Monday, October 29, 2012

This weekend I... [10.29.12]

Hey friends! Linking with Sar and Syndal...

This weekend I went home to my parents' house! It was a quick trip for no particular reason other than that I was homesick. I spent some time with my parents and little sister, and lots of time with my dogs (prepare for about 1029381029 pictures of my pets at the end of this post...).

This weekend I saw Cloud Atlas

...and was confused for at least a third of the movie and grossed out/tramautized at least another 10% or the time. My friend Adam loved it, though, and gave it four and a half stars. There were sixish storylines going on at the same time. Some I loved and some I didn't care for. It definitely made me think and some of the makeup was very very impressive. But I don't think I'd see it again.

This weekend I stopped by a Halloween party at my little sister's dance studio and saw her do this:
 What a BAMF.

This weekend I mailed my absentee ballot!

This weekend I took entirely too many pictures of my pets.
Look at that faaaace!
Conquering his possum.
Later, lying on the now fully conquered possum.

Birds are really sweet :) He loves me.
This weekend I drove from one home to the other. :)

Hope you all had a great weekend! Happy Monday!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Book review: Missing You

Missing You by Meg Cabot

Description from Goodreads (below) can be found here along with other reviews. Linking up with Blonde... Undercover Blonde for Book Club Friday.

Ever since a walk home on a particularly stormy day, Jessica Mastriani has had an ability like no other. She became known worldwide as Lightning Girl a psychic who could find the location of anyone, dead or alive. Jess finally had no choice but to embrace her newfound talent, and ended up lending her skills to the U.S. government.

But her work for them has taken a terrible toll, and Jess resurfaces months later a shadow of her former self, her powers gone, Lightning Girl no more. Her only hope is starting over in a new place, a big city where nobody knows her. It's only when Rob Wilkins unexpectedly shows up on her doorstep that she's forced to face her past. Rob, all the way from back home, needs her help. But how can Jess, her powers gone, find anyone, let alone the sister of a man she once loved . . . when she can't even find herself?

Missing You, the fifth and final book in the 1-800-Where-R-You series.

I loved this series. I read it when I was younger and it's one of those that I never forgot about. I even started rereading it earlier this year.

But then I realized there was a final book in the series I'd never read, so I skipped ahead to that one -- Missing You.

Missing you takes place a few years after the preceding book in the series. Jess is at college, away from her hometown, when her ex-bf shows up and asks for her help, thus dragging her home.

It's always great to revisit characters you love. I love Jess and Rob and her family and the whole cast of characters. I think they're what really makes any of the books in this series.

That being said, this book kind of felt like it was written just because everyone kept bugging her to write another one. It seemed like she just wanted to wrap up all the characters' lives and storylines and give it a big pretty bow.

I liked it; it was fun to read. Definitely not the best book everrrr. Or even the best in the series. But I guess it is nice to see all the characters get their happy ending.

Have any of you read this book or series? What did you think?

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Thursday Thoughts [10.25.12]

Hey friends!

Checking in with some things I've been thinking about this week. :)

If you follow me on Twitter, you may have heard that Pat and I went on a date yesterday!
I snagged a Groupon for a local burger joint (with GREAT veggie options!) and we got aaaaall this food (a $22.18 value)

for $7.18!!

It was too much, though. We should have each gotten a side of fries instead of a basket. Oh well. You live and learn. Also, check out all those condiments! They included everything from Cocoa Catsup to Marshmallow Sauce! I think our favorite was the Guinness Wheat Mustard. :)

After eating we walked the street a bit to Waxman Candles and picked out a fall-scented candle. Good date day!

A liiiiittle bit more boyfriend cheesiness then I'll stop, kay? Kay. Feel free to skip ahead :)

Today is Thursday. Which means as of 7 pm Pat and I will both be done with our classes for the week.

I love Thursdays because every other evening we're busy with class, club meetings, and homework. On the weekends we typically hang out with friends. But Thursdays it's almost always just us. Pat goes to work at 10:30 and works overnight, so we hang out from the time I get home from class till he leaves and I love it.

Tonight we'll be drinking hot chocolate and watching Big Bang Theory. Hooray!

Did I just say hot chocolate?

Yes, yes I did.

Because overnight, it dropped a whopping 30 degrees in Kansas. Yesterday's high was 86. Today's is an optimistic 55.

I need me a winter coat, friends.

This week and next week I'll be advising students. I've only just started talking in the meetings -- early this week I just sat in and listened, but now I'm explaining things with my supervisor there for clarification. Next week, I'll be on my own. Eeep! Think good thoughts for me, friends!

I'm going home this weekend!

Excited to see this face:
And this one:

And my family too, I guess. ;)

Do you guys have any weekend plans? I hope it's thrilling, exciting or relaxing -- just what you need!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Personal challenge: Eating more veggies

Hey friends!

It's been a while since I posted anything about my quest to live healthier (other than my 5k posts). So here's an update:

I'm currently down about 18 pounds from my original starting weight back in January (as of today, I'm down 19! woohoo!). I hit two points over the summer where I was down 20+ pounds from the start, but then regressed. All in all, I'm happy to have maintained the loss that I'm at, but I am still five pounds from my goal weight.

I'm still doing pretty well with healthy eating calorie-wise, but I've noticed a lack of veggies in my life. So!

I have challenged myself to more vegetables!

I bet many of you think that as a vegetarian, all I eat is veggies, but that's definitely not the case. It's very easy to fall into a trap of pasta for every meal. In fact, on a typical day, I wasn't eating any veggies. Cereal for breakfast, pb&j, yogurt and an apple for lunch, and pasta for dinner -- but sometimes I do add broccoli.

I realize that adding veggies will not cause me to magically lose five more pounds. But I never set out just to lose weight -- I wanted to be healthier and this is part of it.

How I've gotten started:
I took a trip to Target (isn't that where all great things start?) and picked up zucchini, yellow squash, salad, spinach, baby carrots, broccoli and a green pepper. I know this sounds extreme and like I won't be able to eat it all before it goes bad, but that's part of the challenge!

All this week so far I've taken a salad to work for lunch -- lettuce, spinach, onion and green bell pepper (plus some dressing and cheese :)

I bought the giant heads of Romaine and have been cutting them myself. I think you get more bang for your buck this way. Here's how to cut them:
First, you're going to make a few slices lengthwise on the romaine heart. Make a slice, turn, make another. I do three or four. Then, cut across the top! Easy peasy.

And here's a good video teaching you to cut bell peppers:

Sunday night I was jonesing for a snack while dinner was cooking so I grabbed some carrot sticks. Nbd, but progress!

Monday night I attempted a "recipe" my sister uses. I say "recipe" because all it really is is sauteing yellow squash and zucchini in olive oil and then adding salt and pepper.

I gave it an A for ease, a C for finished product. I didn't mind the taste, but I didn't like the mushy. (Pat loved the zucchini and was meh on the squash, fyi.) So now I'm on the hunt for other healthy ways to use my squash and zucchini. Any tips?

Another sneaky way I've found I like veggies is in eggs! The only way I eat eggs is scrambled, but they're way good for you and way low on calories compared to other meals, plus they give me the protein I might lack as a vegetarian.

Anyway, add some torn up spinach to your eggs, toss in some parmesan and voila! Protein and veggies all in one dish! Perfect!

Seriously just toss it in there
End product!
I've also had GREAT success, even with people who hate broccoli, with this recipe. I'd encourage you to try it!

I'm still on the hunt for other ways to sneak veggies into my daily diet. Any tips out there? Or squash/zucchini recipes? I'd love to hear!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Fresh apple cake

Remember forever ago when I posted a teaser for the easiest dessert ever?

Here's the post about it!

This was the inspiration pin:

                                                                     Source: via Abbey on Pinterest

Ingredients required:
Apples (took 5 apples for me)
A stick of butter
A box of yellow cake mix

Optional ingredients:
Brown sugar

This recipe is seriously as easy as it gets, and makes use of apple season!

First, cut up your apples. It took me about five to fill my 9x13 pan. It would be really easy to make different serving sizes though!

I ended up chunking up my apples instead of slicing (though I left some in slices) because I feared it would be hard to cut through the whole slices.

Second, sprinkle/pour on the cake mix. Since I was adding cinnamon and brown sugar, I mixed them in with the cake mix and then poured it all over the apples. The whole box ended up being waaaay more than I needed, so I wish I had only mixed in some of the cake mix initially so I could save the rest.

Next, melt the stick of butter and pour it over the cake mix on the apples, trying to hit all areas as best as you can.

April, the original poster, said that in her experience, the moisture in the fruit was enough to moisten the rest of the cake mix that didn't get covered in butter. This was not my experience. I ended up having to add water to different areas where it was still very powdery after it baked and then putting it back in the oven longer. To avoid this issue, I'd suggest drizzling water over some of the dry areas before baking.

Bake at 350 until it's warm and bubbly, about 35-45 minutes.
Finished project. Yummm!

I took this over to Emily's house when we carved pumpkins and it was a definite hit! Easy peasy and tastes good? My kind of recipe!

I've seen similar desserts made with pie filling or frozen berries, so this recipe isn't exactly new. But I liked using fresh fruit -- I felt more like I knew what was going into it!

Have any of you had a similar dessert before? Make sure you let me know if you try this one! :)

Monday, October 22, 2012

This weekend I... [10.22.12]

Hey friends! Linking up with Sar and Syndal again! :)

This weekend I celebrated boyfriend's birthday quietly, watching Holiday Inn Friday night, letting him watch football all day Saturday (his actual birthday) while I went to a wedding, then coming home just in time to see the Beavers get another W Saturday night.

Photo by the AP. via 
This weekend I went to my friend's wedding, driving four hours in the process (2.25 hours each way). But oh, it was gorgeous! And look at these centerpieces/favors! Cowbells!
You might also notice the bride's cousin in the background. She's a blur of waving cowbells.

I also got to see Katie, my former roommate, at the wedding. 

This weekend I got to see the most beautiful sunset as I drove home from the wedding.

This weekend I cringed and hid while Pat chased this bug around our room. I'm not scared of bugs typically, but he kept landing on our bed, where I thought I would squash him, or landing on the wall right behind my head, where I feared he would fall into my hair. Pat made friends with him and named him Cal.

This weekend I started a new DIY project. Here's a sneak peek!

My weekend was a blur! My whole Saturday was dominated by getting ready for/driving to and from/attending the wedding, but it was well worth it to see my friend marry her best friend!

Hope you all had a wonderful weekend!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

For my mom...

When I was in sixth grade, I wanted to play basketball.

My mom called the Parks and Rec department to put my name on a list of kids that needed a team. She soon discovered that I wasn't the only name on that list. Teams in our area were competitive. Most wouldn't take on kids they didn't know or kids who didn't have as much experience or talent. The kids with me on the list at Parks and Rec probably would never be adopted to a team. And neither would I.

So, my mom started a new team.

She began by coaching herself. I don't think my mom had any basketball experience, but she researched rules and drills online and got us started.

She ran up and down the court with us, my infant sister bouncing around in a carrier on her back. Later, she recruited coaches from local colleges.

Riot, the team that was formed, never won a game. But we all got to play. From a girl who turned out to be a starter on our high school team years later, to the girl who was found eating popcorn in the stands with her dad in the middle of a game, we all were able to be a part of a team and we were all able to play basketball.

In many ways, I like to think I'm my mother's daughter. I look more like her than my sisters do. We have a similar sense of humor and are both famous for loving to read (my aunt says when she would crash in my mom's room she'd always be pulling books from under the pillow and blankets).

But if I can be like my mom in any way, I hope I can learn to value people and human rights the way she does.

From creating a basketball team for all of us who were rejected by the other teams...

to busting up a meth lab in her role as a social worker, then making friends with all the accused, comparing cell phones and bemoaning her lack of a smart phone...

 to caring for my sometimes impatient, occasionally verbally abusive, and always demented 97-year-old grandmother...

my mom treats people in a way that most people can only aspire to -- that most people take for granted.

I hope I never take for granted the people that look out for me and the people who treat me well. And I hope to emulate my mom and be a light in the lives of people who need it.
My mom with her sisters and their grandmother (not the one mentioned above!)

Happy birthday Mom! I hope it's wonderful!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Book review: Firefly Lane

Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah

Description from Goodreads (below) can be found here along with other reviews. Linking up with Blonde... Undercover Blonde for Book Club Friday. Holy long description, Goodreads! I shortened it a bit.

In the turbulent summer of 1974, Kate Mularkey has accepted her place at the bottom of the eighth-grade social food chain. Then, to her amazement, the “coolest girl in the world” moves in across the street and wants to be her friend. Tully Hart seems to have it all---beauty, brains, ambition. On the surface they are as opposite as two people can be: Kate, doomed to be forever uncool, with a loving family who mortifies her at every turn. Tully, steeped in glamour and mystery, but with a secret that is destroying her. They make a pact to be best friends forever; by summer’s end they’ve become TullyandKate. Inseparable.

So begins Kristin Hannah’s magnificent new novel. Spanning more than three decades and playing out across the ever-changing face of the Pacific Northwest, Firefly Lane is the poignant, powerful story of two women and the friendship that becomes the bulkhead of their lives.

I really really liked this book.

I have a friend who tried to read it and I guess she didn't get too far. It doesn't start fast and is never really full of action. It's more a story of relationships, of friendships, and of figuring out what you want in life.

But I identified very strongly with Kate, from beginning to end. She starts out as not a cool kid, which was me. And she has a very solid family. (Hi mom.)

The book takes place over 30ish years, I think. That's rare for a book, and maybe even rarer that it's well done. 

As Kate grows up, we see that she's not overly ambitious or competitive in her career, which is also me. She wants to have a family and she loves to write. I kept relating to Kate very strongly. (not that I don't want a career; I'm just more people-focused than ambitious)

These characteristics play out in an interesting and awesome way for Kate. See, she's part of a generation in which women were finally empowered to have a career and want something other than a family. So deciding you didn't want a career at that time was kind of considered going backwards as far as women's rights.

Anyway. This book is thick and it is slow and it is lovely. I really enjoyed it and I cried at the end.

Have any of you read Firefly Lane? What did you think?

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

My second 5k -- the Dr. Bob run

Hey friends!

I mentioned my second 5k a few times in the last couple weeks, and I wanted to share how it went with you.

You may remember I was pretty anxious about this run. The fact is, I'd quickly gotten out of shape running-wise. I'd been sick for a couple weeks with a nasty cough and had taken a break from running. And, since the semester started, I've been lucky if I've been able to run once a week (though when I was well enough I was doing Zumba and other work outs). My most recent run before the race had gotten cut short because of a lightning sighting.

So I was nervous about that. I hadn't run in so long, I wasn't even sure what kind of stamina I still had or if it was all gone.

A second factor making me anxious was the difficulty of the course. It was held at Rim Rock Farm, where the KU Cross Country team runs. From their website:

"Any runner or spectator will say that the course is quite challenging and unusual. In addition to having two covered bridges as part of the course, Rim Rock Farm also features specific hills, turns and other landmarks that are named after former Jayhawk greats."

I knew it would be hilly and my first race had been practically flat. So I was counting on the hills adding to my time anyway, even if I'd been in great shape.

Finally, I was running with Pat. If you guys haven't seen Pat, let me remind you what he looks like:

The boy is in great shape. Constantly. He couldn't be out of shape if he tried. He's not super active, but in high school he played soccer and had to run two consecutive 6-minute miles, and if he didn't, he had to run a third.

So I was anxious because we were running together and I wanted to be better than him because I'd trained and I didn't want to slow him down if he was better.

Race day arrived. It was not warm -- about 37 degrees when I left the house, I think. I layered up and headed out to meet Pat, who was volunteering at registration.

I was right, the course was hard. There were steep hills down, which was nice, but every time I knew I'd have to give it back eventually. But it was also gorgeous. Lots of pretty fall leaves, two covered bridges. If I had been walking instead of running, I would have taken tons of pictures.

Pat and I decided to try to stick together before the race started. I was also right about his speed -- I did slow him down. I had to walk a few steps a couple of times throughout the course -- mostly on or after the giant hills.

In the end, I had enough energy to push the last hundred meters or so, which I like to do because it makes me feel like I end on a success, even when my run was really hard. I finished with a time of 36:14.6, two and a half minutes slower than my first 5k.

Us in the car after the race
In the end I beat Pat by a tenth of a second, which is baloney because he could have gone faster pretty much the whole time.

Even with pushing at the finish, I felt pretty lousy about the run. I was embarrassed that I'd done so poorly, that I'd been breathing so hard, that Pat had had such an easy time of it. I'm still a little embarrassed and disappointed. I keep trying to convince Pat that he should run another race and run his race, not mine, but he doesn't seem to have any interest.

I'm not sure why I'm sharing this with you guys. I am not fishing for compliments, and I know that running a 5k is a cool thing and that it's more than a lot of people can do and more than I could do this time last year.

I think I try to be honest on my blog, and I've written a lot about running, so I felt like this is a part of the story. I also wanted to put it out there, I guess, for anyone else who is feeling down about their runs. I know there's a lot of runners in my blog world, so I guess this is a you're-not-alone type of deal?

It's also a self-serving post. I want to keep running. I want to do better. And next year, I want to go back to the Dr. Bob run and beat my time and be able to look at this post and see I've come a long ways.

For any other runners out there, this post did help me to feel a little better. 

If you've read this far, thanks for reading. :) Happy Wednesday, loves!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Roasted pumpkin seeds!

Hey friends!

I thought today I would share how we made our roasted pumpkin seeds today! Yeah?

First, we carved our pumpkins :) We took the seeds from mine and Pat's and separated them from most of the gunk. We also stuck them in the fridge till we were ready to roast them. I'm not sure if you need to, but we did.

We melted a bunch of I can't believe it's not butter and stirred in the seeds. Unfortunately, we didn't measure anything the whole time. So, you'll just have to play it by ear if you're recreating the "recipe." But with the butter, you just want to make sure each seed has some on it because the butter is what will make the spices stick. Alternately, you could use Pam and spray the seeds.

Then we added salt and pepper. Again, we didn't measure, but you want to be able to see some pepper on all the seeds.

Next we added celery seeds. I had never heard of celery seeds. So I took a picture of them for you.

Stir stir stir. You wanna see some of these on each pumpkin seed too.

To roast them, you spread them out on a cookie sheet. They can be overlapping a bit but you want them pretty flat. We started with the oven at 250 degrees, but we ended up turning it up to 300 because they were taking foreverrrr.

We pulled them out every ten minutes and stirred/flipped them.
You'll be able to tell when they're getting done when the seeds change color.


I was hesitant, just because I'm bad at trying new foods and not sure how I feel about eating pumpkin anyway. But they were pretty good!

Are any of you big fans of roasted pumpkin seeds? (I know Katie is!)


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