to home!

My and C's first date was a cooking class where we learned how to cook Indian food. That was almost 4 years ago and we haven't eaten Indian food since. While we like it, we just don't think about eating it very often. There are a number of Indian restaurants in the Kansas City metro area so we poured through some reviews before settling on the lunch buffet at Chilli n' Spice in Overland Park. While we almost never eat at buffets, we do prefer a buffet when we eat Indian food so we have an opportunity to try many different things. Overall the experience was good. It's a pretty small restaurant but the food was displayed well, hot things were hot, cold things were cold, and they brought us an entire pitcher of water when we sat down, which I especially appreciated. I can't say we'd be back just because it wasn't that close to our house, and let's face it, it'll probably be another 4 years before we go out for Indian food again.

Pictured below: Lentil cake (donut looking thing), rice, cheese cubes cooked with spinach, naan, cauliflower breaded kind of like sweet and sour chicken, eggplant cooked in a spinach sauce, and a rice cake. Sorry I can't remember the actual names of the dishes!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Germany Style Soft Preztels

Olympics are in full swing and we are loving it! Friday evening we watched the Opening Ceremonies with some good friends. Overall I thought the ceremonies were pretty good. There were a few parts that were a little odd, like the swing dance to celebrate the National Health System, or the dancing through the ages where giant Kiss heads were featured. But overall, it was entertaining.

I would like to give the worst dressed award for the Olympic parade of athletes to Germany. There were many crazy outfits throughout the parade, but Germany's just seemed so far off the mark. It didn't fit with their culture or the colors of their flags. I mean, seriously, what's with the bubble gum pink and baby blue jackets?

photo from

Despite the worst-dressed award, I kicked off my Olympic culinary adventure this weekend with German Style soft-pretzels. I have been wanting to make soft pretzels ever since I found this recipe on Pinterest. I actually ended up using a different recipe for the pretzels, but made 3 different kinds, which included the ham and cheese bites. So I think I can count this as both an Olympic post and actually making something off pinterest. Yay!

The recipe I used for these pretzels can be found at Kitchen Trial and Error. My pretzels did not stay together well during the boiling step, so I had to reshape them a bit. Also, I really didn't want all big pretzels, so I opted to make about half the dough into pretzel bites. Otherwise, I had no issues following this recipe. The whole process was a bit messy, but overall pretty simple.

Before boiling
After boiling, I tried to put them back into pretzel shape

Straight out of the oven!

The beginning of the ham and cheese pretzel bites. The idea was to stuff the bottom third with ham and cheese then roll them closed and cut them into bite size pieces. However, I didn't roll tight enough and they kind of fell apart after cutting. 

They were molded into pretzel "balls" filled with ham and cheese since it was obvious the ham and cheese was not going to stay in them as they were after cutting the long dough. These were delicious!

All 3 Varieties
  • Pretzels with salt (in both the twisted shape and pretzel bites)
  • Pretzels with cinnamon and sugar
  • Pretzel bites stuffed with ham and cheese

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Summer posts are few and far between

Work is busy this week, so I'm thankful for a quiet night at home to myself. C is out for the night, which means I get a few hours of quiet time to blog, look through old photos, and generally do whatever I want. Consequently that meant doing laundry as well. Let's face it, even quiet nights at home can't ignore chores that need done.

Summer has been busy, but in a relaxing way. We kicked off our summer with a trip to Portland and haven't stopped moving since. We were blessed to find 4 weekends this summer to go to the lake and enjoy some time in and on the water. With the heat wave in the Midwest (can you really call it a heat wave when it's been over a month?), and the severe drought conditions, I'm grateful for the pool and lake. The rest of our summer weekends are starting to pick up with activities and events, which means less lake time. I just hope the end of summer brings some cooler weather with it.

 To Do lists have been pretty non-existent around our house this summer. There are things that need fixed, cleaned, upgraded, etc. but summer relaxation is key. In addition to the lake time, we were able to go to Shakespeare in the Park this year, as well as spend the 4th celebrating both Independence Day and a dear friend's birthday. We participated in the Color Run Kansas City. We spent an evening at a winery with my parents. And we have been to farmers markets. I have even baked a cherry pie. I would definitely call this summer a success. 

That all being said, I vow to start blogging more again. I have a really cool idea (at least I think it's cool) to make recipes from around the world in honor of the Olympics. The Olympic Opening Ceremony is Friday and C and I are completely stoked. We heart the Olympics. I've already told C to make sure we had plenty of space on our DVR because I'm recording...everything. Okay, maybe not archery, handball, or weightlifting. But everything else is fair game.

So join me in making some of your favorite international foods to celebrate the Olympics in culinary style. Or feel free to suggest food items you'd like me to make. I have a few recipes lined up already but am totally open to suggestions! What's your favorite all-American recipe?

 Also! I'm hoping my pictures start getting better because C bought me the Canon Rebel T4i pictured below for my birthday! Isn't he just the bees knees? :)

Saturday, June 30, 2012

I'm crafty

Like many of you out there, I have a love for pinning recipes, workout plans, and DIY projects. Somehow I find plenty of time to peruse Pinterest but never seem to find the time to actually make anything I pin. Today that changed.

There's Color Run fever in Kansas City this weekend. (Thank you pinterest for teaching me about the Color Run!) C and I are running in it tomorrow morning and I have to wear an all-white shirt. Conversely, it's approximately 100 degrees here in KC and just thinking about wearing a normal t-shirt tomorrow made me start sweating. I'm sure most of you have seen the DYI Tank Top pins made out of old t-shirts, so I thought this was the perfect time to give it a shot. I used this post because it didn't require any sewing.

I started with my plain Garmin shirt. This shirt is given to employees at orientation and I think I've worn it approximately never in the past 3 years. This seemed like a good shirt to experiment on.

First I cut off the sleeves and collar, being sure to stay close to the seam.

Next, cut about 1.5-2 inches further down the neck line. Cut the sleeves starting about 1.5 inches from the neckline at an angle to the bottom of the sleeve holes. I then turned the shirt over and cut in another inch or so into the back so it gathered a little easier.

I didn't get a picture of the final step, but cut a 2 inch x 8 inch strip from the sleeve scraps and tug on the ends a little so the cloth curls. Gather the back and wrap the cloth around a few times and tie into a knot to hold.

I'm pretty happy with how it turned out. And at least I'll stay a little cooler tomorrow morning!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

26 Before 27, Final Update

My birthday is Friday and it turns out I didn't accomplish my list. But!--I do think I got a lot accomplished this year, even things that weren't on the list. Plus, now I've got a few items to start out my 27 Before 28 list! I've had an incredibly blessed 26th year and am excited to see what 27 has in store.

1. Go to Chicago (check! We went over Thanksgiving.)
2. Find a church (check! We haven't been much, but I do feel confident that we found a church we both like)
3. Learn to sew (Does getting the sewing machine out of the box count? I have high hopes for this next year! If someone knows how to sew they are welcome to come teach me.)
4. Run a 10k (check!)
5. Cook all the printed recipes in my recipe folder (Between TheKitchn and Pinterest, there are just too many recipes. This won't make next year's list.)
6. Blog 30 days in a row (check!)
7. Read 10 books (check! Check out this post to see what I read)
8. Ride my bike more (check! Um, we rode a few times. Which was more than not at all)
9. Bake a pie from scratch (check! Cherry Pie was made this weekend and it turned out great.)
10. Pay off my Graduate School loans (check! We also paid off C's car this month so I'm pretty sure that counts as an extra item.)
11. Begin half marathon training (check! I ran TWO half marathons this year! That's like a WHOLE marathon!)
12. Plant a full garden (check! So far we've only gotten peas, basil, and sage from the garden, but it's looking great!)
13. Refinish the landscaping on the side of our house (I spent about 2 hours clearing out the trees and overgrown bushes this weekend, but we're a few weeks away from getting the landscaping completed. This goes on next year's list.)
14. Frame wedding posters (Nope, still hasn't happened.)
15. Make wedding album (Again, this hasn't happened. I swear I love my husband, but I don't love our wedding pictures, so my motivation is lacking.)
16. Spend the afternoon at a winery (check! I'm pretty sure I'm adding this to next years list anyway just so we can spend more time at wineries.)
17. Go someplace new (check! This year I went to Southampton, UK, Barcelona (twice), Milwaukee, Portland, and New Hampshire. It's been a busy year.)
18. Bake bread from scratch (check! I made French Bread this weekend. It was impressive.)
19. Make homemade ice cream (check! Our ice cream maker has a semi-permanent home on the kitchen counter now.)
20. Go on the Boulevard Brewery Tour (check!)
21. Visit the Nelson-Atkins Museum (We had intended to go this past weekend, but there just weren't enough hours in the day. This will make the list for next year.)
22. Take a day off, for no reason (check! I slept in, I cleaned a little, I shopped, I drank a frappuccino. It was great.)
23. Join a group/do more community service (I'm thinking Junior League or Big Brothers/Big Sisters) (I didn't get this accomplished and it's been weighing heavily on me lately. This is definitely on next year's list.)
24. Watch The Godfather (just something I've never seen but have wanted to) (check! We watched all 3.)
25. Read a non-fiction book (looking for suggestions) (check! I read Me Talk Pretty One Day, by David Sedaris. Hilarious!)
26. Take one week off from facebook (check!)

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The Tale of the Jalapenos

Happy National Running Day! I had great intentions to run tonight. See that picture below? I totally have on my running clothes. And then, the events leading up to that picture happened.

On my way home from a work team builder this evening, I called C and asked him to meet me at home for a run. While waiting for him to get home from work, I thought I'd be productive and chop up some jalapenos we were using in tonight's dinner. Chopping went fine; C got home. Then I made the egregious error of rubbing my eye. It started to sting immediately, but just on the spot I had rubbed it. It was a sharp pain, almost like I had scratched it. I knew I hadn't scratched it. I had just gotten jalapeno oils in my eye. As I lay on the floor clutching my eye saying "Oh no....ouch.....oh my gosh...ouch...oh no!" C just sat there asking what was going on. I finally got out the words, explaining that I had just touched my eye after chopping jalapenos and C suggested I flush it with water. I honestly couldn't tell you if this helped or hurt it more because at this point the entire right side of my face was pretty numb. You know that numbness your mouth and tongue get after eating something really spicy? Now imagine your eye and cheek feeling that way. It was painful.

While I got an ice pack and rested it on my eye (which I think actually did help), C scoured the internet for "cures". We both had images of the worst. He was afraid he might have to take me to the hospital (this is also the point when we realized we have no idea where the closest ER is in relation to our house). I was afraid my eye was going to be swollen and red and I would have to relive this story for the next day or two. We found a suggestion to soak a paper towel with milk and rest it on your eye, so we thought we'd give it a try. At this point, nothing could really make it any worse. This is me, laying on the bed with milk paper towel on my face. It might be one of my most pathetic moments.

I'm happy to say that after about 15-20 minutes, my eye did finally reach the point where I could open it and cook dinner for C. However, we decided to forgo the run this evening since my eye still burned a little and it was getting late. Lesson learned.

When  you stick a jalapeno finger in  your eye, you get to eat cookies and watch a chick flick. We watched The Time Traveler's Wife. Spoiler Alert: It was creepy and weird, especially when he travelled back in time and kissed his future wife when she was only 18 and he was 38. Or when she got pregnant by "past" husband because real-time husband got a vasectomy. Weird. But, by the end I was in tears as I watched this couple have to know that he was going die and say goodbye to each other.

I think I should probably head to bed before I hurt myself any further. At least my eye is mostly better, and hopefully by morning all burning sensations will be gone and my pride will be back. 

Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day Weekend

Memorial Day weekend 2012 has been a hectic success. We managed to have a great balance between chores, fun, and relaxation. If only all weekends were this good. And 3-days long.

Our weekend was full of firsts! Here's a rundown:
1. Friday night started with a trip to the AMC Main street downtown to see The Avengers with the in-laws. This was the first time we had been to this theater and finally understand all the talk we hear about it. It has a full bar/restaurant as well as all these cool movie quotes and pictures of movie stars all over the place. Oh yeah, and the movie was good too. C would want me to say that. ;)

2. After the movie, we all headed to Grinder's for a late dinner. This was another first for us. Grinders has been on our list for awhile; it was featured on the Food Network (Diners, Drive-ins and Dives, I believe). It was pretty good, and we would definitely go back, but I must admit we didn't fully understand the hype. The food was decent, but honestly the best thing we had was the Gouda potato casserole side dish. That doesn't say much for a place "known" for their sandwiches.

3. Saturday consisted of a morning run, yard work, errands, and cooking club! We were thrilled to host cooking club again at our house. On the menu: Black Thai Burgers with mushrooms, Pesto Mashed Potatoes, Spinach, Avocado, and Orange Salad, and Tortilla Dessert Wraps with homemade vanilla ice cream for dessert. I finally made homemade ice cream! Another first! AND another thing checked off my list. :)

This was delicious!

4. Sunday we used our hedge trimmer for the first time and FINALLY trimmed our bushes. The sidewalk leading to our front door was being over-taken by green. I'm happy to say that a few hours of hard work and a slight sunburn later, we have our sidewalk back!

5. Sunday night was spent at Celebration at the Station with C's family. The weather ended up being really nice with a cool breeze.

6. This morning we kicked off our Memorial Day with the Amy Thompson Run for Brain Injury 8k. It was hot, but we managed to get our best time yet (this is our 3rd year doing this run) with a time of 48:53. The rest of the afternoon was spent relaxing and doing some much needed cleaning around the house.

Overall, this is exactly what we needed this weekend. I'm thrilled to go back to work knowing my house is clean, my laundry is done, and my to-do list is a little shorter. I hope you all are going back to work well rested and refreshed after the holiday weekend.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

1 more month

My birthday is in exactly 1 month and I still have some major and some not-so-major projects to get done on my 26 Before 27 list. It turns out I not only suck at blogging, but I also kind of stink at my to-do lists. Darn. Oh well, life is busy and I'm enjoying it either way.

Here are some things I'll be focusing on over the next 4 weeks, in addition to living my life.

3. Learn to sew (Can we be honest with each other? I'm probably not going to master sewing in the next 4 weeks.)
5. Cook all the printed recipes in my recipe folder (Cook ALL the recipes! Or, just make a concentrated effort to make more new recipes. That's kind of the same thing, right?)
9. Bake a pie from scratch
13. Refinish the landscaping on the side of our house (While at Lowe's, Chase and I actually looked at landscaping bricks. This is a big step. Now just to buy them...)
14. Frame wedding posters
15. Make wedding album
18. Bake bread from scratch
19. Make homemade ice cream
21. Visit the Nelson-Atkins Museum
23. Join a group/do more community service
I'm pretty sure I can get those baking and cooking things tackled. I might even be able to squeeze a visit to Nelson-Atkins in over the weekend, assuming my travel schedule slows a bit. As for the rest? Well they might make a good start to my 27 Before 28 list, right?

Friday, May 11, 2012

Happy Mother's Day

I have the most wonderful mother. She is supportive, smart, and strong. She is an incredible listener. She gives great advice, but always asks first to make sure I want to hear it. She is one of the few people I will actually go shopping with. Not because we share the same taste, we don't always, but because she will tell me the truth about how things look and knows that ultimately my first instinct will always drive my decision on whether or not to buy something. My first instinct ultimately drives most decisions in my life. She doesn't try to talk me out of or into anything. She understands I am independent. She has understood that my whole life. After moving me into the dorms my first semester at college, her parting words to me were "Try to come home at least once before Thanksgiving."

My mother was a teacher. I didn't go to the school she taught at, but I know she was one of those really great teachers because her past students still loved her. Once I was in high school, many of my classmates that had been my mom's former students quickly recognized me as "Mrs. Sampson's daughter." To this day she keeps in touch with students she had in her first year of teaching, over 30 years ago. Even though I wasn't ever in her class, I know what an impact she made on so many of her students. It's because of my mom, and the many teachers I had just like her, that I have always wanted to work with children. I see the impact a strong and supportive adult can have on the life of a child, and I only hope to make an impact like that during my lifetime.

I'm so glad my mom will be spending Mother's Day at my house, so I can show her just how much I appreciate everything she has done for me and taught me over the years. I hope everyone remembers to celebrate their mother's this Sunday, even if that means mailing a card or making a phone call. And Happy Mother's Day to my mother, my mother-in-law, and all my beautiful friends who are working everyday to be the best mothers possible.

Look how cute my parents are. Can you believe they've been married over 32 years?

Monday, April 16, 2012

The world according to my iPhone

If someone went through the pictures on your phone, what would they learn about you? I have an embarrassing amount of food pictures on my iPhone. If someone went through my phone, they might think I have an eating disorder. Or a food addiction of some sort. Which is still an eating disorder, I guess.

I use my camera phone as a last resort. It's the "Oh crap I forgot my camera and have use my phone" camera. Or sometimes it's the "I really want to take a picture of this but I don't want anyone to know I'm taking a picture of this" camera. Which means between pictures of food, flowers, and ladies reading Diabetes for Dummies at the airport, my phone gives little insight into my world.

Here are the things we've been up to lately, according to my iPhone:

Spring is in full bloom at my house!

I found this purse in Spain and am seriously coveting it. It's a sin to covet something, or may it's just a sin to covet what isn't yours. I should probably buy it so I stop sinning.

Confession, there are a serious amount of pictures of this guy on my phone too. He's just so cute.

Seeing the Kansas City Symphony perform New World Symphony brought back some memories of high school marching band sophomore year. The symphony was much better than our marching band.

It's baseball season! Tensions were high at Saturday night's game. The teams rushed the field twice! Sadly, the Royals went 0-3 their home opening weekend. It's okay. This is our time.

C and I finished off our weekend with our first ever trip to Stroud's! And boy did we eat. We had enough leftovers from our lunch to take home and make a full dinner out of them. Seriously, that cinnamon roll on the right was my favorite part of the whole meal.

Monday, April 9, 2012

26 before 27 Update

We did it! We made it through meat-free Lent. There were times when it was difficult. Times when my stomach seemed like a bottomless pit. An empty void that could not be filled no matter how much I ate. But then, as all things do, the feeling eventually passed and my body adjusted. We found some great recipes that I'll be sharing over the next few weeks, as soon as I find more time to write.

I've been a little absent lately due to my travels. After a 12-day trip in the United Kingdom and Spain, I had a very short work week filled with meetings about my trip and then Easter hit. After an extended weekend visiting my family, I think I'm finally starting to feel caught up on sleep. Just in time. I leave a week from Saturday to go back to Spain again. While I'm excited and still loving the opportunity I've been given at work, I must admit that I'm not looking forward to the 9-10 hour flights ahead of me.

This is my nephew. He's adorable. And smart. And funny. And he loves hunting for Easter Eggs and being outside in general.

And now for a list! Here's an update on how my 26 before 27 list is going. I think I need to focus in and get some more stuff checked off the list!

1. Go to Chicago (check! We went over Thanksgiving. Post coming soon!)
2. Find a church (we have been to the same church twice! While we haven't completely committed to it, I think it's a good start)
3. Learn to sew (yeah, I have a lot of work to do if I want to get this one done...)
4. Run a 10k (check!)
5. Cook all the printed recipes in my recipe folder (getting closer, but that darn pinterest got in my way and added more recipes!)
6. Blog 30 days in a row (check! I did this the whole month of December)
7. Read 10 books (check! okay, technically I'm reading the 10th book now. List below)
8. Ride my bike more (check! "more" is a pretty relative term, and I biked 26 miles last year in one day, which was "more" than I probably biked the whole year before that. So I call this a success so far.)
9. Bake a pie from scratch
10. Pay off my Graduate School loans (check! Paid off in December!)
11. Begin half marathon training (check! I even ran the race)
12. Plant a full garden (I have a feeling this one isn't going to happen given all my traveling)
13. Refinish the landscaping on the side of our house (I can't promise this is going to happen before my birthday unless we hire someone to do it. Otherwise, it's dependent upon scheduling a weekend and bringing in parental help.)
14. Frame wedding posters
15. Make wedding album
16. Spend the afternoon at a winery (check! I've done this twice so far.)
17. Go someplace new (check! Southampton, United Kingdom, Barcelona, and coming up..Portland!)
18. Bake bread from scratch (I was so close to checking this one off, and then my trip to Spain caused me to cancel my bread baking plans. It's being rescheduled)
19. Make homemade ice cream
20. Go on the Boulevard Brewery Tour (check! We went in January. Read my review here)
21. Visit the Nelson-Atkins Museum
22. Take a day off, for no reason (you would think this would be an easy one, but something always comes up. I will get this done in the next 2 months)
23. Join a group/do more community service (I'm thinking Junior League or Big Brothers/Big Sisters)
24. Watch The Godfather (check! we even watched the 3rd movie...)
25. Read a non-fiction book (Currently reading some David Sedaris)
26. Take one week off from facebook (check! The first week of Lent I gave up pinterest. The second week of Lent I gave up facebook. I planned on doing one week sacrifices throughout the Lenten season, but giving up facebook is as far as I got)

The books I've read so far:
1. One for the Money
2. Two for the Dough
3. Three to Get Lucky
4. The Killing Joke (some "Graphic Novel" C wanted me to read about the joker)
5. The Hunger Games
6. Hunger Games, Catching Fire
7. Hunger Games, Mockingjay
8. Water for Elephants
9. Pride and Prejudice
10. Me Talk Pretty One Day (still reading)

I hope you all had a blessed Easter weekend, full of relaxation, family, and time to reflect on the ultimate sacrifice made just for you.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Hola from Barcelona!

I have been in Europe for work since last Wednesday. It has been a very productive trip from a work standpoint, making some extremely good progress on a project I'm working on. I can say that I'm thrilled with my time here. However, this is the longest time I've been away from C, and the furthest I've been away from him distance-wise as well. With expensive or inconsistent internet access during my travels, and time differences ranging from 5-7 hours, it has been difficult at times to get ahold of each other. Since it looks like I'll probably need to come back at least once or twice more for this project, I felt it necessary to write down some lessons learned/observations made:

1. Schedule specific times to call your SO and stick with them.
2. Skype is amazing (you know, if you have internet access)
3. Having free time in Europe can be difficult without close friends or family to join you. It turns out my collegues don't all have the same passion for travel and sight seeing that I do.
4. When traveling to Spain, bring a few light snacks. They eat really late here (lunch and dinner). A girl's gotta eat.
5. Learn to say no to food or leave food on the plate. I'm pretty sure I've gained at least 5 pounds in the past 10 days. (This might seem like it contradicts number 4, but trust me, it doesn't)
6. Try to have more than 5 days notice so you can research the area, what to see, where to go, how to get around, etc. (Yes, my flight wasa booked on Friday afternoon and I left the following Wednesday. Life can be hectic. I think it's part of being an adult)
7. Don't give up meat before going to Spain. They eat a lot of meat here.
8. Don't plan on eating seafood in Spain in leue of meat. I'm sure it tastes good to people who like seafood, but it just looks scary and gross to me. I don't know what cuttlefish is, but they eat a lot of it.
9. Dessert does not need to be eaten with every meal and it's almost never as good as it looks (unless it's from a specific Italian Restaurant in the New Forest of the UK which will be talked about at a later date, then all bets are off).
10. Be thankful for C and remind him how much I love him. He has been so supportive and great through this last-minute whirlwind trip.

Number 10 should really be at the top of the list, but it seemed like a good way to sum up the post.

I'm sure there are more lessons I've learned during this trip, but have obviously forgotten to remember them. I'm looking forward to future trips and making more progress on our project, but more than anything I'm looking forward to going home, seeing my husband, and sleeping in my own bed. Sunday night cannot get here soon enough.

*On a side note, I apologize for any spelling errors in this post. However, blogger sees that I'm in Spain and apparently believes this should be written in Spanish because it marks almost every single word as misspelled. Technology fail.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Meatless Lent: Week 3

This was a crazy week. I spent most of the week confused that St. Patrick's Day wasn't until this weekend because we had already celebrated it last weekend. My calendar at work started the week off almost completely empty. By the end of the week, I had been to about 3 conference calls, a 2.5 hour training session, and booked a trip to Europe for this coming week. There will be a lot of packing in my very near future.

Meatless Lent is still going well. However, this week and next are bound to be difficult.
1. We've run out of new ideas and are having to remake recipes. Not a bad thing, but we could get sick of these quickly!
2. I leave Wednesday for Europe, which means my food options are about to become a lot more out of my realm of control. Healthy eating and vegetarian eating while traveling may be a little more difficult. I actually loaded up on some peanut butter crackers, fiber one bars, and trail mix to take with me so I don't starve!
3. While I'm traveling, C has assured me he's going to eat PB&J for the next week and a half. I've tried to buy some easy stuff for him to make that would offer some variety from just PB&J, but I know he won't remember. Someone please come feed him.

On a brighter note, once I return from Europe, we'll only have 1 week left of meatless Lent. I'll try to take pictures of the food I'm eating in Europe to share on here once I get back. Here's hoping I can stick to being meat-free!

What we ate this week: After we went to Carthage for the St. Patrick's Day party last weekend, we opted for a dinner of frozen pizza last Sunday night. We had a Digiorno Spinach and Mushroom pizza if you're interested. It wasn't as good as I had hoped. The rest of the week is pictured below.

1. Lipton Noodle Soup (I wasn't feeling well that day so I made C find his own dinner and I made soup. Pathetic, I know.)

2. Stir Fry with Tofu and Veggies over Couscous (I did some research this time around and did a much better job making the tofu!)

3. Grilled Portobello Mushrooms with Provolone and Brussels Sprouts

4. Black Bean Burritos (We love these and eat them pretty frequently)

5. Blueberry Pancakes

6. Black Bean and Quinoa "Burger" with Baked Sweet Potatoes

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Green Velvet Cupcakes with Baileys Buttercream Frosting

This past weekend some of our good (Irish) friends threw their annual St. Patrick's Day Party. We had been unable to attend the past few years but our calendar opened up so we lucked out this year. They always supply all the alcohol and ask everyone to bring a snack or treat to share. Obviously I chose to bake something.

I have not one, but TWO cookbooks dedicated to cupcakes. For serious. I spent about an hour searching through these books and others and just couldn't find anything that was striking my fancy. Yup, I said that.

After turning to my friends pinterest and google, I finally came across this recipe for Green Velvet Cupcakes. I was extremely happy with how these turned out. They were very moist and have continued to stay moist all week long. I made these last Friday and a week later they are still moist and flavorful. I promise, I'm eating one as I type this.

Since this was an adult party, I wanted to make these a little bit boozy. I opted for a Baileys buttercream frosting. The Bailey's flavor came through very strongly but not overpowering. It will not disappoint.

Note: If you don't have buttermilk-which I didn't-just add 1 T white vinegar to a measuring cup. Fill the rest with milk to 1 cup and let sit about 5 minutes. Honestly I can't tell you what this does or why it works because I'm not a chemist, but I've found multiple websites suggest this and so I did it. The cupcakes may or may not have tasted exactly the same using plain milk. We'll never know...

Green Velvet Cupcakes
makes about 48 mini cupcakes plus 12 full size cupcakes (weird measurements, I know)

• 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
• 2 cups sugar
• 1 Tablespoon cocoa
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1 teaspoon baking soda
• 2 eggs
• 1 cup oil (I used half cup of oil, half cup of unsweetened apple sauce)
• 1 cup buttermilk
• 1 Tablespoon vinegar
• 1 teaspoon vanilla
• 1 oz green food coloring (or channel your inner first grader and mix equal parts blue and yellow food coloring to make green)

1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
2. Line muffin tins with cupcake paper liners.
3. Lightly stir eggs in a medium bowl with whisk. Add in remaining liquid ingredients. Whisk until blended and sit aside.
4. Place all dry ingredients in your mixing bowl and stir together well. Normally I don't follow this process, and just throw everything in the mixing bowl; however, I really wanted these to turn out well so I did this extra step.
5. Pour your wet ingredients into your dry ingredients and mix on medium-high for about a minute or two until well combined.
6. Using a 1/4 cup measuring cup, pour the batter into cupcake pans for full size cupcakes. For mini cupcakes use 1 Tablespoon measuring spoon.
7. Bake at 350 degrees until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (about 13-14 minutes for mini cupcakes and about 20 minutes for full size cupcakes)

Baileys Buttercream Frosting
1 Cup Butter (2 sticks) softened to room temperature
2 1/2 to 3 cups powdered sugar (depending on how sweet you want it)
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 Tablespoons Baileys Irish Cream liqueur

Cream the butter in a stand mixer until smooth. Slowly add the powdered sugar until well combined. Add vanilla and Bailey's and mix for another 1-2 minutes. Feel free to add some extra Bailey's if you want it a little stronger! Enjoy!