something pretty to leave you with...

... that's not my cervix. ;-)

Three pictures I took around Philly, but didn't have time to share before. It's really starting to look like spring. Hopefully by the time we get back it will really feel like it too!

xoxo. See you soon!

take that cindy crawford...

No time to stop by yesterday as I didn't even get in until 12 because of my dr. appt and the train schedule (not that I minded getting in late). Beautiful day though, in no small part due to the fact that the appointment went really well... and not that you wanted to know but apparently not only do I have amazing blood pressure (96/68), but apparently my cervix is beautiful and my uterus the perfect amount of plyable! Yee-haw. Plus I lost 8 lbs since last year, putting me back at "fighting weight"!! Hell yes. Maybe this walking thing really is working out for me.

Of course the day was also beautiful due to the fact that it was sunny with a high in the low 60s. Ya know, that too. But I prefer to say its because of my gorgeous cervix.

In other news, we leave tomorrow! Yay! So this will be it for me until April 7th-ish when we are back and in the swing of things (am I really leaving with an entry about my cervix?!). I'm sure I'll have tons of pictures to share. As for tonight, Trav's picking up some Taco Bell (don't want leftovers) and then we're packing everything up (right now its all just sitting on the guestroom bed), and making sure we are 100% ready to go! Tomorrow we head to Ro & Pat's, then off to the airport! Next stop Vegas, then Cabo! I'm so very ready for the sun and warmth... and frozen drinks. Yes, those too.

In the meantime, I should get all my work stuff ready for my leave. See you in 10 days!

Ps. Happy 50th Anniversary to this couple. You know, the ones who represent the "downfall" of marriage. Bwahahah.

Pps. For good reading while I'm gone... definitely check out my updated links section to the left! Lots of great reads over there. xoxo


spirituality aka. one where I do more then just talk about what i did yesterday

So a belated joyus Purim to those who celebrate... it was friday, but I didn't realize until later in the day. I've been reading about lots of Easter celebrating in different blogs, but I have nothing much to add in that regard. We aren't religious, and neither of us are really what you might call Christian, so we didn't go to church. And as I mentioned before, this year we didn't make the trip down to my uncles, so no dying of eggs or eatings of chocolate baskets or listening to Jesus Christ Superstar either. We mostly just relaxed all weekend... dinner with friends Saturday night (very nice), pulling items together for our trip, and cooking a big steak for dinner on Sunday (we almost went out and got ham just for the occation, but Trav had found this beautiful thick steak.... so we ended up grilling that instead). I also spent some time sorting through pictures. My plan is to put all loose pictures into albums (pre-college, college, post-college, and family), although it is going to be quite the project, and who knows when it will actually get done! At least I started the sorting process.

In anycase, the whole weekend and the reading up on everyone else's weekend kind of made me miss my old church days. Not the church/religion part necessarily, but the routine, the fellowship, the communing and the spirtuality. Our house is surrounded by churches... literally there are five within walking distance, four more a short drive (5 minutes or less): But they are all Christian churches. Beautiful, probably lovely churches... that just aren't for me. Or for Travis. What I want is something like this (as referenced here, see Sunday #1). But obviously heading to Boise every Sunday isn't really workable, and I haven't found something similar nearby. I've been thinking about checking out this church, its not too far from our place and seems like it would be a nice fit for me. I just haven't made it yet because 1) its hard for me to get up on the weekend and give up that extra sleep (although a 1030 service is so very reasonable), and 2) I don't think that Travis would go with me and I'm not sure that I'm up to doing it on my own. I guess I'll just have to bite the bullet and give it a try... not this weekend or the next since we'll be on vacation, but maybe the following weekend? It is spring afterall! A time for new beginnings!

On a semi-related note*, I just read this article that was linked from Julie's blog. It's a beautiful, well-written account of some famous sister's (two of the Dixie Chicks) journeys to have a family. For someone who's thinking about starting a family in the near future (and whos always had that little "what if" worry in the back of her mind), its a touching piece.

Well, I have plenty of work to get through this week and only three and a half days to do it in (we leave on Friday, and tomorrow I'm coming in late because of a Dr. appt.)... so I should get to it. Zaijian!!

* Honestly, what doesn't make me think of kids these days... but spirituality definitely makes me think of kids since one of the reasons I'm feeling such an urge for a Sunday place at the moment is because I really do want to raise my children in a practice of godliness. I want them to have that routine and something to believe in. And I want to find my place first, before children come into the picture, so that the routine is comfortable already and easier to share. Make sense?


spring, easter, and basil pesto

First off, a lovely Good Friday to all those who celebrate... and an early Happy Easter as well. Normally we would head down to visit with my uncle Wray (like here and here), its become our little tradition... we dye eggs and listen to Jesus Christ Superstar, and my cousin Mo is normally there from California. But this year we will be staying home to get ready for our vacation (only a week! from today!)... there are passports to be located, and laundry to do. We'll probably get our bags mostly packed, and see what we are lacking in toiletries. I'm sad we're not going, but hopefully next year we'll be picking up right where we left off.

In anycase, it's friday! Yesterday was a busy day, but I got a chance to meet up with Nick and hit up a Rita's here in the city for a cup of italian ice (mango, yummy...). Today should be a little more relaxed, but hopefully it will go quickly so I can get my weekend started!

In anycase, on to my recipe (more regular post below)!
I love a good basil pesto. Love! When my mom would make me a birthday meal growing up I would always want either macaroni & yeasty cheese or her homemade pesto, so much better then anything out of a jar. When I moved away I missed that dish... so I decided to figure it out on my own. Its gotten some tweaking here and there, to adjust to Travis's tastes (he's not a fan of pine nuts) and for what I normally have in my pantry (I never have freakin pin nuts anyway!)... and I couldn't be happier with the final result.

Megan's Classically Simple (but not quite Classic) Basil Pesto

as with many dishes, I eyeball not measure these ingrediants... so all measurements are approximate and can/should be adjusted to your likes

Normally it would be a lot more sauce heavy, but I've never made pesto for a full box of noodles before... and I uh, well I ran out of cheese... so embarassing. But still damn good!

1/3 cup peanuts (or you could certainly use pine nuts)
1/2 cup grated parmesaen cheese
1 - 2 cloves of garlic
1/2 ish cup of a good evoo (ex virg. olive oil)
a few turns from the pepper mill
as much basil as your pretty little heart desires*

1. Throw peanuts and garlic into a food processor. Pulse until finely chopped.
2. Add cheese, basil and pepper. (At this point stick your nose right into the top of your food processor and take a big whiff... doesn't that basil smell amazing?!)
3. Drizzle EVOO into running processor until mixture is smooth.
4. Look at pesto and give a little taste (be sure to turn processor off first), green enough? No? Then add more basil!

We ate ours with green beans and teriyaki pork... mmm.

* not specific enough? I normally add a few tsps of the pre-chopped stuff from a jar. Some people want it more basil-y though... so add more basil! Easy. Plus, I have no idea what that jarred basil translates to fresh basil-wise. I'd probably start with about 2 cups though.

The best thing about this pesto is that you can make a lot... and there is so much you can do with it. Obviously mix it with pasta. But also smear it on bread (toast it for a few minutes to make it extra yummy). Make a pesto pizza with pizza dough or french bread, pesto instead of sauce, and then some wonderful melty cheese (mozzarella or feta would be nice). For toppings olives, chopped up chicken breast, artichoke hearts or tomatoes would all work great.

Also you can easily freeze this to use later... but in that case make it without the cheese (it doesn't freeze nicely) and add the cheese when you are mixing it into your pasta.

After dinner Trav and I headed out for our favorite part of the first day of spring:

Mmm... Rita's. I got root beer favor.
It was a little chilly, but once we got back into our warm house our icy treat was very enjoyable.

So that's about all I have for you today. I'm about to make some hot chocolate since I can't seem to get warm! Then its just work, work, work. Have a great weekend!

PS. A question: what do you think about my recipe posts? Do you enjoy them? Or do you hate when I talk about food? Do they make you skip the entries? Let me know!!


5-years (update)

Sorry for the silence... it's been a busy week. Besides normal work, Tuesday was a dentist appointment (sadists, all of them... but my choppers sure are shiny and bright), yesterday was lunch with three of my college boys (Apac, Slink, and Jon... sweet!), and today is a dermatologist appointment. So much stuff.
Not to mention that I'm still handling a few things for Jan until the end of the week, so she has a chance to play catch-up (in fact, there is a $50,000 check sitting on my desk right now that needs to be deposited! yipes!). You know what else there is today (wait, yesterday? today?)? Today is also 5-years since Mike and I did a power-hour (ahh, college) to count down until our country invaded another country (ahh, imperialism).

Half a trillion dollars later, what do you think of the war?

I think you can guess how I feel about it. But I also don't think we can rush out at this point (although can it really be called rushing out after 5 years?!)... we need a plan, a real plan. One with timelines (that aren't open-ended), numbers, and reasonable objectives.

On a nicer note, today is also the first day of Spring! Yay spring!! Don't forget to pick up your free water ice from Rita's!

Also, lunch yesterday was great! Really fun. I've missed Jon... he was one of our closes friends in college. Not to mention the timing was ironic since I was going through all those old pictures and feeling very nostgalic. This is one of the shots I pulled out:
That is Jon. And that is also the blue hair that I talk about all the time. I also pulled out this one, which is even older:
Don't we look ridiculously young?! I think I was 18 and Trav was 20 or 21 in this picture.

Anyway, on another interesting note, I had a crazy dream last night about Anthony Bourdain, in which he was my art teacher and he helped me make a clay sculpture. I'm not too surprised since Mr. Bourdain was on Top Chef (which we were watching right before bed)... I have to admit, I have a bit of a crush on the guy.

Well, I have to get going... almost time to leave for my appointment. Happy Spring, y'all! :-)

ps. If you get a chance... head over to MayDayGirl and congratulate her on her pregnancy. I dare you to read about what they've gone through to become parents without getting choked up by their finally being sucessful.

Updated (4:30pm): I got a little bored at work... so I updated all my links (to the left). They should all be working now, and I've added a few more. Let me know if anything gives you trouble!



(pronounced Slan-cha... Irish toast, kind of their version of Cheers.)

Happy St. Patrick's Day!!

For a history lesson, head to this great post on Wilderness Ireland for a quick overview of the whys of St. Paddy's day, plus some facts and myths.

But just a few fun things: Did you know that St. Patrick (the patron Saint of Ireland, who was actually born in Wales!) created the Celtic cross? It is a Christian cross with a sun superimposed... representing the combination of Christianity with more traditional Irish pagan beliefs.

He did not, however, actually drive all the snakes from Ireland. Sorry to disappoint!
The holiday, which was first observed here in America by Irish soldiers who wanted to commemorate their heritage, has been celebrated for 246 (ish) years.

Even the cities get in the mood, every year the Chicago river is dyed green for the holiday!
Are you wearing your green today? I am!!

I am in a good mood today. I can't help it, not only do I love this holiday (as a good partially-Irish girl should), but I had a fabulous weekend. Now, I'm guessing you've noticed, but I LOVE food. And a craving satisfied in a nice way can really uplift me. This weekend was all about that. Friday night Trav cooked some steaks on the grill (his craving), and I made up some macaroni & yeasty cheese (my craving).

And Sunday we got up together and made a real breakfast of bacon and eggs (my new favorite way, sunny side up... another of my cravings). Normally we just aren't in the mood to do big cooking when we first get up in the morning, even on the weekend (although we did sleep in a ton more then normal... 1030ish)... I'll often have more of an early lunch (pasta, or something). But these eggs, and making them together, was so nice. It really made the day start off right. THEN Sunday night we headed to the Hibachi and had a fun dinner. Not just great food (it really was good... and there was plenty of it), but really entertaining too. Honestly, this weekend was a little bit of food heaven for me.

Did we do anything besides eat? Of course! Saturday we got up early to get ready and get Travis to Lehigh for a Greek alumni meeting. I headed over to my parents and visited with them and my bro before my hair cut.
It was really nice, I got to hang out for a good 4 hours since my appointment wasn't until the afternoon.
We also ran over to my parent's storage unit to grab some boxes of mine in there. I'm slowly, but surely taking back all my boxes of childhood stuff and sorting through it to see what I actually want to keep. It's definitely a fun walk down memory lane. After my hair trim, it was off to pick Trav up at Psi U and the drive home for a relaxing night of movie watching and box sorting.

This morning it was a little hard to get up, but now I'm awake and in the swing of things.
Well, off to get lots of work done so that I can take a quick break this afternoon to meet a friend for a beer. :-) Normally we meet for coffee... but today, that just wouldn't do.

Erin Go Braugh!



I have nothing for you except to say that I was walking to the train the other day and I saw the telltale signs of daffodils coming up. Then last night I noted some green stems popping up infront of our house. I think spring might really be right around the corner.

I'm so ready for this weekend. The week was fine, but I'm just tired. So that's all I have for you today.


everyone deserves a lifetime.

Yesterday I was super productive at work, taking my email Inbox from around 78 emails to 22. Sweet. Results: One killer headache.

After work I headed straight from the train to a local library (in Swarthmore, which I have lived by for almost 3 years now and not really checked out... it's a really cute town!) for a "Get Started Meeting" for the 3-day. I wasn't going to attend one at first... none of the times were super ideal, and I was kind of thinking, what more info do I need, I'm already signed up. But I'm really glad I went. I got to find out the answers to those silly, nitty-gritty questions that aren't ever in the info packets, but that you all really want to know.
Example: what are the showers like? (so much nicer then you think.) will you pair me up for the tents if I didn't sign up with someone? (yes, but its worth it to consider joining a team.) can I really do this? (yes!) etc.
I'm even more pumped now then I was before, and more at ease with it too.

Remember, if anyone wants to donate to a great cause and support me while I put my body to the biggest test it has yet to encounter... just click on the pink link to the left. You can do it all securely online. Every little bit helps. Only have $20? GREAT! Can you do that next month too? AWESOME! There is an option for a certain amount a month, for up to four months. Or do it one time. Every bit helps.

As for today, well my coworker Jan is back in Florida until next Monday to make sure that her mom is getting settled in, and adjusting okay to living there on her own (those she does have nursing help... mama's health is not 100% either). After this she will be back for real, and just have the occational long weekend down there. I know this all has been so hard on her, but I'm really happy that she's going to be back.

Well, back to work for me. Ciao!


Mmm... chicken.

So we had some chicken thighs in the fridge defrosting on Sunday, but not enough for us and our guests... so the pork came out then, and we saved the chicken for last night. Trav let me have my way with it, which was fun. I do love a good chicken thigh... they are pretty damn easy to cook and because of the fat content (and dark meat) they are so easy to make juicy and tender. So, I decided to go easy.

Megan's Fake Fried Chicken Thighs

(all measures are approximate... I eyeballed this whole recipe)

1 - 1.5 cups flour
1 tsp salt
2 tsp pepper
2 dashes of cayene
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
2 - 3 pads of butter and a healthy dash of olive oil (no one said this would be low-fat)

1. Put butter/oil mixture into a large skillet (oven safe), over medium-high heat. Preheat oven to 350*.
2. Rinse thighs and dry thoroughly.
3. Mix all dry ingrediants in a large ziploc bag. Add thighs and toss to cover.
4. Once butter is melted and bubbly, place thighs in top side down, and cook until golden.
5. Flip thighs once and cook other side until golden.
6. Pop whole pan into the oven and bake for about 15 -20 minutes (depending on how thick those thighs are).

These puppies turned out good! The skin was perfectly crispy, and the meat was so juicy.

We ate our thighs with the leftover garlic mashed potatoes and peas from the night before. And I was so eager to dive into my chicken, that this is what it actually looked like by the time Trav reminded me, didn't you want to take a picture of this?

Whoops. :-) But damn was that good chicken... and totally worth the burned thumb that I got when my thumb slipped off of the hot pad I was using to pull my pan out of the oven.

Not fun... and almost a disaster because your instinct is to pull your hand away, meaning I almost dropped the pan and tossed the chicken! But the chicken was not dropped and all was well in the end. Today my thumb is still sore and feels weird and leathery, but still totally worth this yummy chicken.

On a side note, I wish I could have had this for dessert. When I saw that picture, I made the most inappropriate noise... I'm really hoping my coworker in the next room over didn't hear me!

And speaking of work... time for me to get back to it! Ciao!


monday, monday (updated)

Feeling much better today, although the getting up this morning (with the time change) was a bit rough. I had become accustomed to having light in the mornings, waking up with the sun already risen. Now its back to dark. Ugh. It will be nice to still have sun when we get home in the evenings though... maybe Trav and I can start taking walks in the evenings again.

So Saturday turned out to be wonderful and lazy. Exactly what Trav and I both needed. It stormed like crazy too, so it was a good day to not go out. Intense rain, horrendous winds that ripped down tree branches and scattered debris. We lost power, but only momentarily... just enough to have to reset all the clocks, but I guess we were going to have to do that anyway! I ate blandly, but by the end of the day was feeling back up to snuff.

Sunday was nice also. I had plans to go walking with Ro, which we kept... then we met at my place later to head out and find her a bridesmaid dress for a friend's wedding this August. We found two and she just needs to run them by the bride. After that we headed out to see The Other Boleyn Girl. It hasn't received the best of reviews, but Ro & I liked it.
Portman places the first used, then deceiving Anne perfectly... and Scarlette's Mary is sweet (maybe too sweet at points, but she really is good). Eric Bana is a handsome, troubled, and disturbing King Henry... which seems pretty true to life. It moved quickly, and packed a lot of history and betrayal into just under 2 hours. If you like historically-based movies, don't miss this one... unless taking a few liberties with history bothers you, then this one will bug ya. If you like romance and betrayal, see this one. If you just want sex and action, definitely skip it. ;-)

Updated (at 3pm): Can't believe I completely forgot this early, but after the movie, Ro & I went back to my house and Pat came over so that we could all have dinner together. Trav cooked a great meal of herb pork chops, garlic mashed potatoes (he infused the butter before mashing... and was rightfully very proud of himself), peas, and a salad. Very yummy. I'm lucky to be married to such a great cook! It was really nice.
After that we played golf on the Wii to burn off those mashed potatoes. :-)

Today its back to work. Hopefully for an uneventful week. Ciao!


death warmed over

Thursday night was horrible. I woke up with err, stomach bug symptoms (I'll skip the details)... at 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 830, 9, then finally gave up and got out of bed at 930. I obviously decided to take a sick day as I was having pleasant symptoms until the afternoon, at which point I still felt like death warmed over and couldn't eat anything really (got a quarter can of chicken noodle soup broth down over the course of 4 hours, then later was able to eat some noodles and a piece of toast). Not to mention, I was exhausted! I mean, I felt like a zombie (but could I nap? of course not!).

It was a bit disappointing that I had to get sick now (well, obviously never would be better... but...) since last night we actually had some neat, different plans. We were going to go out and see a double feature (March 7th) at Exhumed Films. We are huge scary movie fans... and especially those having to do with zombies or vampires. :-) It would have been fun. But definitely not the night for it... ::big sigh::

Anyway, last night I was in bed by 930ish and just prayed that I would be able to sleep through the night without the crazy dreams I've been having lately waking me up. I did have a few dreams, but luckily I slept like a log and just woke up at 9 this morning feeling much much better. I'm going to go to make myself some tea, some noodles, and maybe some Jello. Nothing heals a tummy like Jello. :-) Have a nice weekend!


who's a hottie??

Oh yes, Meegs is a hottie... ;-)

My new glasses came last night... which was a great surprise after a super long day at work.

So a few brief points about yesterday, because I got to come in late today (which is great, but means busy afternoon!).
1. Jan is back! I am so damn happy she's here. And while she's still having a rough time, I think it's good that she can concentrate on something else. I'm just so happy she's here... I really missed her.
2. Work was long long long. Eleven and a half hours of long, thanks to a study group I had to be here for last night. But it went well and I got a lot of work done.
3. And halfway through the night I got a phone call. Didn't recognize the number, with good reason. The person on the other end of the line was a friend of mine I have not talked to since I was 18!! Eva! Man, I could not have been more surprised if it had been Colin Farrell on the other end of the line. Seriously. But it was great to talk to her and hopefully we'll talk again soon. Talk about catching up to do.

OH and as of this morning, I'm up to 37%!! Very exciting. :-)

Okay, back to work!

me me me

I just realized that in three and a half weeks Trav, Ro, Pat and I will be in sunny Cabo! I have to say... I'm pretty damn excited for sun and sea and relaxation. Oh yes.

In the meantime, its slowly but surely getting colder here again. Yesterday it was in the 60s, today its high 50s, tomorrow low 50s, after that back to the 40s. Ugh. Oh well, hopefully we'll be seeing some warm weather in the next month or so... and I'm sure 3-4 months from now this will all come back to bite me in the ass as I wish the heat would just. go. away.

Anyway, Stacey had a neat little meme on her blog that I decided I wanted to steal. Why not, right? I figured it would be something different.

- Once you are tagged, link back to the person who tagged you.
- Post THE RULES on your blog.
- Post 7 weird or random facts about yourself on your blog.
- Tag 7 people and link to them.
- Comment on their blog to let them know they have been tagged.

Who doesn't love the chance to share some interesting tidbits about themselves...

1. I've only ever lived in one state, Pennsylvania... although I've lived 7 different places in PA, and have visited 20 states, many multiple times. It's my goal to visit all 50 states.

2. It's also a goal of mine to be able to speak Chinese. And to get my Master's. And to take Travis to China. And to swim with the sea turtles and sting rays.
I have eclectic goals.

3. Sushi and "Italian" are my two favorite types of food. I could probably give up all other foods if I could just have these. I honestly could eat sushi every night for dinner (specifically white tuna and salmon avocado rolls, mmm), and pasta for every other meal (especially with cream sauce or pesto, mmm). Now I'm drooling just thinking about it.

4. I did martial arts until I graduated high school... and was on my 6th rank, only 3 tests from black belt. I tried to get back into it my senior year of college, but so much time had passed. I regret not sticking with it... it made me feel strong, confident, and connected.

5. I have had, at one point or another, 13 piercings on my body. I currently have 10. Plus 6 tattoos.

6. Whenever I hear old Limp Bizkit or Sarah McLaughlin songs they remind me of my two high school "sweethearts"... my two ex's before Trav. The one that McLaughlin reminds me of is a very nice memory.

7. I have had the same best friend for the past 22 years, since we were in preschool together. I have gained many friends since there (great ones! and a husband!), but knowing that Babs is just a phone call away makes me feel grounded and sane. With Babs, I know that where ever I go in the future, I will always have my past too.

So this, this was harder then I thought. Which means I definitely have to pass it on. So, I'm going to tag Barry, Megan, William, Sarah, Sarah, Thalia, and "Donkey".


a two parter...

First part, Chattanooga... the rest of the recap.
Second part, beef stew... Mmmm.

So, Chattanooga... where did I leave off? Well, Friday afternoon, I met up with our contact from down here and set up the registration desk. Luckily he was all about me not sitting at it for more time then necessary, so I just stayed for an hour or so until he could man the table himself. Then he happily told me to go be a tourist.
Unfortunately our AV guy was stuck setting up until about 9 that night, so I didn't really get to do the tourist thing anyway (besides, gross and rainy out). I ate a solo sushi dinner at 7:30ish... probably the most aggrevating dinner ever. I sat there for 15 minutes before I even got to order a drink, then sat there for 30 minutes waiting for my sushi... only to be told that the delay was because there was no more salmon left. Uh, why is that cause for a delay? To me that is cause for you to get your ass back to my table right away and tell me that I'll need to pick something else... not make me wait 30 minutes, then have to pick something new and wait for that. Ugh.
Then, on top of that, I come back to my room to a call from the front desk about a participant that we had marked as a commuter, but actually needed a room for two nights. Easy to fix, but an unnecessary pain nonetheless.

Saturday is our late morning, so I didn't have to get up too early, which was nice. I registered people for a while, then things got a little hectic as I had to find someone to watch the table for me while I got ready for my webcast duties. A few moments of panic, but everything got hooked up (and in my case, mic'ed up) just fine. There were a few technical glitches at the beginning, not the fault of anyone at our end, but they were straightened out and the rest of the webcast went fine.
We also had a bit of panic when our keynote's flight (that's our second keynote if anyone is keeping track) was cancelled! New flight was booked, but it didn't leave a lot of breathing room. Luckily, dinner went great, our keynote arrived in good time, and the night was a sucess.

Sunday was an earlier day, but shorter. There was also no webcast... so less to worry about on that end. It was also a beautiful day, sunny and warm. Let me tell you how relieve I was when that last session ended and everyone shuffled out to lunch. Hallelujah! I didn't fail! :-)

After lunch I took some time to walk around Chattanooga since my shuttle to the airport didn't leave until 2... that's when I took most of these:

Pardon me boy, is that the Chattanooga Choo-Choo?

This grass smelled so so good.

It was spring down there, complete with buds and bees.

In fact, I almost got stung taking this picture!
That little blur on the right is a busy little bee.

But I took another anyway... so pretty.

For some reason, I really liked this fence.
I was trying to be artsy... worked?

More beautiful flowers!

Had to get one with me in it... I'm checking out the flowers.

A little picture I like to call,
The End of the Line.

After that, well it was off to the airport where I hopped a plane from Chattanooga to Charlotte... then had a lovely 3-hour layover, before heading from Charlotte back to Philly. Trav picked me up around 10, and it was home and straight to bed.

So that's Chattanooga in a nutshell for ya.
Not so bad overall. Definitely stressful at points... I was feeling a lot of pressure to do great, but it went well in the end and I think I proved that I could handle myself.

Now! Since I got home late on Sunday, I took off Monday for a bit of sleeping in and lazing about. Really I hardly did anything besides watch TV, pull stuff from my suitcase that needed to come to work with me today, and make a big pot of beef stew. Yum yum.

I LOVE me some beef stew. I mean, sometimes you want something really hardy for dinner, but without the work when you come home. That's why I love my Crockpot... and love this dish. I normally do the prep on a Saturday or Sunday, then cook it on Sunday or Monday (this time I did the prep and cooking on the same day, which is really unusual for me... but I didn't want to do it Sunday night, and I could cook it on high instead of low, thereby dropping the cooking time a bit). The leftovers will last Trav and I for half the week.

We normally only cook this in the fall/winter months... too heavy for the hot hot summers. But by August, I'm craving this and counting down until when it will be cool enough to make it.

Megan's Beef Stew

To a Crockpot/slow cooker add:
1.5-2 lbs stew Beef, cubed (London Broil also works really well)
5-7 good sized Idaho potatoes, washed and cubed
1.5 - 2 cans of beef broth (to just cover solids)
1 jar beef gravy
2 large carrots, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 large onion, finely chopped (can be sauted first, but we don't bother!)
1 - 2 cloves of garlic, smashed, then finely chopped
salt & pepper to taste
healthy dash of dry mustard
small half palm full of parsley &/or thyme, crushed
1-2 large bay leaf

optional: 1 cup corn, or a cup of fresh or frozen green beans
- healthy sprinkling of chives

Freshly thrown together...

Add all items to pot, stir, and keep in fridge overnight. In morning, give a stir, make sure most solids are covered by the broth, and set crock pot to low. Let cook for at least 9 hours, stirring only once or twice (Trav turns it on when he leaves in the morning, around 7... it's ready when we get home, around 6). Turn up to medium, medium-high 30 minutes before dinner. Serve with buttered rolls and remember to remove the bay leaf!

This is about half-way through cooking, when I opened it up to stir.

We like ours with a lot of potatoes (plus the gravy)... and because of that, don't add any flour to thicken the broth. If you don't want so much potato then first dredge the beef in a little bit of flour.

Finished product... so good.

This is more liquid then normal, because I was finishing a bag of potatoes and had less to work with. I probably should have only used one can of broth, but I used about one and a half. Still so damn good.

I love the way the whole house smells good after cooking this meal. Plus, I love how versatile it is... if you don't have celery, don't worry about it... if you have some other veggie, throw it in instead. Very easy to customize to fit your likes. Enjoy!

As for today. First day back has been fine so far. It's warm out, feeling almost springy here today (although rather gray out and supposed to storm). The boss seems happy with how things went, and that makes me happy. It's a rather lazy day as far as they go, especially compared to lately... but I should get back to work anyway. Not that I'm complaining! Not that I'm not stressing things seem a lot easier.