4.30.2008

earth day, everyday

Still so dang busy today. I have a feeling the busy weeks of work are going to last until mid-May at least. I'm tired just thinking about it... but, I'm on lunch, so I figured it was a good time to write.

So... here's what's been on my mind lately. Going green. Being green. Really living green.

It's hard, and its hard to figure out, and I'm not sure I can really do it 100%. But I'd love to do it as much as I can. I really am an old hippie at heart. Love nature, love mother nature, leave the earth and all its creatures better then you found them.
This has always been something on my heart. My parents did their best... we composted, we recycled, we conserved water. Lately it has been on my mind so much more though, because well honestly, baby! Doesn't it all come back to the baby yearn. Doesn't it all come back to the fact that you want to bring your children up a certain way, and leave them with more then what you had? Obviously, lately it has for me.
But saying all this is so much easier then doing. And I would love some help.

So, how are you guys green?

I can tell you how I'm already green:
We freecycle, I ride the train to work everyday, I walk whenever I can, we turn off lights when we leave the room, computers at the end of the day, and have our heater programed to turn way down at night and during work hours. We also only last year got one AC unit for out bedroom window, which we only turn on during completely unbearable nights. My car gets great milage (thank g*d... I just paid freaking $3.53/gallon the other day to fill my tank), and whenever possible we drive instead of fly. We take showers instead of baths, and follow the if its yellow let it mellow mantra. We have been replacing our bulbs with compact fluorescents, and have gas appliances.

I'm going to talk to Trav about composting, although we a thin yard right on top of our neighbors, so it would need to be nicely done. I also want to get back into recycling... we stopped because of problems with them not taking our stuff. Anything else come to you?

My dream is to win the lottery and to be able to build a "green" house of our own (solar panels, all energy star appliances, etc.).

My big dilemna is that its hard to find the happy medium between what is affordable, what is green, and what I will still enjoy. Food for example... I would love to eat all organic, locally grown/raised food stuffs, but frankly that becomes very expensive very quickly. Trav does stop at the produce stand on his way home sometimes, but then there is the third qualifier... I don't love a lot of veggies. I guess it is always a trade-off.

But this is really important to me, so I'm going to keep thinking on this... and hopefully I'll be able to keep taking positive sets.

4.29.2008

not normally this invested... (update)

... in people I know only from reading online, but this news brought me some tears. After two years and lots of heartbreak, Bev and her husband from A Baby? Maybe are finally pregnant. If you've ever clicked over to her blog before, please go now and wish her the best.

Otherwise, I'm completely swamped today... so its right back to the grind for me.


Updated @ 1:40...
I almost forgot to mention, today is Free Scoop Day at Ben & Jerry's. Check out their website http://www.benjerry.com/ for details, and to find a local shop. I just enjoyed my free cone of mint chocolate chunk, and had to share the wealth. :-) Enjoy!

4.28.2008

out like a lamb...

Wait, that's March, isn't it?
Well, in either case... this last weekend of April was a bit chilly and blustery. But it was all bark and no bite, as we didn't get the predicted storms, just a bit of rain during the night on Saturday, and a lot of chill. Oh well.

So the weekend. Well, Trav made us some fried rice... which was so much better then the stuff you get in a takeout container. You just can't beat fresh, homemade.
(Quick recipe: freshly boiled rice sauted up in a pan with butter, onion, an egg, and some seasonings... I think Trav used pepper, seasoning salt, some soy sauce, and garlic. Easy and goooood.)

Saturday I had a hair appointment, so I headed up and relaxed with my parents a bit first. I hung out with them a bit afterwards too... so I ended up being gone a lot of the day. We figured at $3.53 a gallon, that I should make the trip worth the gas!! That night we headed to Media to grab some dinner with Ro & Pat at the Iron Hill Brewery. It was really nice and we gave Ro her birthday presents a bit early (birthday is on Friday) since we weren't sure if we would get to meet up with them next weekend or not. We got Ro a new wok, and I got her a magazine subscription. She seemed quite pleased. :-) Dinner was really nice too. I got the Harvest salad... which is seasonal greens with spiced pecans, apples, poached pears, dried cherries, gorgonzola cheese and a sherry-maple vinaigrette. It was wonderful and made me think of fall.

Sunday I walked with Ro. And I did manage to do some cleaning and sorting also. Still so much to do... but at least all the dishes are washed, and the pile of laundry is gone from our bedroom floor! Next step is the guest bedroom, which just recently has turned into a disaster area. So much junk to sort through there.

In any case, the weekend was nice. Low-key. Relaxing. All in all, what Trav and I both needed. He's doing a little better, but he's still really sad. I'm hoping Amy's viewing/memorial on Wednesday will give him some closure.

Today, well today I'm freezing. And feeling oddly melancholy & wistful... not really sure why. I guess its just one of those grey days that brings out the odd emotions.

So not to leave you on that down note, I want to offer up one more (new) picture of my new tattoo... it looks even nicer now that it is healed up. The colors are brighter and you can see the shading even more without my skin being all red and irritated underneath! Plus, now there's no blood!

I do love how it is turning out!

Okay, off to work I go...

4.25.2008

sad day

One of Travis' coworkers, Amy, lost her three year battle with cancer early this morning. I'm heartbroken for him and the other people in his office. She was a wonderful, sweet, funny woman... a real spitfire... and I know he must be hurting right now as he definitely considered her a friend. If you could send your thoughts and prayers their way, it would be much appreciated.


I don't have much else I want to say right now. It doesn't seem right to. In fact, its so tempting to just want to leave, go home, do something to comfort my husband. I'm not getting work done at the moment anyway due to the drilling, hammering, and occational cursing coming from the front of our office (aka just one thin wall away from me)... apparently there was a leak they needed to fix.

In anycase, I'll be back after the weekend. Hopefully today brings better things to you guys.

4.24.2008

things that get me stupidly excited

1. Waiting for things in the mail. I ordered something for Trav for his birthday, and something for Ro for when she gets pregnant, and a recipe box (so cute!) with recipe cards for me. I'm equally excited for all three... although there is special appeal to the last one since it means I get to write out all the recipes from loose pieces of paper onto nice cards and actually be able to find all the recipes I want, when I want them! Yay!

2. When its warm out and I can wear sandles and long dresses. Love to feel warm after a whole winter of being chilly. I have to enjoy this too, because you know in a month or two I'm going to be melting from the heat. ;-) Plus, I love this because its gets Trav in the mood to get outside and walking too. The past two nights we've taken walks after work.

3. The fact that we pushed up babymaking time a bit from the last time I wrote about it. LOL. Its still a bit away, but much closer then before. Yay!

4. That its almost Friday. Hallelujah!

4.23.2008

Reason #34108 why my husband is a good man:

Remember how I wrote this just a few days ago:

As for today, I'm feeling pretty good. I'm nice and awake even though I am on a routine for killer cramps that involves taking 400 mg of ibuprofen ever four hours around the clock (so at 2, 6, 10... yes, even 2 in the morning). I just set the alarm on my phone and leave the two pills by my bed... at 2 I turn off the alarm, swallow the pills, and I'm back asleep before I realize I'm awake. :-) It seems to be working too.
Well apparently this arrangement hasn't been working out as nicely for Trav. Apparently it woke him up the first night, so I tried lowering the volume. Second nice, woke him up again and he didn't get back to sleep. So I changed the alarm ring. Third night, last night, was hopefully more successful... I think he only half woke up. But still that's three nights of interrupted sleep... and he hasn't offed me yet. He's a good man.

I feel really horrible, and if my cramps weren't so bad, I would forget about the whole thing. But honestly the difference this has made so far is amazing (its the difference between feeling only twinges, and having cramps that put me in the fetal position), so I'm hoping he won't hold it against me. I really do feel horrible about it though. My poor beau. :-(


In other news, on Monday I got a neat picture frame that is actually six frames in one. We have all these great pictures from our travels, and I wanted a place to display a few of them all together. So I got this:

Ugh, its a horrible picture, so don't bother enlarging it or anything. But at least it gives an idea. There are three pictures from Cabo, three from Ireland (well, I did stick two picture in one spot because I really wanted both in there! they were facing the wrong direction anyway, so it worked), and one of me in China. I think it turned out nicely. Agree?


I got to leave work early yesterday so I could miss the post-work rush at the polls. I headed straight from the trainstation to my local polling location, and was in and our in about 10 minutes. So I completed my civic duty. :-) Now we'll just have to see how much of effect these results have!


Okay, back to work for me. Ciao!

4.22.2008

Happy Earth Day!!!!!!


Happy Earth Day y'all!


A little earthday background for you:

ORIGIN OF EARTH DAY

Earth Day was first observed on April 22, 1970. The idea for a nationwide demonstration in support of Earth’s environment came from Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin. Nelson is considered the founder of Earth Day. On the first Earth Day in 1970 as many as 20 million Americans in schools and communities across the country participated in rallies and demonstrations on behalf of Earth. In New York City, Mayor John Lindsay closed Fifth Avenue to automobile traffic, and thousands of people attended a fair on ecology in Central Park.

ACTIVITIES ON EARTH DAY

By 1990 Earth Day had become an international event, with more than 200 million people in 141 countries participating. Environmental groups use Earth Day as an occasion to draw attention to current local and global environmental problems and to discuss commonsense solutions. At fairs, festivals, and talks, people learn about air pollution, water pollution, and soil pollution; the destruction of habitats (see Ecosystem); the devastation of hundreds of thousands of plant and animal species (see Endangered Species); the depletion of nonrenewable resources (see Conservation); and global warming. They explore exhibits on such topics as conserving energy, recycling, renewing natural habitats, leading healthier lives, making their backyards friendly to wildlife, and protecting endangered species. Volunteers gather to pick up litter; clean up streams, reservoirs, and other water supplies; restore parks; plant trees; and participate in other environmental activities.

An organization called Earth Day Network coordinates Earth Day activities around the world. The organization estimated that 1,000 groups and 500 million people were participating in Earth Day observances by the early 2000s.


There are so many easy things you can do to cut down on waste at home and around the office. Easy things too... turn off computers at the end of the day, turn off lights when you leave the room, switch to long lasting compact fluorescent light bulbs (they will save you money in the long run too!), bring some plants into your office, if you have to print then do so on both sides of the paper (the average office worker uses 10,000 sheets of paper a year!), keep a spoon fork bowl and mug at work so you don't have to use disposables, now that its warm hang some of your clothes to dry, carpool or take public transportation to work, etc etc ... all pretty easy, and every little bit helps.

Today is a great day to reflect on the things that we should really remember year round... that what we do on a daily basis effect the earth and our environment today and everyday forward. What we do today will change, for better or for worse, what is left for our children and grandchildren to inherit. Lets leave things better then we got them!! Let's leave a beautiful, healthy planet for our grandkids. :-)




And of course, I can't forget to mention...
all those in PA, please don't forget to rock your vote today! I definitely will be as soon as I get home tonight!


Have a great day!

4.21.2008

fun weekend... in pictures :-)

So, no problems this morning. I think I just needed a nice relaxing weekend to get me back on track. This weekend was definitely that!

Friday night Trav's cousin Robyn came over for dinner, along with her husband and their youngest, Aiden. He is such a doll, and so much bigger then he was last time we saw him!!


What a face! How can you not love that face?! Dinner was fun, relaxing. We ate cheese and crackers, shrimp with cocktail sauce, and ordered some pizza. Lots of talking, and hanging out.

Saturday was Lazy! The day itself was gorgeous! Sunny, warm, beautiful. Trav cut the grass and it smelled so lovely. Then he pointed out this renigade tulip to me:

The pretty thing decided to pop up in our front flowerbed, on its own accord. We think it was actually a willy little squirell that decided to mess around with us and our neighbor, the one that had actually planted tulips!

We also have these lovely, though tiny buds scattered around our front lawn.

The rest of the day involved movies, and eating. But really that's about it! Which is just what the doctor ordered.

We decided to use up the leftover shrimp and make a scampi of sorts for dinner. Easy and very good. Add a bit of butter to a pan with some garlic and basil, saute, then throw in the shrimp and cook until warmed. Delish!

Sunday Ro and I went for a walk. It was a little blustery, and right at the end it started to rain... but we definitely didn't get the thunderstorms I'd been anticipating! It wasn't bad though, Ro & I got in six miles. And Trav & I got a dinner invite...

Before heading to Ro & Pat's for dinner (lovely, thick, juicy steaks! and our first corn on the cob of the season!), I decided to bake some cookies. I saw the recipe online, and it looked so easy and so dang good... I couldn't resist.

These are Gooey Peanut Butter Balls. So yummy!

All you need is 1 cup peanut butter, 1 cup sugar, 1 tsp vanilla, and 1 egg. Mix all together, form into balls, and back on a sprayed cookie sheet at 350 for 10 minutes.
They are fabulous, and though its a little hard to tell... the insides stay nice and soft and gooey:
Mmmm. I only have three left from my batch of 12.

As for today, I'm feeling pretty good. I'm nice and awake even though I am on a routine for killer cramps that involves taking 400 mg of ibuprofen ever four hours around the clock (so at 2, 6, 10... yes, even 2 in the morning). I just set the alarm on my phone and leave the two pills by my bed... at 2 I turn off the alarm, swallow the pills, and I'm back asleep before I realize I'm awake. :-) It seems to be working too.

Now I'm on to what will hopefully be a super quiet week... we have no work events, which means lots of time to catch up and maybe even get ahead of the game... plus besides performing my civic duty (voting! tomorrow!) and going for a hair cut this weekend, things are lovely and quiet on the personal front this week too. Since the month up until now has been pretty full, this will be a nice break.

And on that note, I'm going to get to work. But not without leaving you with one more picture.

I had to share this, it cracks me up!

Ta-ta!

4.18.2008

continuing in the same vein...

... with my mornings just being completely off. Ugh, I wasn't running late this morning, but still managed to be very "chicken with its head cut off", and realized only when I was getting on the train that I had forgotten all of my jewelry. All of it. No earrings, no necklace, no watch, no rings... including my engagement/wedding ring! What the hell?!

At least my tattoo is healing nicely, so hopefully by next week I won't have to play contortionist in the mornings anymore. And hopefully that will end this line of completely ridiculous mornings where I either forget something, or do everything but almost miss my train in the process.

On a nicer note, today is going to be a wonderful, lovely day. Warm, sunny, and relaxed too (half my office is out). I might take a walk at lunch... it seems like that kind of day.

Tonight's dinner should be fun also... I love the chance to hold some baby! Otherwise, just looking forward to the lazy weekend ahead.

To those who celebrate it, Happy Passover!
And also a Happy Birthday to Kieran! Our friend's little boy is turning one year old tomorrow!

Okay, back to work for me.

4.17.2008

random little things

A few snippets:

1. It's weird because I swear, about half of the blogs I read are so overdue for an update (and I'm dying to hear from all of you... hint, hint!), and the other half are full of big news! Two people I read are moving to Texas, one is on the vergue of graduating, six are pregnant (two on the verge of giving birth), three are trying to get pregnant, and one child just broke an arm! Yipes.

2. The X-files movie (in theatures July 25th!) has a title! The X-files: I Want to Believe. Not the best title I've ever heard, but for big fans such as myself, its a phrase full of meaning. I'm so psyched for this movie to come out!! Anyone else excited?

3. Speaking of movies, Trav bought me Juno on Tuesday! We watched it last night because I never ended up getting to see it while it was out. I LOVE it! Such a good movie. I love Juno's character, I love the story... it cracked me up, but the end made me cry. I don't want to ruin it, but I'm glad things worked out the way they did, and I like that Juno wasn't stoic the whole time. Highly recommend this movie.
Not to mention that it was a really nice way to end what was otherwise a not to super day!

4. This is an entertaining article... and while Trav and I obviously don't live in Los Angelos, I know the feeling. As far as our neighbors go we know the ones directly on either side of us, and will wave to the ones two houses down, caticorner from us, and across the street (well, we'll wave to the husband, the wife is an old b*tch)... otherwise we really aren't familiar. And as for names, I know the names of the husbands on both sides, and some of their kids, and one of the wives... but that's it. Very weird to me, since growing up we not only new all our neighbors, we talked to them all the time... would take them cookies at Christmas! How do you all get along with your neighbors?

5. I was this --> <-- close to missing my train this morning. It was not good... I literally ran on the train at the last second. Ugh. What is up with my mornings lately?!

6. Tonight we will be eating quickly, then spending our evening (until 9 when there is a new CSI and Scrubs, yippee!) cleaning up for tomorrow night when Trav's cousin, husband, and baby are coming over for dinner. Should be fun. The dinner, that is, not the cleaning.

7. Last, but definitely not least, my cousin Jess and her husband, Martin, are the proud new parents of a baby girl! Kayden Lynn P**** was born at 9:31 pm on April 16th. She weighed in at 7lbs 10 oz, and is 19.5 inches tall, and has a full head of black hair. I can't wait to see pictures and eventually meet her (she's in Indy, so it will be a bit of a wait).

Okay, back to work for me!

4.16.2008

ergh.

I'm having a day. An ugh day. The kind of day where things just don't seem to go right, and you're always just slightly on the verge of exploding. I woke up with a back that was so dry (well, a tattoo on my back) that I looked like someone had flayed me during the night. I ended up taking a towel (one of our "trash" towels) and gently rubbing it back and forth on my back to flake off some of the zillions of pieces of dried skin that were sticking up from my back. In the shower I also used a loofah with extra-moisturizing wash to dislodge some more pieces and try to sooth what was still attached. Then when I got out of the shower, I twisted and turned and did my best to put lotion on my tattoo... I looked like a damned contortionist, but still don't know if I got all parts of my tattoo. So, I'm a little uncomfortable. All in all, it worked with semi-success, but the extra time before, during, and after my shower really threw me off. I was running late and had to rush through everything else. Then my phone rings... and it turns out my coworker, who mans the front desk, will be out today because her son is sick (and another is already out on a prearranged trip). We have finance committee and an executive committee meetings today. So I have to handle the things she normally does. She already ordered the food, but it shows up about an hour and a half early. I don't know who to be annoyed with... her or the caterer. Hopefully by the time lunch actually rolls around the sandwiches won't be soggy. Not to mention, she didn't order extra water, so hopefully we'll have enough for everyone. Ugh. Plus one of our printers wasn't working correctly. I just feel like a chicken with its head cut off, running in all directions.

::big sigh::

Okay, enough of that. I really shouldn't complain too much. Dispite today being an off day, things have been good lately. Sunday finished off nicely. I headed into the city and had a relaxing evening just relaxing and watching the boobtube. Monday's event, while long, went well. And yesterday I had a really nice dinner with Vadim, one of my friends from high school that I reconnected with just a few months ago. We met for dinner one time before, at the same place (1225 Raw)... and it was just as good this time as last time. I got the miso soup, a salmon avocado roll, two pieces of mut-su sushi, and a Binny roll... all of which was great, and completely stuffed me (I couldn't even finish the binny). I'm sure we'll be back there again.

Well, I definitely have to get back to work. Tons to do... but I feel better for my break and venting.

Have a great day!!



Ps. Did you know that today is one year since the Virginia Tech incidents? It's crazy how quickly time passes.

Pps. In something completely random... I think this is the cutest, dorkiest proposal. What do you think? Cute?

4.13.2008

tattoo, part two

It is a beautiful, sunny, lovely weekend so far! Busy, but nice.

Before anything else, I have to send out two wishes today...
The first is a Happy 1.5 (7.5) years to my sweet husband. :-) April 13th, means only 6 more months until our anniversary.
Also, a HUGE Happy Birthday to Barb, my amazing, sweet Mother-in-Law. Her birthday was yesterday.

Also yesterday, I had the second sitting on my phoenix tattoo... just over 3 hours. We got pretty far, but I'll need one more sitting (about an 1.5 - 2 hours, so 6.5 - 7 hours total!). I'm really excited about how its turning out.


What do you think? Pretty snazzy? I can't wait to see it completely finished!

After that Trav and I came home, hopped a train, and headed into the city to meet up with with Jon and Apoc at Apoc's place.

Pizza, movies, relaxing. It was fun stuff.

This morning Trav had a hankering for biscuits and sausage gravy... so I whipped some up (you know what that means right?).

Megan's Biscuits and Sausage Gravy

(We'll lay this out the simple way... )

First you get either make a biscuit mix or grab your tube of Pillsbury Buttermilk Biscuits (I go the latter route!), and lay them out on a baking sheet. Preheat your over and cook biscuits as stated on package.

While that's happening... pull out a big skillet and a tube-o-sausage. Put the heat on your skillet about medium-high, and add the sausage. Break up and cook until browned.
Mmm... so yummy looking, right? And look at those brown bits in the bottom. You know what that is? Flavor!

Use a slotted spoon to remove the sausage, put aside to keep warm. Now, drop your heat down to about low/medium-low and add a few teaspoons of butter to all that yummy sausage drippings. How many tsp depends on how much fat the sausage released... not a lot? More butter! A ton? Just a pad or so. Stir to melt butter and mix with the drippings.

Next add flour a few tablespoons at a time, mixing, until you form a nice pasty roux. If you've ever made gravy, you've done this. When you reach the desired consistency, cook roux for an extra minute or so (this eliminates that flour flavor).

Next start adding milk. You could use cream, but good gravy, this stuff is already pretty damn rich... plus, honestly, I never have cream! :-) So milk it is!

Slowly keep incorporating milk until sauce is creamy and smooth, but not thin. Add a healthy dash of pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder. Stir, then re-add sausage and stir to incorporate all ingredients... and until sausage is re-heated through. At this point, your gravy will have thickened up a bit more. If it is thicker then you like, add a splash or two more milk, turn off heat, and stir until combined.

Now, grab those biscuits (you didn't forget them, did you?)... split in half, put on a plate, and cover with a generous amount of gravy.
Enjoy!! These puppies are fabulous (and super filling!).


So back to the weekend...
After breakfast I met up with Ro for a walk. We upped our mileage today... 6 miles instead of the normal 5. Helpful for burning off those yummy biscuits and gravy. :-) Now Trav and I are just relaxing and enjoying the free time. Tonight I head into the city again to spend the night. I have a work event tomorrow which starts extra early, so work is putting me up. I'm the lady on-the-spot. Lol. Its a long, all-day event, so I won't be checking in tomorrow. I won't be doing anything fun tomorrow... ho-hum.

In some exciting news... as of this Friday, my car will be officially, 100% paid off and mine!! Such a great feeling! It was supposed to be a five-year loan, but we managed to pay it off in just over half that. Love my little car.

Next goal... our home equity line.

Well, I'm going to go relax with my boy for a bit before its time to eat dinner and get into the city. Hope you have an easy Monday!!

4.11.2008

hey hey, friday

Yesterday was just so lovely. Warm and sunny. Trav cut the grass for the first time this year, and it smelled wonderful!! There is no smell quite like freshly cut grass. Even better? BBQ some steaks right after you cut the grass. Mmmm....

Today is also supposed to be around 70 again, but with some rain. I'm actually really looking forward to a thunderstorm tonight/this weekend. We haven't had a good one in a bit.

This weekend should be busy, but fun. Tomorrow we're heading up to Lehigh early so Trav can attend a meeting at Psi U, and I'm going to hang out until 12:30, when I have a tattoo appointment! I'm finally going to get some color in my back piece... about three hours worth. Hopefully it will be enough to finish it off, but we'll see! After that we're heading back home, then hopping on the train into the city to visit Apoc and Jon (who is in town this weekend). The plan is to order a pizza, relax and catch up. Then Sunday night I'll be heading into the city again to spend the night since we have an event on Monday for work which starts early.

I really don't have a lot to type about at the moment... and not much time anyway. So so busy catching up at work. But there are four large entries from this week just below this one, and I would love some comments on them! :-)

xoxo Have a great weekend!!

4.10.2008

dolphins and simple risotto

Dolphin!!!!!!!!!


This is (a picture of) the picture I got from the dolphin swim place. I think its cute, and so did Trav & Ro. There were three different pictures I really liked, but at $19 a pop, I was only getting one!

So today is gorgeous! It's sunny and supposed to reach a high of 72*! I was so excited for springy weather that I shaved my legs this morning and wore a cute wrap dress that Trav got me last year (but sans tights and boots, and with my sandles). I look cute... ;-)


Anyway, so I have another recipe for you! Risotto!
Now, I love me some risotto... but I don't make it too often. Honestly, it can be a pain to make. To get a lovely creamy risotto, you can't just walk away and let it cook... you have to be very hands on. Plus, I think Trav still isn't so sure about it... that's my meat and potatoes boy.

Anyway, I did make some last night and it was wonderful! This recipe (my own) is pretty simple and, I think, quite delicious. Give it a try and let me know what you think.



Megan's Tipsy Risotto
(lay off the wine there buddy)

As always these are all estimated values... I'm an eyeballer, not a measurer, when it comes to my recipes. Use these as a starting point, then adjust to your liking.

3/4 stick butter
few tsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 - 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 cup rice (short-grained round or semi-round rice - ie. Arborio, Vialone Nano, Carnaroli*)
2 small cans chicken broth (I think they are around 2 cups each?)
1.5 cup room temp. white wine**
1/2 cup grated parmesaen cheese (this is pretty cheesy, you can add less)
1 tsp. Basil
Pepper

Optional ingredients: Steamed Asparagus, chopped mushrooms, grated squash or some other veggie like that

1. Melt a generous amount of butter (leaving aside 3-4 generous pads) and olive oil (the mix gives a nice taste) in a medium sized pan. Add onion and saute until transparent. Add half the garlic to pan and continue cooking until garlic is lightly golden.

2. Add rice and saute, stirring, until rice starts to become transparent. Appx 2 minutes. While rice is sauting, warm chicken broth in a sauce pan.

3. Once rice is done and broth is warm, start adding broth to rice pan one ladle-full at a time. Keep rice at a low to medium-low heat, enough to lightly simmer the mixture, but not much more. As liquid is absorbed add more. After a few ladels of broth, add the white wine to rice, wait until it is absorbed, then continue adding broth until rice is tender and starting to get that creamy consistency.

4. Add the rest of the garlic, plus 3-4 generous pads of butter, and mix until melted.
*If adding veggies, do so now.*

5. Turn off heat. Add grated parmasaen cheese and basil, mix until thoroughly incorporated. Risotto should be nice and creamy/thick at this point. Serve immediately.


Yummy, right?! The basil is such a nice flavor, and a good contrast to the garlic and cheese. I love this stuff.


Okay, still lots of work for me to catch up on... so off I go!



* Um, I won't lie... I used crappy rice (like super crappy, boil-in-a-bag rice)... but it still works and its good and it doesn't cost an arm and a leg. But that other stuff does work better, and if you are a novice risotto maker, it is worth it to use the good stuff.
** Remember that cooking down wine concentrates the flavor, so while it doesn't have to be great expensive wine, don't use crappy wine either! We used this lovely wine that Ro & Pat brought me from Italy last year... then we sucked down enjoyed the rest of the bottle with dinner. Plus another bottle with dessert. :-D



Ps. Where have all the bloggers gone?! At least a third of the people I read regularly have been woefully MIA as of late. Come back missing bloggers, come back!

4.09.2008

the great dish rack dilemna

So yesterday ended up being a lot nicer then it started out... warm, sunny... and oh, the blossoms!



So beautiful. Yay, spring!!

When I got home, Trav and I ate a quick dinner... then ran out to Target to return a plastic tray he had bought for under our dish rack. It was too small, and didn't work.
A little back story: See we have a huge dish rack... which is good because, as we don't have a dishwasher, we need a large dishrack to dry all of our dishes. We've had this dishrack for years, but never had the plastic tray for under it. We had just rigged something up with towels... it worked, but maybe wasn't the most sanitary way of doing things. So recently Trav decided that we needed to get a more permanent solution (although honestly, after three years, I would consider our old solution pretty permanent... c'est la vie). This was not as easy as it seemed as even the larges trays we could find didn't fit under our honkin big rack... but I did not want to give up the monster.

Well, fast forward to last night, returning our second tray with no larger options in sight... I broke down and decided that we would just get a new damn rack. But it had to be big, and it had to be two-tiered. Target didn't have any that met our specifications.... Bed Bath and Beyond had one. It cost $50. That's no typo, 5-0 for a rack to dry dishes on. Farking $50 on a dish rack, and it wasn't even the most expensive option!! I can't quite get over this. And what does a $50 dish rack look like?

It's actually kind of stylish... right?


And it holds a good number of dishes. Not as many as our old rack... but I guess it will do. Plus, it doesn't need the plastic tray underneath because it has a little spout thing instead.

Now how long do I have to use this thing before we can say we got $50 worth of wear out of it?

4.08.2008

weekend to recover

Well, like I said, we didn't get home until about 3am on Friday night/Saturday morning, not in bed until about 4. I was a little surprised that I wasn't completely wiped when I got up at 11ish. Trav was leaving at that point to head up to Lehigh and visit with his fraternity as they were inducting new brothers that day. It was actually kind of nice having the day/night alone after spending the whole week with Trav, Ro & Pat. Plus, it definitely made it easier for me to get stuff done. And I certainly did plenty!
I... emptied our suitcases, put away all the toiletries, did all the laundry (three large loads), downloaded all of our pictures to the computer, then uploaded them to shutterfly, and went shopping at Trader Joe's and the grocery store. I got lots of yummy stuff, including some nice cheeses and some avocados so I could make some of that guacamole at home (which I did last night with mixed results, see below).

Sunday I got up earlier so that I could go to this church (the one I talked about here). It was nice. Very relaxed, inviting atmosphere. I'll definitely go again... although I'm not sure if its thee place for me. We'll see. After church I went to Ridley Creek State Park to do a walk, which was nice if a bit blustery. At least I didn't have to compete for trail space!!
Most of the rest of the day was spent relaxing a watching the Lord of the Rings trilogy playing on TBS... with one break to make a really yummy chicken dish for dinner. Which I'm going to share with you now... like it or not! ;-)

The only changes I made from the recipe was that I used two large chicken breasts instead of the halves and needed to pop them in the oven for a bit to finish them off. I also used a mix of garlic and onion because I didn't have shallots, and used a lot more onion then the recipe calls for... because we like onion, and I wanted to use a whole one up. Delish.


Balsamic Chicken

1/2 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons honey
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
4 (5-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons finely chopped shallots (can substituted garlic and/or onion)
Chopped parsley (optional)


1. Combine broth, vinegar, and honey.

2. Melt butter and oil in a large nonstick skillet over low heat. While butter melts, sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Place flour in a shallow dish. Dredge chicken in flour and shake off excess.

3. Increase heat to medium-high and heat until butter turns golden brown. Add chicken to pan; cook 4 minutes on each side or until golden brown.

4. Remove chicken from pan; keep warm. Add shallots (or onion/garlic mix), and sauté until starting to become translucent. Add the broth mixture, scraping to loosen browned bits.

5. Bring to a boil, and cook until reduced to 1/2 cup (about 3 minutes). Serve sauce over chicken. Garnish with chopped parsley, if desired.

I served mine on some whole wheat pasta (which honestly, I'm not a huge fan of... but I wanted to use it up and the sauce is bold enough to handle it) with a side of green beans. I was a bit nervous at first that the taste would be too strong or vinegary, but it wasn't. It was bold, but not tart... all in all, damn good.

Yesterday was the first day back to work and I was surprised how NOT tired I was. I slept damn well all weekend, and getting up on Sunday helped me get back into the swing of things. I was a bit sore though. No long walks all week meant that the 5-miles on Sunday left me a bit achy!

For dinner last night, neither Trav nor I felt like really cooking. So I made some quicky guacamole by mashing up those avocados with some salt and pepper, plus a splash of lemon juice (to prevent browning). With that I grabbed some cheese and crackers, for a simple "artisan" dinner.

I wasn't thrilled with the guacamole. It tasted okay... but the one avocado didn't look so great (so I tossed it) and the other avocado, which I actually used, wasn't anything to write home about either. Next time I would use lime juice instead too.

In any case, I also wanted to share a picture of a treat I brought home from Mexico:
I haven't seen this flavor here (Choclate Mint! like an Andies chocolate, so good!)... but it's fabu. I hope I can find more because I am almost out.

Well, time to get back to work again. I'm having a little trouble getting back into the swing of things, but hopefully I'll be caught up by the end of the week.



Ps. Check out this post on Lag Liv... I love how honest it is.

4.07.2008

Mexico!

Where to even start?! Well, first off... its good to be home. Even though its rainy, cold, dreary... still there is nothing like waking up in your own bed.

That said, we had an AMAZING time! Some highlights... ATVing on a beach in Mexico (day four), swimming with the dolphins (that's right! day seven), and sitting in the bar drinking a fruity drink listening to the waves crash on the beach (which was everyday).

Friday we met up at Ro & Pat's early.... then it was on to Vegas, where we spent one night and a few hundred dollars. ;-)
This was the view from our room:

Saturday we flew to Cabo and their tiny little airport. The drive to Solmar (website way outdated!) took about forty minutes, but it was a nice trip and a good first glimpse of Baja Mexico. We got checked in and went for a welcome margarita at the beach-front bar. This dude happened to be enjoying the swim-up portion of the bar when we arrived:
That evening we enjoyed a fiesta dinner... a huge buffet with tons of mexican foods to enjoy plus dancing and singing. I have a lovely video of Trav and I getting called on stage to dance... but I think I'll keep that one under wraps... ahh, tequila.

The next day we woke up to this view:

Not too shabby, huh?!
We headed off to do a tour of Playa Grande, the sister hotel to Solmar. We did the tour because for the low cost of one blister and 2 hours of walking/sales pitching we got a free breakfast, a nice look around the resort, and a 50% off coupon for one of the activities that we were planning on doing during our trip... ATVing! Which is what we did the next day (Monday):

It was a lot of fun... even the part where I almost ran into a tree. And considering I've never driven an ATV before, or anything that you have to shift gears for that matter, it went really smoothly. Plus who could pass up the opportunity to drive on this:
We spent the next few days swimming in the pool, lounging in the hot tub, relaxing at the bar (happy hour 3-5, buy one get one free drinks!), and eating tons of food. We ate lunch in the bar almost everyday.
Dinner we switched it up... one night we ate at Romeo & Julietta (great italian), there was also Ole Ole, and the Shrimp Factory. I ate so much guacamole, I'm surprised I'm not green... and surprisingly they also had great sushi! Right in the bar too.
The bar also had a bunch of these little dudes that ran around eating all the crumbs:
And we got to spend our time listening to these waves.
With this for a backdrop!
On Tuesday, we headed to the Playa Grande again to do some painting. They had a guy who would bring all this pottery... you would select your piece, paint it to your liking, then leave it with him. Come back then next day and he had added some details, glazed and fired your piece. Very fun and now I have some neat, one of a kind pieces to remember Cabo by.

At night we got to enjoy the most beautiful sunsets:


Thursday was a busy day. In the morning I got to complete one of the items on my "to do before I die" list... swim with the dolphins!! It was amazing, a wonderful experience and a ton of fun. I was the only one who did the actual program (here), but Trav, Ro & Pat all watched. This is Monet, the dolphin I got to swim with:
Truly I can't even explain how neat this was for me. Dolphins are such huge, powerful, but graceful creatures... and to be so close and get to swim with, play with, and touch one! Just amazing!

That afternoon Ro & I went for pedicures at Playa Grande. Very relaxing and a nice treat.


That night was our last night at Solmar, so we decided to relax at the bar and then head to the in house restaurant for dinner. It was a great choice because we got to enjoy this:

Friday morning we had a leisurely breakfast then hung out until our shuttle picked us up for the airport (I used this time to buy, fill out, and send a few postcards I had forgotten about until that point...). We had a pretty uneventful flight to Houston (except for the longest descent in history!), then an as-fast-as-possible trip though customs, and a run to our gate... only to find out our second flight was delayed. That actually worked out to our advantage as we were able to get some food because boarding for the flight from Houston to Philly, a good thing too since we proceeded to sit on the plane for over an hour before we took off! You knew it wasn't going to be good when they announced that there were 35 planes ahead of you for take off from the one open runway!!

Oh well, they gave us dinner on the plane and free headphones, and the flight itself was easy and uneventful. We got to the airport, rode to Ro & Pats, picked up our cars and headed home. We were at home just before 3am and in bed just before 4. Good thing we had the weekend to recover!!

I'll write about the weekend later... but for now I have tons of emails to sort through and plenty of work to catch up on. In the meantime, I have one video to leave you with... so that you too can feel like you are at the beach. ;-)


video

Ciao!

ps. If you want to see all my pictures... you can do so here (or by clicking the travel pictures link to the left).