Friday, April 29, 2011

Weekly Gratitude

This week, I think we all have a lot be thankful for. I am as excited as the next girl about the Royal Wedding, I really am. And by the time this post goes up, it will have already happened and we will have seen Catherine (née Kate) in her dress and I'm sure it will all have been very lovely.  As much as I want to ohhh and ahhh over all of that on this blog, the recent devastating weather in the south has kind of grabbed my attention at this point.

On Wednesday, some of the deadliest tornadoes ever hit several states all across the south. CNN currently estimates that over 300 people were killed in these storms.  It is kind of difficult for me to even fathom that. This week, I am grateful that all of my family members and friends are safe and were unharmed in this terrible systems of storms. 

As much as I talk about disliking Alabama fans when it comes to SEC football, when I look at the images coming out of Tuscaloosa it just makes me incredibly sad and my heart brakes for people there.  Today, please say a prayer for and send good thoughts to the people all across the country who have lost a loved one in these storms, lost a "furry" family member, or lost their home or other property. 

Monday, April 25, 2011

Weekend Recap

So, I spent the majority of my weekend in bed trying to get some rest so I can quickly recover from this cold.  Big thanks to those who left me comments on your best cold remedies!!

I am happy to report that I'm feeling a lot better, although not totally 100% yet.  I had to cancel my fun Friday night plans because I just wasn't feeling well and I didn't want to get my friend sick. But, I was able to go to a birthday party/ bar-b-que for a friend Saturday. It was so fun. Nice and low-key- my kind of birthday party.  My friend's roommates did a big cook out where they bought the "meat" and the guests brought sides.  I brought this potato salad recipe from Ina Garten. It was REALLY good. I highly recommend it.  It's made with olive oil, lemon juice, white wine and some other ingredients, plus fresh herbs. It tastes really fresh, not like the typical gloppy mayonnaise potato salads (although those can be good, too).  I didn't take any pictures, so here's a picture from the food network site. (By the way, I didn't put in the red onion and it wasn't missed.)

I spent the majority of the day today resting and reading for a class. I'm reading this book:
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The writing is not the best, but I guess it is typical for a non-fiction biography-style book on leadership style.  It is great, though, for anecdotes based on Eleanor's life, rather than being heavily intertwined with stories about FDR as well.  I'd recommend the book to any ER fans out there! 

Lastly, are you a fan of Brothers & Sisters? 
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After lagging for a while, it is getting GOOD again, in my opinion, anyway. It is like all the Walkers are back to their old ways. 

Have a great week! 

Friday, April 22, 2011

Weekly Gratitude Post #6

I'm thankful this week that I heard some great news from my friend, Laura.  She got a new job! Congratulations, Laura! Now, I have a handful of other friends who need jobs too! Let's all send good thoughts their way. (My way too!)

I'm thankful that this was my last full week of classes! I have one class left on Monday.  I almost can't believe I survived the semester overloaded on hours. I have to say, it wasn't as terrible as everyone said it would be.  I'm crossing my fingers for good grades and that the last couple of projects I have due will go well.

I'm thankful that even though I am sick this week, I have the means to buy medicine. A simple cold is nothing compared to what so many people are going through all over the world, and many people are dealing with much more significant illnesses without medicines or treatments.
As soon as I saw Eliza sleeping like this, it reminded me of this scene from Breakfast at Tiffany's. 
I am thankful for my sweet puppy dog. She really is a sweetheart and she is one of my best friends.

I am thankful that the Royal Wedding is ONE WEEK AWAY. People are you excited out there in blogger land?! 

I am thankful that I have some fun plans with friends this weekend. I just hope I feel up to it.

Lastly, I am thankful that it is FRIDAY! 

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Spring Cold

Well... it is official. I am sick. 

For the past couple of days, I kept sneezing a lot. I just chocked it up to all the pollen in the air.  And then, yesterday afternoon, my throat started to feel sore during class.

And by the time I went to bed last night I felt worse. And I woke up this morning still feeling worse.

BLEGH.  

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The one thing I can say is, I'm glad I got sick right now (if I had to get sick, I mean). This is my last week of classes (+ one on Monday) and I have very little due in the next week.  Plus, since I'm job hunting (but not working very much) I actually do have time to rest right now, which is nice. Also, I had an interview yesterday and the symptoms got worse IMMEDIATELY after the interview.  Which I am also glad about- glad that they held off, anyway. 




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So anyway, I went to CVS today looking like death warmed up and bought Smart Water (water + electrolytes), Mucinex-D and some throat lozenges.  I know the best cure for a cold is lots of fluids and rest- but I just wish there was something BETTER, you know?  Isn't it amazing how one little cold can kick you in the arse and make you feel like a whiny five-year old? 

What are your tips for recovering from a cold? 

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Bossypants

So, you might have heard by now that Tina Fey released her first book, Bossypants.
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I am not normally a fan of celebrity writers.  I mean, as much as I like Tori Spelling's reality shows, I have no interest in reading her books. And as much as I love Mean Girls, I really had no desire to read Tina Fey's book either.  Just not my preferred genre. And then I saw this poem that has been making its way around the internet. It is called "The Mother's Prayer for Its Daughter."  It is very smart and funny, so I thought I would share. I bolded my favorite part. Enjoy! 

First, Lord: No tattoos. May neither Chinese symbol for truth nor Winnie-the-Pooh holding the FSU logo stain her tender haunches.
May she be Beautiful but not Damaged, for it’s the Damage that draws the creepy soccer coach’s eye, not the Beauty.
When the Crystal Meth is offered, May she remember the parents who cut her grapes in half And stick with Beer.
Guide her, protect her
When crossing the street, stepping onto boats, swimming in the ocean, swimming in pools, walking near pools, standing on the subway platform, crossing 86th Street, stepping off of boats, using mall restrooms, getting on and off escalators, driving on country roads while arguing, leaning on large windows, walking in parking lots, riding Ferris wheels, roller-coasters, log flumes, or anything called “Hell Drop,” “Tower of Torture,” or “The Death Spiral Rock ‘N Zero G Roll featuring Aerosmith,” and standing on any kind of balcony ever, anywhere, at any age.
Lead her away from Acting but not all the way to Finance. Something where she can make her own hours but still feel intellectually fulfilled and get outside sometimes And not have to wear high heels.
What would that be, Lord? Architecture? Midwifery? Golf course design? I’m asking You, because if I knew, I’d be doing it, Youdammit.
May she play the Drums to the fiery rhythm of her Own Heart with the sinewy strength of her Own Arms, so she need Not Lie With Drummers.
Grant her a Rough Patch from twelve to seventeen. Let her draw horses and be interested in Barbies for much too long, For childhood is short – a Tiger Flower blooming Magenta for one day – And adulthood is long and dry-humping in cars will wait.
O Lord, break the Internet forever, That she may be spared the misspelled invective of her peers And the online marketing campaign for Rape Hostel V: Girls Just Wanna Get Stabbed.
And when she one day turns on me and calls me a Bitch in front of Hollister, Give me the strength, Lord, to yank her directly into a cab in front of her friends, For I will not have that Shit. I will not have it.
And should she choose to be a Mother one day, be my eyes, Lord, that I may see her, lying on a blanket on the floor at 4:50 A.M., all-at-once exhausted, bored, and in love with the little creature whose poop is leaking up its back.
“My mother did this for me once,” she will realize as she cleans feces off her baby’s neck. “My mother did this for me.” And the delayed gratitude will wash over her as it does each generation and she will make a Mental Note to call me. And she will forget. But I’ll know, because I peeped it with Your God eyes.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

I Bet You Didn't Know

So, today I thought I'd share some random things you probably didn't know about me.

1. I love pepper.  I hate arugula.
Which, should strike you as strange if you watch cooking shows where they are constantly referring to arugula as "peppery."  I also LOVE spinach- which seems like it would be really similar to arugula? I don't understand myself sometimes.

2. I love to go bowling, although i'm not extremely good at it.

3. I love board games. I think this is due to my only-childness and the fact that I rarely had other people to play board games with.  My FAV is trivial pursuit.
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4. I bought Julia Child's two volumes on Mastering the Art of French Cooking with the plan to make one recipe per week. And then I read it (well... not cover to cover obviously). Just a word to the wise, cook books have change a lot in the last 50 years.
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See? Very different from cookbooks you'll find on the shelves today.

5. I think the most important rule in life is to do unto other as you would have them do unto you.
Definitely cheesy. Definitely useful.

6. I had a pacifier until I was a kid- like a full-grown kid. Not a baby.
But you know what? I turned out okay, and it really didn't harm me that much (except for the overbite thing that was later corrected with braces... but I probably would've needed braces anyway, right?).

7.  I wrote my undergraduate thesis in French.
Oh yeah, I did.  It was FAR from perfect French OR perfect research, but I still learned a lot.

8. I do not understand extreme couponing.
Is couponing helpful? Yes. Taking it to the level of having a room in your home devoted to your 30+ year stock-pile of supplies that you acquired from your extreme couponing? I don't get it. 
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9.  I love The Judds.
I grew up as a kid listening to The Judds and loving every single song! 
I even had their farewell concert on VHS (Image below from that concert, duh!). Oh yes I did. I can also vividly remember being SO MAD that when their farewell concert came to our city, my dad took my mom! I mean of all people! I was the ULTIMATE 4 year old Judds fan and I didn't get to go. I'm still a little jealous about that.
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By the way- I don't have OWN on my tv, so I can't watch their new reality docu-series. Total downer.

10. I love to fold laundry- especially towels warm out of the dryer. 
I don't love to "do" laundry, but I do love to fold it. Weird but true. 

Well, that was sufficiently random. Happy Tuesday! 

Monday, April 18, 2011

Work It Out

A couple of weeks ago I made a commitment to start working out again. During my senior year in college, I did pretty well with working out and i've always had a consistent off-on relationship with it.  What I mean is, I went through slumps with working out but always got back to it eventually.

Well, when I moved to DC last summer, I didn't have access to a good gym until school started in September (paying tuition = access to the wellness center). The problem is, the wellness center is a little over 2 miles away from my apartment, and the best way to get there is by walking.  So, for a while, I used that as an excuse not to go.  Well, not anymore.  Now I am trying to make a better effort to get to the wellness center (or work out with my friend who lives around the corner in a building with a gym) at least three or four times a week.  

I thought it would be fun to share some of my favorite work out songs.  I also need some new songs to work out to- so if you have any suggestions please let me know!


A friend also recently advised me that with some cable plans, you can access free exercise programs on-demand. I never even accessed the on-demand feature of my cable because I thought that it all cost money. So, this past week I tried Jillian Michaels 30-Day Shred. 


Holy. Cow. Yall.  I only did 17 minutes because I accidentally hit the wrong button on my remote. And then I was IN PAIN for two days. Like couldn't sit down without intense pain.  So, I guess that means this thing works? I'm definitely going to give it another chance.  But word to the wise: Jillian means business. She is a little bit ruthless in the program, but I guess some of us need tough love.

Do you have any favorite workout plans? Songs? At-home workout tips?

Friday, April 15, 2011

Weekly Gratitude Post #5

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I am thankful for spring this week. For the beautiful weather, the tulips, and that people in D.C. just seem to be happier in general.  Please check out those tulip fields in the picture. Amazing. 

I'm thankful that this semester is almost over and that it has gone pretty well. Fingers crossed that it will end well for me.

I'm thankful for online shopping. Because when you live in a big city without a car, certain things are difficult to get.  Like dog food for example. 

I'm thankful for a computer that works well and helps me get my to-do list done.

I'm thankful for g-chat and for the friends who are on it all the time.  A special shout-out to Laura who helped me with a resume and cover letter this week.

I'm thankful for my dog Eliza. I'm hoping that our trip home in a couple of weeks goes smoothly. 

I'm thankful for a weekend with no plans. I hope I can get some school work done and get my apartment straightened out.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Chile Con Queso via Eating Well

A healthy cheese dip recipe? Could it be?  Really? Truly?

It is true, my friends!  This cheese dip recipe is not as completely satisfying as that sinful kind you get at your favorite tex-mex joint.  But it is good, and it is good enough to satisfy your craving without massive amounts of guilt!

Here are a couple of my notes before I get into the official recipe.
1. Buy block cheese and finely shred it before you begin, This is less expensive than buying pre-shredded.
2. I left out the pale ale because it was $6 for the smallest amount at Whole Foods and that just wasn't cutting it for me.  So if you try this with the pale ale, let me know. 
3.  I think next time, I will change up the cheeses and see what happens.  I think I might also toss in a jalapeno next time to liven it up a little bit. 
4. I also think next time, I might tone down the corn starch. the dip was a little thicker than I like it.
5. This did not keep that well for me. It was good when I first made it, but the next day the smell was a little "off." Maybe I was just being weird that day... but I say next time i'll make less or plan on having people over.


INGREDIENTS
         2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
         1 medium onion, chopped
         2 cloves garlic, minced
         1/2 cup pale ale, or other light-colored beer
         1 1/2 cups low-fat milk, divided
         3 tablespoons cornstarch
         1 3/4 cups shredded sharp Cheddar, preferably orange
         1 10-ounce can diced tomatoes with green chiles, (see Note), drained, or 1 1/4 cups drained petite-diced tomatoes
         2 tablespoons lime juice
         1 teaspoon salt
         1 teaspoon chili powder
         Cayenne pepper, to taste (optional)
         1/4 cup sliced scallions
         2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
        
PREPARATION
Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring, until soft and beginning to brown, 4 to 5 minutes. 
Add beer and cook until reduced slightly, about 1 minute. Add 1 cup milk and bring to a simmer.
Meanwhile, whisk the remaining 1/2 cup milk and cornstarch in a small bowl. Add to the pan and cook, stirring vigorously, until bubbling and thickened, 1 to 2 minutes. 

Reduce heat to low, add cheese and cook, stirring, until melted. Stir in drained tomatoes, lime juice, salt, chili powder and cayenne (if using). Serve warm, garnished with scallions and cilantro.
TIPS & NOTES
         Make Ahead Tip: Cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Slowly reheat on the stove over medium heat or on Medium in the microwave.
         Note: We like the flavor of Rotel brand diced tomatoes with green chiles the best in this dip. Choose original or mild, depending on your spice preference.
NUTRITION
Per 1/4-cup serving: 84 calories; 5 g fat ( 3 g sat , 2 g mono ); 14 mg cholesterol; 5 g carbohydrates; 4 g protein; 0 g fiber; 307 mg sodium; 36 mg potassium.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Traveling with Pets Part I

I have a couple of weeks off between the end of the spring semester and the beginning of the summer semester, so I decided to book a trip home (to Tennessee) to get some things at home organized and taken care of.  For fellow recent college grads or anyone who still has a room "at home" meaning your parent's home, you will understand what I mean when I say that I still have some things of mine there, and they are completely unorganized and messy.  It isn't a pretty site.

Anyway, because I'm planning to go for longer than a weekend, I'll be bringing little Miss Eliza with me.

I'm pretty nervous about this, and if I had the choice, I would leave her in D.C.  However, leaving her for an extended period is not something I'm willing to do. 

Since I'll be flying, there are several factors that I know have already impacted our trip.
1. Flying with a pet on the airline I'll be using is $125. Each way. This is for the pet to be in the cabin with you- under the seat in front of you.
(Does that strike anyone else as a little bit high?)
2. I will be flying non-stop because the idea of flying with a pet stresses me out enough as it is without connections being a factor.
3.  I will need a pet carrier for le puppy dog.  I'm considering several options right now.  If anyone has travelled with a pet and has an opinion about any of these, I would really, really appreciate it. 

This is the Bergan Pet Carrier. It is $29.99 at amazon. 

This is the Sherpa Bag Pet Carrier. It is a pricer $65.00 at amazon. 

4.  I'm considering buying some type of calming agent to give her.  In the past, she's been given Benadryl for her allergies or other illnesses and this has made her sleepy.  I'm considering doing that again, but would also like to consider other options.  I will be seeking our vet's advice on this subject.

Nutri-Vet Pet-Ease Wafers. $6.29 for 8 ounces. 
Have you ever used anything like this for your dog? How did it work for him/her? 

Thanks in advance for any advice you can provide on this topic!  You may have noticed I titled this post "Part I" and that is because I plan on posting an update once we've travelled so that I can provide advice to anyone out there who might be considering a trip with their pet(s)! 

Monday, April 11, 2011

Delicious Banana Bread Recipe

This recipe for banana bread is guaranteed to knock your socks off!  It is seriously SO GOOD.

Here's what you'll need:
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 eggs
1 1/4 cups vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 (8 ounce) can crushed pineapple, drained
2 cups mashed ripe bananas (I used 2 bananas)
1 cup walnuts (optional)

First, you'll need to mash up the bananas. 

 In a large bowl, combine the four, sugar, salt, baking soda and cinnamon.  Set aside.

In another bowl, beat the eggs, oil and vanilla; add pineapple and bananas (and walnuts if you choose to add them). 


Stir into the dry ingredients just until moistened.


     Pour into two well greased loaf pans.  I just used the sizes that I had. 
     Bake at 350 for 55-65 minutes.  The pan on the left took 55 minutes because it is wider. The pan on the right took 65 minutes. 
    Let cool in pan for 10-15 minutes, then transfer to wire racks to finish cooling.
     Cut into slices and enjoy! This bread travelled really well for me just wrapped in plastic wrap and then aluminum foil.  It got great reviews! 

    Thursday, April 7, 2011

    NYT: A Place for the Imperfect

    This morning, an article in The New York times titled "A New Cottage in New Orleans With 'Katrina Patina'" caught my eye. 

    The article highlight the story of a couple who lost their home in Katrina in 2005. After many struggles (as you can probably imagine) they rebuilt a beautiful home on their property.  
    Source
    What's more, Ms. Gentinetta (pictured above) decorated the entire house for $12,477 (excluding appliances and electronics).  That's pretty amazing if you ask me. Even more amazing once you visit the NYT picture gallery and see how beautiful their home is!  It looks like it came out of the pages of a magazine.  She has some great ideas for beautiful furniture and accents on a budget.  Just thought I would share this inspirational story today! 

    Monday, April 4, 2011

    Things I'm Loving Right Now

    I finally figured out how to get to the Jefferson Memorial on foot. Go me! I even took pictures to prove it. But I'm not going to post them right now. But maybe I will someday...
    P.S. Why isn't there a metro or bus stop closer to the memorial? D.C. definitely fails in making it easy on you to get to many of the monuments. I guess most tourists use those tour bus things, but dang. Can't a regular person get to the monuments without shelling out $30?

    Speaking of the Jefferson Memorial, I am really enjoying all the Cherry Blossoms in D.C.  I did not, however, enjoy fighting all the tourists when I tried to go to the tidal basin the other day. I guess people are just trying to enjoy the scenery but my gosh, I felt like there was a competition to see who could walk the slowest while maintaing forward motion. Sheesh.

    Okay... off my soapbox now.

    I'm absolutely loving everything in this etsy shop, especially these earrings. Which reminds me, I have some stuff to do for work...
    Love, love, love.
    Have you ever heard of eShakti? My friend Emily introduced me to it about a week ago. It is a site that has dresses from size 0 to 26. The dresses are also customizable, if you want to change them. You can change the sleeve style and the length of the dress.  Pretty cool, huh? 
    Flutter Sleeve Dress, $59.95
    I'm also loving this skirt from Talbots, but given budget constraints, I definitely won't be buying it anytime soon (or much else for that matter...), but somehow that doesn't keep me from online browsing.

    Check out this picture of my aunt's dog. Is he not the greatest?  He is seriously the friendliest dog I've ever met.

    Lastly, I made some banana bread this weekend that turned out to be epic. I'll be posting the recipe soon. Get excited, folks!