Tag Archives: adventure

Tater tot tragedy

18 Jan

We’ve all been there, you see a post on Pinterest and think “I can totally do that.” I had such a moment this evening and in my oh so humble opinion, it was an epic fail.

In the battle of four ingredient zucchini tater tots vs. the aspiring chef, the tots were victorious. What should have been a stress-free endeavor according to the original post that spiked my interest, turned into a frustrating experience.

Here were tonight’s highlights:

  • The tots just didn’t hold their shape. No matter what I did to shape them, even resorting to using a tablespoon as a mold, mine looked more like mini mountains of grass than the perfectly shaped cylinders  I saw on Pinterest.
  • What should have taken 15 minutes to brown, actually took FOREVER (read as 25 minutes), and the moment they browned they burned instantaneously. Luckily no smoke alarms went off during the making of these tots. 
  • Oh and turning them over halfway during baking, forget about it…they crumbled into pieces.
  • As for the taste, it was alright, probably should have used more seasoning I think.

I guess it’s possible my zucchini to potato ratio may have been off – I had two very small zucchini to two good size potatoes. I was also impatient and hungry, and in hindsight should have left them in the freezer longer.

So while the battle may have been lost this round, I may demand a rematch. Until then, maybe I’ll stick with store-bought!

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The Green Machine!

16 Jan

I love the color green, it’s one of my favorites. And I love smoothies, even in the wintertime. So putting the two together – why have I not done that sooner?

As I was off work today due to Martin Luther King Jr. Day, I decided to make my first ever Green Smoothie chalk-full of healthy, natural and delicious greens! One of my favorite ways to waste time (when I should be doing homework, or folding laundry, or making a shopping list) is watching various cooking channels on YouTube. And since we’ve started this new lifestyle, I’ve added a few new channels to the mix focusing on consuming foods raw and in their natural state. Needless to say, I’ve watched a dozen or so videos on different ways to construct the ultimate Green Smoothie and I was feeling up to the challenge!

Unfortunately for you,  I didn’t follow a particular recipe, nor did I measure my ingredients. So trust me when I say you’ll just have to trust your gut on this one, it won’t steer you wrong!

Here’s what I had on hand today:

  1. 1 frozen banana
  2. About a 1/4 – 1/2 cup of unsweetened almond milk
  3. 1 Granny Smith apple
  4. About 1/2 frozen pineapple (I picked through a bag of mixed frozen fruit for what I wanted!)
  5. 2 heaping handfuls of spinach
  6. 2 heaping handfuls of kale
  7. 2-4 drops of lemon essential oil (I had doTERRA, use whichever brand you prefer, or juice the real thing if you have one handy!)

Now, here’s where things got a little interesting – I had everything in the blender, pushed the button to mix it all together and milk goes everywhere! As the blender was already assembled when I went to use it, I didn’t know there was a large crack in the base. (Ugg!!) Food processor to the rescue and the smoothie was saved!

Personally, I loved the taste! Hints of tropical paradise with the pineapple and lemon. Nice and creamy with the banana. And the spinach and kale made it a beautiful shade of green! This is one I plan to make again – even Scott enjoyed the taste!

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For dinner tonight, we incorporated the kale again by making this delicious Spaghetti Squash with Kale, Fire-Roasted tomatoes and chickpeas. Just a wee bit too much kick for me (may have added a dash too many of the red pepper flakes!) but overall fantastic and very filling! We had enough leftover to each enjoy it for lunch later this week – and that’s a win in my book!

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Jury Duty Woes

8 Dec

In  early November I received a letter in the mail that would usher in a new adult rite of passage. I had been summoned to jury duty for the first time. The letter was simple enough, explaining that I had been selected as a prospective juror in my county and that I needed to fill out and sign the attached questionnaire and juror summons and mail them back within 7 days. My final instructions were to call a special number on Friday, December 7, 2015, after 4:00 p.m. to see if my services would be needed Monday morning.

So I filled out and returned my forms and set reminders on my work calendar and phone so I wouldn’t forget to call, since that was a whole month away still! Friday afternoon I made my call, heart-pounding, palms-sweating, knees-twitching while I waited for the automated message to announce “this is a message for all potential jurors scheduled to be in Judge so-and-so’s court room A on Monday, December 7, 2015 – you are not needed on Monday. Please call again on Monday afternoon to see if your services will be needed for Tuesday.” I was so relieved I called back a second time just to make sure I’d heard the message correctly – was it really so, did they not need me?! How wonderful!

I should have started this post by mentioning that I really did not want to be on a jury. I don’t want to decide someone’s fate. I don’t want to listen to the horrible things an individual did or see evidence that could be subject matter for new nightmares. I hear enough terrible things on the radio, TV and internet, I didn’t want to come face-to-face with more in my own town. I don’t consider myself smart enough to know who’s telling the truth and who is great at lying and faking emotion in this stressful situation. I see the world in shades of gray, not clear black and white, so I don’t know how that would affect my judgement of a case.

Anyways, since I didn’t have to report on Monday, that meant I was able to enjoy my weekend in New York City (more on that in a future post I promise!) care-free! But then Monday at 4:00 p.m. came all to quickly and my luck ran out when I listened to the new recording for prospective jurors “please report to the court house on Tuesday, December 8, 2015, at 9:00 a.m.” My heart sank and the nerves set in quickly.

What was going to happen? What were they going to ask me? What do I say? What do I wear? How will I know where to go once I get to the courthouse? What if I’m the youngest juror there? What if I am selected as a juror and I am the only one who votes one way and everyone else votes the other? And a million other questions raced through my mind for the remainder of the night and into this morning.

After changing my mind three times, this is the outfit I settled on for my very first experience as a potential juror.

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I was so nervous that I was forgetting a piece of their instructions, I called the number again this morning while I ate breakfast. Nothing had changed, I was still to report at 9:00 a.m. And so, I decided to give myself plenty of time to get there in case there was an accident or I got lost, I had my GPS, but with all the road construction going on, who knows what could have happened!

I parked my car in the courthouse parking lot at 8:35 a.m. and was in the process of gathering my purse and keys to go inside when my phone rang, a number similar to the one I had called to find out I needed to report. Hesitantly I answers and heard “this is so-and-so from the courthouse and your services are not needed today. You have been released of your duty for the rest of the week. Thank you for your service.” Click.

I sat there for a moment, keys in one hand, the other on the door handle, ready to exit my car. I couldn’t believe what I’d just heard. She was joking, right? Then the anger set in, you couldn’t have called 30 minutes ago before I left my house? Why did you suddenly change your mind 30 minutes before we all arrived this morning? What happened between 4 p.m. Monday night and 8:30 a.m. Tuesday morning?

Fuming I drove to work, which lucky for me was only a 10 minute drive. However, I was 40 minutes late as my day started at 8:00 a.m. And adding to my surprise, I may have to use 40 MINUTES OF MY VACATION TIME BECAUSE I WASN’T THERE AND IT’S THE COURTHOUSE’S FAULT! 

I didn’t even want to be a juror. I didn’t want to go! I didn’t choose not to show up for work. I gladly would have been there. I have plans for those 40 minutes of vacation time. Irritated I messaged my dad and he explained that the person probably entered a plea deal to avoid a trial. Well good for them, but next time, do it at 3 p.m. so you don’t waste MY time. I’m a law-abiding citizen with responsibilities and a job and I don’t appreciate having to put that on hold, only to find out minutes before I have to be at the courthouse that you’ve probably finally come to your senses and owned up to your evil deeds. Next time do us all a favor and not commit a crime – your life will be better and so will mine.

And to make my story even better, on the local news tonight, there was a breaking news story of a high profile case where the person entered a plea deal this morning. I bet you anything that would have been my case….it’s been an on-going investigation since LAST November!

End rant.

Sunday Lunch – Baked Margherita Spaghetti Squash

26 Jul

I have never been very talented in the kitchen. Cooking meals has never come easy for me. I’m more of a “can I put it in the microwave” kind of girl. But when it comes to baking, now we’re talking, but that’s a post for another time, I digress. Anyways, when I found this recipe online a few days ago, it looked fool-proof!

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: Approximately 40 – 50 minutes

Serving size: 2 (I doubled the recipe to make enough to feed four people today!)

Ingredients:

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1 large spaghetti squash
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 large Roma tomato, finely chopped
2 tbsp. finely chopped fresh basil
1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 tsp. each salt & pepper
1 tsp. garlic powder

Let’s get cookin’!

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
2. Using a large knife or a cleaver, slice the spaghetti squash in half lengthwise down the middle. Use a spoon to remove the seeds and center strings. (Helpful hint: If the squash is too hard to cut, place it in the microwave for 3 – 8 minutes depending on the size of the squash.

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3. Drizzle the two halves with olive oil and then sprinkle with salt, pepper and garlic powder.

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4. Place the squash, open side down on a cookie sheet lined with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes. (*Next time I would cut back on the amount of olive oil. It was pooling in the bottom of the squashes.)

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5. Remove from the oven, check to see if the squash is soft and easily comes up with a fork into a spaghetti like texture. If it’s too hard to remove, cook for another 10 minutes. Scrape and fluff the stringy squash with a fork. Leave the squash in the skin.

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6. Turn the oven up to broil. Add the tomatoes and fresh basil into the squash, stir and top with the mozzarella cheese. Place in the broiler for 3-4 minutes, until the cheese is melted and slightly browned.

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7. Allow to cool for 5 minutes before serving the squash. Enjoy!

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This dish looks beautiful and tastes even better! I only had one slight problem when I burned my thumb (yes, I was using potholders!) when I took the pan out of the oven for the last time. Luckily, my dad told me to put some Lavender essential oil on the burn to take the sting out!

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This is a dish I will definitely make again! Although my family had a suggestion on how to make it better – when scrapping out the squash, put it all in one pot and add the tomatoes, basil and cheese to the whole mixture. We noticed that some of our squashes didn’t cut right down the center, so the portions were a little off – some had lots of squash, some had a little.  I think combining everything in one bowl and cooking it through one last time would make it easier to mix the tomatoes and basil throughout the squash, that was a little difficult to do in the small squash halves.

*I found this recipe on Facebook – from what I could tell it was originally posted on the Losing It With Trisha Facebook page.

Adventures with Dad

21 Jun

Anyone can be a Father, but it takes someone special to be a DAD!

For as long as I can remember, I have always looked up to my dad…. and no, that’s not just because he’s managed to remain just barely taller than I am. 

As I was thinking earlier about what I would write, I recalled a conversation at lunch about how my parents would never understand the struggle of being the oldest child, as they are both the youngest in their families. But that also got me thinking about how special the role of the oldest child is – we are the ones who break in our parents, and in this specific post, our dads, for the siblings who follow.

I consider myself very lucky as a daughter because my dad has been a key player in my life from the very beginning. I have never once doubted his love for me. Just look at these early photos – it’s clear as day!

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From an early age I showed him I was going to be trouble. When I was one year old, he was watching me while my mom was at school, and it must have been one heck of a time because she came home to find this sticker on me. It cracks me up that this sticker survived 20 something years and two moves; I found it a couple of years ago and scanned it for safe keeping…and if you’ve been lucky enough to know me through my teen years like my dad, you will understand how foreshadowing it was. Lucky for him and everyone else, I mostly grew out of that stage!

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Over the years we’ve had some great times – when I was in kindergarten he would pick me up and when we’d get home we’d laid down with a story book until I fell asleep…or so he thought that’s what I’d do. According to the story I’ve grown up hearing, I waited until DAD fell asleep, then I got up and went into another room and played. What can I say, I was a very stubborn and independent little kid!

And then when I got a little older, pretending to be a hairstylist was all the rage! And guess who my number one client was, good ol dad! Countless hours he spend sitting on the floor up against the couch while I combed and brushed and styled his hair. And, like every good hairstylist, he was subjected to my endless chatter or singing or storytelling – whichever I was in the mood for that day. He was a really good sport, I’m sure I pulled out more hair than he’d care to admit (maybe I’m the reason it’s a little thinner on top?? Hummm???).

Older still and there’s this great photo of my sister, Megan and I tackling him right after he got home from work. I’m not sure why we did, but it’s clear we missed him while he was away.

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One of my all time favorite memories with my dad from my childhood would have to be our “Daddy-Daughter Date Days.” These could be anything from going to the park, bowling, eating at Pizza Hut – as a little kid it felt like the sky was the limit. This was my special time, and having two little sisters running around, it was nice to have his full attention if only for a little bit. It was in these little moments, when I would ramble on about who knows what, he would listen. And that was the start of a special connection, I knew no matter what was going on, if I needed him, he would be there to listen to me and to help me figure out life. He may not always have the answers, but he’d always do his best at helping me solve whatever problem I was facing.

Another favorite memory would be when he was my soccer coach. During this time in my life, I learned a very important lesson – even though I was the coach’s kid, he wasn’t going to treat me any differently, I would have my time sitting on the bench and playing my least favorite position – goalie. There was one game in particular I remember clear as day, I DID NOT want to play goalie because the other team was really good and they were already up by a lot of points, and guess who was up to be goalie at the start of the second half – me. I tried every trick in the book to make him switch me with someone else, I even through a temper tantrum right there on the field and got a stern talking to in front of my teammates. I CRIED THE WHOLE WAY TO THE  GOALIE BOX AND DURING THE WHOLE THIRD QUARTER. I don’t remember how many points that team scored against me, but I know now looking back it doesn’t matter. What my dad taught me is that life isn’t always fair and that I’m not entitled to anything just because I have a connection. I have to pay my dues (or play goalie) just like everyone else, and I’m a better person for learning that.

Over the years my dad has taught me many things, some he knew about, others he may not even realize I learned from him.

He is one of the most loving and caring people I know, but he shows it quietly through actions. There are many times I’ve seen him help someone in need, and countless other times I’m sure I don’t know about. He’s taught me compassion and service to others.

From my dad I have also learned good work ethic and to strive to keep learning and improving. I was impressed when he went back to finish his college degree when I was a senior in high school, and though it was tough, he never gave up. I’m sure there were things he would have much rather been doing, but he was determined to do this for him and his family. If he (and my mom when she went back for her Masters degree) could do it, there’s nothing in this world that can stop me from achieving my educational dreams either.

I have watched over the years as my dad’s faith has grown. I’ve seen him be our family rock and stand firm when things were hard, but I have also seen times when it was too hard to stand, so he’d kneel and ask for guidance or strength or peace or understanding. I know that he prays for each of my sisters and I, and we for him.

I have watched the way he treats my mom with love and respect. He adores her and she him, and I won’t settle for a love less than that. Together they are teammates, friends, the head of our family. He has set the bar high for the characteristics I want in my future husband and father of my children.

My dad is a goofball, there’s always a joke not far off. Most of the time I roll my eyes in exasperation, but secretly I love it. He’s always up for silly times with my sisters and I – anything to get us to laugh! And to think it all started way long ago when I thought he could pull a quarter out of my ear! He has a unique sense of humor, and though I don’t share that same trait, I have learned over the years not to take it for granted. My high school friends loved coming to my house, partly I think because of my dad – while there’s weren’t always invested in their lives or were more serious personalities, my goofy dad could always cheer them up and brighten their day. I lost track of the number of times they told me how cool my dad was!

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He has been there for every important event in my life, from my birth to sports games, choir and band concerts, graduation from high school and college, flying with me to Florida to help get me settled when I started working for Disney, and even helping me make connections that landed me my job. My dad is awesome, and I don’t tell him that nearly enough! Just tonight he even unclogged our tub (thank’s dad, you rock!).

So on your special day, I want you to know how blessed I feel to be your oldest daughter, to be the one who got to first call you daddy! No matter how old I get or where the winds may blow me, I will always and forevermore be your little girl.

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And now for a few highlights from Father’s Day 2015…..

And last but not least, the video of him opening up my awesome card!

Wordless Wednesday – 3/26/14

26 Mar

I’m just a LITTLE bit excited for my vacation….20140326-161812.jpg

55 Bookworm Questions Answered!

29 Dec

1. Favorite childhood book? The American Girl series

2. What are you reading right now? “The Maze Runner” by James Dashner

3. What books do you have on request at the library? None. I have tons of new books here I need to read first!

4. Bad book habit? I tend to read three or four books at a time, that way when I get bored with one I can switch to another and then come back later.

5. What do you currently have checked out at the library? None.

6. Do you have an e-reader? No, but maybe someday.

7. Do you prefer to read one book at a time, or several at once? I already answered this, I tend to read several at once.

8. Have your reading habits changed since starting a blog? I wouldn’t say they changed, but other bloggers have suggested books to read and sometimes I take their suggestions.

9. Least favourite book you read this year (so far)? That would have to be “Blessings” by Anna Quindlen. I just can’t seem to get emotionally invested or involved. I’m currently stopped on page 113 of 226.

10. Favorite book you’ve read this year? “The Secret” by Julie Garwood

11. How often do you read out of your comfort zone? Not too often, I know what I like. But if a friend suggests something I’ll give it a try.

12. What is your reading comfort zone? I love reading about the Scottish Highlands, romance, mystery, adventure, time travel, science fiction – my tastes are really all over the place!

13. Can you read in the car? I can, but it’s not as easy as it was when I was a kid.

14. Favorite place to read? On my bed. My bed has seen many books.

15. What is your policy on book lending? I will lend you a book if I trust you to return it in the same condition I gave it to you.

16. Do you ever dog-ear books? NEVER. That is law number one!

17. Do you ever write in the margins of your books? Only text books.

18. Not even with text books? See previous answer.

19. What is your favourite language to read in? English.

20. What makes you love a book? It’s a combination of things, I have to be able to connect emotionally. I want to “become” part of the story and escape life for a little while. I want to travel to new places, meeting new people and feel like I’ve lost part of my family when I read the last word on the last page.

21. What will inspire you to recommend a book? If a book made me stay up late into the night, if the characters stick in my head or the story was unbelievably fantastic.

22. Favorite genre? I don’t really have a ‘favorite’ genre.

23. Genre you rarely read (but wish you did)? Historical. I’m sure they are full of wonderful information but I just get so bored.

24. Favourite biography? Can’t say I have one.

25. Have you ever read a self-help book? Can’t think of any, not sure I’d tell you of had though!

26. Favourite cookbook? I just got a Disney Princess cookbook for Christmas (don’t judge me!) that I can’t wait to try out!

27. Most inspirational book you’ve read this year (fiction or non-fiction)? I’m not sure. I don’t know of any have inspired me so much, more or less just happy I love to read as much as I do!

28. Favorite reading snack? Anything chocolate. Usually a piece of Ghirardelli.

29. Name a case in which hype ruined your reading experience. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phenix.

30. How often do you agree with critics about a book? I don’t read what they have to say because their opinion doesn’t matter to me.

31. How do you feel about giving bad/negative reviews? I always read a book wanting to like it, really hoping to enjoy it. But if someone asks me my opinion of it, I’ll tell them it was terrible for points A, B and C. And it’s okay if they disagree with me, makes for a good conversation.

32. If you could read in a foreign language, which language would you chose? Spanish or Italian – there’s something romantic about the way those languages roll off the tongue.

33. Most intimidating book you’ve ever read? Humm….. “Gone with the Wind” but that’s because I choose to tackle that beast the summer before 8th grade. I didn’t fully appreciate the story back then.

34. Most intimidating book you’re too nervous to begin? I don’t tend to feel intimidated by books unless they’re on a subject I’m loathed to read about.

35. Favorite Poet? A tossup between Emily Dickinson and Emily Brontë

36. How many books do you usually have checked out of the library at any given time? I haven’t check books out of the library in years! But when I did it was 5 or 6 at a time, sometimes more.

37. How often have you returned books to the library unread? Rarely, but when I have, I’ve always felt like I’d betrayed the characters I never met.

38. Favorite fictional character? I can’t pick one, I feel like that must be something like asking a parent to choose their favorite child. I have connections with characters because I recognize something in them that is similar to me, or represents a trait I’m trying to develop on myself.

39. Favorite fictional villain? I’ve never liked a villain. So I don’t have one.

40. Books I’m most likely to bring on vacation? Well, on the flight to Walt Disney World in October I had “50 Shades of Gray” with me! Hahaha

41. The longest I’ve gone without reading. Probably a week, I was away at summer camp and my mom wouldn’t let me pack a book! Hahaha!

42. Name a book that you could/would not finish. Speak.

43. What distracts you easily when you’re reading? If someone turns on a movie or a TV show, I find the noise very distracting. If it’s a movie or TV show I like, I’ll end up watching.

44. Favorite film adaptation of a novel? I really like how “The Hunger Games” and then “Catching Fire” were adapted.

45. Most disappointing film adaptation? “Twilight” but some of that can be chalked up to a terrible director and horrid acting.

46. The most money I’ve ever spent in the bookstore at one time? With or without gift cards?! Easily $50 -$100. I try to avoid the book store unless I Kobe I have some spending money saved up!

47. How often do you skim a book before reading it? I always read the book jacket or the back of the book, if they can’t hook me there, I don’t usually read the book.

48. What would cause you to stop reading a book half-way through? Boredom.

49. Do you like to keep your books organized? I try. It doesn’t work. I have too many books. I have books stacked on the floor.

50. Do you prefer to keep books or give them away once you’ve read them? I do not understand people who buy books, read them, and then get rid of them. I don’t get it.

51. Are there any books you’ve been avoiding? No; but there are plenty of books I’ve been trying to get my hands on and can’t!

52. Name a book that made you angry. The Namesake. I still don’t understand why all the incoming freshmen were forced to read that awful book. I did throw it out afterwards.

53. A book you didn’t expect to like but did? Harry Potter series

54. A book that you expected to like but didn’t? I can’t think of one at the moment, but I’m sure there’s at least one or two!

55. Favorite guilt-free, pleasure reading? “The Kingdom Keepers” by Ridley Pearson. I know they are meant for kids, but when it comes to reading, I’m just a big kid who loves to get lost in a good story!