Friday, December 26, 2008

FYI

For those of you that follow Bradford's blog, he has a new web address for it. It is now: bradford.law-family.org

Update it in your blog list! His blogs are good... And I say that as unbiasedly as I can. :)

Hope you all are having wonderful holidays!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Time is here

I love the Christmas season. Everything about it just amazing. I don't even mind the cold very much just because its so characteristic of the holiday. Though, we are all scratching our heads out here in Provo, wondering where in the heck they mis-delivered our white fluffy stuff too. I mean, there is only 2 weeks until Christmas and even the ski resorts are sweating it over. I sure hope something happens soon because if I spend $400 on a snowboarding pass I sure expect to get some of that snow to board on. Needless to say, I'm sure I'm not the only one here in UT Valley with crossed fingers. Whodda thought I would ever be hoping for snow? I tease my roommate, Mita, that its all her fault because she keeps praying that it WON'T snow. She is from Fiji and snow and cold are further from her favorite things list than lima beans are from mine.

I want to relish Christmas this year. I don't want it to rush by in a whirlwind and leave me wondering where the time went. There are so many exciting things that happen during this month that its easy for time to fly. I want to make sure that I absorb it and enjoy it. Most of that will be achieved by dressing myself in the spirit of Christmas everday before I set out. I should do that all year long but Christmas is always a good time to reevaluate and rededicate myself to that principle.

Bradford found an article the other day for a fun seasonal celebration. Its a spin on the 12 days of Christmas. Instead of doing 12 days of incremental gift giving, its a 12 DATES of Christmas. So every day, starting 12 days before Christmas, you go on a date and somehow tie in the number of the day before Christmas it is to the date. I thought it was a great idea and we wanted to give it a spin and start a tradition, but we ended up having a bunch of other events scheduled and not enough days to do everything (we would only be able to do our 12 dates on weekends and maybe one other weekday every week because of school and work)... Christmas is a busy time of year I'm realizing... Even though it didn't work out for us this year, I love the idea and I am determined to make it work for next year.

As far as the Christmas festivities go we have already gone to my work's Christmas party (which was dinner at a Mexican restaurant, Joe Vera's, and a show at Comedy Sportz, a local comedy club that I recommend to anyone who appreciates clean, silly, comedy), and a Kurt Bestor concert. I had never heard of Kurt Bestor until someone brought tickets to my work to give us as a thank you. Apparently he is well known in Utah as a Christmas music performer and Bradford knew who he was and liked him so I got four of the tickets and Bradford and I went to hear some great Christmas music with our friends Jarron and Olivia. I really enjoyed it. He's a very talented musician/composer and there were some touching Christmas pieces. Coming up on our checklist of Christmas events is the annual Mo-Tab/Orchestra at temple square Christmas concert. Though nothing can easily top the one with Sissel from two years ago, it should still be great this year. They gave out tickets in a "lottery" for this years concert. You basically just entered a drawing with how many tickets you wanted (up to 4) and what night you preferred them for and then they randomly chose people to get them. I was lucky enought to get four of them. I originally had four for the sunday mini-concert but then my old co-worker switched me for her saturday night ones because she can't go on saturday. Mita and Kimberly (hopefully) are coming with Bradford and me and I'm really lookign forward to it. I'm also going with Kimberly to her work Christmas party which is on Friday at Tucanos. Mmmm... I'm going to be missing out on a good chunk of Bradford's family's Christmas party but I can't pass up Tucanos! Or Kimberly for that matter ;).

Speaking of Bradford's family... Bradford's brother Richard and his family are visiting from Las Vegas this week and the women in the family (ie, sisters, sisters-in-law, girlfriend...) took advantage of the opportunity to go out for a girl's night to Olive Garden and then play games afterward at Bradford's parents'. It was sweet of them to include me, and once the hyperventilating subsided I was able to enjoy their company and conversation. I hope they can say the same of me... Unfortunately, I am shy by nature, believe it or not, and being in a group of just girls (let alone a group of people I don't know particularly well) is extremely intimidating for me, and I wasn't as active a participant as I would have liked. I am perfectly content to be a listener and observe things, but sometimes I'm afraid that people interpret that as me being indifferent and standoffish. Part of me wished Bradford was there to lean on and calm my nerves but I need to get over it already. After two years you wouldn't think it would be an issue to be around his family alone. That's my fault for letting it get to me so much and overthinking and letting anxiety take over... I wish I had a better handle on it. I can only get better, though, can't get much worse. That is my new resolve: to be less self-conscious. In all aspects. Its something that has been on my mind for a while now and I realize that its holding me back from being an honest depiction of myself. Anyway, off that vein...

I hope all of you have a wonderful Christmas season. Its such an amazing time of year and everyone deserves to feel a glimmer of the Christmas magic!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

♫ Let me show you the shape of my Heart! ♪

Its amazing. Whodda thought that Bradford was actually speaking truth all this time?! ;) Ok, I'm kidding, I always knew he was right but I just didn't give myself enough of a chance to truly practice what he preached. Do what, you ask? I'm sure you're all just dying to know. So I'll tell you. This morning, I finally woke up. Early. Earlier than just in time to quickly shower and scramble around to get ready before stumbling out the door to get to work on time. Early enough to wake up and work out (thank you Kathi for that intensified ab workout via the giggles, I think Tony would be proud) and afterwards I took a relaxing shower and *gasp* actually ate breakfast. Who knew those early morning hours were actually good for something? I'm happier today too. I'm not so tired, even though I woke up earlier than I would have normally on a day like today, I'm energized and I feel good. Not sluggish. Amazing...

Bradford found this really cool alarm clock that I think is part of the reason I was able to wake up and stay awake rather than fumbling for my phone and shutting off the alarm in the same second that I fall back into unconsciousness like I usually would do. I can't even remember what its called. Its ornj or citrus alarm clock or something... but anyway, you download it off of the internet and it links with the songs in your media player on your computer. At the scheduled time of wake up it starts to play the song (or songs) and it gradually gets louder and louder until you get up and turn it off. Its pretty clever. I put my laptop in the living room so I have to physically get up and go shut if off, increasing the wake factor. And it works! Imagine that. The only bad thing I've noticed (I've only used it twice) is that I wake up about 15 minutes before its actually supposed to go off. I don't know if its because my body is anticipating it and my subconscious just can't wait to hear the Backstreet Boys crooning me out of bed or if its merely a fluke. I hope it doesn't keep happening... because even though I was wide awake, 15 more minutes of slumber is always very much appreciated.

Today I had a good start, and I can see that a good start could be the difference between a good and a bad day. Now, tomorrow I'm planning for a great start.

***Here is the alarm clock link if any of you are interested in it for yourself: http://www.ornj.net/citrus/ it has a 30 day free trial so if you want to try it out I recommend giving it a whirl.***

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Long Time

I haven't blogged in a while, for more than a month actually, and I have a whole list of things just begging to be blogged about! I have been training a new receptionist at work and so I haven't had a computer during the day to blog on (not that I blog at work...), but now I have a few spare moments so I am going to record some of the things on my list.
First of all, Bradford and I had a lot of fun with our Fall o'Festivities. We went to the corn maze at Thanksgiving Point with his sister and brother-in-law, and had a lot of fun there. The corn maze itself was kind of lame... but the company and food was fun. That same night, before the corn maze, we celebrated our 2-year anniversary. We went to California Pizza Kitchen and Cold Stone. That's where we went on the date we decided to become official. Insert "Awws" here. :)

Bradford's sister, Amanda, also put together a really fun evening for the adults in the family. It was a full on pirate themed murder mystery dinner. Complete with costumes and crazy accents. Bradford was a British Lieutenant and I was an African witch doctor. Because of our budgets I decided I would hone my creative skills and make our costumes myself. For mine I bought some clearanced fabric at the fabric store and made myself a robe and skirt. I probably should have used a pattern but the patterns cost more than my materials did so I decided to just wing it. Surprisingly, it turned out looking ok. The hood was the only part that didn't turn out exactly how I would have liked but I guess that's what I get for not using a pattern. Then I bought a cheap skeleton from a discount store, disassembled him, and strung him into a necklace with a few plastic spiders here and there. I then used a scarf for my head dress. Bradford's costume turned out even better than I'd hoped. He had some BYU men's chorus jackets that the previous tenant had left in his closet so I took one of them to use for his naval officer outfit. I took off the men's chorus badge, sewed some gold trimming across the buttons, and I made the shoulder fringe things with two sponges painted gold and gold trim hot glued around the edges. Then I sewed them onto the shoulder pads in the jacket. I bought a foam sword from Wal-mart for 2 dollars and painted the handle gold (it was blue). Then I sewed a sash out of some red fabric and a ruffly collar thing out of some white fabric. I made his hat out of a dollar store straw hat that I sewed up on the sides and added some gold trim around the edges. Lastly, I used the khaki pants he wore for our Halloween costumes last year (he was Colonel Mustard for a Clue party my friends threw), and I cut them off and added some blue ribbon to the bottoms to tie on the sides. And he wore tights... I tried to find knee-highs but to no avail. He didn't seem to mind them. I'm not sure what that means... ;) Overall I only spent about $40-$50 all together. Here is a picture of us in our costumes my roommate took for us. Doesn't Bradford look dashing?


Another thing on my list of festivities that we did was drive up the canyon to see the leaves. It was such a refreshing afternoon. We grabbed a pizza and headed up for a relaxing drive and some good conversation. We topped off the night with some hot chocolate. Here are a couple pictures we took up at the canyon. It was a little chilly, hence my rudolph nose. And yes, I kiss boys. Well, just one actually.

Bradford and I also went to the pumpkin patch and then carved some jack-o-lanterns. I love going to the pumpkin patch. I don't know why exactly, but I love it. My pumpkin is the sad/scared one. Its supposed to be scared but it looks kinda sad instead. I wanted to do a scared jack-o-lantern because jack-o-lanterns are usually scary, not scared, so I thought it would be some good irony. My pumpkin was particularly fibrous. I had a hard time carving it because the fibers kept peeling away. It was interesting and made the whole pumpkin carving even more challenging. Anyway, we carved them the night before Halloween and then on Halloween we watched a bunch of scary movies and ate a bunch of candy. A few days ago we smashed our pumpkins and took a video of them.
Here is Bradford at the pumpkin patch, cutting the vine to one of the lucky pumpkins that gets to come home with us:
And here are our finished jack-o-lanterns. I wanted to carve the little gourd but that thing was hard as rock. I couldn't have made a single notch in it without at least losing a finger.
Here is a picture of my pumpkin after he had been smashed. Poor thing.
And this is the pumpkin smashing video:

video

Another thing we did that was on my list of things to do this fall was to buy some fall clothes. Bradford actually came with me believe it or not and didn't get sick of shopping until hours later. I'm so proud of him. ;) We went up to Park City to do our shopping at the outlet mall up there. I love going up to Park City. It always feels like a vacation. It was a lot of fun and we found a lot of stuff for some really good deals. I bought a long light jacket, nine west brand, that was orginally $200 but I got it for $30, and I bought some new black dress pants for work and a black ruffly-ish blouse, brown flats, a silk blouse, and another blouse at the Banana Republic outlet for a steal. Then I got a sweater and a new black cardigan at the Gap outlet and I can't remember what else... maybe that was it. I also got a new umbrella later back in Orem at Target. We went to dinner after our spree and drove back home. It was really a lot of fun. Bradford enjoyed it at least as much as I did too.

All in all, it has been a great month since I last wrote. I anticipate the next month to be just as good. Hopefully though, it won't be that long before I blog again...

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Spooktacular

I have made a few decorations for our apartment this Halloween season and I've taken pictures of some of them so I decided to post them for those of you interested.

This is our "Spooky" door sign.


This was a lot of fun to make. I used Halloween paper, some eyeballs from the craft store that I think were meant for a stuffed animal or something, ribbon, buttons, glittery scrapbook letters, and an unfinished wood board (I actually ended up using an unfinished wood picture frame because I couldn't find just a board anywhere that was the size or price I wanted...). Then I put the paper on with a clear drying glue and painted over the top too so it wouldn't rip or anything. It was a lot of fun and super easy and pretty inexpensive. I'm thinking I'll do some for Thanksgiving and Christmas too.

This next little project was way easy and I spent less than 5 dollars on the whole thing.



The spider web I got at Big Lots for four dollars and I tacked it up into the corner of our living room. I made the spider out of some of Kathi's old soccer socks, a few buttons, little paper fangs, and fuzzy pipe cleaners I got at a craft store for seventy cents. For his body I rolled the socks up into themselves until they made a ball. Then I hot-glued some orange and black buttons on for his eyes (I guess technically he should have 8 of them but he just looks so darn cute with only two of them...). I cut two little triangles out of some white paper and tacky glued them below his eyes for his fangs. The legs are the pipe cleaners hot glued onto the bottom of his body and then bent a little. He was so cute when he was finished that we had to give him a name. Everyone, meet Rufus. I wanted to make him crawling off the web on to the wall or soemthing, but I was having a difficult time figuring out a good way to get him up there.

I also bought a ceramic jack-o-lantern off of a clearance table at Michaels for $1.50. He looks nice with a candle lit inside of him on our coffee table. I bought a garland of some really cool looking fall leaves that we hung above our window too so our living room looks nice and halloweeny.

I'm having a lot of fun finding different things to decorate with. I especially like to use things to make something that they wouldn't normally be used for. Like Rufus made from socks (who knew?!).

If anyone has some fun ides, send them my way!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Eat, Drink, and be Merry

This past weekend was conference and so Kimberly and I decided that it would be a perfect opportunity to try out some of our fall recipes. I picked out a few I wanted to try this time, went grocery shopping, and then planned for our feast! I was so excited about kicking off our Autumn excursions and at first I thought I was being a little ambitious, but the recipes ended up not being very difficult, and the end results were pretty darn good.

On the menu was:
Wild Mushroom Dip
Vertical Pear Salads
Curry Pumpkin Soup
Spice Rubbed Chicken
Horchata
and Pumpkin Chocolate Cookies.

Mmmm.... it even SOUNDS delicious!
Here are the recipes, along with pictures! I'm going off of memory here, but I'm pretty sure I got them right:


Wild Mushroom Dip
- 8 oz cream cheese
- 1 5 oz package of dried wild mushrooms (I had to use dried shitaki mushrooms that I found in the Asian food aisle. I almost didn't find any anywhere in the entire store but then a clerk that I recruited to hunt some with me found me later in the store with the shitaki ones. So if you want to make this and you can't find dried mushrooms, check the Asian aisle if there is one.)
- 2 cups white cooking wine
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1 can (10 3/4 oz) cream of mushroom soup
- 1 cup shredded mozzerella cheese
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
- 1 tsp. dried tarragon

- Heat wine in microwave on High for 4 minutes. Place mushrooms in wine for ten minutes to rehydrate. Then blend mushrooms in blender/food processor with 2/3 cup of the wine (throw away the rest of it). Blend until it becomes a thick paste.
- In a crock pot mix mushroom paste and remaining ingredients together until well blended. Cook on low for 2-3 hours.
*I served it with some fresh tarragon on top.

Last minute I remembered some pitas I had in my fridge so I cut them up into little triangles and put them on a cookie sheet, sprinkled some grated parmesean cheese on them, and put them in the broiler for about 5 minutes. They came out slightly crispy with the cheese nicely melted on them.
I had this out to eat during the last session of conference and it tasted great with the pita chips. I loved the kinda smoky taste it had and the tarragon was delicious in it. Even Kimberly, a self admitted mushroom hater, seemed to like it.


Vertical Pear Salad
- 4 smooth skinned pears (whatever that means... aren't they all smooth?)
- 2-3 cups water cress (depending on how much salad you want)
- 1/2 cup toasted pecans
- 1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese
- vinagrette dressing (your choice. I used raspberry vinagrette and it was really good.)
- honey
- lemon juice (I had lime juice already in my fridge so I just used that instead.)
*I didn't measure any of the ingredients, I just added as much/little as I wanted.
- Cut pears horizontally (short ways) into four slices each. Use a kife to cut out the cores so the peices look like donuts. Leave the stem on the top peice. Brush lemon juice on each cut side of the pear peices.
- Toss the pecans, blue cheese, water cress, and dressing until coated.
- Reassemble the pear, vertically (ahhh... get it now? ;) ), with the watercress salad in between each slice. Once assembled, Drizzle with honey.

I absolutely LOVED this! It was delicious and surprisingly simple. And it looks awesome. The hardest part was remembering which order the pear peices went in the reassembly...
Pumpkin Curry Soup
- 1 30 oz can of canned pumkpin
- 1/2 cup chopped celery
- 1/2 cup chopped onion (I used a white onion)
- 1/2 cup chopped carrot
- 2 Tbsp butter
- 1 tsp curry powder (I used some yellow curry powder that Bradford has.)
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
- 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
- 1 cup half and half
- water ? (I can't remember how much water it called for... I'll look at my recipe tonight and adjust it on here.)
- In a large pot melt butter on medium heat. Once melted add the celery, carrots, and onion. cook until somewhat soft. Then add the pumpkin pie spice and curry powder. Cook for 2 minutes.
-Add water and pumpkin. Bring to a boil. Then add salt and pepper. Reduce heat and let simmer for 15 minutes. Stir occaisionally. Remove from heat and let it slightly cool. (I stuck it in the fridge for about 15 minutes.)
- In a blender, blend about a 1/3 of the mixture at a time until welll blended. Once entire mixture is blended through, return to pot and allow to simmer. Once its simmering stir in the half and half.
This soup was really good. Everyone liked it a lot. Bradford gave it a 9 out of 10 even. I served it with some Italian parsley on top and some french bread Kimberly brought with her. I added some more salt and pepper to my serving, just because that's how I liked it, but it was perfectly fine without it. It had such a delicious flavor and it smelled incredible.
Spice Rubbed Chicken
- 1 5-6 lb roasting chicken (my grocery store didn't have roastign chickens so I picked up 3 cornish hens instead. I just adjusted the cooking time)
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp ground coriander (we only had whole coriander, and it was like 7 dollars at the grocery store for the ground stuff, so I just used a spoon and ground it myself. It was a lot cheaper that way. :) )
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
- olive oil
- 1 med. red onion thickly sliced/chopped
- 1 med. white and/or yellow onion thickly sliced/chopped
- Set oven to 350 degrees. Lay onions in the bottom of a shallow roasting pan. Sprinkle with salt.
- Mix all spices together in a bowl.
- Rinse chicken and pat dry. Rub with Olive oil then rub on the spice mixture. Coat entire chicken.
- Place on the onions and loosley cover with foil. Cook for 1/2 an hour. Then remove the foil and cook for another hour and a half to two hours. Or until juices run clear.
* For the cornish hens, I'm a little embarrassed to admit that I didn't get them done all they way on the first try and we ended up sticking them back in the oven after we'd cut into them and noticed they weren't done. Whoops. But, all in all, I found that they need to cook at 350 degrees for about two hours. I served the little guys a big ol' chard leaf from Bradford's parents' garden. I was going to braise it and serve it with the chicken but I forgot about it until I was done cooking and we were sitting down to eat, so I just plopped the birds on top of it instead.
We were so full by the time we finished our soup and salads and after all the munchies that we had throughout the day that we ended up not eating the chicken and Bradford and I had it for dinner a few days later. :)
Horchata
- 1 cups uncooked rice
- 5 cups water
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1/2 Tbsp cinnamon
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 1/2 Tbsp vanilla
- Blend the rice and water in a blender until the rice begins to break up. Then let it soak for 3 hours.
- With a mesh strainer, remove the rice from the water. Stir the remaining ingredients into the rice water and then let chill. Serve over ice.
Bradford was in charge of the horchata. We actually doubled this recipe and ended up with a lot of it, but it was so good.
Kimberly made the chocolate pumpkin cookies and I don't have to recipe for it. I'll try and get it from her soon because they were so good. I realize now that I didn't get pictures of them. Sad. But they looked just as good as they tasted!
I got the recipes I used from the Better Homes and Gardens magazine. They always have tons of really great recipes each month and I am constantly collecting any recipe I can find from the various magazines we recieve for our waiting room at work.
Here are some more pictures. The two of Bradford I just had to post because they are so very Bradford. :)

Why Not

I could or could not win a handbag by posting this link. I guess we'll find out. Never hurts to try right? Right...

http://www.handbagplanet.com

I'll let you know how it goes!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Quirks

My wonderful sister, Kimberly, has just "tagged" me in one of her blogs. Because of that I am to write a similar blog about myself with 7 Quirky things about me that all of you may or may not know already. The last step is to also then tag 7 other people to write about their quirks on their own blog. I'm not going to do that part though... I guess the whole part of my brain that has an aversion to mass/chain emails is likening it as such. But, if any of you that read this need an idea for a new post on your blog, feel free to share your quirkiest quirks with the rest of us.

1- Ok, so I know that anyone who knows about what I am about to tell you would be very disappointed in me if I did not own up to this characteristic in me as my absolute number one quirk... with that said: My number one quirk is my "Sticker" issue (even thinking the word makes me gag). Ever since I can remember, the idea of stickers, face paint, people writing on their hands, peeling labels, etc... have honestly made me ill. Sometimes I have a better handle on it than other times, but there have been actual instances where I have lost my lunch over encountering one of the afore mentioned objects. I prefer to use the word "label" as opposed to "sticker" mostly because it grosses me out less. Stickers are ok if they are in their proper context. Like scrapbooking. But once they become applied to clothes or skin, and even worse, once they start curling up their corners... I'm done for. And stickers on food is even worse. It just seems so wrong. I carefully choose my fruit and vegetables at the store to avoid those with labels on them. I also can't stand when labels on bottles, cans, etc... start to peel off. Anything that's sticky that starts to collect grime and grodies is bad. And face paint, stamps on hands, any writing on the skin... can't handle it. Halloween can be a hard time. Funny though, someone once asked me why make up doesn't bother me... maybe my narcissism ousts the gag reflex. Also, tatoos don't have the same effect. The rub on ones do, but not real ones. Not sure why.

2- Even though my number one quirk is probably quirk enough to account for 7 of them, I'll go ahead and list 6 more, just for Kimberly's sake (though I think she's just determined to expose me for the weirdo I am to the entire blogosphere...). I have to have all the silverware in the drawer stacked up nicely on itself. it can't be askew or haphazardly thrown in. All spoons must be neatly placed on the same sized spoons, all forks must be laid nicely on the same sized forks. I have a friend who years ago, while "helping" me put away dishes, thought it would be funny to mess up the silverware drawer and then stand in front of it so I couldn't fix it...

3- I can't stand it when dresser drawers or cupboards have clothes or something sticking out of them when they're closed. It also bugs me when cupboards and drawers (or even containers of any kind) don't/can't close all the way.

4- I prefer to have two straws in my drinks. Unless the straws are mondo thick straws, I can't drink my drink well unless I have two of them. Bradford, dear heart that he is, has even gotten in the habit of asking the waiter's for an additional straw. Or he just gives me his. I can't remember when this habit started. Its sometimes embarrassing when I ask for another straw and the server looks at me like I'm and idiot for not seeing the one already sticking out of my cup... just humor me man if you want your tip.

5- Whenever I have cash, I like to have all the bills facing the same direction and in order of their amount. Kind of on that same vein, my DVDs have to be alphabetized...

6- If I'm ever popping bubble wrap (because its strangely satisfying), I can't leave any of the bubbles un-popped. It drives me crazy.

7- I love fluffy animals. Anything that is fluffy temporarily incapacitates me and all I can do is obsess for a few minutes over whatever it is that triggered my behavior.

My 7 things turned into more of a "let-me-tell-you-about-my-OCD-issues" synopsis rather than a list of my quirkiness... maybe they're one in the same, I'm not sure. I probably don't notice all my quirks either, so if any of you know of additional quirks in me that I failed to mention, and that you feel are prominent go ahead and let me know what they are.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

A Day Away

Bradford and I took a litte mid-week break yesterday from Provo, and work, and school, etc... Bradford picked me up from work at one o'clock and we headed up to Salt Lake City for the day.

Our first stop was in Sandy for lunch. We had a two for one coupon to Sweet Tomatoes, a soup/salad/pasta buffet. It was so good! I ate way too much, of course, but because the food was all pretty healthy I didn't feel disgusting afterward. I think my favorite things there were the Ginger soup/broth and the itty bitty teeny tiny ice cream cones. Seriously, these things were adorable and held just enough ice cream to top off the meal. I wish I had taken a picture of it... Here's one of Bradford though, enjoying a tasty leafy salad:




After we finished lunch, we headed further North to downtown Salt Lake City. We parked the car and then walked to one of our favorite spots in all of Salt Lake City. Sam Weller's Bookstore. I love that place. We only make it up there a few times a year but we love it every time we come. Its a three story new and used bookstore and they have a collectibles section that has really really old books, rare books, special edition books, and also just really nice copies of books. Bradford and I have been building a small collection of classics. I think we have 25-30 leatherbound or wanna-be leatherbound gold lettered books. I started buying them years ago and more recently have started to buy higher quality ones. At Sam Weller's we can almost always find really nice copies for under 40 dollars. Its a lot of fun. Yesterday I had a hard time choosing just one... I found about ten that I wanted but we ended up just buying The Three Musketeers as well as Anna Karenina. After we made our selections from the collectibles we wandered around the rest of the store and ended up picking up a Tagolog-English Dictionary for Bradford. We made ou purchases, walked back to the car, and then headed off for Hogle Zoo! We were initially planning to see My Fair Lady at the Pioneer Theater Company but we found out that the show for that night was sold out, which we were kinda bummed about, so we decided a trip to the zoo to see some fluffy animals would help cure some of that disappointment :).

We saw all sorts of animals, lots of monkeys, some big cats, lots of birds, elephants, rhinos, a few bears, snakes, and lots of fun litte furry guys too.

The first animal we saw was a bunch of turkeys. Throughout the park there were turkeys and roosters and peacocks just walking around. Bradford was walking up to one of the turkeys and the turkey started to cluck and get kind of agitated and so we decided it was time to go elsewhere... Turkeys make me nervous anyway... one too many bad run-ins earlier in life. Here's Bradford posing with Ms. Turkey:


I also took a picture of one of the roosters for Bradford. He loves chickens/roosters and he got excited when he saw them.

There was an exhibit of a family of monkies (I can't remember what kind of monkey there are...) and they have a 6 week old baby and he was darling. He was jumping all over the place and playing with his mom and dad, running around, tackling clumps of grass... It was very entertaining and we got to be pretty close to them. This is a picture of the baby in one of his calm moments staring at a family member. I think he wanted whatever the big one was playing with in his hand.


There was also an inside monkey exhibit and in one of them there was a bunch of lemurs and one of them came running up to us when we walked up to the glass and he put his hands on the glass, so I did too (don't worry, I didn't tap on the glass) and I thought he was really liking our interaction until the next thing you know he and his cage-mate started screaming and making a really scary sounding yell... I was very glad for the thick glass in between us. Apprently I made some offensive hand gestures in lemur or something.

After the monkeys we saw a cougar that was swatting and biting at bothersome flies, some black bears who were very shy and hiding from spectators, some elephants, two rhinos, soem warthogs that were surprisingly really cute. and then we saw one of the most amazing animals ever. A Red Panda. I wanted one so badly after that. He was darling! If he wasn't a wild and slightly dangerous animal (though he looked as sweet as anything) I really think I might have climbed into his home and snuggled him. He has one of the cutest, sweetest, faces ever. I wanted to get a picture of him but when I went back to get it he was in his inside area and I couldn't get a good picture because of the glass. Next time...

We then saw some giraffes, which made me miss Kenya, and then we saw a tiger. I wanted him to go swimming in his little pond thing but he was too busy pacing back and forth at the top of his hill that he lived on. across from his exhibit there were some lynxs and they were beautiful. One of them was really preoccupied with the pacing tiger. His stare was locked on Mr. Tiger the entire time we watched him. He was even pacing to match the tiger's pace. I think he secretly wants to be a tiger.

My favorite big cat was a leopard. He was taking a nap on some very cozy looking grass and he looked very, very soft. Another furry friend I would have glady cuddled with minus the potential of death. Again, I wish I'd gotten more pictures but I either didn't think of it in time or there was glass that affected the shots.

We also saw a white alligator. He was lounging out on the bank of his pond and I found him very comical, even though he wasn't doing anything but laying there, sprawled out, and relaxing. I kinda liked him. As we walked into his exhibit there was a cave thing you had to walk through and it had a waterfall coming off of it so Bradford and I took a couple pictures in front of it:


We also saw some penguins that were really cute. I think it must have been nap time though because they all looked so sleepy. This one was my favorite, I think he was sleeping standing up (maybe that's normal for penguins... hmm, I'll have to wikipedia that)! I also took a picture of one of his fellow penguins.



We went inside their reptile/desert animal exhibit. Along one wall was all the snakes and bugs and creepy crawlies. On the other wall was birds and fuzzies (like a REALLY cuddly looking prairie dog that I swear was smiling at me...) and things that were less scary to look at. I stuck closer to that side of the exhibit. At one point Bradford had to prepare me for a sight I could hardly stand. Two bunnies! I don't know what it is about bunnies but they are one animal that can get me to squeal like no other... they were very fun to watch. Next to the bunnies was another cute furry friend. A sand cat. He was sleeping in a hollowed out log and poked his head up at us. Very cute.

We saw some very pretty birds, and on our way out of the park we saw this parrot:


He was chriping and kind of cooing, and he seemed shy but also like he wanted us to see him and admire him. It was so cute (boy I'm using that word a lot... I just can't help myself!). He even made a full turn on one of his perches and posed very nicely for us. I liked him a lot.

After we said goodbye the friendly parrot we heard another bird talking. Earlier we had seen a very quiet Macaw parrot and I thought it sounded like it was coming from his location. Sure enough, we made our way over to him and he was more than willing to give us a show. He was such a crack up. He kept doing funny litte tricks like the one I got him doing in this picture:


Ok, so you can't really see what he's doing very well, but he would hook his beak on his cage and then let go with his feet and just hang from his beak, and he'd wiggle his wings back and forth. The harder we laughed the more he did it. It was so neat. Such a smart animal!

And, of course, what Zoo is complete with a giant lion mouth to drink from? Classic.


We left the zoo, and made our way back south to Provo. Then Bradford remembered that there is a Filipino market up this way and he wanted to find it so we could buy some food so I could experience and he could reminicse (he served his mission in the Philippines). It took us a little while to find it (we stopped at a 7/11 to buy slurpees and get directions...) but it was worth it once we did. Bradford was really excited and it was neat to see some of the things he'd told me about. As we were paying, the clerk asked me if Bradford was my brother, haha. I laughed and said that he most definitely wasn't my brother and Bradford said "I wouldn't kiss my sister like I kiss her." The lady said, "Oh, well you guys look alike." It was kinda funny.

We drove back in to Provo and stopped at Maceys to pick up some groceries for Bradford and then we went back to my apartment made some pancit sandwiches (kinda like top ramen noodles on white bread). Bradford used to eat them in the Philippines and he introduced me to them about a month ago and I found myself craving them. We had some peppermint herbal tea as well and then we watched a movie.

It was such a nice day. Such a needed break, too, from all the surrounding monotony. And its always nice to be with Bradford, no matter what we're doing. I know he needed the break too so it was great to get out and do something enjoyable and different.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Its in the Air

I am SO excited for Fall this year!!! Granted, Utah falls aren't quite as vibrant or long as those back in KY, among other places, but it will be wonderful all the same. No matter how soon the time runs out from now until the snow starts falling, I will cram as much autumn into my days as I can handle.

I love fall clothes, the weather, the BYU football games, the smells, the food, and of course those begging-to-be-stepped-on-ultra-crunchy leaves! I am going to make sure that this is an Autumn of enjoyment, taking advantage of all the fun, festivities, and beautiful nature that can be had.

I can hardly wait to go fall clothes shopping. New shoes, sweaters, jackets, jeans... I'm tickled at the very anticipation of it! Bradford will definitely humor me because I'm pretty sure he will also benefit from the fruits of my sprees. Sometimes its more fun shopping for him than it is for myself.

I'm starting a fund for our Fall O'Festivities, as Bradford fittingly christened it, so that we can be sure to go to the pumpkin patch to pick out our lucky pumpkin friends for this year, and also so that we have plenty of resources to attend all the fun things like farmers' stands, haunted houses, haunted forests, haunted corn mazes, haunted toilets, whatever! I get so ridiculously into those, no matter how unbelieveable, I push all logic aside so I can get thrououghly scared at every cliche chainsaw man and scary clown face (don't have to try too much be truly scared of those ones...). What fun is a haunted anything if you aren't going to let yourself be scared? Bradford can testify that I truly do denounce any reasoning that would allow me to walk through one of those without much clinging and shrieking. Not to mention the heap of entertainment for him as a product of that behavior...

And food! Thanks to the most recent Better Homes and Gardens magizine that was just bestowed to the doctors' office I work in, via the friendly postman, I have oodles of mouth-watering recipes and treats to try out. From pumpkin curry soup, spice-rubbed chicken to savory plum salad and chocolate cherry bread pudding... I think I will easily become a fan of the feasts of fall. Also, what fall is complete without several caramel popcorn balls and jugs of hot apple cider?! Come one, come all, I WILL be in the kitchen this season.

I hope that there are lots of fun parties and things going on... wait, this is Provo, land of the Cougars and home to BYU, of COURSE there will be parties, campus parties, community parties, ward parties, and hopefully a few parties by friends. Heck I may throw one myself if I feel ambitious enough. Now... what should Bradford and I dress up as if we need costumes? Hmm, that'll give me something to mull over.

Decorations! I want to do something fun in my apartment... maybe a fun squash arrangement or some fall leaves... There will definitely be scents of cinnamon and other delectable autumny smells to be had. Ooo! An autumn wreath on our door! Brilliant...

One of the canyons out here has what they call "The Alpine Loop." You go up one canyon and "loop" around the mountain and come out another canyon an along the way there are tons of aspen trees. They are gorgeous when they change color. They usually change pretty quickly though so you have to get up there at just the right time when they are at their most vibrant. I'm sure Bradford would love to go up with me and look at them and take some pictures. I also want to find a yard that needs to be raked so I can play in a pile of leaves. I loved it as a kid and and positive I would still find some kind of joy in it now.

With the days getting crisper, and whiffs of autumn in the air, Fall is going to be here before you can say Jack Robinson! So do something exciting to enjoy this wonderful season! Shower the kiddos with handfuls of candy come the 31st of October, try a fun recipe, sit outside and enjoy a beautiful afternoon with a good book. Let me know of plans you have so I can borrow your ideas and add them to my list.

Happy Fall everyone!!!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Ratatat-tatting

Last night Bradford and I went up to Salt Lake City to The Venue to watch a band Bradford recently discovered on Pandora and we both found it pretty cool. The band is Ratatat and they don't sing, its just all music full of synthesizers, some awesome guitar solos, and of course an electric keyboard and other doo-dads. It was so much fun! The Venue is a pretty small venue too so it made it even better. If I liked them before I think I love them now. But it will never be the same listening to them now that I've heard them live. It was SO incredibly good. The first two hours of the concert were torture though... there were two opening bands, and they were really not entertaining. The first one, E-rock I believe, was better than the second one, though still not what I would call good (Anyone that can use a Wiimote and nunchuck to digitally scratch though is considered pretty cool in my book.). We almost wanted to leave because the bands were draining our energy and excitement to see Ratatat and then they took the longest time to set up for Ratatat that we considered just going home. I'm glad we didn't. Ratatat's set was worth the wait. But next time, we'll probably show up an hour or two later so we don't have to deal with lame bands and wait time. Bradford used my camera to take some pictures and videos of the concert so I posted a few of them for anyone who wants a taste. (P.S. The video I was going to post was taking FOREVER to attach to my blog so I didn't end up posting it but I may try it again later.)


We got to go higher up (with a better, less obstructed, less crowded view) into the "lounge" part of the venue. It was a "21 and older" only section so it was the first time I've ever been IDed to get in somewhere. They had couches and an outside balcony and, of course, bars.

The keyboard guy was going nuts in all the songs, it was pretty hilarious to me for some reason. Maybe it was because his hair was a huge poof and it was fun to watch him fling it around...

These are some songs that I like a lot by them:

Falcon Jab http://www.box.net/shared/pncgik12g2

Wildcat http://www.box.net/shared/kby3rh338u (Bradford thinks they should play Wildcat at the BYU football games because it has a cougar-ish roar throughout it. Its fun).

Loud Pipes http://www.box.net/shared/k8pa53lc05

While we were waiting to go inside for the concert there was an old beardy guy standing by the crowd with a cello and he was playing all sorts of diddys on it. He was quite a character. Bradford and I decided that he's a bum because his under-appreciated musical genius drove him to insanity and forced him to the streets. We gave him a buck or so, as did a lot of other people. I bet he made a pretty good chunk of change that night. Ratatat should have had him open for them. I would have enjoyed listening to him more than the bands that did open.

We also went to Wal-Mart last night after the concert to get a few odds and ends and we FINALLY found Mario Kart for my Wii! I'm pretty excited to try it out. I love Mario Kart...

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Out of Order

I was just about to Google something (don't ask me what it is because even now, only 30 seconds later I can't remember) and I have that personalized Google page where you can have a calendar and daily quotes and a picture of an animated fox that changes with the time of day... This particular morning, as I was about to dive into the ever growing world that is the internet, one of the daily quotes on my page stuck out to me. Its by Richard Paul Evans and it says, "Everyone who got to where they are had to begin where they were." Now, this may not strike anyone else as profound, but it did me because it reverberated a theme that has been playing in my life the past week or so. That seems to happen alot. Quiet, sometimes unnoticeable, but meaningful principles will be patterned in clumps in my life, something kind of like this: I'll come upon a quote on my google page and then later have a conversation with a friend and the same topic seems to be an underlying theme and then later a talk in church will bring insights into the same concept even sometimes something in a book or in a movie will somehow hint at the very thing that is trying so desperately to get itself into my head. All these situations drive, subtley, a simple idea into my little brain. The principles behind these themes are always things I seem to be lacking in or things that will undeniably help me out a lot in life. Again, they are usually very simple things. Maybe I'm more simpleminded than I thought... (but don't get any ideas of now having free reign to call me a simpleton you clever folk out there).

Back to the quote that spurred this rambling entry. The theme this week seems to be (in case you didn't guess it already) a you-can't-get-to-your-super-large-and-super-great-goals-by-pretending-you're-further-than-you-are-and-then-trying-to-jump-from-extreme-to-extreme type of thing. For example, one of the things that sparked my realization that this was something that was trying to manifest itself to me happened yesterday. I was talking to Bradford about something and I said, "You need to stop worrying about trying to jump to the top of the stairs. Just take the next step up." Later that night as I was writing in my journal, it hit me how ironic it was that one of the things I needed to hear came out of my own mouth. There are no elevators to the top of our potential. You have to take the slow steady steps and get there the "hard" way. Its like every morning when I get to work, I always punch the elevator "up" button in hopes that it will appear soon so I don't have to trudge up the stairs in my heels. More often than not though waiting for the elevator to arrive and then move up to the 4th floor takes longer than just taking the stairs from the get go. Funny.

I also came to the perhaps obvious conclusion that the more little, short term goals (like making those couch pillows I've been planning for so long...) will make it even easier to have the endurance for those bigger goals (like my goal to be consistent in doing hobbies, not just in drawn out spurts). No one tackles Everest before ever having climbed anything else (pardon the cliche. But they are cliches for a reason...). Doi. It seems so obvious but I've tried so many times to hop my way over all those intermediate steps and somehow come up at the top landing. You're more likely to fall on your face when doing that than you are if you take each step at a time. Making your big goals a series of little goals.

I have goals. Maybe nothing that seems to be of great magnitude, but things like getting a Dental Hygiene degree (oh stop your gasping, I've always wanted to get a degree, the fear of debt just kept me out of school for a little while, I never intended to never go back). And littler goals like smiling at five people today when my initial reaction might be to growl at them. Its also funny because you think you can make plans and do things exactly how you plan them... I don't think that has ever been the case in my life. Sometimes accomplishing those goals require you to take a route that you may never have known existed when the goal was made, or had even considered an option for whatever reasons. It just goes to show that you can't do it all yourself. You aren't always right. You may have great ideas for yourself but the getting there is sometimes better done another way.

So it looks like I'm taking the stairs.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

One More!



One more card! I made this card last night. Its for my sister's birthday (mother of Emma).

Monday, August 18, 2008

Pulling Out the Spit Shine

Following in line with my new goal of trying to do more of the things I love as well as shining up some of those left-to-rust talents I know are lying around somewhere, I have rediscovered my love for making cards. I'm not much of a scrapbooker, mostly because it would take me forever to catch up to my current life in photos (maybe I'll start that up again when I have a family of my own...), so I have instead found that making birthday cards and thank you cards and a card for any reason at all really has been something I thoroughly enjoy and I've done a few that I'm pretty pleased with. I wish I had taken pictures of them all but I didn't think to start taking pictures of them until a couple months ago. Anyway, here are a few of the most recent ones I've done:

This is one I made for my sister's graduation.

This one was my Dad's Father's Day card.



This was a card I made to go with a baby present for a friend. (Its also probably my favorite. It took a long time to make but I had a lot of fun with it and it turned out pretty cute.)


This is the card I made Aimee for her college graduation.


This I made for my grandparents in California.



And this is my niece's birthday card. (Shh... don't tell Michelle... I haven't sent it off yet.)


They, aren't the best pictures in the world, but they give a taste of what I've been making. I like to have the pictures of the cards I've made so that I can see that I really can make a decent card (if I'm stumped or feeling discouraged on a particular card design), and also I can see progress I've made or reuse ideas if I'm feeling lazy :). Its really fun and surprisingly therapeutic. Some of them definitely are better than others but they have all been fun to create. I don't have a lot of tools, mostly just paper and scissors and a few add ons like ribbon and buttons, but the more I make the more I notice the things I'd like to get. Its kind of nice because when I started I didn't spend tons of money on tools and supplies that I'll never use but also sometimes frustrating because I can only do so much with the resources I have now and it takes a while to cut out letters and flowers and things. I'm going to keep a list though of the things I'd like to get and then slowly add on to my supplies.

Now... who's got a birthday coming up?

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

I Have Been Blessed

Today started out ok. I didn't get up early like I had planned and instead I rose out of bed at 7:00 from a very shallow and restless night's sleep. I did not feel refreshed at all but I scuffled to the bathroom, forcing my eyes open against the glaring lights and commenced the beautifying process. My hair was ok, my make up looked fine, I scrounged something out of my closet to wear that wasn't fabulous, but work appropriate and comfortable at least.

At work I set up for the day, had everything ready for the arriving patients, and waited for the day to begin. Its a Tuesday and Tuesdays are a lot less hectic than most so I started to write a card to my Grandpa and Grandma out in California who were angels and gave me a much needed loan for Dental Assisting School about a year and a half ago. Not long after I finished the note the first patient of the day arrived. I don't know why but I was in statue mode. Unfeeling, uncaring, and yes, maybe slightly curt. I had no reason to be, except I was tired and apparently didn't try at all to break myself out of that grumbly mood. The next few patients arrived and checked in and I went through the motions with barely more than a semi-friendly greeting and only addressing the necessary.

That's when Mr. Dobson came in. Mr. Dobson is a 75 yr.-old new patient and needed to have his insurance cards scanned, a packet of paperwork filled out, and apparently slowly repeated instructions. For some reason, especially in the mood that I was in, I expected to be irritated by this gentleman's requirement of patience. Instead I felt the exact opposite toward him, much to my astonishment. My spirits glowed faintly brighter when he stepped up to my desk. Mr. Dobson does not write well. It took him a full 3 minutes to sign his name and date on the sign in sheet and he mistook his friend's business card for his insurance card, and he very seriously told me that he wasn't able to write when I handed him the paperwork. He asked if I could fill it out for him and I surprised myself by saying, "Yes, of course I can do that for you," before I even had a chance to think about how inconvenient it was for my schedule... (it was a very self centered start this morning...). I grabbed my favorite pen and the clipboard of paperwork and then Mr. Dobson and I sat on one of the couches in the waiting room and I read him the paperwork as he gave me the appropriate information I needed to fill in. Throughout the course of the venture I learned that Mr. Dobson is a widower from Washington who, at the age of five, had an iron accidentally dropped on his face, smashing the bones across his nose and sinuses. Unfortunately, at that time, there wasn't the resources to surgically correct his injury and he was left to the mercy of mother nature to heal on his own. What they didn't know, what no one could really have known, was that due to that injury 70 years ago, Mr. Dobson was to suffer a myriad of health issues, from skin cancer, a kidney transplant, heart problems, a foot long and very protruding hernia, to severe sinus infections and fevers, all stemmed from that one incident as a child, believe it or not.

I don't remember exactly how it happened but somehow I mentioned that he had a good life despite it all. He very assuredly agreed with me and affirmed that he indeed had a very fulfilling life and a wonderful family, and with tears in his eyes he said that he was glad for the life he's had and grateful for the things he's been able to expereince. He said that now, he's ready to go home though, and he's just waiting for when the Lord is ready for him. It wasn't sad though. It was such a peaceful statement. He's lived and he's ready now to go home. With no hesitations. What a wonderful way to "end" life!

Mr. Dobson touched my heart today in a way that I don't think I'll ever forget. After we'd finished his paperwork and chatted for a little while longer I decided I needed to pull myself from this wonderful man's presence, stop any tears that were welling, and come back to my responsibilities. As I walked to my desk I noticed my step was lighter. When the next patient checked in I was warm and congenial. When I answered the phone I had a smile in my voice. Little common annoyances that have always been in the workplace were evaporated. This sweet, unfortunate man, was my angel today. He cured me out of my selfish mood. He resolved me to a better outlook.

Since then I have noticed the blessings more acutely in my life, even the ones in just today. I recieved a raise at work, as well as an unexpected bonus just for a job well done. A man came and brought me handfuls of goodies because, "receptionists just don't get appreciated enough." My wonderful, amazing boyfriend has made me feel so loved and cherished. I am healthy and strong without any physical defects to speak of. I have a great job in just about every aspect of it. I have a wonderful family and friends that have loved me despite everything I may or may not have done. I am blessed. Anything I have to complain about is a factor of my own making or my own selfishness. I need to always remember dear Mr. Dobson and the lesson and feelings he has brought to me.

Thank you Mr. Dobson and I wish you a smooth transition back to your sweetheart.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise

I am very pleased to announce that my pants no longer squish into the sides of my waist and my thighs aren't as wiggly-jiggly as they were once upon a few weeks ago. A few weeks ago! Already I am seeing some very likable results. This program is proving to be very impressive.

I have only worked out once this week thus far (as you can see on my handy-dandy calendar over yonder), which just means that my goal of four days a week has no more freebie days to spare. But that's ok! I will do it. What I really need to make myself do is wake up an hour or so earlier in the mornings and do it before work. I know Bradford is reading this, nodding his head, thinking something along the lines of, "That's what I've been saying this whole time you crazy girl!" and I know! You're so right Bradford, but I am so very terrible at getting myself out of bed in the morning to do anything other than shower and get ready for work... sometimes even without the shower part... but it is something that I will keep working towards. My dad can testify of my challenge with early mornings. From paper routes to early morning seminary I was a force to reckon with if anyone so much as dared to try and wake me up without my being ready to be woken, not that I was ever ready... I'll keep setting that alarm though and keep on trying to roll out of bed sooner. I know it is good for me. The few times I have actually succeeded in doing so, my days have been more productive and smooth and more positive overall. Good ol' Ben Franklin wasn't lying.

I tried another recipe on Tuesday night and it turned out pretty well. It was a breaded, baked, perch dish and I made sauteed squash and a fresh vegetable salad to go alongside it. I've never had perch before and it was a risk since my liking for fish has only been a recent development, but even Kathi, who doesn't like fish very well at all, ate it and seemed to like it ok. I forget how small perch is though so only four filets made a light meal for Bradford, Kathi, and me. Next time I'll make a few more. Everything tasted pretty good and the recipes are pretty simple. It was a pretty fast meal too, it didn't take more than 30 minutes to make it all. I'll post the recipes a little later, maybe this evening after work, and add my suggestions for alterations as well.

Anyone who read my previous post I hope didn't feel that I was more low than I was trying to express. It has merely been a more laziness on my part than anything else. I've not been not doing the things I love and know would be productive and gratifying to me. Instead I have opted to just sit in front of the TV when I get off of work until I decide its time for bed rather than do things like clean or make a card for someone or read a good book or exercise... simple things, but good things. I was just observing that my life was a reflection of the old adage, "Old habits die hard." Thank you for all of your concerns and thoughtfulness though. I'm grateful for everyone's input and support! I know we've all felt this way one time or another. Its good to know I'm normal :).

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Running Circles

For starters, this P90X thing is really working. I've only done it for about a week now, but it has been working me out. Last Thursday I did the "Plyometrix" workout and it tore me up. I could barely walk for the next two days. It was pathetic. But obviously that means its doing something right? Next time that particular workout comes around though I think I won't push myself so hard. I can't remember a time I've ever felt that sore!

Lately I've been feeling pretty mellow. It seems to be a common emotion for me the past few years. I don't really feel sad, sometimes I do, but for the most part its just mellow. Its more a state of being, actually, than an emotion. Maybe I'm not doing enough in my life to feel that sense of fulfillment that maybe I'm subconsciously craving? I don't know... probably. I guess I don't live enough for the present. I'm too concerned about what I haven't done in days gone by or what I dream about doing in the future that I end up just sitting around in the mud not really doing anything for today. I get stuck in a melancholy, unproductive state of being. Even writing this I can feel something stirring inside of me with discomfort at the very thought of me wasting all this time that I could have been doing something meaningful with. I'm not content with mediocrity, but I think that maybe the past few years of my life have kind of shown otherwise. Maybe that's where my mild frustration lies. My outer sphere of life, the life that everyone around me can see me in and the life that my actions (or lack thereof) reflect, is so conflicting with my true desires. I guess the "real me," for want of a better phrase, is still struggling to surface through.

And yet, I know what the cure is: Quit feeling so blah and start doing something with my life. Quit letting old, hard dying habits rule my life! Quit writing about it and talking about it and just do. I won't be perfect. I will probably relapse many times and feel this same sort of state of being all over again, but I will do something today. Something that will make me feel good and like a consequential individual.

Just one day at a time...

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Week Gone By

I haven't posted anything for about a week and I had another recipe test for dinner last night but part of me doesn't want this blog to become just a bunch of relatings about me trying out recipes and what I think about them... its all well and good, but, there has GOT to be something a little more blogworthy in my life than me eating dinner. So, for the sake of proving to myself that I'm not desperate and I don't have to resort to recipe analyzing just to write an entry about my life, I am not going to divulge the sub-par parmesean chicken recipe I tried (partly because it was sub-par and also because I will not be dependent on those experiences to make sure I have regular entries) and will instead write about something... else.

Its funny, I started out writing this particular entry having something somewhat in mind to write about that didn't invole a frying pan and now, after all that, all I can think about is why I didn't take the stinking foil off the chicken halfway through its baking like I'd planned... Give me a minute and I'll dig out something un-food related.

Ok, I'm going to slightly milk Bradford's most recent entry topic and tell about my own resolve to try out a new workout regimen. I have always felt the desire to be in shape but, like most people, I do well for a week or two and then for about a month I drop out of the exercise realm altogether until I catch a glimpse of my thigh in the mirror or some other body part that should not be that bulgy. Laugh all you want, I know I'm not a large person in the grand scheme of things but I am definitely not in as good of shape as I know I can and want to be. My metabolism is slowing, believe it or not friends. I am really excited to start this P90X thing. Despite the fact that it somewhat terrifies me for how intense it is, the little I have expereienced of it has proven to me that this is a no nonsense program that has every promise of helping me get and stay fit. Its going to kick my butt but I will garuntee you that while doing so it is going to make that butt come out looking better than ever.

One thing I've found that I really like about this P90X program is that it IS really hard but the Tony guy, or whatever his name is, that hosts the program really emphasizes pushing yourself and doing good reps but not overdoing it "take a break if you need to, we'll be here when you get back" is common to hear throughout the programs. I like that because I can do what I can and still have room to grow. So the program will give me something to work up to and I won't grow out of it very quickly and when I'm (cross-your-fingers) more fit and active, I can still use this program to keep challenging and toning my new bod. Hopefully it will help me create a new healthy habit that will stick with me throughout the rest of my life too. I have a feeling that I'll stick with this for longer than I've stuck with most things. Not only because I'm doing it with Bradford and accountability has an uncanny way of motivating me, but also because my hiney will be awfully glad too.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Good Eats

Yesterday I realized again that I like to cook! Its been too long since I've actually pulled out a recipe and made something. Recently, however, I have felt the desire to be healthier in my lifestyle and eating well is obviously a part of that. My roommate and I have decided to trade off nights to cook dinner. I pulled out my collection of long accumulated recipes and chose about four to buy ingredients for and I made up a shopping list for what I needed and after work yesterday we stopped at good ol' Maceys and loaded up on some foods. Eighty-seven dollars later I had a nice myriad of resources to put my creativity into some intriguing recipes. As I was planning my day, I had everything worked out for when we would get home from the grocery store and how long it would take me to make dinner and then exactly what time we would sit down to eat and then when we would be done so Bradford and I could get to our 7:30 appointment. Needless to say, nothing stuck to the schedule like it should have and I was only barely able to get everything done in time for us to only be 20 minutes late... whoops. Regardless, it came out pretty well I must say. Bradford, my darling boyfriend/best friend in the entire world, and Kathi, my previously mentioned roommate, were donned my critics for the meal. However I think I was the harshest crtic overall. The meal included a main dish of honey mustard chicken breasts, a basil, mint, and fresh green bean salad, and some french bread. I figured I'd share the recipes since that seems to be common blogger ettiquette:

HONEY MUSTARD CHICKEN
1/3 cup dijon mustard (I just used whatever mustard we had in the fridge)
1/4 cup honey
2 Tbsp. mayonnaise (I had Miracle Whip so I just used that)
1 tsp. steak sauce
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves

Preheat the grill for medium heat.

In a shallow bowl, mix the mustard, honey, mayonnaise, and steak sauce. Set aside a small amount of the honey mustard sauce for basting, and dip the chicken into the remaining sauce to coat.

Lightly oil the grill grate. Grill chicken over indirect heat for 18 to 20 minutes, turning occasionally, or until juices run clear. Baste occasionally with the reserved sauce during the last 10 minutes.

*I don't have a grill so I did it in a frying pan over med-low heat and just basted the chicken every so often. I used a lid too to keep in as much moisture as I could. It made for a nice sauce to serve the chicken with too so that was a plus.


BASIL, MINT, AND FRESH GREEN BEAN SALAD
(I don't have the salad recipe on me, but it was pretty simple and I can remember it I think... here it goes!)
6 cups water (its just to cook the beans in so I didn't measure how much water I used. just enough to boil the beans)
1 lb. fresh green beans, trimmed if preferred
1/2 cup shredded fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup shredded fresh mint leaves
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 small sweet red pepper chopped
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. salt (I used a salt/herb mix that I had in my spice cabinet)
*I also added some edamame because Bradford likes protein and I was introducing a new option for him to get some more of it. I probably used about 1 1/2 cups? I didn't measure, I just added some until it looked good.
*I also used spinach to make it more substantial because the leafiness seemed a little scarce to me, plus it was on sale for 69 cents a bag :)
**I also didn't measure the mint and Basil, nor did I shred them. I just did what I thought looked right. And I lied. I did tear up the mint now that I think of it, but not the basil.

Bring the water to a boil in a large sauce pan. Add the green beans, and bring to a boil again (I also added the edamame at this point.) Reduce heat to a simmer for 7-8 minutes or until beans are crisp-tender (whatever that means...). Add garlic to last minute or so of simmering. While beans are simmering, toss leafies, and red pepper in a large bowl. Once beans are ready, drain and toss into the other ingredients (I also ran cold water over them until they were cool so that they didn't wilt the other stuff). Then add olive oil and salt (I ended up using about three tablespoons of olive oil to compensate for the spinach and I didn't measure the salt...). Mix until coated.
*I also stuck the bowl of salad in the freezer for a few moments while I was getting everything else out onto the table, to give it a slight cool.

The last thing I did was the bread. I would have loved to try my hand at making some French bread from scratch but given my time crunch I opted to just buy a ready made loaf at the bakery and then I sliced it up in about 1 inch thickness, and laid them on a cookie sheet. Then I melted some butter, drizzled it over the peices, sprinkled some shredded parmasean (not the powdery stuff), sprinkled some garlic powder, and then some dried parsley. I was going to use fresh parsley but its a lot more potent than the dried stuff and I didn't want it to conflict with the basil and mint in the salad. I would have just left it off altogether but the parsley added a nice color. Then I set the oven on broil and put them slices in for probably 3-4 minutes and they were perfect.

It took a total of approximately 45 minutes to make everything. Even though I got clock-shock toward the end, which meant I forgot to add the garlic to the simmering beans (so I just added it straight into the salad and it ended up being fine), and I forgot to turn the oven on to broil so the bread was just sitting there for a while (good thing it didn't take very long to toast! we just had to have it half way in to our eating... but it was good!) it was a pretty darn good meal. And if my camera wasn't charging at the time I would have taken a picture. It looked pretty and colorful on our plates.

We all agreed that I should have taken the soy beans out of their pods (Duh), because it made for a not-so-enjoyable toughness in the salad (we ended up taking them out individually ourselves as we ate, and it actually added a lot to the whole asthetic appeal of the salad). And, of course, the chicken was a little dry. Next time, when I have more time allotted to cook, I'll bake it to keep it juicier. Other than that there were no complaints. Bradford gave the chicken's sauce 5 out of 5 stars, the chicken itself 3 1/2 stars (because of the slight dryness), and he said he would have liked the green beans to be cut in half because they were so long. I kinda liked how they looked though with their length, but it would have made them easier to consume if they were cut. I would have added some of that shredded parmasean cheese I used on the bread to put on the salad if I'd had a moment to think about it. That would have been yummy. Or maybe even some crumbled feta or something. I also should have trimmed off the very ends of the beans because they were like eating grass... All in all though, the salad was really tasty, I loved the zestiness of the mint and basil, and the bread was great (you can't really go wrong with garlic bread), and the chicken with its kinda musky mustardy flavor was really a good compliment of flavors to the unique variety in the salad. These are some dishes I will definitely make again.

I'm looking forward to continuing this cooking idea. It not only provides me with better nutrition but it also makes me feel a small sense of accomplishment which is always greatly appreciated. I'll keep adding the recipes and let you know how they all work out, the good and the bad.

Now... next time its my turn I think I'm going tackle a seafood pasta dish... any suggestions for sides?

Monday, July 14, 2008

Chaff and Grain

I love being loved. Really loved, in that unique way that only a few seem to be capable of. Knowing that there is someone in the world that truly loves and enjoys me with all my ins and outs and ups and downs, I can't imagine anything more satisfying. Its like, an external part of me. A part that is me but isn't at the same time. Its incredible having someone that can get into my brain and mull around in it with me. Yet we're still seperate entities. With seperate emotions and reactions and thinkings. I love it . Everything about it. Now... the only thing that's missing is the hardware. Oh you know I'm teasing... kind of.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Commencing the Bloggage

I had all sorts of fun setting up my blog. Choosing a background, thinking of something semi-clever for a title and theme... And then, after all those preliminary steps were taken, I had no idea what to even write as my first posted blog. So, here is to blogging and hopes for something significant or blog worthy to appear into my brain. Cheers and happy blogging all.