Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?

31 May 2013


Ok, I may have a thing for female comedians and I'm definitely a sucker for buying their autobiographies. I consider this to be a great thing. I'm still working on branching out from my main genre of "fantasy" and some women are making it easy on me. 

To begin, I first saw Mindy Kaling on the Office like most people but found I couldn't relate to her character, Kelly Kapoor. Flash forward two or three years. One of my girlfriends came over and told me about this hilarious show "The Mindy Project". I had my doubts but after watching three or four episodes I decided that I was definitely hooked. Earlier in 2013, I decided to read her autobiography. 

Mindy has a refreshingly honest attitude towards herself and her expectations from life. Her book didn't stand out as anything too different from the sea of other biographies but I enjoyed learning more about this actress and have a whole new appreciation of her ability to make fun of herself. If you're looking for a nice, easy read that gets you to laugh while learning more about a celebrity you admire then I would recommend it! 

7/10 - Generic, but an enjoyable read.

Acorn Squash Tart

29 May 2013


This may be the best vegetarian dish that I have ever made. I love it.

This tart will take you a solid hour to make so this is a good meal for a Sunday or Saturday night, but it is well worth it!

What you'll need:
1 acorn squash
roughly 20-30 spinach leaves
1 yellow onion
1 9'' pie crust
1 ball of mozzarella cheese
just a pinch of gruyere cheese
a sprinkling of: cayenne, paprika, pepper, and maple syrup
olive oil
3 tablespoons of butter


Squash: Peel and chop a whole acorn squash into small, thin pieces. In a bowl, toss the squash in olive oil with a little pepper, paprika, and cayenne. Bake at 400 degrees on a roasting pan for 30 minutes.

For onions: Warm up a sautee pan and then put in a tablespoon or two of butter. Chop a yellow onion up and saute for around 10 minutes, or until onions are translucent. Then, add soy sauce and brown sugar and reduce the hit to a simmer. Cook until onions are a light brown color.

Tart: Use a pie pan and spray with non-stick spray. Roll out thawed pie crust (or phyllo dough) into the pie pan. Using a pastry brush, brush a mixture of melted butter and garlic onto the pie crust. Leave a little butter for later.

Final: Layer mozzarella cheese, spinach, squash, onions, gruyere cheese, and more mozzarella then sprinkle just a little bit of maple syrup on top. Bake at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes or until cheese melts and the dough turns golden brown.

Thanks to reddit user kidcurry88 for originally posting this recipe. It was amazing!

Strawberry Festival in Delaplane

27 May 2013








On Saturday I went out with my sister, her fiance, and my husband to a Strawberry Festival in Delaplane Virginia. I personally think the best part of the festival was purely the location between the low, rolling mountains.  Mountain vistas everywhere! 

The Shenandoah Valley truly is my home. The celebrations here over the weekend were a lot of fun to go out and enjoy. At the Strawberry festival we bought strawberry sundaes and a basket of strawberries. We walked the park, listened to country music, watched kids do sack races, and asked some questions to a conservation group about red-tailed hawks. 

I really enjoy getting to experience little cultural events in rural areas, it reminds me of my time in Harrisonburg. What did you do over Memorial Day weekend?

Black Bean Cake Entree

24 May 2013



I went with my sister to Williamsburg and Richmond last weekend helping her on the hunt for an apartment (successful trip by the way). After staying the night in Williamsburg we walked their historic, charming downtown mall and we stopped for lunch at The Trellis. Thank you to the chef for inspiring my hand at a similar dish to my entree. 



This is actually a fairly simple dish and it's so healthy for you while looking classy. Here's the basics:
- Vinaigrette Salad
- Black Bean Cakes
- Fried Egg


The Salad:
- Mixed Greens
- Vinaigrette Salad Dressing


The Black Bean Cakes:
- Emeril's recipe (details after the break)


The Fried Egg:
- Pretty straightforward, warm up a pan, plop in some butter, and pour out the egg slowly so the white hits the pan first and let your yoke sit on top. 


9/10 - Definitely worth a try in your kitchen, regardless of whether you're a vegetarian. Plus you could always use the black bean cakes for a black bean burger. 



In the Spirit of Bob Barker


How many of you have seen The Price is Right? Growing up my family only had five channels on TV so when I was home for the summer I would watch TPiR every week day at eleven in the morning. I also remember a few lunches in high school when TVs were installed in the cafeteria and the teachers played the show during my lunch period for about two weeks. (That was a pretty great time in HS).

One of my favorite things about the show was Bob Barker's sign off, "...and remember: always spay and neuter your pets!".

Lately I feel like I've seen an increase in the number of posts/pictures about puppies and kittens online. Is it just me? Maybe it's just me. Believe me, I love animals as much as the next person, but it is so important to get your animals spayed and neutered. Talk to anyone who works at or volunteers at the SPCA or a local rescue. Sure it's cute to see lots of little fur babies, but they reproduce at an astounding rate (see here for the numbers on cats).

There is a very real over-population problem. There are at least five million stray cats and dogs wandering the streets in the United States (numbers could be as high as ten million. Do what you can to fix it - and yes, this is at an individual level. YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE.


Even if you're looking for a certain breed you can find them at rescues. Lots of shelters let you put in a request when you're looking to adopt. If you want a corgi you can let the shelter know and they'll call you when one comes in!


Spay/Neuter your pets.
Educate others about over-population.
Adopt an animal from your local rescue.

Birthday Dinners

23 May 2013


You know what's great? Texts, phone calls, and warm wishes on your birthday! I think I like birthdays more now than when I was a kid. Well, except for birthdays when I had scavenger hunts. ;) As an adult they're less pressure. I'm one of those people who blush like crazy when they have people sing to them so I like the calm, nice dinners now. 

Speaking of which, Noah and I had dinner out at Las Trancas with his mom and brother last night. This evening Noah and I are heading to Winchester to have a birthday barbeque with his dad whose birthday is the day before mine. Lots of fun! A big shout out to my friends for the texts and to my best friend for singing happy birthday in a voicemail to me. You guys are awesome!

24

22 May 2013


Today I am officially 24. I am already realizing that life is flying by in a whirlwind of experiences, people, and friendships. In celebration, this year I want to leave you with a list of 24 things that I have enjoyed and hope that you can share in that with me. Enjoy the following, a mix of emotional, personal, and material things.
  1. Having a life partner. For eight years now I have been incredibly happy. This year has perhaps been the most stressful with a lot of changes for us, but finding someone to share your joys and sorrows with is a blessing.
  2. Having a pet. Artemis, our little ball of fur, has given me so many smiles in the short time we've had this little darling.
  3. Rekindling friendships. I've realized after graduating that making new friends and maintaining old friendships can be a challenge. I love all of my friends and it is a hard adjustment to suddenly be hours away from them. Luckily I'm getting into the swing of things, even if I am a few months late. 
  4. Sending and receiving mail. We live in a computer-oriented world, but nothing beats getting a hand-written letter in the post. 
  5. Becoming immersed in a book series or developing a relationship with fictional characters. First it was Harry Potter and now with Game of Thrones, I find myself living through strong characters that are an inspiration to me. Search for a book that speaks to you and when you find it, share that joy with others. 
  6. Staying in Charleston for our honeymoon. It was gorgeous, Southern, charming, and hot. I highly recommend a trip to any and all! 
  7. Read on a kindle. From my pre-kindle days I still have two bookshelves worth of books. Its a pain to move! I swear by my e-reader and think everyone who is an avid reader should enjoy the experience of multiple books on the go. Easy Peasy. 
  8. Finding inspiration. Reading blogs, browsing pinterest, and cooing over homegawker. Have a few nooks each day that you can come to each day and be inspired. 
  9. A Million Miles in a Thousand Years. Following the above point, this book resonated with me.  I think there's a piece of us that wants our life to be a grand story. Miller lays that our with quotes that reach deep within you. 
  10. Being on the water. Okay, I think everyone has a personal preference with this one, but if I was confined to one place for the rest of my life it would have to be somewhere directly beside water. It could be a lake, an ocean, a river, it doesn't matter as long as I could swim, boat, lounge, and enjoy the cool air coming off of that glorious water. I just live to be on the water.
  11. Doing a really cheesy photoshoot. My friend Allison and I just had a great time taking photos together and dressing nicely. Don't be afraid to be a little silly or a little over-the-top. 
  12. Order an appetizer or a dessert. Maybe this is just us, but Noah and I usually order a water and two entrees at a restaurant. When we splurge on an appetizer or a dessert I feel really fancy. Maybe we're still in grad-student frugality mode. 
  13. When you see something that reminds you of someone, pick it up for them. I often think of the 5 Love Languages book that people talk about. We show love to one another through different ways and one of those ways is "gift giving". What it really displays is "Look, while we were apart I thought about you. It meant enough to me that I decided I wanted to surprise you with something you would like when I saw you again". It's always nice to know that others are thinking of you. Do the same for them. 
  14. Say "I love you". I don't just mean to your significant other. Tell your siblings, friends, and people at your place of spirituality. It doesn't have to mean you're in love with them. But I think we're too reserved as a society in this aspect. We should share and show love as much as possible. Some people may not hear "I love you very often". 
  15. Volunteer. Find a place or a cause that inspires you and pursue it. 
  16. Buy yourself flowers. Even as a married woman I still buy myself flowers on occasion. You can find simple, but pretty, bouquets for $5. When you're having a bad day, pick up some on your way home. It's amazing what a couple of colorful flowers can do to raise spirits. 
  17. Travel rural. Find a place by a river or on top of a mountain to relax for a day. Get outdoors and build a campfire.
  18. Travel urban. Contradicting the above, plan a date to travel to a city and enjoy the finer things in life. Dress up, enjoy fine dining, and visit a museum.
  19. Game nights. Gather a group of friends, set out some food & drinks, and get settled to play some board games for a couple of hours. Classic fun..
  20. Have a favorite. Personally, I like having my go-to spots. I have a favorite coffee shop in every city I've lived in, along with a favorite restaurant, and a favorite local artisan shop. It's nice to have a place that you know you can go to and feel comfortable.
  21. Trying new things. You know what? I'd be missing out on a lot if I hadn't decided to give avocados another shot about a year ago. I love me some avocado in my omelets and chips with guacamole is almost as good as fresh cilantro salsa. Take little risks even if it's something as trivial as trying a new food. 
  22. Walks at sunset. I love going out with Noah right as the light turns golden on a warm summer evening. 
  23. Awakening your spirituality. I am not religious, but I am spiritual. I find when I neglect that side of myself I get down. Finding time to read scriptures and watch emotionally charged videos can help me regain a deeper part of myself. 
  24. Give yourself permission. Don't get hung up on things that you can change. If you're miserable, change your situation. Try not to let guilt get to you. Make decisions that make you happy and that add value to your life. Give yourself permission to be happy. 


The South

21 May 2013

I never thought that I grew up in the South considering I have lived most of my life in the very Northern-most tip of Virginia. It never felt Southern to me. Then I moved to Maryland. I found the deciding factor to know whether you truly live in the South or not and it's a very simple test. 


If your local restaurants serve sweet tea, you're in the South. 

Who knew? It's that simple. When you cross over the Virginia-West Virginia border suddenly you can't get sweet tea at your neighborhood Olive Garden. What?! Maryland isn't any better. I don't think I've ever been to a restaurant in Virginia that didn't serve sweet tea. Oh, restaurants around here will serve you iced tea and tell you there's sweetener on the table. But lets be real, that's not the same as that southern sweet tea.

Luckily for the restaurants in Virginia, whenever I go home to visit family and friends I simply must get my sweet tea fixing. 

Anyone else find themselves in a similar predicament? Have you ever traveled/moved and found yourself craving a local food?

(This also happens with my favorite Mexican restaurant which I now live two hours from. Help me!)

Olivia's Blackberry & Apple Cobbler

20 May 2013


Olivia Rae James posted a recipe for a fruit cobbler on her blog Every Day Musings last week. When I showed Noah the post he immediately said "We are making that now."... and you know what? We did!


Cobbler:
Fruit
3 granny smith apples, thinly sliced
3 cups blackberries
juice and zest of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons brown sugar
Crumble Topping
2/3 cup flour
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup oats
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
1/2 cup slivered almonds
cinnamon
1 stick salted butter
Wisconsin Mascarpone Yogurt
1 cup Wisconsin Mascarpone
1 cup Greek yogurt
juice and zest of 1 lemon
3 tablespoons honey
Preheat oven to 350°F. For the fruit base, mix apples, blackberries, lemon, flour and brown sugar. Pour evenly into a rectangular 11″ x 7″ dish.
Mix dry ingredients: flour, brown sugar, oats, coconut flakes, almonds and cinnamon, for the crumble topping. Incorporate butter last with a pastry cutter or by using your hands. Distribute crumble topping evenly over the fruit mixture.
Bake for approximately 35 minutes, or until golden brown and fruit mixture is bubbling.
For the Wisconsin Mascarpone yogurt, lightly mix Wisconsin Mascarpone and Greek yogurt. Add honey and the juice and zest of one lemon to taste. To serve, spoon a large dollop on top of the warm crumble.

Road Trip to Richmond

19 May 2013


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This weekend I'm heading out with my sister to apartment hunt in Richmond. She's moving to the capital of Virginia in June and has been perusing Craigslist for a couple of days for suitable apartments. We met just outside of DC and took a mini-trip down I-95 towards the capitol of Virginia. Should be a fun time! Although after a very recent trip to Six Flags I'm not sure if I can handle all this driving! 

Hope you're having a great weekend. 


Friends

15 May 2013


After months of feeling like I have lost myself, I am slowly creeping back out of my shell and am calling friends to meet up again.

Maybe it was the shock of leaving all my college friends behind that caused this insistent sadness in me. Maybe it has been a very tough job experience. Maybe it's not talking with Noah the way I would like to. I'm honestly not sure. But changes had to be made and there are still a few in the works.

It's definitely a gradual process.

Currently, there are a few big things on my horizon that are keeping my spirits up:

  • I am seeing one of my best friends significantly more often. Thanks Allison for being a force of good in my life.
  • My best friend, Jake, has been talking and skyping with me more. Noah, Nic, and I plan on taking a road trip to Louisiana in June to visit him.
  • My sister and I are going apartment hunting this weekend in Richmond!
  • Next week is my birthday and the following weekend we're taking a road trip to Virginia Beach to celebrate! Wahoo!!
  • I have new career goals. It looks to be a long, hard road but I am fully prepared to step into the ring.
I have also set a goal to blog at least twice a week. This place always screams of positivity and adventures. I log on and read all the posts about family, weekends, vacations, cooking, and crafting and remind myself that all it takes to create the life I want is putting my foot outside of the door. 



Inspiration

02 May 2013


Do you have a friend that seems to inspire you every time you're together? My friend Allison has this incredible ability to bring a positive force with her every time we see one another. It's been almost a month since I last saw her and I think I'm having withdrawal. Is that even possible with a person? I'm going to go ahead and call this a legitimate condition. 


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