Sunday, February 28, 2010

Dallas World Aquarium

Saturday, I went with my boyfriend and his friend Chris Jantzi to the aquarium. If you've never been to the Dallas World Aquarium, and you live in the DFW area, please do yourself a favor and go. It's awesome. We took the train downtown and enjoyed the first time it's been sunny in Dallas in what seems like weeks.

It took a while to get in because the line was so long, but even waiting there I was able to get a few great shots-- look at this bamboo wall that separates you from a bird exhibit!

I had a good time playing with shutter speed at the waterfall.

I felt like the bird with his eyes open was protecting his girl while she was sleeping. It was cute.

I love this accidental shot of Chris' reflection while we looked at the jellyfish. Probably my favorite one of the day.

I never did find Nemo...

A great shot of Chris and I! I love the background of the shark tunnel. Thanks, Jantzi.

Chris! Watch out! There's someone about to eat you!

We even got pictures with the Mayan dancers, although we weren't close enough to watch them do their dance.

Do you love my new shoes? I bought them that morning, only because I was wearing a cardigan almost the exact same color.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

healthy homemade granola

So, in my project of trying new breakfast foods, I found a lot that had granola in them. I love granola, but it's really expensive-- and in reading about different kinds of granola, I found that it really isn't that healthy. It's full of sugar and all sorts of preservatives.

I had to find something better. Something cheaper, something healthier.

I did.

I found something that is full of protein and has some fiber also-- and is made with things easy to find in any grocery store, was prepared in about 30 minutes (only because I had an accident with it-- more on that later), and cooked in less than an hour.

Rather than give you the recipe I found, I'll share with you the way i actually made it. Keep in mind you can change this up pretty much however you want. Change the nuts. Exchange pumpkin seeds in for the sunflower seeds. Use agave nectar or maple syrup instead of honey. Use your imagination!

Healthy Homemade Granola

dry ingredients:
6 cups rolled oats (just not instant oatmeal)
2 cups raw almonds, crunched up
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1/2 cup ground flax seed
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
** 1/2 cup dried berries (added after cooking)

wet ingredients:
2 cups unsweetened applesauce
1/3 cup honey
2 T olive oil
1 T ground cinnamon
1 T ground ginger
smidgen of salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

(yes, that's dried berries in it also. I read the instructions wrong initially and thought the dried fruit was to be added with the dry ingredients. It's supposed to be added after baking. Oops.)

Mix all the dry ingredients together. Remember to add the dried fruit after cooking. I forgot. I added them to everything, stirred it together, then had to pick them all out. On the plus side, I found out that mixing it by hand was MUCH easier than with a spoon.

Mix the wet ingredients and spices together, then add them to the dry ingredients.

Spread into two baking dishes that have been treated with a little nonstick spray. I had a 13x9 and an 8x8 available. Bake for about an hour, stirring every 10-15 minutes. Be careful when stirring it not to break it up too much-- you know how granola is supposed to be kind of chunky, and you don't want it to get too flaky. The original recipe said to bake it until it starts to get golden brown, but it's basically golden brown the whole time. So I stirred until it was sort of dry, and, well, granola-texture.

EDIT: storage conditions-- there's a lot of fresh food in it that can go bad if left on the counter, even if in an airtight container. If you're not going to eat it all in a day or two, store it in a cool, dry place. I put most of it in a gallon-size freezer bag and stored it in the freezer. The rest I put in a tupperware container in the fridge.

Nutritional Value for 1/2 cup granola:
232 calories
7 grams protein
12.7 grams fat (mostly comes from the nuts and seeds)
25 grams carbohydrates
4.4 grams fiber

i feel like singing this morning

... even though it's starting to snow a little. i'm pretty sure we won't get any to stick this time, though, so that's good news.

i had a great morning. what? it's still morning? well, then. i'm *currently having* a great morning. i woke up a little later than i wanted to, sure (darn snooze button. i must disable you somehow), but chris showed up and we had breakfast together.

i'm doing a project this week where i try something different for breakfast every day. it's in preparation for my post next week on Twitter to get Fitter, and i'm having a blast so far! chris and i went shopping for all of the ingredients last night
i love grocery shopping
based on some recipes i found online. i don't want to give too much away (you must tune in on monday at the other blog!), but it was great. today i had a breakfast that is energizing, and full of fiber and protein-- while still low in calories. i feel great right now. maybe it's cause i woke up earlier than just rolling out of bed and leaving... maybe, though, just maybe, it's from the amazing breakfast i had.

EarthGrain thin buns, tomatoes, cheese, and a sprinkling of oregano:
5g fiber
9g protein
and only 168 calories

Tonight? I make homemade granola. i. can't. wait.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

what a beautiful day

isn't life beautiful?

i had a great day out today with my boyfriend.

i've been sick for a few days now. pretty much since wednesday-- i've had a bad cold. didn't even get out of bed for anything yesterday. after a shower today, and some makeup (isn't it amazing what makeup can do for ya?), we finally decided we needed to get out of the house. boy, did we ever.

we stayed in the town east area, started with selling some books back to half-priced books. got enough money back to stop by starbucks. and we walked everywhere! after starbucks, stopped to window shop at old navy, then window shopped for clothes for chris, then stopped by marshall's for no good reason, then anna's linens. drove over to the mall, then walked each of the three levels of the mall. we had fun picking out clothes for each other (not buying anything) and smelling everything in bath and body works and in white barn candle co. browsed at a jewelry store (*sigh*), then hurried home to cook dinner of roast chicken thigh with potatoes, carrots, and onion. it turned out phenomenally.

Friday, February 19, 2010

weird dreams

i had some crazy dreams last night.
here's what i remember of two of them:

my camera lens broke. i felt so bad about it. i think this one stems from the fact that bella ate the tv remote last night, and i think she cracked my lens. i'd be more okay if she ate the camera, as it's cheaper to replace than the lenses.

i was on a plane... then it was a bus... and a hubcap flew in the window and stabbed me in the arm. then i was back on a plane. we landed and i tried to call 911 but it was in china, so 911 didn't work. then i was in chicago. then i woke up.

on a completely unrelated note, i've developed allergies or am starting to get a cold. my head is so stopped up it's painful. my ears feel like they're going to explode. and my nose is sore from using tissues already. i'm so glad tomorrow's saturday so i can rest it off.

additionally, i'm super sad to report that the double space is out. i'm a longtime user and it's going to be a hard habit to break now.
if this pains you as much as it does me, visit this site to mourn.
if you have no idea what i'm talking about, see this site to learn more.
(yes, those are the same site.)

Enjoy your Friday!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

the weather is gorgeous today

Today is beautiful.

I rode home with my sunroof open, blaring Michael Buble and rocking my sunglasses.

It's hard to believe that less than a week ago, we had over a foot of snow here!

Look at those skies-- *sigh*-- one of the reasons I love living here. Bright blue, and not a cloud in sight.

Did I mention that it's currently 64 degrees here?

Well, it is.

This is all that's left of that foot-plus of snow. A lonely little ice chunk sitting on my back steps.

Did you know I have a pecan tree? I can gather so many pecans in a season-- I'm still pretty sure we only picked up about half of them that fell. The rest are still sitting on the ground, littered in between dead sticks and this year's dead leaves.

I love when she does this-- Maya is always licking her nose, and her super-long tongue goes up nearly to her eyeballs!

Looks like it's time to dust off the grill soon. With skies like this, you can't waste the evenings indoors cooking in an oven. It's almost grilling season!

(yes, I changed into slippers as soon as I got home-- then went outside in said dirty slippers) I have *got* to do something about these leaves. I keep wanting to rake them on a Saturday, but it's been raining on Thursdays or Fridays (or we get a surprise foot-plus of snow) so they are too wet to rake up. I think I might have to just bite the bullet soon and at least start the process. That, or hire someone to do it for me... hmmm...

Anyone wanna make a few extra bucks? :-)

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Random iPhone Photos

I was browsing through my iPhone photos and thought I'd share some of the random ones with you. Mind you, these are just taken with my phone, so they're nothing special... but they catch some of the happenings of my life.

I was wondering why we had to fly over Alaska to go from San Francisco to Shanghai... still unsure.

Mom bought me this book "How to Boil Water" for Christmas-- as a joke-- because growing up, family always said I couldn't! It's actually a great cookbook! It's sort of like The Joy of Cooking for my generation-- lots of tips and tricks. Love it.

The day of the snow storm, I was freezing. I didn't have power, so I went to Chris' place to take a nap... but he never turns his heat on, so it was super cold there also! I've got my super heavy Iraq blanket, topped with a heating blanket.

I was *sobbing* while making the onion soup. I thought that the slicer I bought would make it so that my eyes didn't water, but I'm pretty sure it didn't help at all. Actually, I think it made it worse somehow. My eyes were burning, so Chris had to take this pic of me.

I suck at unwrapping oranges. I always leave too much white stuff on and manage to make craters in it. After this pic was taken, I had to take a spoon and scrape off the rest of the skin stuff in order to eat it.

On the TRE. People, please clean up after yourselves. It's not too hard to pick up your Nutri Grain wrapper when you get off the train.

The most. Amazing. BBQ sandwich. Ever. No discussions. PLUS, they remembered to give me my extra pickles. No one ever remembers to give me my extra pickles!

I wear argyle socks almost every day. I wear them as often as I'm able to.

Valentine's Day dinner with Chris. His whole place was lit by candles, and he cooked dinner for me-- bacon wrapped filet mignon, baked asparagus, garlic mashed potatoes with the skin on-- then served me dessert of strawberries dipped in whipped cream with chocolates. nom nom.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

I can't wait to make this

One of the blogs I follow has a link to this bread today. I'm so anxious to make it that I might get the ingredients (well, the yeast-- I have everything else) today and start the process today.

Basically, it's a huge batch of dough that you leave refrigerated for weeks- WEEKS- and take some off as you want to make loaves. I'm super excited. I'm basically a bread-aholic, so can't wait to have fresh bread in minutes at my fingertips.

I'll let you know how it goes.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Monday's goal updates

i sucked at following my goals from last week.

NO new recipe. and no excuses.

NOT on track with the quilt-a-long. but i do have an excuse. while i cut all of the rectangles of the prints, i'd been waiting for mom to mail my plain fabric for the squares. since i don't have any squares cut, i obviously can't sew it together. so, turns out i'm at least a week behind. actually, closer to two weeks. but hey, i'm not too worried about catching up. it's not a race. maybe i'll go pick up the muslin today so i can work on it on my day off.

Wii. Well, I sorta rocked this one. i started to rock it, at least. i bought the Wii Active game, which is like a personal trainer, and you can set goals and everything... but lost my power the day i bought it. so i only got to try it out on sunday to start with. i'll do it again today.

want to see my goals for this week? visit the group blog that i posted them on here.

Happy Valentine's Day

in honor of valentine's day, i want to tell you a few of the things that I appreciate about my boyfriend.

he apologizes. if he's truly wrong in some way, he is quick to apologize about it. i'm not. i brood.

he smells good.

he takes care of me.

he replies to my snappy texts with a fresh bouquet of flowers.

he fixes his hair the way i like when we are going out.

he has conversations on the phone with my mom.

he likes my dogs.

he listens, even when it seems he's not.

he knows me.

he tries all sorts of new food.

he's very caring. always thoughtful. and puts me first.

i can talk to him about anything.

he thinks i'm pretty :-)

he likes his coffee black.

he loves music.

he twitters because i do.

he's very complimentary.

he knows little things about me, like that i am addicted to chapstick.

he knows my style preferences.

he offers to sleep on the couch so I can have the bed (we're not married yet, remember!).

we have similar goals in life.

he enjoys going to church, and is making real relationships with the boys in class.

he's cautious.

he trusts me.

and, most importantly,
he loves me.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

snow day = no fun without power

I'm spending some quality time at Starbucks (sans makeup) this morning. I'm on my second day without power thanks to this horrible snow storm. And trust me, a foot of snow is a lot even for Pittsburgh (of course, they're sitting in 3 feet now, so...). Anyways, no power obviously means no internet. So, I'm using the hot spot here, sipping on my skinny vanilla latte, and just finished my chocolate-chip banana cake. It. Is. Amazing. My favorite thing to get here, because I figured I was the only person who added chocolate chips to her banana bread. I realize looking back I probably wasn't, but boy... I should have patented that while I had the chance, eh?

Here's some shots of the snow. These pics were taken when we had about 7" and it was still snowing. Look at how weighted down the power lines are-- just hours after this shot, the transformer behind my house blew. I didn't take any others today, but I'm thinking about going out and snapping some. Today if I do, it won't be so much about the snow as the aftermath. There's trees down all over the place-- a road near me is blocked because two trees are in the road. One fell on the roof of a house on my block, but didn't look to be any damage. They just lost half their tree!

I really think this was Bella's first time seeing snow. I can't remember us getting snow (ice, yes) in Arkansas while she was with me. She wasn't timid about it at all. We had a blast taking pictures of her catching snowballs in her mouth and just prancing around the yard.

It's a winter wonderland!

It's really amazing how heavy snow can get-- Chris made an observation that we have some pretty nasty winds that don't take these trees down, but this snow ruined so much. Trees are down. Transformers blew. Power lines are down. Stop lights are out all over town. It's crazy. The worst part is that Dallas is definitely NOT equipped to handle this type of weather emergency, so they are very slow in recovering. A huge blessing was that the weather is going to quickly get warmer, so the snow will melt soon. Also, the roads never got *too* bad, especially on the main thoroughfares.

I'm thankful today for stores that are open, so I can spend my day hanging out at places like Starbucks and Borders instead of at my cold house. I'm thankful that I pay for internet at my house so I'm able to get to all of the AT&T hot spots. I'm thankful that I ended up with a four-day weekend, even if I am going to have to go in and catch up on work sometime (probably Monday). I'm thankful for a big dog that likes to cuddle so I can have an additional heat source when my house is about 40 degrees.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

a few thoughts

Can I just say that i generally don't refer to myself as "beautiful".
Heck, I don't even think I'm terribly pretty.
But my boyfriend thinks so, so that's good for the relationship...

Anyways, I got a compliment yesterday,
and someone told me I wasn't pretty-- I was absolutely beautiful.
Without wanting anything in return.

It's a little thing sometimes that turns your whole world of thinking upside down.

It's snowing here.

I grabbed a hot cocoa from Starbucks, but had them add chai.

Have you ever tried that? It's delish.

It tastes like Mexican Hot Cocoa.

Please pray for Lynn, my new roomate.
She's just gone through a lot of stress, leaving her friends and family to move here.
Has been here since Saturday.
She's flying home today because her mom's dying.
I can't imagine how her world's being turned upside down.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

long day

Today was my super long day of training. I was talking for about 7 hours! And on my feet the whole time. So, end of the day, I'm exhausted.

My roommate is wonderful. She made fajitas for dinner, which were delicious and perfect tonight. It was a fast meal, and I'm not sure why I don't make it myself more often! Plus the doggies are getting along tonight (knock on wood). That's wonderful.

Monday, February 8, 2010

I'm just a little behind...

As you're aware, I'm participating in the quilt-a-long. I'm too lazy to link it, so see my post from earlier if you want that link.

Anyways, today starts Week 3. Sewing. Actually making something that begins to resemble a quilt.

Me? I started Week 2 today. I ironed my fabrics (oops-- that's actually from Week 1) then cut the patterns into rectangles. I would have continued to cut the neutrals, but I had to stop because of my RA. Oh, and because mom has my neutral that she's going to mail to me. Ain't no thang.

I was quite pleased with my rectangles-- so much so, that I spent some time afterwards lining them all up nice and neat, all making up one big brick. But wait. What's that? Some fabric overhang? And some that are shorter? From rectangles that are supposed to be uniform in size? Oops. Good thing I had plenty of fabric and was able to go back and make four (yes, four) replacement rectangles from that piece of fabric.

Lesson learned today? Measure twice, cut once. Even better-- measure three times... and really think it through when you're cutting.

monday's update and new goals

I think i did pretty well on my goals this week, considering I listed five!

#1-- Tech Week *definitely* went off without a hitch. It was phenomenal. Techs and supervisors alike were complimenting the committee on how wonderful it was :-)

#2-- TWO recipes: The first one, orange chicken in the crock pot, sucked balls. It was the worst meal I think I've ever cooked. I couldn't even eat it. BUT, the second recipe? *sigh*... I can't wait to make it again. French onion soup, and it turned out so phenomenally. Luckily, it made a huge pot of it, so that there is leftovers and I can eat it this week at work.

#3-- Lunch veggies: I am pretty sure I had a salad once this week? Not enough. I need to do better at packing my lunch, and making it with healthy things like sliced peppers and carrots and celery. I'll work on that again.

#4-- Wii: No. I had a very RA'd week, so I didn't get on it but maybe once. I was exhausted and achey and didn't feel like boxing.

#5-- Praise journal: Yes! I wrote in it! I think, maybe, three times? Again, I said it didn't matter how many times. Funny (or not) thing is, when I'd write a praise, I'd see that attribute all day. For example, "God, you are Beautiful"-- then, all day I saw different ways where God's beauty was showing. It was pretty awesome.

*New Goals*

1. Wii it up. If I'm feeling better, I want to get on this.

2. Another new recipe. Duh.

3. Stay on track with the quilt-a-long.

**edit! Added goal!**
4. Per Leann's reminder, start this bible study. Since we're doing it together, I really hope we can both stay with it. It's a bit of work to keep up with things like this sometimes, but it also makes me feel good when I do. How's the quote go? Nothing worth having was ever easy, or something like that.

That's enough for this week. It's a pretty busy week with the quilt, so that's going to take up a fair amount of my time after work this week.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Most. Amazing. Soup. Ever.

I have this sort of ongoing goal to try a few new recipes every week. This week, you may have seen my horrible attempt at Orange Chicken. Absolutely inedible. Boo.

Well. It's all better this time. I made French Onion Soup for the first time ever and it was amazing. So good, it's worth sharing the recipe with you.

1. Slice 7-ish medium to large yellow or purple onions, and sautee in some olive oil. I bought a special slicer for it (a mandolin), where you run them along it and it slices them really thin. It went so fast! By the time Chris had peeled an onion, I was waiting to slice it. I love it.

Simmer the onions for quite a while. Serious. Like, maybe 40 minutes. 10 minutes into the cook time, add about a half teaspoon of sugar. It helps with the caramelization. Now, mine never actually caramelized, but they got plenty cooked and delicious. After they're cooked, add two cloves of minced garlic and sautee for another minute or so.

2. Add 8 cups beef stock (*not* broth!), 1/2 cup dry red wine, 1 bay leaf, some thyme, and some salt and pepper. Don't add too much salt.

3. Simmer it together for about 30 minutes to let the flavors mingle, then ladle into individual oven-proof bowls.

4. Top with a piece of french bread toast and some cheese. The original post called for gruyere cheese, but Walmart didn't have it (surprise!), so I got Havarti because I know it melts well. Broil for about 10 minutes.

5. Immediately after removing from the oven, top with some fresh parmesan cheese. My only change will be adding more cheese next time.

This one got rave reviews from my new roomie and from my boyfriend. Yay!

Friday, February 5, 2010

no post tonight.

i'm not writing a blog tonight.

i'm too exhausted from my extremely busy week at work and the flare-up of my RA.

so, i just stopped by to say hi...

... and to tell you i'm not blogging tonight.

i do hope to see you tomorrow.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

What a day.


I'm exhausted.

This week is Tech Week, which means there's tons of events going on to celebrate the people who do the "real" work at my job-- the technicians that are there early, there late, there in ice, and there in floods. So, this week we had all sorts of stuff to tell them how much we appreciate them. We held games, costume contests, peer awards, and today there was a pizza party and basketball tournament. It went phenomenally!

I'm including just a few pictures of the game. You don't know who they are in the pictures, but it shows how much fun it was.

I'm also tired because I didn't get much sleep last night. I usually head to bed around 9 or 9:30, but last night I went to bed at 11:15. ELEVEN FIFTEEN. In the PM. Woah. Now, why, you ask, was I up so late? Oh, just working with some Twitter friends and setting up a new blog. So, if you're interested in having yet another blog to read/follow, check it out.

We're just a bunch of people who know each other from Twitter, who decided to get together as a support group to be healthy. It's not a weight-loss group, it's not a diet blog, it's just a group of people providing support and accountability for each other. I'm definitely looking forward to how it will grow with us.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

how to save a life... under 30 minutes.

I'm not channeling The Fray here, just telling you how you can seriously save a person. A real, live person. Someone that will live, thanks to you.

[edit: I totally look like I'm wearing a necktie. I'm not. It's a scarf. I didn't realize this before I posted this picture]

Did you know...
- 1 pint of blood can save up to three people?
- every two seconds, someone in the US needs blood?
- the average adult has 10 pints of blood in their body?
- less than 38% of the US population is eligible to give blood?
Doesn't that last one hit you? Approximately 1 in 3 people can even donate at all. But everyone has the possibility of needing it. If you're lucky enough to be ABLE to donate, you should do it. Period.

I seriously thought I wasn't able to give blood. If you've never given, I'll even give you my reasons-- maybe it'll help you make a decision.
* I've got an adrenal disorder, a heart condition, and an autoimmune disease.
* I take 18 medications. Eighteen. EIGHTEEN! (and none of them are on the exclusion list!)
* I've visited China.

And look. After all that, I'm able to donate. You can bet that I'll be in line to donate every three months, when the bus comes to campus to get you to donate.

If you're unsure about whether you are allowed to donate or not, go give it a try. There are two places that you can be excluded, based on health history and current condition. Actually, I had to place a cold bottle on the back of my neck because my pulse was too high-- because of my heart condition-- but it got within the range and I was allowed to give. Yay!

Bonus: you totally get free cookies, juice, a t-shirt, entered in a raffle to win tons of gift certificates, and you get a gift card to a book store. So, it's kinda like they pay you. They PAY you to SAVE A LIFE.

Think about it.


Tuesday, February 2, 2010

my new home organization binder

I *finally* started my Home Organization Binder!
and i heart it...

I basically copied the bones of it from this site, which I actually stole from Leann's recent blog. I'm only at the beginning of it, but as you open it, you'll see the following things:

a pencil case, with pen, pencil, dry erase marker, and sticky notes
a laminated copy of Proverbs 31:10-31
daily schedule with "definitions"-- see Samara Jane's blog again.

I've also got a section for cleaning, which includes:

natural cleaning products (lemon juice, vinegar, baking soda)
--> and where/how to use them!
an emergency quick clean guide
miscellaneous cleaning tips
-- removing the ring from a collar
-- removing blood from furniture/clothes
-- killing flies (use hairspray!)

I then have a section about organization, which has ideas for keeping closets organized, organizing jewelry boxes, organizing photographs, all taken from links on this site.

I plan on having a "kitchen" section, which will have info for kitchen tips, a place to keep favorite recipes, that sort of thing. Like I said, it's a work in progress.

Everything is kept in sheet protectors-- then I can use the dry erase marker to make notes on the pages, like marking when my chores are done, or adding ideas to the cleaning or organizing sections. I'm excited. I've always been the type of person who needs lists and stuff like this. Even at work, they order special notebooks for me that have graph paper because it helps me organize my lists :-)