Saturday, January 25, 2014

Graham's Visit

My brother Graham came in town Thursday (from Austin) for a visit and just left. We so enjoyed his company! Thursday night, I cooked Tuscan Style Beans with Rosemary in the crockpot, one of the recipes I made on Sunday, and we visited at home. The recipe was delicious, and we enjoyed having some good dinner conversation (and some company for me while Brendan taught his night class).

Friday, Brendan and I both had work, but then enjoyed dinner at La Bodega (my favorite Mexican food in town) and drinks and shuffleboard at the Lone Star Bar (which Graham got a kick out of). 

This morning, we enjoyed breakfast at Lori's, shopping for antiques, and homemade ice cream at Alfredos. Breakfast faces: 

We'll miss you Grahamers! 


Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Wednesday Thoughts

  • I had a visit from a former student today who just stopped by to chat and bring me something he had written for fun over winter break to look over with him. It really made me happy to see his progress from Dev. Ed to 1302. I love when students have tons of intrinsic motivation. 
  • I came home to this: Lola has been SUPER cuddly today, and has been in either my lap or Brendan's lap at all hours that we've been home. She's so cute! 

  • On my way to yoga, I got the BEST thing in the mail. What I first thought was a save the date turned out to be something even better! 

  • In case you can't tell, that's me all the way on the left (5 Egan girls in a row, starting with the Bride...and the five of us are all born in a 3 year span--2 of us joined the family by marriage).  And yes, this is the wedding that I mentioned a few weeks ago.Woo-hoo! I'm so excited to be a bridesmaid again, and what a cute invitation! I felt really honored to be included, and like an official Egan!

    • Yoga was good! It's still hard (I've gotta get back in shape!) but it felt oh-so-good to stretch. 
    • My brother is coming into town tomorrow! And we were forecasted for a 30% chance of snow, but thankfully, that forecast just turned to cold and windy. I'm excited to spend a weekend with Graham! 
    • Brendan just made me a "Black Russian" cocktail. I think I deserve it. Time to enjoy some Modern Family! 
    We hope your Wednesday was great. Halfway through the work week! 


    Sunday, January 19, 2014

    5 Meals, 3.75 Hours (My First Freezer to Crockpot Experience)

    My wrists hurt. Seriously.

    But I'm also singing "We Are the Champions." Also seriously.

    I just had my first freezer to crockpot cooking day. I made 5 meals in 3 hours, 45 minutes. If that doesn't sound so impressive, think of it this way: each "meal" is going to feed us both 3 times. So it's more like 15 meals/30 servings worth of food. I've been wanting to do this ever since my Aunt Elaine got us the crockpot for my bridal shower.

    One meal we ate for dinner tonight. It was this Stuffed Peppers recipe, and it was amazing. The recipe made 6 peppers, and we only ate 2 tonight, which means we have 2 more meals each in the fridge from those leftovers.

    The other 4 meals are all vegan and came from this book: Rigatoni with Fennel and Spicy Peppers, Parsnip and Coconut Curry with Crispy Shallots, Santa Fe Sweet Potato Soup, and Tuscan Style Beans with Rosemary. They are currently sitting in my freezer. All I have to do is defrost the night before, put a liner on the crockpot, throw the meal in the crockpot, and cook all day while I'm at work...dinner with zero work, zero cleanup, and 4 more meals worth of leftovers each time. Um, sign me up for that!

    Another thing I love? All meals are healthy: no butter, no sugar, just fresh ingredients cooked in a little bit of olive oil.

    Today consisted of making a long grocery list, hitting the store, and doing nearly 4 hours of this (thanks to Brendan for helping with clean-up and a few chopping tasks).

    We cleaned up everything at the was nice because if I had made each recipe individually, there would have been more overall time spent cleaning up.

    In addition to the ingredients, make sure you have gallon freezer bags and a sharpie on hand. You need to write the directions for how long to cook each recipe on the bag, so you don't forget!

    Also, do not, and I repeat: DO NOT underestimate the awesomeness of the crockpot liners. You literally lift it out when you are done cooking and there is ZERO cleaning of the crockpot needed. Trust me, you will have MANY pots, pans, cutting boards, and utensils to clean, so don't add one more thing! UPDATE: Using metal spoon in crockpot will tear liner, so make sure to avoid that.

    I had fun doing this, but really am tired from being on my feet all day and from all the chopping. I highly recommend picking a long weekend for this activity if you have that luxury.

    I'll definitely let you guys know how the other four meals turn out. I'm making a big lasagna tomorrow for tomorrow night, and I plan to not cook anymore for the rest of the week!

    Okay, I'm off to relax and take some ibuprofen (for my wrist pain--ouch).

    Have you ever done a crockpot to freezer day? How'd it go and what'd you make?

    We hope everyone had a fabulous weekend. I'm excited for it to continue tomorrow!
    <3 S, B, L&Z

    Saturday, January 18, 2014

    New Starts

    We made it through the first official week of the semester. Last night, we were too exhausted to do much, so the perfect plan became Nintindo Wii, warming up leftovers (no cooking + no cleaning= I am happy), re-reading Catcher in the Rye (receipt in the book dated 9/3/03, the beginning of my senior year of high school on a random Wednesday night...cue nostalgia for being 17...cue me reading the book and thinking, nope 27 is better), and watching Shark Tank and 20/20 with some whiskey cocktail that Brendan made. We were in bed by 11:30, and it was fabulous. I woke up a little before 9:00 (both cats at my feet and Bren by my side) feeling completely refreshed and excited about the long weekend ahead. I know today will involve waffle making, pedicures with my friend Jill, a trip to the movies tonight, and some writing. Also, my online shopping purchases are supposed to arrive today!

    Sounds like a perfect day to me.

    And before I leave you, please enjoy the following pictures:

    Bren's face when he's losing at Nintindo:

    Bren's face when he gets homemade waffles:

    Isn't he cute no matter what?

    Happy longggggg weekend!
    <3 S, B, L&Z

    Wednesday, January 15, 2014

    Spring in Our Step

    Spring semester is now officially underway, and we've begun the real work of teaching. This semester, I'm teaching Integrated Reading and Writing III, Composition I, Composition II, and American Literature. I'm also continuing my work as a tutor and the tutoring coordinator in the campus writing center, as well as serving as a co-advisor, along with Brendan, for Sigma Kappa Delta (the English honor's society).

    Brendan is teaching Composition II, Creative Writing, and Advanced Creative Writing. He is taking on a new role in the honor's program and will attend a conference in Arkansas at the end of March.

    Safe to say, we'll have another busy semester, but staying busy is probably good for us!

    In other news, true to my word, we did put up a bulletin board in the kitchen to display all of the holiday cards we got (and our wedding themed 2014 calendar: yes, I am serious about getting the most use from these photos as possible). Fun fact: I literally still use a wall calendar to organize my life. In the age of google calendars and iphone calendars, I realize this may seem inefficient, but it works for me. I do use an online calendar that my students access though, so there's that too! I really like this bulletin board because I can put up any important info on there's also fun to see all these friendly faces everyday.

    Happy halfway through the work week everyone! I'm looking forward to the longgggg weekend.

    <3 S, B, L&Z

    Sunday, January 12, 2014

    Saving Money, Spending Lemons

    Yesterday, I did some online shopping, but today, I was kind of distressed to see that the store put on an even better sale, one that would have saved me lots of money. I called customer service, and they happily applied the sale price to my order. Total savings: $70.00. I'm not kidding! So, now you know. Want a price adjustment? Just ask for it.

    I was happy to hang on to my money, but what I needed to use was my meyer lemons! 

    Brendan made this incredible dinner, for which, I can take no credit. 

    I made him PROMISE he would send me the recipe, so I can upload it to the blog. I made meyer lemon pie using this easy, easy recipe for dessert.  

    Brendan helped me make my own whipped cream topping. 

    That pie was SO good. But I still have so many lemons. So what to do? When life hands you lemons, make lemonade! 

    I halved this recipe. Delicious. Brendan had to make me stop drinking it (which was smart, there is a LOT of sugar in there). The beautiful pitcher was a wedding gift from our friend Nancy. Only a few more lemons to go. What will we think of next?? 

    It's pretty easy to deal when life hands you lemons...we'll see how I fare when life hands me a Monday. 

    Happy evening. 

    <3 S, B, L&Z 

    PS--Downton Abbey is back! Are you watching? 

    Saturday, January 11, 2014

    Weekend Update

    Our first week back at work was inservice week, which is a week of meetings and getting ready before the students come back.

    Oh my gosh, how I miss the students. Please don't send me to another meeting :)

    My little cough turned into a cold on Tuesday night, but I think I've turned the corner now. Brendan thought he was doomed to catch my cold, but looks like his immune system conquered it (knock on wood). I started yoga again on Wednesday despite feeling icky, and it was SO hard. It is always a challenge to regain fitness after the laziness and eating that comes with winter break, but I'm looking forward to getting active again.

    We got up this morning and went to the monthly farmer's market (it won't be weekly again until April). We scored some awesome heirloom tomatoes and some rainbow chard, but that was about it. The strawberries Albertson's had were superb, so we prepared a summery meal in January for dinner tonight (why not!).

    Other than that, it's been a low key weekend. We enjoyed breakfast tacos at Oscars this morning (my first trip, Brendan's second), and I really liked them (not as good as beloved Julios in Austin though, but good). The rest of my day included so much laundry, online shopping, and resting up before week one of the semester begins.

    We have so many errands to run tomorrow, but I don't mind because it is supposed to be a gorgeous 78 degrees and sunny. I know we will get more cold snaps, but I'm going to enjoy this warmer weather while I can.

    Happy weekend everyone!
    <3 S, B, L&Z

    Sunday, January 5, 2014

    Half a Year Married

    Woo-hoo: today, the last day of winter break coincided with our six months of marriage anniversary. 

    A few things I have learned in my half year of marriage (you don't have to read my rookie advice if you're just here to see what we made for dinner, scroll down): 1.) Begin and end every day with the words "I love you." Reaffirm sentiment throughout day, not because of what the person does for you but because of who he or she fundamentally is. 2.) Feel lucky that someone sticks by your side, even though you are sometimes kind of annoying. 3.) When you feel yourself being annoying, try to a.) stop or b.) alert your partner to your obnoxious state so you can make fun of it together. 4.) In the words of our Chaplain, Larry Todd, words can build and words can break: when it comes to your partner, compliment often and complain seldom. 5.) Fill your home with happy memories of the wedding day. You can never have enough photos of such a joyous occasion. 

    Well, that's all I got for now, but maybe I'll have more to share in another six months. 

    We have been on a Meyer lemon kick, as my aunt Annette gave us a dozen of them. Last night, Brendan made lemon tofu and green beans for dinner, followed by chocolate moose with lemon cardamom yogurt sauce for dessert:

    2 lemons down, 10 to go.
    Tonight I made both the Meyer Lemon Fettuccine and the Meyer Lemon Vinaigrette recipes from this blog (my salad had strawberries, Maytag bleu cheese, and almond slivers). We served it all with sparkling wine from McPherson cellars.

    4 lemons down, 8 to go.
    I have plans to make Meyer lemon pie in the immediate future; yum! 

    In other news, my parents bought Lola and Zoe this fancy water dish, among other things, for Christmas. This momentous occasion is enough to warrant the first video ever posted on Lola and Zoe the blog. Please ignore my "everything my cats do is adorable" voice. 

    We will now return to our normally scheduled programming of Lord of the Rings marathon. Wish us luck as we return to work tomorrow for the first time after 24 days off. Happy end of the weekend everyone! 

    <3 S, B, L&Z 

    Saturday, January 4, 2014

    Home and Productive

    Brendan and I had an amazing winter break, but yesterday, after brunch with my parents, it was time for us and the cats to head home. We made it back to Midland a little after seven last night. We unloaded the car and opened Christmas cards from dozens of family and friends. I'm going to need a new bulletin board to display them all! I made dinner and Brendan cleaned up, and then we watched part of the first Lord of the Rings movie (I bought Brendan the trilogy as one of his birthday presents).

    This morning, I woke up at ten, which is actually earlier than we've been waking up (when left to our own devices, we end up on a 2am-11am sleep schedule), wrote eight and 3/4 pages, gave Zoe a much needed bath (Lola never needs them, but Zoe gets dandruff), and made breakfast using our new griddle (it was awesome). Then I unpacked my suitcases, put away Christmas gifts, straightened up the apartment, and even read a little. While Brendan made dinner, I took down all of the Christmas decor and put it all back in the closet. I was a little sad to see it go, but didn't want to start work with it still hanging around. I backed up and updated my iphone and created some much needed storage space. Why can't every Saturday be this productive? Clearly, when well rested, I am capable of doing wonders!

    You know that saying "time flies when you're having fun"? I think it is actually the opposite that is true. Time goes by much faster when you are in the same routine. Our breaks (winter break and summer break especially) always seem much longer when compared to the same amount of time in "normal" life. One thing I love about our jobs is that we are able to shake our routines quite often, and the time out in the world and away from our life as we know it is always rejuvenating to the max. I feel like the last three weeks have been slow enough to fully enjoy: I saw a lot of friends and family in Austin, La Marque, Lake Charles, Orange, and Houston, we had a great Christmas, a wonderful celebration of Brendan's 32nd birthday, and a happy New Year, and oh my gosh did we eat some good food.

    Tonight, we'll probably watch more Lord of the Rings (I've never seen the whole series). Brendan is cooking dessert right now (something he won't tell me about because he's afraid it won't turn out, isn't he something?). As for the piles of laundry and restocking the fridge? Hopefully, we'll get to it tomorrow, on our last official day of break (tomorrow is also our half anniversary :)

    Then Monday, we'll go back to "life as we know it" (or, something like that, we go back to work but won't actually have students until the 13th). I'm a little sad to see winter break come to a close, but I'm excited to take on the Spring 2014 semester. We have a lot to look forward to this year, both professionally and personally, and I'm feeling lucky.

    <3 S, B, and two happy-to-be-home kitties L&Z

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