Stuffed Red Peppers

29 January 2010

Sorry it's been so long since I last posted a recipe on here. Sometimes it just slips my mind... oops!

This is a recipe for red peppers that I made with Noah

3/4 cup of rice
4 large red bell peppers
2 tbsp olive oil
1 clove of garlic, chopped
4 shallots, chopped (or 1 1/2 onions)
1 celery stalk, chopped
3 tbsp chopped toasted walnuts
2 tomatoes, peeled and chopped
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/3 cup of raisins
4 tbsp freshly grated cheddar cheese
2 tbsp chopped basil
salt and pepper

1. Cook the rice in a pan of lightly salted boiling water for 20 minutes. Drain, rinse under cold running water, then drain again.

2. Using a sharp knife, cute the tops off the bell peppers and set aside. Remove the seeds and white cores, then blanch the bell peppers and reserved tops in boiling water for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and drain well. Heat half the oil in a large skillet. Add the garlic and shallots and cook, stirring, for about 3 minutes. Add the celery, walnuts, tomatoes, lemon juice, and raisins and cook for an additional five minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the cheese, chopped basil, salt and pepper.

3. Mix all together, stuff the bell peppers with the rice mixture and arrange them in a baking dish. Place the tops on the bell peppers, drizzle over the remaining oil, loosely cover with foil, and bake in a preheated oven, 350 degrees F for 45 minutes.

*We used feta cheese instead of cheddar and we preheated the oven of course.... oh, we didn't have any lemon juice so we just left that out. These were quite good but we didn't eat enough of the outside peppers to make them worthwhile for the future. I think next time I would just make the inner mixture and use that unless I'm going for appearance which is an A+.


Sometimes it's very difficult to find a balance in life and I'll admit that much of the time I base this upon outside circumstances. Things have to be going well to begin with (generally) for me to be able to keep a positive attitude.

Fortunately this week has been going well overall (with one huge disappointment). Stress from school is already beginning to hit and I'm doing alright with the workload but if I don't do everything this weekend then I will certainly be falling behind. We're starting the fourth school week of the semester in two days which means the semester is a fourth of the way done.... wow.

The best part about this week has been the balance between all areas of my life. I feel like I've accomplished things, bettered some friendships, finished homework, and found time for myself. Whether it's meeting friends at Starbucks late at night (after getting a cookie from Dogpound), playing pokemon master trainer (twice), getting a free sample of vanilla mocha at 11:30pm, going to Earth and Tea Cafe, or watching some episodes of FRIENDS, well, life seems pretty good overall. It all seems a little surreal. I don't feel quite as concrete in time. Things are too good to be real. For some reason I've also been thinking of my mom a lot more this week. It's kept me up several nights. It seems strange that on such a good week a nightmare has hovered over it each time I attempt to fall asleep....

Still, it's been a good couple of days. On another note, I've realized how some things have become indicators of 'home' in my mind. We get so used to our homes that it can be difficult to define what exactly makes it our home. I don't know honestly if there is a definition but I've experienced several things recently that actually made me laugh because I realized that they actually mean something to me. The odd thing is that they're not exactly positive in the sense I normally think of. For instance, I'm most comfortable with my two lamps on instead of my overhead lighting. This is partly because one of my 'above bulbs' burned out so that light is kind of dim and the second reason is because they provide warmth in the room. Literally warmth. Another thing I noticed just twenty minutes ago is that I've gotten used to smelling cigar smoke when I unlock my door on the landing. None of my roommates smoke (thank goodness!) but people do on the same level as me outside and it's become a symbol in my mind of where I live. I don't particularly like the smell the way I would roses but it's almost a comfort in a way (especially since I don't have to breathe it in all the time).

It's nice to know that there are certain things that make me feel so comfortable here. I call JMU my home and it truly is. My life is complete here. I'm not missing any family members while I'm home. I'm with the love of my life. I'm surrounded by wonderful friends and a great sister. I have so many opportunities. College is exactly where I need to be right now and I'm lucky enough to be there. What a wonderful reason to smile.

Fond Remembrances and Times Ahead

24 January 2010

There have been several low points this weekend but I'd really like to wander right on over to all the bright spots because, as you know, I'm trying to focus on all the reasons there are in my life to smile (and there are many).

To start it off, on Friday night I watched a movie with some friends at our on campus movie theater. Zombieland was showing and while it's not exactly my favorite genre it was certainly much better than I was expecting and it was a nice way to begin the weekend.

Then on Saturday I went to the gym with some people and got to feel really good about myself during and afterwards. It's always difficult to get going but you know you did something with your day after the gym. A workout makes me feel accomplished.

My friends and I headed downtown after UREC and we were going to eat at Earth and Tea Cafe but a new restaurant had opened up so we decided to peek in. We ended up eating at Cucchi Guidos which serves NY style pizzas and hoagies and many more NE specialties. We all ordered Panzarottis (sp??) because the menu was limited on only their second day of being open. It was basically deep fried pizza. Yum!

Then I ended up going to a guy's apartment for a game night with friends from my freshman year of college. I loved it! I find it's difficult to be unhappy when I'm with them. The majority of that group is really positive all the time and it just rubs off. I'm a different person when I'm with them. Not fake, but just...different. Better in some ways because I'm always happy. I almost always feel better about myself after being with them and I'm funnier too. Or maybe they just think I'm funnier than I think I am. Either way it's a boost to the self esteem which we can all use once in a while.

It was wonderful to be with some old friends on Saturday night playing games. Particularly a new board game called "thing". I'll have to buy a copy. Players make up phrases or "things" for a certain category. For example the category may be "What you wish was sold in a vending machine" then players will list things such as "true love" or "puppies" or any number of raunchy things. I guess that's the beauty of it and then other players try to guess who wrote what. I'll definitely be buying this game in the future.

After that Noah came over and watched some FRIENDS episodes with me. For a change, I didn't wish my life was like theirs, it already was. Of course I'm not unhappy with anything in my life right now but they always seem so incredibly happy to just be with one another but something the show doesn't put out there is how you begin to take people for granted when you're with them all the time.

This morning Noah's parents came to visit us which was wonderful and they took us out to lunch at a local Italian restaurant that normally we wouldn't go to for lack of cash (poor college kids). I was more of myself than normal around them after last night put me in such a good mood. I tend to be quiet around his parents for fear of being rude or being called "too opinionated" again. At the same time I don't like holding back... It was easy today and his dad even commented about it. Then they took us to starbucks for some cake (I had a slice of lemon cake and a cinnamon dolce latte). We just talked and I enjoyed it. It felt more like a family.

That's what I look forward to: that full acceptance into the family and being treated as a daughter. I often feel that way with his dad already but with his mom it can sometimes be a struggle. More and more lately I've noticed her depending on me to influence Noah though which is good and bad in a way. Noah is of course quite capable of taking care of himself but I still appreciate the idea of her considering me responsible (which I am).

I never feel like I have a family in that sense of the word. As I've said before on here, I'm a firm believer in "friends are the family we choose for ourselves" but, especially at this age, it's hard to not have a 'home' or a mom who wants to hear about all of your college experiences and courses. A dad would work too of course but it just didn't happen that way in my life.... I truly look forward to the day I officially become a part of Noah's family because that signals a whole new part of life that I've never experienced.

So to sum it all up, I'm very glad to share times with some old friends and I'm looking forward into the years ahead when I will truly have a family again. Though despite all the changes that happen in life... some things will remain the same.

Wishing Weekends

23 January 2010

Prospects are looking good for this weekend. There will be time at the gym which is desperately needed, a tea cafe for some relaxation, doing homework and starting projects which is productive, and I'll be seeing some old friends. It's always best to have a mix of the productive with the relaxation.

What are your plans for the weekend? Hope you enjoy your days off!

One of Those Nights

21 January 2010

You know what's the worst? One of those nights where everything should be going right...but nothing seems to. I feel like I made all the wrong decisions tonight (nothing detrimental of course, just not the ideal way to spend the evening).

I need to learn to just say what I want to do....or make up my mind and stick to it. Usually decisions are really easy for me but when I take into account what other people want to do it gets harder. That's one of the things I love and hate about my friends at home - they hardly ever plan anything but at the same time they are usually pretty happy with whatever I pick for us to do. That's typically true here too and one of the great thing is the excess of friends I have to be with at school. If someone is doing something that I'm not into, well, I call or walk to the next person.

Now it's 11:30pm and past my bed time since I have a nine o'clock tomorrow and I'm unhappy. I could have made a fair number of changes to make my night better but there were a few things beyond my control. It seems that on nights like this the best thing for me to do is fall asleep and forget it all the next day. Start fresh, the way it should be.

Goodnight all, hope you have wonderful weekends ahead!

Wonderful Weekends

18 January 2010

Don't you just love when you have a perfect weekend? Only one week of school so far but I can tell that some of my classes will be incredibly difficult (biology for one...) and that weekends will be much appreciated. Of course, because of Martin Luther King Jr. Day colleges have the day off which suits me just fine.

On Friday I went with some friends to a small hangout on campus to listen to a comedian for our monthly "Funny Freaking Fridays". This man was brought in by Madison Equality, a group that promotes rights for LGBTs. He was really funny! Nearly all of his jokes and stories had to do with gay humor but I've always had a fondness for that style.

On Saturday I attended the mens basketball game with my sister (who I really haven't seen much of since coming back to school). We ended up in one of the "Purple Sections". Our school colors are purple and yellow and to sit - more like stand - in these sections you must be wearing purple. Basketball is much more fun for me to watch than football but I'd still say my favorite two things about the game were:
1) a fan getting The Wave to go the whole way around the arena three times and
2) the Michael Jackson halftime show

A man was set up with life-size puppets attached to his body and while he danced they performed the moves too. I'm not a huge Michael Jackson fan but I must admit that this half time show kept me thoroughly entertained!

Sunday ended up being quite busy but in a very good way. It really started with baking brownies with Becca and Noah which is guaranteed fun. Then Becca taught us a new card game which is similar to solitaire except you can play with groups of people and it's a little more complicated (which makes it easier in a way...)

Then we went to the local gym and dipped in the hot tub for a bit with one of my best friends, Jake. Sadly, my sneakers have reached the end of their lifetime so I need to buy new ones really badly. I have several UREC appointments that are coming up and quite a few that I've already had to cancel. The problem is I don't want to shell out $40 for shoes, even though I desperately need them.

After that relaxing time Noah took me to Cracker Barrel. I talked to him about one of my girlfriends being vegetarian too and how I'm considering it more and more. (If you haven't noticed, all of the recipes I put up on this blog are vegetarian. Noah is one and one of my best girlfriends is too while I'm pretty much as close as you can be to a vegetarian without being one.) I mainly eat meat out at restaurants because there are very select options beyond meat; it's pretty much a convenience factor for me. I don't think I will be officially "vegetarian" until after college though when it will be easier for me to cook my own meals and make decisions about lifestyles such as that. Sorry, that was a mini-rant there!

After that we watched FRIENDS for a few hours and fell asleep. All in all a very lovely date night! I hope the rest of the semester follows suit!


14 January 2010

If I could have just one wish,
I would wish to wake up everyday
to the sound of your breath on my neck,
the warmth of your lips on my cheek,
the touch of your fingers on my skin,
and the feel of your heart beating with mine...
Knowing that I could never find that feeling
with anyone other than you.

Jedi Math and Panera Bagels

13 January 2010

I had my first diverse education class today (or some similar title). The first three minutes were in Spanish which I understood after completing the intermediate level required last semester. However I would venture to say that three fourths of the class could not. My professor certainly made her point about ESL students and how it must feel to them to be learning in a different language from their homeland.

About halfway through this course (it is another three hour long class) my professor mentioned a math teacher from Michigan. He teaches an advanced class and as extra incentive for students to join his class he gives them each a light saber at the beginning of the school year. They have "Jedi Formations" periodically and this gives the class an identity. Students hear about this man grade levels before they reach his classroom. That is an amazing teacher - the students love his class as a community.

After that morning class I'm done for the day on Wednesdays which is wonderful (I've already spent two and a half hours on homework due tomorrow - the second day of those classes). College isn't easy....but it is still amazing.

My boyfriend has one more duty to the marching band this year, the MRDs are playing for the gubernatorial inauguration. Consequently, all the band members needed to pick up their uniforms and marching instruments by tonight. I drove Noah over to these buildings (in separate locations on campus!) because it is so cold outside. Afterwards we decided to go and have a bite to eat in Panera's. He treated me to a hot cocoa and cinnamon bagels (he even bought me extras for breakfast!). He's marvelous and, as per the theme of this blog, there are many, many reasons to smile.

Just Another Reason

12 January 2010

I think I've mentioned previously about how I want to capture more of the fun of college while I'm still here. On my schedule, I have eight hours of class time on Tuesdays. So, after being in class for that long what is the best way to destress?

Apples to Apples of course!

Its a game involving judges, categories, and silly words. For example, "peaceful" may be the category card and players will send out cards from their hand that they think best match the description or that the judge will like best. Once all players have put in a card the judge flips them over, compares, and then chooses the best one for the win. (For our game, "baked beans" won the category of peaceful).

Duncan, Jake, Jeff, Noah, and I played this game tonight after my nighttime lab. Its wonderful to end the day with friends in a relaxing way. Plus we tried the new Dominoes pizza. It is certainly improved although it has nothing on Papa Johns with their garlic sauce! Hah, well classes are engaging this semester and I'm sure trying to fit in half hour-long games will be a great way to relax throughout the week.

Have a "peaceful" night!

The Building Blocks of Knowledge

Img from here.

The second day of spring semester is nearly complete (there is still one class left - a three hour bio lab until 9:30pm). What really struck me about todays classes were two things:

1. The classes were very engaging. Most were quite interesting and relevant to my major.
2. The information put forth in these first class periods correlates, without fail, to previous courses I have taken while at college.

For example, in Biology of Organisms my professor began discussing morphological changes, cladistics, and nodes. These are relatively simple matters but she put forth no background on any of those terms. However, after taking Invertebrate Paleontology last semester I need no explanation for the vocabulary because she is building off of prior knowledge. Granted, there may be a fair number of students which don't have this information but in their future classes, well, maybe they will.

It's wonderful to be able to relate information across "gaps" in subject matters. We tend to look at ideas as standalone facts or at classes as separate from one another. Simply by labeling one class as "Science" and one as "History" we automatically separate them in our heads. The beauty of college (especially upper level courses) is that your field of study is being narrowed and you really get down to the core of the matter. No matter which science you're taking certain concepts will be imperative to know.

The network of knowledge and information added several layers today for me and I hope the rest of the semester will continue to enhance my understanding of these concepts.

Rocks and Lessons

11 January 2010

MWF classes are all education while TuThu are all sciences (bio and geology courses). Today I was reassured that education classes will be a relief in more ways than one. First, they're not nearly as stressful as my other courses. Geology classes aren't easy and I usually struggle by with a decent grade and I am an not counting on biology to be any easier. Second, lots of my 'education time' will be spent doing Unit and Lesson plans. I am definitely a planner - I like to know what is going on ahead of time. Spontaneous is not a word used to describe me and I'm completely happy with it that way. Hopefully planning lessons will give me more of a feel for teaching and will help me feel more prepared for the real world.

These courses allow much more free time in the afternoons and evenings (I may actually be able to attend the geology club meetings this semester too). Of course, Tuesdays will be almost opposite from this but that's the sacrifice for free evenings on MWF. Hopefully this course load will provide happiness in the present and confidence for the future. Sorry this was all about classes but it feels good to think "outloud".

Term Tomorrow

10 January 2010

Classes start again tomorrow after a month-long hiatus. I've already set up a meal plan, ate at an on-campus facility, and watched a "Dragonball Z" movie. Certainly has been an interesting evening!

Yesterday evening I traveled across campus and took a quick break from my warm car to walk up to our ISAT building and capture some shots of James Madison with the lovely blues and yellows. These are facing West towards the sunset and the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Although to me it looks somewhat like a dagger, James is holding a quill in this shot.

Time to get cracking for the next semester! It's so wonderful to be back with my friends at the college I love.

Rootbeer Jelly

09 January 2010

My friend, Maria, met me at my apartment at 10am this morning (ah, college - living in the same complex makes morning trips much easier!). We had decided last night to hit up some farm markets this morning for some locally grown food.

We headed off this morning to two separate farmers markets. One was downtown, which I visited before winter break, and I was sad to see that it lacked nearly half of the booths it previously held in December. Still, I found feta cheese from a local farmer and bought it for a good price (I'll be needing it for an upcoming recipe). [Reminds me, Monday Night Meals may be changing to a different evening.... we'll soon see.] Maria ended up buying a carton of eggs for her apartment since she hadn't gone grocery shopping since arriving back at school.

The second farm market we visited I had never been to. Maria showed me and it's certainly more of a permanent location/business. Below is a picture of one (of two) gigantic windmills on the property.

Inside were several "stores" that were separated by rooms similar to a very small and country mall. Some stores sold food or candy, others books, and there was even one shop that sold "Western Ware" (clothing styled after the old west).

Maria showed me a store that was Mennonite-run and sold jams, pie fillings, and jellies. There were even a few salsas along one wall! The best part though is just exactly how many flavors there were! Luckily, near the front of the store there is a section with oyster crackers and plenty of samples for you to try before you buy.

Maria was eager to move on to the next section and eventually we made it back around to their little cafe. It was cute (reminded me of a place in my hometown called Hayfield) although with less options. Unfortunately I'll probably never eat there because both Noah and Maria are vegetarian....and I'm about as close as you can get without officially being one. It was certainly quaint though in the middle of this local shop.

In the end I found one item that was just to good not to purchase. Any guesses? Rootbeer Jelly (if you couldn't figure it out from the title)!

The label is a little washed out in the photo but let me assure you that this jelly is delicious. I've never heard of such a thing before but give me some crackers with this jelly and I'm ecstatic!

Hope everyone's enjoying their Saturday!

Friday Night Sunsets

08 January 2010

Just two more days until the spring semester starts. Its amazing how quickly time will fly when you enjoy yourself. I drove back to my apartment at school this evening and as I passed Mauzy Broadway the sun was just setting behind the mountains and it cast a beautiful glow over the scenery. The sky was a periwinkle pink, the mountains a light lavender color with a white blanket over the foothills from the light dusting last night, and the trees along the road were silhouetted black against the sky. It was a gorgeous sight and I wish I could show you pictures...but I was driving 70mph down the interstate so reaching around behind me blindly for my camera bag may not have been the best idea.

I also had two "interstate buddies" this trip. When I'm in traffic for a while I tend to find ways to keep myself amused: I may look at license plates to figure out which car is from the farthest state away, I could quiz myself on the traffic light patterns, or (as in tonights case) I might take notice of which cars tend to stay near me while I travel. There was an SUV and a little car that hung around me for at least 35 minutes of the trip which is unusual. Often on an interstate you're passing the "slow people" and the "fast people" are passing you. Traffic was quite crowded and the little car in particular seemed eager to quicken its pace, but every time I would pass a vehicle then pull into the right lane he would stick behind me and the SUV behind him. They weren't following me on purpose - we were just headed in the same direction and they both happened to agree with my speed on that highway. For some reason though it made me smile thinking about how we looking like a train of ducklings.

Img from here.

Of course, our going wasn't quite that tough.

Ever since I arrived I've been (slowly) unpacking. I periodically make trips into the family room to watch some tv but all in all I'd say that I'm making progress.

Glad to be back at school.

Almost Home Again

06 January 2010

Winter break is nearly over and I'm getting very excited about starting school! Why on earth do we have a month break during the cold season? I'm a poor college kid so I can't go out places and its too cold to be outside for very long which means I'm cooped up all day! At least at school there are indoor options beyond sitting at a computer. I'm looking forward to lectures again. (Besides, the first month is always pretty easy - then the tough stuff hits all at once!).

Home has been....bearable. My dad and his girlfriend work during (part of) the day and her mom has pretty much been gone since Christmas which I very much appreciate. Its awful staying here sometimes and I can't wait to go back to my home.

I also met up with my future roommates over break and it makes me more excited than ever for next semester (fall 2010). It'll be amazing. I can wait though. I hope.

I stayed at my boyfriend's house last night and ate dinner with his family. We played Pokemon Master Trainer once (ok...twice. alright you got me, three times!) and I'm really sad that I've never played it before.

Tonight I sat down for dinner with my grandparents, my father, my sister, and my boyfriend. Its nice to feel like we have a family sometimes (the only thing better would have been having my aunt and uncle there). I'm very lucky though in regards to my sister, my boyfriend, and my friends. They make life wonderful

Its hard to believe I'm halfway through my junior year.... I am so glad that I have a fifth year for masters; I love college way too much to want to leave in a year and a half.

There are so many great times that I don't want to forget and I want to create many more memories to take with me throughout life. One of my biggest fears is that I will forget these experiences. High school already seems so long ago and I can barely pinpoint any moments during those four years and I want to remember so much more about college! I want to remember clapping and marching across the Quad at night with Noah too embarrassed to join in yet laughing alongside of us...making delicious ice cream sundaes at dhall, listening to Jake play guitar at night, going to Funny Freaking Fridays on the first friday of each month, the jokes about land manatees between my freshman year hallmates, and late night giggles that don't go away.

I'm so lucky to go to college (especially to one that I love so much!). As I remind myself each time I look at the header: there are so many reasons to smile. Life is good.

Family and Friends

02 January 2010

Today was a wonderful day spent with both family and friends (Its not often I get to say that either)!

I was woken up by a phone call from Gina (my mentor) asking about lunch. I agreed and we met up at 12:30 at her house to enjoy a homemade pizza. I spent 3 hours there in total talking with her and her family. She has two kids a boy and a girl who both are darling.

Afterwards I went to my aunt and uncles' house because its not even a minute up the road. My uncle has new software that he uses to make photo DVDs and they're wonderful! He really enjoys using it and showing people it's capabilities. I brought along over 200 photos but we ended up only filling up a fourth of the DVD so he asked me to come up again soon and we can fill up the rest. Its wonderful so far - one slideshow for my guy friends and one for my boyfriend.

At six I left for Noah's house. I ate pizza there too and then we watched the last Star Wars movie. I was debating staying there for the night because of the frigid temperatures but decided to go home and have a change of clothes before church the next morning. I think his mom would have wanted me to stay; she was worried about my car making it home in the cold.

All in all its been a wonderful day and its nice to spend such quality time with so many quality people!

The New Year

01 January 2010

Of course, time has kept on moving and 2010 has arrived. Its strange how time seems to blur so much of life together.... some moments stand out as clear as if they had happened together and some things are forgotten, forevermore lost in time. The new year will provide me with much happiness I'm sure although I'm already predicting certain bad events. I'm not trying to be negative about 2010, there are just some events that I expect to happen which could be detrimental - especially to my family.

At the same time wonderful possibilities are arising. Throughout the course of this year I will complete my education blocks, live with my (guy) friends, and grow as a friend, a girlfriend, and an individual.

I can never decide whether or not I want to try making some resolutions. I usually do but I would rather say that I am reminding myself of the life I want to live or the changes I want to make. I never expect to have everything suddenly be easier because its a new year.

For 2010, I think what I want to keep in mind is:

-stick to commitments (exercising, homework, friends)
-increase my knowledge (really value my education and expand my knowledge of friends)
-make decisions (what I will do, who I am, and what truly matters to me)

I usually try to stick by these things but I think its good to refresh in my mind what it is I am striving for.

Welcome to the new year all and good luck with any resolutions you have made. May the year bring you all that you desire!

Reviewing 2009

I love my college and my wonderful friends.

I appreciate all the freedom I have at school and I hope to remember the everyday fun such as making jokes over lunch, listening to Jake play guitar in his bed, Noah getting really cute when he's sleepy, and ordering pizza. The little things are what make up the big picture.

I switched my major to Earth Science very early in the spring semester.

Relay for Life was held again at JMU. I also captained a team in my hometown.

Summer provided lots of opportunities to meet up with friends and have campfires.

Fourth of July was spent with Noah's family.....

...and my own.

I moved into my first apartment in 2009.

I became even closer with my best friend, sister, and boyfriend.

School spirit held strong and I watched my boyfriend perform in his last football game as a Marching Royal Duke.

My high school's football games were a great place to catch up with old band alumni.

The traditional post-Thanksgiving hike took place again.

Brought in the New Year with friends playing lots of games at the lake house.

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