Tuesday, May 31, 2011

soaking it all in...

Earlier this month on one of J's weekends at home, we took a Saturday morning walk on the beach. We're trying to squeeze in our beach time before we're off to Charlotte (less than a month!). I'm not sure why I didn't blog these after we went, but I figured it's never too late! You can definitely tell this is earlier in May due to the fact that I'm wearing a sweater over my shirt...this past weekend the beach would have not only been packed, but it was also in the 90's and humid here all weekend. The weekend they we went for our walk it was gorgeous and breezy and in the 70's. Days like that make me never want to move away from here!





cooling down...


I love weekends with my little family!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Menu Monday...bbq, guacamole, fajitas, potatoes & more!

There was all kinds of great food eating in my home last week. Food for just me, food for just J and me, and then food for a whole slew of people. It was all delicious!

My "single" girl meals:

Gorgonzola Gnocchi with Sausage and Arugula

I bought the gnocchi frozen at Trader Joe's. I sauteed some chicken sausage and threw it in, plus some arugula let it wilt a bit in the pan...it was pretty yummy considering I sort of just threw it together on a whim.

Guacamole & Naan

So healthy and balanced, right? This was one of those "I'm craving mexican" nights, and so I whipped up some guacamole and ate it on top of the frozen naan that I picked up at Trader Joe's last week. I love a good bowl of guacamole!


Skinny Girl Margaritas + Black Bean and Corn Salsa + all kinds of other yummy munchie foods!


Thursday evening I had the pleasure of having a night in with food and skinny girl over at Angela's house! We were joined by Michelle, Laura, and this BeachBum. We chatted and enjoyed the food and drink til midnight, when I finally had to force myself home. I will really miss these girls when I move next month!


Twice Baked Potatoes

Ingredients:
2 potatoes
1 8oz container of plain greek yogurt

1 cup shredded cheese (I used cheddar)

2 slices of cooked bacon, crumbled

handful of chopped green onions
1 tsp of garlic powder
1 tbs of butter
pinch of salt and pepper

Directions
:
  1. Bake potatoes until soft, about 2 hours
  2. Scoop out inside of potatoes into bowl
  3. Mix potato with yogurt, onions, bacon, butter, and spices
  4. Mix in about 3/4 cup of cheese
  5. Scoop mixture back into potato
  6. Top potatoes with remaining cheese
  7. Broil potatoes for 5 minutes or until cheese is brown and bubbly

My Meals for J and myself:

Steak Fajitas + Green Chili Fritata

These fajitas continue to be one my favorite meals. This steak is SO perfect when you use the marinade. Occasionally I think about becoming a vegetarian, but then I eat this steak and I throw that idea out the window. I couldn't give it up!

Artichoke Ravioli

Thank goodness for easy meals like this one! With all the business going on this weekend, it was nice to just be able to throw this into a pot and it was done! We enjoyed Saturday nights dinner with some mojitos (with mint from our garden!) in these fun glasses my sister gave us back at Christmas


And party food...

Pasta Salad (minus the pepperoni)


Crock Pot Pulled Pork Barbecue

We don't own a grill (it's on our list for Charlotte!), so having people over for a cook out means finding a alternate way of cooking. Instead of grilling out, I did 7 pounds of pork butt in my crock pot. It turned out PERFECT. I only wish I had bought more pork so I would have had some leftovers!

J's Baked Black Beans (no celery or bacon in his version)

These were a hit with everyone. They're the perfect blend of spicy and sweet!

The whole spread...

Lots of good food, beers, and fun and bocce ball with some of our friends. Perfect way to spend the long weekend!

Friday, May 27, 2011

bad weather & blondies

This past Tuesday, we had a crazy thunderstorm that came in to town around 4:30pm, and it came out FAST. One minute things were sunny and nice, and then the sky was BLACK. The local news has reported that we had winds up to 78mph* and I totally believe it. I was driving home from school when it hit, and it was ugly. I have never been so scared. Thankfully, I made it home in one piece and the sun came back out. Didn't really think much more about this until 6:00 AM the next morning when I got a phone call telling me that my school would be closed for the day due to power outages.

We've all had snow days and storm days, but usually you go to bed the night before having a small inkling of an idea that school might be canceled in the morning. This was the first time I've ever been truly surprised by a day off! I welcomed the news with open arms!

So what did I do with my unexpected vacation day? I cleaned, I grocery shopped, I worked on my resume, I did laundry, I watched a movie (No Strings Attached...very cute!), and I baked! What did I bake? Let me share...


I made a batch of Funfetti Blondies (recipe from Fake Ginger)

Who doesn't love a recipe with sprinkles?


They make every dessert more fun!

And the finished product...


They weren't as colorful as the ones on Fake Ginger's blog, but they still turned out great. A nice change from brownies!



*78 mph winds that did this on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge...

Crazy...right? And in case you can't tell from the photo or the name, this is the the 23 mile bridge tunnel that takes you from mainland Virginia to the eastern shore. So yes, his truck is hanging out over the bay. It was a CRAZY storm that truly came on fast. My favorite part about the news story is the last line that reads:

Officials could not confirm whether the accidents were weather-related.

REALLY???

There were just 78mph winds and two tractor trailers over turned, but you don't know what caused it?

Makes me laugh!


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

my talented little brother

This past weekend when I was staying with my little brother while my parents were out of town, I was lucky enough to attend his piano recital...


My brother Jason is a lot of things, but one thing he does best is music. He plays piano, guitar, and percussion.



Such a talented guy!
I'm glad I got to enjoy his performance on Saturday.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

I Feel Pretty

As I've alluded to before,I really love Glee. Maybe it's because I'm a showchoir junkie wanting to relive my youth, or perhaps it's the fact that I love a good message (albeit cheesy!), but maybe it's just because I enjoy a good spin on a favorite song. Either way, I love it!

A few weeks ago there was an episode about loving yourself for who you are and accepting your flaws (an after school special theme at its finest!). They did a mash up of "Unpretty" (TLC 1999) and "I Feel Pretty" (West Side Story). I quickly downloaded this song on iTunes and it hasn't stopped playing since. This is probably my favorite song they've done on Glee. I find myself singing it all the time...it's so beautiful! You don't have to be a Glee fan to enjoy this. Promise!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Menu Monday (plus a kitchen peek!)

If you're here looking for new recipes...look elsewhere! Continue on to see what kind of quick and easy things I threw together this week. I promise that in about 5 weeks, the cooking will resume full time. Have I mentioned that we found a house? And we have more space in our future kitchen? I can't wait!


Anyhow...here's what I've been eating on my own:

Cooking Light Deep South Shrimp and Sausage with Cheesy Grits



Trader Joe's Potstickers & my Sauteed Green Beans with Lemon
(and a local brew!)



Hot Dog & Homemade Sweet Potato Fries


Over the weekend I was in Richmond staying with my little brother for the weekend while my parents were in Colorado for a wedding. While there I met some very wonderful high school friends for dinner and drinks by the lake. I had a wood grilled pizza with crab, brie, and asparagus. It was SO yummy. I hope to create this one on my own in the coming months!


Friday, May 20, 2011

brighten the lights of madison

A few weeks ago, we hit the hit 5 year mark from my college graduation. 5 years. Where did the time go? I so often feel like yesterday I was just moving into my freshmen dorm.

I know it's a cliche, but the time I spent in college, were four of the best years of my life. I truly, truly loved every single thing about my college.

The mountains.
The people.
The friendliness.
The Klines visits.
The blue stones.
The late nights.
The TDU dates with many a friend.
The AIM profiles and away messages.
The quad.
The little Jimmy Mad statue.
The train tracks behind Hoffman Hall.
The food (especially Festival Salad Bar and Corn Dog day at Dhall).
The teachers who helped make me a teacher.
The way it smelled like dog food after the rain.
The airport lounge that had zero connections to an airport.
The naps.
The town.
The tunnels.
The JAC card.
The spontaneous trips to Reddish Knob.
The Wednesdays in Taylor Hall.
The Thursdays in ISAT.
The hill behind Grafton that led to the library.
The snow days.
The Duke Dog.


I know this is all a little nostalgic and kind of silly, but my four years at JMU shaped me more than any other time in my life. I love that place like it's a dear friend. When I get the chance to go back and visit, my heart will race as we get close to campus.

I feel the need to blog all this now, because my blog is a journal of not just my life now, but also of my past. I want to have these memories written down so they can be remembered. That's what I love about blogging. It's my own, perfect time capsule.

This has been floating around on my facebook lately, and I watch and tear up. I feel so lucky to be a part of a community who is so proud of their school. My blood will always be purple, through and through!

Purple Day from Jon Combs on Vimeo.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Baked Ziti

As promised, here is my recipe for my Baked Ziti that I posted about on Monday. Not the healthiest, but it's quite tasty! I think I originally started making this back in college when I used a recipe on the back of a store brand pasta. Over the years I've tried several changes and variations, but this is the basic recipe.

Baked Ziti


Ingredients:

1lb of Cooked Ziti Pasta
Low Fat Ricotta Cheese (15 oz)
2 cups of Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
Tomato Sauce (24 oz)
1 egg, beaten
1lb of Italian Sausage, removed from casings
Pinch of Garlic Salt
Pinch of Dried Basil

Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  2. Brown the sausage, set aside
  3. Mixed cooked pasta in a bowl with sauce, egg, ricotta cheese, 1 cup of mozzarella, garlic salt, and dried basil
  4. Mix in the sausage
  5. Move to casserole dish and top with the remaining cup of mozzarella cheese
  6. Cover with foil and bake for 35 minutes. After 35 minutes, uncover and bake for 5-10 more minutes or until cheese is brown and bubbly.
  7. Remove from oven and enjoy!


*Notes: I used this Classico sauce in mine...I love to make my own sauce, but sometimes this is so much easier!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Beer Fest

Despite the no good, very bad weekend that was cursed by Friday the 13th, we managed to have a lovely time on Saturday evening. A few weeks ago our good friends invited us to go to the Virginia Beer Festival in downtown Norfolk. We said sure and got tickets.

I'll admit, after the weekend we were having, we didn't really want to go out Saturday afternoon, but turns out that an afternoon of beer can help cure any Friday the 13th blues.


Side Note for all you FNL fans: Do you like my Tami Taylor sunglasses? My everyday sunglasses got left at school over the weekend so I had to manage with this back up pair, that actually belong to J, not me. Don't you see the similarities??


Back to the beer fest!


Who doesn't love an afternoon of beer, sunshine, and friends?

Monday, May 16, 2011

Menu Monday

Another rather blah Menu Monday. There's one super, amazing, delicious meal in here, so don't give up on me, but overall, it's pretty boring. Sorry to my loyal menu readers!

Monday I had...

Gorgonzola Gnocchi from TJ's with an arugula salad + a lemon vinaigrette


Highly recommend this quick and frozen meal. Not the healthiest, but very tasty.

Tuesday I had dinner at the ocean front with these wonderful women. I had grilled mahi mahi (and it was super!) but forgot a photo. Instead I leave you with the pretty faces of my dinner dates!


Top row (L to R): Stuttering Shell, Beach Bum and Baby, Whitney Caroline Designs, Naturally Caffeinated Family, The Workaholic Momma


Wednesday Night's dinner was pretty pathetic. But wonderful.
I saw Something Borrowed with my friend Helen and devoured a bag of popcorn with a Coke. It was the perfect dinner. And the healthiest.


Thursday...I was feeling yucky (allergy & sinus hell), and had a big mug of hot tea.
Dinner of champions.


BUT FRIDAY! Despite dropping my phone and crying like a baby, I made the best dinner for J's weekend home: Pioneer Woman's Beef Noodle Salad Bowls. She posted the recipe last week and I knew I had to give it a try. SO glad I did. It was amazing.

Don't skimp on the ginger or garlic. They both make this meal.


Saturday we spent the afternoon out with friends (tomorrow's post!) and afterward they had us over for ribs and potato salad. Again, I was a major hog and no photo was taken...again, a Menu Monday fail!


And Sunday was another day of cooking for my beloved husband. This week he took back Baked Ziti with him to Charlotte


I kind of threw this together sans recipe. I'll post the recipe later this week. Promise!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Bad Luck

This past Friday was Friday the 13th, and in true Friday the 13th fashion, it served us well...all weekend long.


I took my water bottle to school in my purse on Friday morning and by the time I made it to school, the water bottle had dumped about 14 of the 16 oz of water it holds into my purse. I thought to myself, "At least my phone wasn't in there. I just have a wet purse."

Fast forward to Friday afternoon. J needed me to pick him up on his way in from Charlotte because he had to drop his car off at the dealer for some problems it was having. I thought I'd bring the dogs with me to go get him, so I leashed up the dogs and got ready to go. Because my purse was still a soaking mess from my morning incident, I carried my phone and wallet. While loading the dogs in the car, one twisted around me causing me to drop the phone flat in the driveway and SMACK. Broken phone.

Saturday morning we got a call from the car dealer and they had no luck diagnosing the problem he took it in for. Always nice and comforting when he's driving 650+ miles each week.

Add to this the fact that our drier decided to stop working this morning. And J had a pile of clothes that were soaking wet to take back with him to Charlotte.

It was really the perfect weekend (can you hear my sarcasm?).

In the end, I know these things are all little and not a big deal. They're all problems with material and earthly items and in the big picture, we know we'll be fine. But when your husband is home for just the weekend and you just want to be together and have fun, all these little things piling up kind of sucks. Add to that the fact that I don't have a home phone, so I had to buy a pay as you go phone to use temporarily while I wait to get mine fixed. My husband is calling it my drug dealing burner phone. Nice.

Here's hoping my bad luck has run its course and Monday starts off with only good luck. I need a week of happy things!