Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Orange Marmalade Stir-fry with Tofu

I realize I haven't posted any recipes on the blog in a LONG time (like, a year and a half!) Unfortunately, Brendan is the recipe inventor in our family, while I'm the recipe writer. If it doesn't get written down immediately after invention, it doesn't get posted on the blog. We'll try to do better. In the meantime, please enjoy the most amazing thing that Brendan has concocted in a while.

Ingredients: brown rice, butter, 1 bell pepper, 1 small onion, 3 cloves garlic, 1/2 cup carrots, 1 package of firm tofu, canola oil, sesame oil, soy sauce, rice vinegar, orange marmalade, ginger preserves, Sriracha, and sesame seeds.


Prepare 1 cup (uncooked) of brown rice (will make 2 cups) with 1 tbsp of butter in the water
*To make it Vegan, exclude the butter. 
Chop 1 bell pepper, 1 small onion, 3 cloves of garlic, and 1/2 cup carrots
Press 1 block of tofu to remove water
Cut tofu into thin triangles
In a wok, Heat 1 tbsp of canola oil on medium/medium-high
Fry the tofu until golden brown and crispy on both sides
Set the tofu aside on plate
In the wok, Stir-fry your chopped veggies from step one in 1 tbsp canola oil and 1 tsp sesame oil
When veggies are tender/crisp (about 2 minutes), add the tofu back to the wok
Cover with 4 tbsp soy sauce, 1 tbsp rice vinegar, 4 tsp of orange marmalade, 1 tsp of ginger preserves, and a couple of dashes of Sriracha
Toss until everything is covered
Continue stirring until sauce begins to thicken
Serve over brown rice
Garnish with sesame seeds
(Will make 4 servings)

Total Prep and Cook Time: 30 minutes
Deliciousness Factor: 5 out of 5 stars
This was an incredibly tasty meal. Brendan noted that it tasted like Orange Chicken from a chinese restaurant. I liked that it was healthy and full of protein and fresh veggies. We have one serving leftover, and I will definitely be taking it to work on Friday for lunch! It also wins points with both of us for being a fast meal to prepare that only uses a few dishes. Plus, it's perfect for vegans and vegetarians alike (just eliminate the butter to make it vegan). Happy cooking!

& Here's to hump day! Only one day between today and Friday!

Monday, March 24, 2014

On Taking Care of Yourself

Ah, the hectic, crazy, filled with emails work week. If your week is anything like mine, it's only Monday and you're already tired! Unfortunately, during a busy week, our own needs are usually the first thing to get neglected, but that really just compounds stress and problems later on. If you are in the middle of a busy week, I encourage you to take some time to address your own concerns; doing so will pay off in big ways, and you'll notice improvements in your happiness and peace of mind. Here are the things I strive to stay on top of, even when the going gets tough:

Eating Healthy
Stress eating is a huge problem people face. When you're exhausted or tired, fast food may seem like the easy solution; it's not. On the whole, fast food doesn't give your body energy and nutrients it most needs. If you have no groceries, find one hour after work to get this task done. Plan healthy and easy dinners. In a pinch, we eat baked potatoes and salad, pasta, split a Central Market pizza (better than ordering), eat leftovers previously prepared, or dedicate 30 minutes to an hour to whip up something healthy. There are so many cookbooks dedicated to fast recipes...and even a few ideas under the L&Z in the kitchen tab on this blog. Even if you don't prepare health food, whatever you make at home is probably better than picking up fast food. When it comes to snacking, ask yourself if you're really hungry. To test if I am going to snack, I ask myself if I would eat a fruit or veggie in that moment. If the answer is no, I'm not really hungry, I'm just looking to eat for no real reason. If the answer is yes, I make myself a health conscious snack (or, I let myself have only three Girl Scout cookies, everything in moderation!)

If it's a busy week, you probably don't have time to do a full hour at the gym three times, but assess what you do have time for, and then do that. A 30 minute jog around the neighborhood? A workout video online? A class? Chances are, you can make time somewhere in the day, even if you only do so twice a week. Exercising has a true pay off: it is an incredible way to manage stress, and you will feel so much better for having gone.

Make An Away From Email Rule
I'm an 8-5 Monday--Friday, excluding school holidays kind of email checker. While I usually check in on the weekend at some point, I do set a boundary with my students that I am in no way obligated to. During the work week, I do a 5pm check. If it isn't in my inbox at 5pm, I won't be answering it until 8 the next morning. Depending on your job, this same boundary may not work for you, but it's important to step away from work email and give yourself time to do the things you want to do.

Me Time
Use your time to yourself actively rather than passively. Scrolling Facebook doesn't make me feel relaxed at all. I'd rather spend my time on something like a bath, reading for fun, watching a show on Netflix, or spending time with Brendan or friends. When you do things that are actually important to you, it feels like a break, whereas if you do something mindless, you'll look up and wonder where the time has gone without feeling like you had a real break.

Your Health=Your Wealth
I realized, with horror, that I let a whole year go by without going to the dentist. I have dental insurance, so this was really silly, but the reason I did it was that I never made time to take care of making these appointments. Last week, I visited the dentist (and everything is fine), and I vowed I would be back in September for my 6-month check up. And guess who is going to the dentist tomorrow? Brendan. :) Also tomorrow, I will be establishing care with my new doctor and getting a massage for a pain in my shoulder. I can't say enough about this: no amount of money can compensate for your health not being attended to and something preventable becoming a big problem for you. Go get a yearly physical, go to the dentist twice a year, and take care of problems when they arise. You will be glad that you did.

Sleep, It Isn't Optional
I can make it on 6 hours of sleep, but I do much better on 7-8 or more when I can get it. Calculate how much sleep you need, make yourself a bedtime, and stick to it. Obviously, this is more difficult if you have small children, but whatever you have going on in your life, prioritizing sleep will help your body and mind become much more efficient at combating stress.

This Too Shall Pass
When life gets too busy, I always remind myself that the stress is only temporary. At some point, things will return to "normal." At this point, I think that will be May 9th, so I have to learn to not let stress dominate my life and thinking.

If Stress Starts to Take Over...
Talk to a therapist (this goes along with the section on health). Feelings of being overwhelmed can easily spiral into depression if left unaddressed (trust me, I've been there), so it's important to go talk to someone now rather than later. Most health insurance policies cover therapy, so check out your plan and make an appointment if you need to.

Hope these tips help you think about the importance of taking care of you! And guess what? Monday's over. Time for my 5pm email check!

Here's to that,

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Oh Happy Day!

This was a really busy week, but we survived it!

Last night, Brendan and I hosted the first ever induction of the English Honor Society. We had 24 students and over 100 people in the audience. I met many parents, grandparents, and children of our students, and it was really nice to have such a large group gathered to honor the students. Our Program Chair, Dean, and even the Vice-President of the college were in attendance. This year and last year have really taught me a lot about how important it is for community college students to have student life experiences. It makes me feel happy to help build those opportunities for them. Tonight, we took a group from the club to see The Complete Works of William Shakespeare Abridged at the community theater. It was hilarious and the best show that we've seen there in the few years we've been attending shows.

We also celebrated a baby shower with friends in Midland today for Dagan and Stephanie. They were married a few weeks after us and are expecting a daughter in June. My cousin Allie had a baby shower today as well in San Angelo, so I was thinking of her today and celebrating from afar. Her daughter is due in April.

We're thankful for the chance to rest tomorrow before heading into week TEN of the semester (we're in the double's hard to believe!). We have a whole bunch of nothing planned, except maybe a trip to the grocery store. We've been addicted to True Detective lately, so we'll probably hole up and watch that mostly. The show was written by a guy that attended the M.F.A. program at McNeese. It's so weird to see Lake Charles featured in a show. I jokingly describe Lake Chuck as "the twilight zone," but I really miss living there.

Hope whatever you do tomorrow, your Sunday is your fun day!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

My March 2014 Birchbox

Yippee! My March Birchbox arrived yesterday, and I've already tried all the products. This week is super busy, so this was a nice pick me up because I've been feeling kind of blah.

In this month's box I received:

Jergens BB Body Cream + a 2.00 off coupon 

This cream reminds me of the other Jergens tinted moisturizers I've used in the past. It was a "Birchbox Find," which is in addition to your usual samples. I was excited about the $2.00 off coupon and might buy a full size of this later.

Caudalie Vinosource Moisturizing Sorbet

I like this moisturizer, and it is always fun to change it up and try something different, however I'm addicted to the feel and price of my normal moisturizer, Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion. I still like samples like this for traveling though.

Coola Tinted Matte SPF 30 for Face

I really like feels moisturizing, almost oily going on, but it doesn't feel oily after that. I like that it has SPF 30, some tint, and I like that it is organic. The full size is expensive though ($36), so I hope my sample lasts a while!

Air Repair Rescue Balm 

This is a balm for dry skin, and I've noticed a slight improvement after a couple of uses in the hydration of my hands. The price is definitely right for the full size ($12), and the sample is one I'll keep in my purse to use after constantly washing my hands.

Agave Healing Oil Treatment 

This is my big obsession from this month's Birchbox. It's a hair treatment that you work into damp hair. I used it last night and I love the feel, the smell, and the effect it has on my hair (so soft!). I will definitely be purchasing the full size for $24 when my sample runs out.

I already did all of my 5 reviews to earn 50 points ($5.00) in the Birchbox shop. I think it's neat that you can earn back half the cost of each box! I already have $15.00 worth of points. I haven't bought any full size products yet, but I really enjoy discovering them.

Do you Birchbox? What did you get?

What to sign up? Please use my referral link. 


Saturday, March 15, 2014

Home From Los Angeles

Just wanted to post a few pictures from our amazing spring break trip and say thanks to all our hosts: Curt and Katie, Cole, and the McDonalds. We had an amazing time staying with these wonderful friends and also got to see several other people we love. I don't have time to write much, but here are my favorite pics:

The work of Timothy Washington 

Not pictured: karaoke...and that's probably for the best ;)

We're back in Austin now and spending the night here before heading home tomorrow. Thanks for the good times California!


Monday, March 10, 2014

Spring Break So Far

We've had a great start to Spring Break so far. Friday, after work and Brendan's orthopedist appointment (X-rays look good, but he'll have to return in two weeks), we headed for Austin and arrived just in time to enjoy Indian food and game night with my mom, cousin Amanda, and Amanda's boyfriend, Matt. Saturday, I enjoyed brunch with my friend Kelsey, did some errands, and got a manicure with my mom; this gave Brendan some time to grade. Mom made spaghetti at home and we played Mexican train (dominoes) with my parents. Sunday, we went to kerbey lane with Graham before he gave us a ride to the airport. He had just finished a two day urban outfitters catalog shoot, so we had fun asking all about that.

Yesterday, we got into Los Angeles in the late afternoon. Our lovely hosts are Brendan's friend since second grade, Curtis, and his wife, Katie. Curtis made us an awesome dinner, and we sat outside by the fire enjoying wine and the palm trees! 

Today, we started off by going down the street for smoothies. Since I just finished Barbara Kingsolver's Flight Behavior (loved it), we headed to a used bookstore, and I picked up Lorrie Moore's A Gate at the Stairs (can't put it down). We went to Albertsons and got some flowers for our hosts and then did last night's dishes (our one useful task for the day!)

We got dressed for the beach and made our first stop sushi. 

I was SO happy! I'd eat this everyday if I had my way. 

The beach was about a 45 minute walk. I love the sound of the ocean. 

After the beach, we got beers and fries at a nearby bar, and on the walk home, we stopped to get some parts for Brendan's vaporizer. After I showered, Bruce and I hung out in this chair, which I never want to leave 
We ordered pizza once Katie got home, and we opened a bottle of wine. Good thing I walked four plus miles today because there's a lot of good food here! 

Today was far more exciting than a normal Monday! Hope your Monday had some novelty to it too! 
S, B, L&Z

Thursday, March 6, 2014

On the Horizon...

Ahhh, March is going by way too fast. 

I did want to say thanks for reading :) Last month, we got 4,160 page views, which is more than ever before, so thanks! 

As of tomorrow afternoon, Brendan and I will be on Spring Break. We are driving to Austin and then flying to Los Angeles to spend the week with friends. We'll have nine days of vacation, and I. cannot.wait. 

Tonight, I'm doing laundry while Brendan teaches, and I made my delicious pasta sauce out of all the produce we have left, so we could use it before it went bad. I hate wasting food, so this, with a salad and side of green beans, was a perfect solution. 

I've been really re-committed to eating healthy these last two weeks (I even lost three pounds). Remember my granola-bar-in-the-car breakfasts? They've been replaced with Oatmeal with fruit, egg sandwiches, cottage cheese and grapefruit, or yogurt and fresh fruit. I've been feeling a lot better, but also notice that I need "second breakfast" (usually a hard boiled egg) around 10:00am. I'm pretty used to eating every 2-3 hours, and though my family has always made fun of this, I think as long as I'm eating healthy, it's good for me! I've also been trying to drink my 8 glasses a day of water. 

Here's to hoping I can keep up my new good habits while on vacation! I'm happy to say, I got all my grading done before the break, so I feel that I can really enjoy it. 

Tomorrow, Brendan sees the Orthopedist for the 2nd time. Fingers crossed he does not need surgery on his finger. We're also teaching and leading an Honor Society meeting before hitting the road, so tomorrow will be quite a long day. 

Hope good things are on the horizon for you and yours this weekend.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

March 2014 Stitch Fix Review

My March got off to a nice start this morning. Last night, after returning home from the Advancing Teaching and Learning conference in Lubbock (which was wonderful), I tracked my Stitch Fix and saw it had been delivered, so I knew I had a treat to look forward to in the morning. After making breakfast and showering, I headed to the apartment office to pick it up.

If you're unfamiliar with Stitch Fix, read my first review of the experience here. 

My stylist this time was Rachel. I had requested colorful clothes to wear on our spring break trip to Los Angeles.

My first two try ons were a hit. The Tallia Embroidery Detail Tank and Adora Skinny Jean. I loved that I could wear the blouse to work with a skirt or pants and also wear it for fun. I had specifically asked for colorful skinny jeans, and I love this turquoise color that Rachel chose.

Up next, the far less successful Mumford Beaded Ombre Collar Necklace. I had specifically asked for NO jewelry this time, so I was really bummed that that request wasn't heard. I plan to email Stitch Fix and ask what is up. Also, this is so, so, not my style.

I would have loved my next item, the Arcade Dot Print Chambray Top, but it was too big in some places and then pulled across the chest.

The last item was the Hellen Geo Print Pleated Skirt, which Rachel said she picked because I had it pinned on Pinterest. While this is true, and while I do think the skirt was cute, comfortable, and work appropriate, I also have my Stitch Fix set to "the Cheaper, the Better" setting and mentioned in my profile that I'm on a budget. This skirt was $108 (which I obviously didn't know when I pinned it); not gonna happen.

I kept two of my items, and I filled out comments about the rest. While there were some aspects of my fix that I didn't love, I was very happy with the two pieces that I did keep.

I will be returning the other three pieces with Stitch Fix's free returns method: Just place them in the pre-paid envelope, and drop them in the mailbox. Easy!

Have you tried Stitch Fix yet? If you want to give them a try, I'd appreciate the referral here to get your own fix. 

There's lots to love about today: Saturday and it's already 79 degrees! I plan to get out and enjoy it. I'm so happy to welcome March. I'm so over winter, ready to be in the sunshine, and more than ready for Spring Break, which starts next week!

Happy Saturday and happy March  everyone!

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